Is Affection Built on Nature or Nurture?

 “We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” -Dalai Lama

I did not grow-up in a family that showed affection easily or consistently. There weren’t a lot of hugs, kisses and snuggles.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t loved; I always knew I was loved, even though those words were rarely expressed.

So as an adult, saying “I love you” and welcoming touch and affection, from anyone, felt foreign to me.

That is not the woman I am today.

I tell my husband I love him every single day (sometimes multiple times a day).
I welcome (…actually crave) physical touch.
And in my mind, there is nothing better than being wrapped-up in the arms of my beloved.

Clearly I have changed.

In last week’s blog, I mentioned how men learn what being a man looks like by what he witnessed from his father. If his father wasn’t an affectionate man, chances are he’s also not terribly affectionate.

I didn’t witness affection growing-up, so for a long time it made me uncomfortable. But how is it that I have changed?

Nature Plays a Role

There have been ample studies that have shown that human beings need physical touch. There are all sorts of studies that show the lasting damage that was done to children in orphanages that were rarely held.

As an adult in what felt like an empty and lonely marriage, I began noticing other couples.

I would notice how some couples would touch one another, just while sitting next to each other.

A hand across a leg…
…a hand touching their partner’s lower back…
…even a hand holding another hand so casually while they actually looked at one another when talking.

It seemed so effortless.

As I started to notice that in other couples, it made my heart ache…literally, ache. I didn’t have that. If I’m honest, I didn’t even know what that was, what it felt like, how to offer it or receive it from another. All affection felt awkward in my marriage.

That ache ultimately ended my marriage. I didn’t create that longing within myself; it was just there.

Believe me, if I could have gotten rid of it so that I wouldn’t have to leave my marriage and hurt people I loved…I would have.

Nature or Nurture? The Answer is Both.

Nature has designed human beings to need physical touch.
Nurture teaches us to suppress that need…or to allow ourselves to receive it.

I know what you’re thinking…

But what if not everyone has that longing that you felt, then they don’t need touch, right?

Wrong.

In my opinion, those are the people that have convinced themselves they don’t need it, that it’s frivolous or they’re getting that need met through children (because children haven’t yet been taught to suppress that desire).

If you know that a lack of physical touch has left you longing and you want to see if that can be corrected, let’s explore whether or not there’s a fit for us to work together.

Is Affection Built on Nature or Nurture?