How can I meet my hugging needs

Hunger for touch

Twenty minutes a day - this is the official cuddle regulation for doctors. It is estimated that this is the amount of physical contact that people need in order to feel really good. At least that is what experiments with massage treatments suggest. In test subjects who were massaged for so long, there were clear positive effects on body and psyche. Researchers believe that even under normal conditions, these twenty minutes should have a similar effect.

Our society suffers from a lack of contact, say researchers. © Moodboard / Thinkstock

But regardless of whether it is a massage, a benevolent pat on the back, firm hugs or intimate cuddling: Fulfilling the intended touch is often not that easy in everyday life. The proportion of single households in Germany has now risen to around 40 percent, couples often have long-distance relationships - and even when they live together, lovers touch each other less and less over time, as studies show. The fact that nowadays a large part of communication takes place via smartphones and social networks instead of taking place offline does not necessarily contribute to increased physical contact.

"Chronic lack of contact"

Some scientists are concerned about this development. The physiologist Cem Ekmekcioglu from the Medical University of Vienna even goes so far as to attest that today's society has a “chronic lack of contact” - and in his book “Drück mich mal” warns that the soul and body are eroded under the modern, non-contact routine. “Although we depend on pleasant touch and it is extremely good for us, we make little effort to get it. Apart from sexual arousal, we let our skin senses wither ", so his sobering judgment.

In fact, however, the need for physical closeness beyond sex seems to be great for many people. When asked what makes them happy, more than half of Germans put it first in a survey carried out by the market research institute Innofact: a loving hug. According to a survey conducted by the online dating agency Elitepartner, 61 percent of single women and 48 percent of single men especially long for hugs.

Cuddling as a service

Those who want to be close but have no one to hug often rely on alternative offers - for example in the form of wellness treatments. But a market has long since developed that is specifically dedicated to the needs of such people and offers cuddling as a service: at so-called cuddle parties, for example, adults meet to exchange physical closeness in a protected setting, informally and without ulterior motives. Cuddle trainers guide the togetherness. They should create an atmosphere in which all participants feel safe and relaxed.

Cuddling parties with strangers: For some, a ray of hope in touchless everyday life © Rinky Dink Images / Thinkstock

Relationship therapists Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski came up with the concept. A good ten years ago you organized the first “Cuddle Parties” in New York - and set a veritable movement in motion. The cuddle parties have long since spread beyond the borders of the USA. In this country, such offers are booming not only in big cities like Berlin and Cologne. “We hit a nerve,” says Mihalko, looking back today.

The only catch: After a few hours, the feeling of security is over and the wallet is a few euros lighter. Critics believe that such short-term events do not provide a solution in the long term. In any case, caresses from strangers could never completely replace the closeness to a familiar person. Much more important is to become more socially active as a single and to improve the quality of the relationship in a partnership. It is important to create a greater awareness of the importance of physical closeness in everyday life.

Daniela Albat
Status: 02.09.2016

2nd September 2016