The longer this goes on, the more I accept my single status, the more affirmed I am that I don’t want to deal with a relationship with any of these people who seem to be clogging up the interwebs, and the more I admit that I really am just too busy to contemplate the idyllic notion of sharing my life with someone.
I’ve got three books I’m supposed to read before next Thursday, on top of preparing to run a discussion, on top of finishing a final proof of my upcoming book, plus teaching two classes on Monday and the occasional social outing. I mean, really, I don’t have time for douchebaggery or whatever else dating entails in LA. (I wouldn’t know, I’ve been single for too long.)
But there is one thing that work and friends and television can’t provide that is stubbornly lacking, and that is touch.
I miss that feeling of skin-against-skin, of hands gripping, slightly sweaty, of cool hands stroking flesh, of soft lips, of embracing, body-to-body.
And for that there is no replacement. One night stands with perfect strangers will not yield the equivalent, as much as you might try to convince yourself in the moment.
The other thing I’m afraid of, to be honest, is that the one night stand might be so awesome, so exquisite and delightful, that it will break my heart into a million pieces to be reminded of just how much I crave this kind of contact once I’ve experienced it again.
(But probably not. Because, you know, one night stands.)
There’s no question that touch is important. This is not just me being a sap over here.
The New York Times writes:
Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not, studies have found. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched. Research by Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute in Miami has found that a massage from a loved one can not only ease pain but also soothe depression and strengthen a relationship.
A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In the brain, prefrontal areas, which help regulate emotion, can relax, freeing them for another of their primary purposes: problem solving. In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as “I’ll share the load.”
“We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”
And, in a recent experiment, researchers led by Christopher Oveis of Harvard found that couples who touch more report more satisfaction in the relationship.
So where does that leave single people whose standards or fragile psyches prohibit cheap and easy contact? Well, there’s always a massage or a cuddle with your dog. Beyond that? Patience, I suppose. And Xanax.