Physical connection isn’t always about sex. But it’s just as important.
By Laura Shinn
Hello? Can you look up from your iPhone long enough to digest a disturbing little fact here? According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 25 percent of cellphone owners in a marriage or partnership have felt, at some point, that their spouse or partner was distracted by said device when they were hanging out.
It’s ironic, when you think about it. The internet was created to keep us connected. (They didn’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing.) So yes, we’re woven together; but that very same, endless timesuck of information can create a feeling of isolation. Connected, yet alone.
Our advice? Ditch the screen, and get back in touch with your partner. Literally. “Touch is a human need,” says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D, professor of Sociology at the University of Washington and co-author of Snap Strategies for Couples. “It’s a basic part of mammalian nature. We’re programmed to want to cuddle and touch.”
In fact, we suffer if we don’t touch each other. According to Dr. Schwartz, you can avoid this ailment, commonly known as “skin hunger,” by maintaining a touchy-feely connection with the person closest to you. Even the smallest physical gesture—holding hands, say, or touching a shoulder or leg in conversation—creates a more intimate, life-enhancing bridge.
All of which is fine and dandy if your partner is physically available. But many modern couples rarely have time to connect in the first place. Option one: Write a mandatory massage clause into your daily chores. Option two: Simply make time. “Give yourself an hour with no kids, no email, no internet,” says Dr. Schwartz, who advises using those moments to cuddle and relate to each other as adults. The renowned relationship gurus at The Gottman Institute in Seattle have a famous phrase: Turn towards, not away.
And they’re not talking about your phone.
Laura Shinn is a Portland, Oregon-based writer and strategist covering health, wellness, food, fashion and culture.