Back in the past, I avoided making physical contact with people 100% of the time. It made me anxious and I did not like it. Of course, I was still forced to hug family members and so forth, but in my own engagements with people, I avoided it almost entirely. If I needed to tap somebody on the shoulder, I would use a pen and I obviously would not initiate any larger form of physical interaction. I remember one friend would hug me quite often and when they did I would just pat them on the head. I generally did this with everybody until somebody told me that it was very demeaning.
But, gradually, over time, I have experienced quite a shift in terms of what I do and do not like in terms of physical interaction. I remember one friend of mine would always give me gentle pats on the arm and when, in an unrelated conversation, I mentioned that I didn’t like touching people, they completely stopped doing it. I felt a bit sad about that. It was a very gradual shift, but I can enjoy all kinds of physical intimacy now.
For me, it’s interesting to reflect on how I have evolved in this regard. In the past, I avoided all forms of physical contact, but now I have happily engaged in hugs with lots of people, hand holding, arm linking, spooning and more – though I should be clear that these are all things that have been initiated by other people. I still don’t go out of my way to be physical with people myself, but it is something I can enjoy now. These days I think that physical contact is an important part of human interaction and bonding, really and sometimes I can gain a lot from it. I like to look at this as a good example of my having overcome an anxiety.
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