Synopsis: The vital value and importance of communicating love via touch is increasingly understood by science. Love connecting touch, love bonding touch, love nurturing touch and love healing touch are all introduced; along with some information about our brain’s processing of tactile communications of real love; plus focus on learning about and practicing each of four physical ways of relating with love that can strengthen and enrich every kind of love relationship.
Most of us are born with a strong, natural hunger for touch-love. It is really good for us! Loving touch can make a world of difference to our physical, psychological, and relational health. The positive impact of touch-love on friendships, families, couples and even communities can be enormous; that is because touch is a major aid to human connecting. Connecting is one of the five, major functions of love (see “A Functional Definition of Love” ).
1Let’s get a little more clinically technical here. If a real love starts to grow via touch, a constructive, healthy, bio-psycho-social, affiliative connecting begins to be processed in our brain. This facilitates human connection. False forms of love can bring on a sense of connection, but the neurochemistry is thought to be different and the behavioral outcomes often are destructiveness rather than constructiveness.
Inherently, we are meant to be love connecting, social animals. There is plenty of evidence that suggests when we do not make love connections, we malfunction; when we do, we thrive. Through loving touch, we make some of our most important and profound connections.
When we join together with love, we can become more than connected; we can become bonded. A major effect of loving touch is the sense of being deeply and long lastingly united. This bonding process is facilitated by neuro-chemistry often initiated by loving touch.
Loving touch can help the brain release at least two hormones which facilitate bonding. Oxytocin and vasopressin play a big role in creating a sense of love-based allegiance. Integrating lots of variety-filled, touch-love into our significant relationships can greatly help strengthen love connecting and bonding.
Nurturing and Caring Touch
Nurturing, another one of the major functions of love, can be both soothing and invigorating. Loving touch, especially, is neuro-physiologically nurturing. When we receive a loving touch it often can help us feel more emotionally up and able. Loving touch nurturing acts like a psychological food. It can feed a person’s spirit and have a strong, regenerative effect.
When a loving touch communicates care, at first it may seem simple but, in fact, it may be life changing.
Arnold sat sad and alone in a candle lit church. Unexpectedly he felt a soft touch on his shoulder as a friend pasted by. He felt cared about and no longer alone. From that simple, loving touch he was able to go on and face a difficulty that had seemed so insurmountable.
Encouraging touch is a manifestation of loving touch; it helps people do and be more. The pat on the back, the buddy hug, the fist bump all send messages like “I believe in you”, “You can do it”, “Keep going” and other reassurances. When people are encouraged, they often bring out their strengths, draw on their inner reservoirs and actualize their potentials.
Examples of healing touch are numerous and sometimes nothing short of miraculous. To be lovingly touched when ill or injured, distressed or in agony can be surprisingly healing. A number of studies showed wounds healed faster and better when patients were caressed by a loving family member or friend. Rehabilitation research shows the rehab process is considerably enhanced and accelerated in patients who receive loving touch from their loved ones. Physicians who touch patients with kindness get better outcomes, are considered more caring and are seen to be superior physicians by their patients. To know more about healing touch research, you might want to consult the work of The International Loving Touch Foundation, the publications of Healing Beyond Borders and the healing touch research sponsored by The American Holistic Nurses Association.
The value of loving touch cannot be over-stated. In your own love relationships (mate, parents, children, friends and everyone you really care about) put a lot of touch into their lives. It will benefit them and you too!
One More Little Thing
How would you like to go right now and give somebody a loving touch, caress, pat or some other touch gift, and maybe tell them about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Love Success Question: When love-touched, do you make sure to feel the touch with your mind’s awareness and, therefore, more fully experience the love, or is your mind off somewhere else, a bit out of touch?