Why don't I like to be touched?

People appreciate different forms of touch. This can be felt even in small children. Some want to be hugged tightly, while others love to be caressed gently. Still others need little contact without feeling cold about it. And some children like to be petted all the time. "There are cuddlers and non-cuddlers," says Florian Heinen, chief physician for neuropediatrics and child development at the Hauner Children's Hospital at the University of Munich. "Some like to cuddle a lot, others don't need it that way, without it being possible to infer their character or their development."

Skin-to-skin contact also stimulates emotional and hormonal responses

It is no different with adults and love affairs. Everyone has different preferences and body regions that are sensitive to them and where special delights can be triggered. Special tactile bodies throughout the body report to the brain via nerve pathways that conduct at different speeds whether we are being touched gently or violently, whether we are in contact with something soft or hard. Researchers now speak of the fact that the sense of touch not only transmits external tactile stimuli to the brain, but also serves as "affective touch", that is, stimulates emotional, hormonal and other reactions in the body through skin-to-skin contact.

While nerve fibers that conduct particularly quickly transmit pain stimuli, heat and pressure so that the hand can be pulled off the stove immediately, there are special channels that slowly transmit "social" touch impressions, as researchers said in the journal this spring Neuron have shown (vol. 82, p. 737, 2014). As if they were taking their time to calmly let special feelings arrive.

Researchers are still speculating about the reasons why touch has such different effects. Light, cautious body contact also takes place during the loving exchange of tenderness, and it is well known that blood pressure and pulse skyrocket in a thunderstorm. Other researchers, on the other hand, suspect that light touch is more likely to lead to a stress reaction because - from an evolutionary point of view - it indicates touching poison spiders, insects and other annoying animals and then the highest level of alert is required.

For home use, it is helpful to find out what kind of touch you like. The Swiss psychologist Anik Debrot came to the practical conclusion after many years of studies on the effects of touch at the University of Friborg: "Come on, take your partner in your arms - you two of you will do something good!" Science gives its blessings for both forms of touch, regardless of whether gentle caressing or strong pressure is what is desired.