You think you need sex, but could you just be suffering from skin hunger?

Girlfriends hug each other
Girlfriends hug each other

It's already warm enough to hit the beach or pool in South Africa and that means sunshine, cocktails, days by the pool and, for many of us, summer romances. 

There’s something about balmy and pleasant days that make us feel like we want to enjoy another person's company, and the other things that come with it. But doesn't the same thing happen in winter?

So are you really looking for love/lust or do you just need to be touched? 

You know when you’ve gone without cuddles for a while and you start to feel a little lonely and edgy? Yeah, that’s called skin hunger. 

As psychologists explain, skin hunger is simply a desire for physical contact with another person—and it’s a very human desire. While we tend to think of intimate touch as a strictly sexual experience, skin hunger is mostly a longing for non-sexual touch.

I mean when you feel aroused, you can satisfy the need by masturbating, toys, etc. But toys can’t hug you or cuddle you after a good orgasm, can they? 

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In a study conducted by Dr. Kory Floyd,  varying levels of skin hunger were examined in 509 adults, and participants who showed higher levels of being touch/affection-deprived were “less happy, more lonely, more likely to experience depression and stress and, in general, worse health.” Skin hunger isn’t necessarily the cause of all of these adverse conditions, but people who are significantly devoid of human contact could be at a higher risk for them.

If you’re generally a touchy sort of person it feels nice to freely give or receive physical affection, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like physical contact on the regular, especially with people you don’t trust, then it can be a bit more difficult. This could also mean that your skin hunger might be a bit more elevated due to resistance to touch people. 

We spoke to Samuel Waumsley, a clinical psychologist from Cape Town and asked what he thinks about skin hunger: “There's a social and calming element to human touch, that soothes us, so skin hunger is the yearning for this when often in our modern world we live individual lives and can be more isolated -with studies showing us having less human touch than in previous generations.” 

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He continues: “Neuro-chemically, human touch releases the hormone oxytocin, which is shown to be integral to human bonding and in intimacy. Showing affection physically to those closest to us, with a pat on the shoulder or hug establishes trust and communicates a commitment to and bond with them.”

So if you are able to enjoy physical touch and engage in it non-sexually, then you can feed your skin hunger in many ways. This doesn’t mean you need to have a romantic relationship with someone, but if you do, then it would be great to make hugs a more regular part of the day. 

You can do something simple, like ask your friends and family for more hugs, get a massage, or just be more receptive to affection from people who make you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally safe. Or you could even do something like get a cuddle buddy who you have clearly defined boundaries with and who you know you can trust and enjoy being close to without it becoming anything uncomfortable. 

So whether you go and hug your friends more, or go get a massage, or even ask your mom to stroke your hair next time you’re with her, try getting a little love from the people you love. 

That professional snugglers and cuddlers are paid to give hugs and demand for their services are on the rise, says it all.

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