Feel like you’re going mad after weeks without being touched by another person? Helen Coffey finds out why we crave human contact
By Helen Coffey
“It’s hard to remember when I last had physical contact with another human. That’s how normal it used to be – I wouldn’t even think about hugging a friend or brushing past someone in the office, or shaking hands with someone.”
Stephanie*, a writer in Singapore, has lived alone for years. Independent and sociable, it never really bothered her before now. Company was found elsewhere: at work; over dinner with friends; during drinks with a date. But when the coronavirus pandemic struck and lockdown ensued, all human contact came to a cruelly abrupt halt. Stephanie estimates it’s now been about two months since she touched someone.
“I’ve been surprised by how badly it’s affected me,” she says. “Touch has become such a huge absence in my life. I feel it constantly, ironically. It’s not sexual contact I’m missing really, but the quick hug you give your friend when you meet for a coffee or the friendly pat on the arm that resolves a difficult work conversation. So much is normally communicated in those moments.”