The Cure for Touch Starvation: Massage Exchange and Cuddle Party Resources
Deprofessionalizing Touch. The Answer to Skin Hunger and Touch Deprivation is in the Asking.
In our Women’s Intimate Wellness survey, a full 35% of you said you needed more touch in your life, and while we can always go to a professional bodyworker, it can get quite expensive and it somehow is still transactional. I was researching on touch and came across this quote from Tom LeDuc,“If you want to live a long and healthy life your biggest enemies are loneliness and boredom. Touch is necessary for all mammals to thrive, babies and animals that are deprived of physical touch rarely develop normally. Frequent touching is one way we enhance each other's self esteem and nothing will help you live longer than a strong and vital sense of self worth.”
Wired magazine writes, “When you touch the skin,” explains Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, “... the nervous system slows down, heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and your brain waves show relaxation. Levels of stress hormones such as cortisol are also decreased.” Touch also releases oxytocin, the hormone released during sex and childbirth to bond us together. In other words, human touch is biologically good for you. Being touched makes humans feel calmer, happier, and more sane. Without touch, humans deteriorate physically and emotionally. “We know from the literature that lack of touch produces very negative consequences for our wellbeing,” says Alberto Gallace, a neuroscientist at the University of Milano-Bicocca.
WebMD says: “Touch starvation is a condition that happens when you don’t get as much physical touch as you’re used to -- or any at all. You crave contact but can’t interact with others for some reason. It’s also known as touch deprivation or skin hunger. When you don’t get enough physical touch, you can become stressed, anxious, or depressed. As a response to stress, your body makes a hormone called cortisol. This can cause your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and breathing rate to go up, with bad effects for your immune and digestive systems. These things can lead to worse quality of sleep and a higher risk of infections. Other medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure, may get worse.”
The prohibition against touching each other in platonic relationships seems to come from concern over sexualization, which is in itself a legacy of sexual shame. But especially as we age or go through relational transitions, we need to take this part of being human back! Touch between friends is a thing to celebrate!
Two proven options are massage exchanges and cuddle parties. Both emphasize consent, communication, respect, and boundaries. It's important to enter these spaces with an understanding and respect for the guidelines to ensure a positive and comfortable experience for everyone involved.
If you want to initiate a massage exchange or a cuddle party, here are some resources for friendly touch. AND it doesn't need to be this formal. You could just ask a friend,"Hey could you hold me, or rub my shoulders/feet/hands...?"... or offer to do the same for them. We can invite whatever blocks may be in the way to simply dissolve.
Hey [Friend's Name],
I hope you're doing great! I had this idea that I think could be both fun and relaxing, and you came to mind as the perfect person to share it with.Given our shared interest in health and wellness, I thought it might be a great idea for us to try a massage exchange. It's a platonic way for friends to help each other unwind and take care of our well-being. Before you consider it, I want to assure you that this is strictly a friendly gesture, with respect and comfort as the top priorities.
To make sure it's a comfortable and enjoyable experience, we could start with a chat about what we're cool with and what's off-limits, to make sure we're both on the same page, and promise to respect each other's boundaries and maintain a space where we're both feeling safe and relaxed. I see a nice, comfy environment – maybe some chill music, comfortable cushions, and a relaxed vibe, and that we’ll make sure that we both get to unwind equally, keeping things balanced and fair.
Please know that it's absolutely okay if you're not interested or comfortable with this idea. I value our friendship and respect your feelings and boundaries. AND If you're open to it, we could set a time to chat more about it and see how we could create a magnificent win/win experience.
Let me know your thoughts when you get a chance!
- Clear Communication: Before starting, discuss each person's comfort levels, boundaries, and specific areas where massage is requested or should be avoided.
- Consent and Respect: Ensure ongoing consent throughout the session. Be attentive and responsive to each other's verbal and non-verbal cues. Respect any request to change or stop the massage.
- Hygiene and Comfort: Ensure that both parties are clean and that the environment is comfortable and private. Use clean linens and consider the room temperature and lighting.
- Safety and Technique: Be mindful of pressure and technique, especially around sensitive areas such as the neck or lower back. Avoid any maneuvers that could cause discomfort or injury.
- Duration and Reciprocity: Agree on the duration of the massage beforehand and ensure that there is a fair exchange, with each person receiving an equal amount of massage time, unless agreed otherwise (Can alternate at the same session, or alternate sessions giving and receiving).
- Frequency and Location: The where and when.
- Privacy and Confidentiality: Respect each other's privacy and ensure that any personal information or observations made during the massage are kept confidential.
- Feedback and Adjustment: Encourage open feedback during and after the session and be willing to adjust techniques or pressure as requested, and to check in periodically on whether to continue.
Cuddle Party Resources:
Subject: You're Invited to a Cozy Cuddle Party!
Hello Wonderful Friends,
You are warmly invited to join a special gathering I'm hosting – a Cuddle Party! Imagine an evening filled with warmth, relaxation, and the simplest form of human connection. It's all about creating a safe, comforting, and platonic space where we can unwind and enjoy a sense of closeness.
Details of Our Cuddle Party:
- Date & Time: [Insert Date and Time]
- Location: [Insert Location]
- Dress Code: Comfy pajamas or loungewear (remember, it's all about being cozy and non-sexual)
Before you RSVP, here's what you need to know to ensure a delightful and respectful experience for everyone:
- Consent is Key: Always ask before initiating any form of cuddling and be sure to accept "no" with grace if someone isn't in the mood for a cuddle.
- Respect Personal Boundaries: This is a space for platonic cuddling. Respect everyone's personal space and comfort levels.
- Comfortable Attire: Keep it cozy and casual. Pajamas or similar comfortable clothing are perfect.
- Guided Experience: We'll have a short introduction to cuddle etiquette and some light-hearted icebreakers to make everyone feel at ease.
- Snacks & Soft Music: Expect some light refreshments and soothing background music to set a relaxing mood.
- Confidentiality & Discretion: What happens at the cuddle party stays at the cuddle party. Let's respect each other's privacy and maintain a discreet atmosphere.
If you're curious or already a fan of such heartwarming gatherings, please join us for an evening of relaxation, friendship, and gentle connection. Kindly RSVP by [Insert Date] so I can ensure a cozy and comfortable setting for us all.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if you're feeling a bit shy about diving in. It's all about comfort and connection, and there's no pressure to participate more than you wish.
Looking forward to sharing a cozy, relaxing time with you!
- Cuddle Party Guidelines
- Pajamas Stay On: The dress code is typically pajamas or comfortable clothing. The rule is to stay clothed throughout the event to maintain a non-sexual environment.
- Ask for Permission: Consent is key. Always ask before touching anyone and be clear about your boundaries. A person must verbally agree before any cuddling occurs.
- Respect Personal Boundaries: Understand and accept that anyone has the right to say "no" at any time during the party, without providing an explanation.
- No Expectations: Attend the cuddle party without any expectations of others. It's a space to enjoy platonic intimacy, not to seek romantic or sexual relationships.
- Supervised Environment: Cuddle parties are often overseen by a trained facilitator who guides the group and ensures that the guidelines are followed.
- Hygiene and Comfort: Similar to massage exchanges, ensure you are clean and consider bringing your pillow or blanket for comfort.
- Communication and Safety: Be open in your communication and attentive to the comfort and safety of yourself and others. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you are encouraged to change the situation, ask for help, or leave if necessary.
- Confidentiality: Respect the privacy of all participants. What happens at a cuddle party, including the identities of participants, should remain confidential.