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Do We Need Affection to Survive?

by Alice Ghosh

We cannot live without food, air or water. But do we need affection to live?

People have always been busy surviving; working hard, fighting for their dreams, feeding their family and making money. Of course it’s true that the fittest can only survive in this savage world. But is it necessary that we need love? The answer is yes!

Humans are social beings. They have a unique sense of affection. There is always the need for contact, both emotionally and physically.

Affection is the flow of giving and taking of certain amounts of contact and interaction between individuals.

Humans have the ability to show it in varying intensities. For example, affection towards certain objects or animals or fellow human beings are at various levels. And it too differs depending on the relation whether it’s family, friends or a romantic relationship.

How we display our affection also varies. The common public displays of affection are hugs, kisses and holding hands. It can be verbally expressed too; conveying our heart through our words. Certain gestures such as presenting flowers, gifts, jewelry are also displays of affection.

It actually depends on the person, the community, in which country they are in, the culture and also on the type of relation. Touching is common in European culture, but not much in America. It is rare in Asian countries.

Some people prefer gestures known as ‘cute aggression’ which is the expression of affection by pinching, tight hugging or in ways where it causes mild pain or discomfort for the individual receiving it. Even many people often say they feel like biting the cheeks of cute babies when they see one. It is all that cute aggression talking.

When we think about why we need love and affection, it’s just for the feeling to be needed or desired. The affection we get makes us feel secure and warm. The thought of being wanted by our parents, our children or our partner makes us happy. Whatever we do or build may not satisfy us until it’s acknowledged by our loved ones.

Affection in sense, is not just an emotion. It is a requirement; a give and take connection. So even if we claim our love for others and keep loving them, it’s never conveyed without the display of affection.

Affection is more than just love. Love is an unconditional emotion for someone. We don’t expect the other person to do anything for us. But this doesn’t satisfy the human mind. Even a mother has got limits for her love. What people really need is pure affection. It can’t be kept inside. We are bound to express it so that it reaches the other person. However we display it, the ultimate goal is to make the person feel special. And showing affection satisfies not just the receiver but also the giver.

It helps us to understand our own emotional boundaries, about how far we’ll go in the relationship. It makes us feel content with someone.

Different studies are proof to the importance of touch, not just the physical reactions but also on the mental well being of humans. When people are touched the pressure receptors on skin activates and it helps in improving immune functions and also mental health. It awakes youthfulness and energy. Massage therapy works in the same concept. We feel so refreshed and happy after a massage section!

Other than that, touch provides a physical cue for connection both to the sender and the receiver. Levels of intimacy can help in people with psychological troubles.

Touch deprived individuals are more likely to experience depression and stress. They may have the fear of attachment or trust issues. They may become violent.They are prone to anxiety disorders and secondary immune disorders.

‘Alexithymia’ is a condition in which the person cannot acknowledge emotions of themselves or others. They face problems with social relations and affection.

One other condition is ‘skin hunger’; Excessive craving for affection and contact comfort. They always feel lonely and are unsatisfied. They have this great desire for touching and to be touched. They crave for people to talk to and may also end up being possessive or controlling, because of their fear of abandonment.

Commonly this behavior is found in individuals who lacked affection in childhood. So these people tend to look for other’s touch and affection for healing them. But this doesn’t actually help; Self-acceptance is the only remedy.

Some people find it difficult to express their affection, especially as  physical display. They consider it as a sign of weakness. They prefer to be loners. They may have an empty feeling that they don’t know the reason for. But even though they don’t realise it or show it outside, they also desire to be loved. They also crave for someone to touch them. A pat on the shoulder or a word of appreciation can help them find happiness.

There may be a lot of these troubled minds around us who long for just a smile from someone. So as long as we are aware of it and as a simple gesture of humanity, we are bound to show some affection for them. And as told earlier, giving it makes us equally happy as receiving it. We should learn to make use of this human ability and connect with our loved ones.

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