Am I Addicted to Touch?

Let's talk about our love language. As a touch-centered man, my needs are like everyone else's just a bit more intense.

am i addicted to touch by John McElhenney - The Whole Parent

Touch Unlocks My Sadness and Spiritual Joy

Let’s say your love language is touch. (I’m always amazed when I meet people and touch is not their love language.) And then let’s say you get into a relationship that is charged, heated, and extremely passionate. And so many parts of the “touch” connection are *the absolute best you’ve ever had* and we’re talking sexual as well as non-sexual. And then as every other relationship in my life has gone, something breaks. (If you’re dating again, every other relationship you’ve ever had has failed.)

In this particular relationship, it was the emotional intelligence and maturity that broke down and ultimately broke the love we were enjoying. We were at different places in our recovery of self. And I’ve written plenty about this experience on this blog, so let’s move on with my primary question: Am I Addicted to Touch?

When your love relationship breaks, your intimate touch opportunities go to zero. (Again I’m talking about non-sexual touching as well.) And we’re you’re “touch centered” as I am, a period of mourning is followed by a painful realization that “touch” is going to be a long time coming, for yourself. Your body is going to ache. Your skin is going to hunger. Your heart is going to break almost every day when you wake up in the morning (alone/untouched) and even more so at night when you get in bed and what was once so easy and available is GONE.

For a touch-centered person, the lack of touch is killer. It causes depression. It exacerbates loneliness. It can begin to cause some people to unravel and exhibit signs of an imminent emotional breakdown. And the breakdown is nearby, for sure. The potential for suicide is raised exponentially.

There are few safe ways to go about getting touched when you are not in a relationship.

Holding hands is safe.

Three Ways to Meet Your Touch Needs When You Are Alone

  1. Get a professional massage. (therapist massage, not massage parlor massage)
  2. Hug family and friends whenever possible. Ask for a hug when you need one.
  3. Go to Al-Anon meetings and connect with people. (you may or may not hug or be hugged, but you won’t be so alone.)

Non-sexual touch is such a rare gift. And I understand why a lot of people are not huggers. It’s a connection that is deep and bonding. I am a hugger. And as a hugger, I have still struggled with my feelings of being un-touched. For me, touch = love. To feel touch with another human is to feel connected, seen, validated, and loved. And when a therapist was counseling me about how to soothe myself in this period of no-touch, we talked about all the ways I felt crushed, and ways that I could cope with those feelings of sadness while not being in a relationship.

And (without giving too much current information away) when I do get touched again, my entire energetic system resets, recalibrates, and gains the gift of momentum. After just a single afternoon of embrace, fully clothed and not directly sexual, my MOJO seemed to return in some fundamental way. Some CORE function of my soul, my happiness, was resonating with someone else for less than an hour, and I was recharged in a way that I had not been in the nine lonely months since my last connection.

Sure, I am happy I have been working on self-soothing. And I have learned a lot about myself in my alone time. And, okay, I’ll talk to my therapist about my touch-obsession. Is it neurotic? Is my physical, emotional, and spiritual need for physical touch a diagnosis for my depressive feelings? Or is it a gateway to better understand myself?

I have nothing but fantasies about the future ahead for this partnership. The reality is much simpler. In this moment I am feeling loved simply by being hugged. I am feeling stronger just by being connected for a short time to another human, and in my case, a woman.

  • Do I need a woman?
  • Would I be okay alone?
  • Why is it so hard on my core personality to be alone?
  • Am I addicted to love, or physical touch?
  • Is there something I need to fix or work on in this aspect of my self-awareness?


  • Is it okay to be a touch-centered spiritual being?
  • Is it good to be so visceral in my physical joy?
  • Am I tapping into something more animal, primal, in my need to cuddle, nuzzle, and hold a woman?

What Do You Think About Touch?

As I am hoping this blog is a place of community and conversation, I’d love to hear what you think about these questions. Do you have answers that you’d be willing to share? The comments are always open.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
The Whole Parent @wholeparent

To read more or discuss life coaching in Austin, Texas with John, contact him online at

And pick up John’s latest book: Single Dad Seeks: A Guide to Dating Again After Divorce on Amazon.

More dating/touch posts:


image: hugs, creative commons usage approved

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