Babies can wither and die if they aren’t touched—despite being fed and kept warm. It’s called failure to thrive. I don’t think that really changes as adults, only we don’t die physically, we wither and die inside and develop cold hard shells on the outside to protect us from the imagined indignity of our need.
We suffer so much from touch hunger that we do all kinds of things to get our needs to be touched met—such as getting into relationships that maybe we shouldn’t, or confusing this touch hunger with the need for sex. A local woman was showcased on the news last night for starting a cuddling business. Yes, you read that right, a cuddling business. For sixty dollars an hour, or a dollar a minute, you can be held, touched, caressed, cradled, and rocked. She says that business has picked up so much within the last year that she is having to hire a team of cuddlers to take on some of her appointments, that she receives hundreds of emails every month from potential customers.
I have mixed feelings about the whole concept. On the one hand—I’m glad that people who are suffering from touch hunger are getting some relief. Can you imagine, losing a husband or wife after forty years of having someone to cuddle with every night? And wouldn’t it be better for young people than jumping into a sexual relationship that may be unhealthy just for the side benefit of being touched? Someone is also able to earn a living just by being affectionate and giving. Those are the pluses.
Nonetheless, after seeing the story, I was overwhelmed with sadness at the idea that even that life-sustaining human touch that we all need to thrive, if not just survive—the warmth, the sense of relaxed acceptance, of belonging, of mutual affection—even that is being put up for sale and commodified. How can we become a more affectionate loving society, so that paying to be touched isn’t necessary? Can’t we learn to freely give this healing therapy to one another? Or is touch one more thing that has become a commodity?