Do you ever just need a hug? Or want to be held and gently stroked? Or maybe you want to wrestle, stretch or feel constricted? Maybe you just want to sink into another person’s arms, or hold someone yourself. If any of these ring a bell, you’re not alone in looking for creative ways to get more affection and touch.

In the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with several people who have mentioned that they are hungry for touch. One was reeling from a recent breakup. Two mentioned having lost the affectionate community they had before the pandemic. A fourth shared that she didn’t know what it was that was missing, and when we discovered that she felt a lack of physical touch in her life, her eyes welled up with tears. 

This comes as no surprise. We all need touch.

Touch is a basic human need.

A lack of touch, known as “touch starvation,” can leave you feeling irritable, anxious, unsettled, disconnected and longing for something you can’t quite put your finger on. 

Welcomed, affectionate touch is crucial for our physical and emotional well-being. Did you know that 20 seconds of wanted, sustained physical contact can benefit you for up to three days? Or that babies and seniors who do not get enough touch fail to thrive? That goes for the rest of us too.

In my years of running Cuddle Party events, I have had countless people tell me that they had been seeking out sex when what they actually wanted was touch. They just didn’t know that’s what was going on. Sex is wonderful when it’s what you want, but when you are looking for touch, it can feel…off, in a way that’s hard to name.

 In the early days of the pandemic, I ran online Touch Labs for those who were cooped up alone to experiment with different kinds of nurturing self-touch. We picked a sensation theme for each session then gathered up objects for a structured exploration of touch. The thank you notes from those workshops were some of the most profound of my career.

All of this is to say that touch is vitally important, and getting more of the kinds of touch you want in your life will probably benefit you in ways you can’t even imagine. And you don’t even need another person to do it (though that certainly can be fun!)

Whether you are recovering from pandemic isolation, navigating being single, or just looking for more ideas for how to add welcomed touch into your life, here are some ideas that can help:

34 Creative Ways to Get More Touch in Your Life:

  1. Ask a friend to hold hands while you hang out or go for a walk. 
  2. Get a scrub at a Korean spa.
  3. Go to a Cuddle Party.
  4. Book a session with a professional cuddler.
  5. Lie under a weighted blanket or futon mattress.
  6. Set up a massage trade with a friend.
  7. Roll around on the floor and play-wrestle with a friend, lover, kid or pet.
  8. Volunteer to cuddle babies at the hospital.
  9. Pet sit for a friend’s dog or cat.
  10. Invite a friend over to cuddle while watching a movie.
  11. Float in a pool or ocean.
  12. Read a book while snuggled up with a kid-friend in your life.
  13. Choose a sensation you like and experiment with objects around the house.
  14. Give (or get!) a piggy back ride.
  15. Lay on the floor and let the earth support you.
  16. Try a head tingler.
  17. Ask a trusted person for a hug. 
  18. Go to massage school (or just take classes).
  19. Sit in front of hot tub jets.
  20. Lay on an acupressure mat.
  21. Take up jiu jitsu.
  22. Play the Three-Minute Game.
  23. Try partner dancing.
  24. Go to a contact improv class.
  25. Book a massage from a professional.
  26. Dive deep into a warm pool of water.
  27. Use a foam roller or roller ball all over your body.
  28. Give or get a foot massage with a friend.
  29. Get your hair washed at a salon.
  30. Firmly scrub with scrubbing mitts while in the shower.
  31. Go to an Acro yoga jam.
  32. Volunteer to offer hugs and hand-holding at a local senior center.
  33. Have comfort sex.
  34. Hang out in a hammock.

If you are isolating for any reason, or have a hard time reaching out, there are several ideas here that you can do solo. Some require a buddy or an animal.  Some of these might feel a little edgy, but it’s worth taking the risk. Ask a friend or loved one, book a service, volunteer, or simply make some time to explore touch on your own. Avoid trying to sneak touch… It’s best to ask directly so you can relax into knowing you have a clear agreement about what you’re both there for.

Here’s to living an affectionate life!

34 surprising ways to get more affection that you probably haven't thought of. Image of two hands holding each other.

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