Babies and children need skin-to-skin contact and care from their caregivers. Adults need contact too. But why do we need contact? And how attachment styles impact the level of physical connection we get with others.
Affectionate touch is so powerful, and it doesn’t only rely on intimate contact between partners in close relationships but on other relationships that we have with others. The frequency of touch and contact is closely related to our psychological and physical well-being. Those who are deprived of contact are more likely to suffer from anxieties, depression, and other mental health issues.
Some even avoid physical contact, even if the other person is close to them. People who consciously or not avoid contact are more likely to report psychological issues compared to those who love hugs. The reason behind this is the deprivation of something so important as physical touch.
Why Attachment Styles are Important?
Attachment styles are related to the way we interact with people in our life. The attachment styles develop early in infancy through communication with parents and caregivers. If a baby learns that their mother will meet their needs (including a touch) they will develop a secure attachment style which will reflect in later relationships especially through how much they trust their partners.
On the other side, if a child learns that caregiver is not reliable in meeting their needs, they can develop an insecure attachment style. They can become demanding as adults or clingy, and they can worry that their partners might leave them. People with avoidant attachment styles are the ones who will avoid touch, contact, and praise their independence.
The important part of attachment styles is touch, contact, and affection that infants get from their caregivers.
Can Avoidant Attachment Style Hurt us or Serve us?
Those with an avoidant attachment style might think that they are fine, and they simply don’t need anyone. Is this you? Do you praise your independence thinking that you don’t need others? There is nothing wrong with independence and that is something that we should strive for but still remembering the importance of affection and relationships with loved ones. No man is an island.
How Hugs Make us Happy!?
Here we are taking hugs as an example but we are talking about any touch and human connection that we have with others. Research showed that those who touched their partners more frequently reported a higher level of overall well-being. Those who had an avoidant attachment style reported less physical contact with others including their partners and they also reported a lower level of well-being. Still, those who get their hugs but have avoidant attachment style had similar well-being as those who have regular physical contact with the important people in their lives.
So, hugs matter, not the attachment style but the attachment style can determine how likely we are to get those hugs and touch that we need.
Other studies showed that the lack of touch and physical contact between partners leads to a lower level of well-being for both partners no matter what the attachment style of the other person was.
If you have an avoidant attachment style, should you stay your ground and avoid touch? The short answer is no! Even if you tend to dodge hugs, you should overcome the possible aversion to non-sexual physical contact and embrace human connection.
Can Attachment Styles Change?
One thing is clear – attachment styles are developed early in childhood. However, there is plenty of evidence that physical touch can change in adulthood. This is possible only through self-awareness of your attachment style and if you have a partner who is willing to support you in your personal growth. This means that if two avoidant attachment styles meet, both have to work together to overcome the initially uncomfortable feeling of being uncomfortable.
The Impact of COVID-19?
During the pandemic, we are talking about the importance of social distancing and avoiding touch. This could have a bigger impact on our mental health in a long run. The results will be known in a few years. Still, we are not saying that you shouldn’t social distance. You most definitely should. Why? Because your immediate health and your life could depend on it, but when this is all over we will have to restore our trust in hugs.