On the importance of touch, and the deeper hunger beneath thirsty texts.
Are thirsty messages a sign of deeper hunger? Is honesty in sexts the best way to go? What are the drawbacks of hugging smelly people? Does anyone have any Chianti? These and several other questions pondered in an episode on the importance of touch, and what happens when humans are deprived of it.
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Hello! This weeks’ Patreon compliments go to Sam Considine, who is so generous, he would always share his fries with you, and Henry Murphy, who is the kind of guy who wants to see his friends, but remembers not to fuck up the social distancing rules and endanger the rest of us. If you want a Patreon compliment of your very own, go to Patreon.com/probablytrue and sign up.
A little other aside, too - I know the government is lessening the restriction on social distancing and quarantine and stuff like that, but please do continue to be mindful and keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a mask when you’re around other people and all the other things that are boring but save lives. We are governed by idiots and bastards; we know that. We know it. So, don’t immediatel;y trust them when they say stuff about the virus being over, or it being ok to do whatever you want all of a sudden. Instead, please educate yourself on the risks and the dangers of social interaction. The reason I’m saying this, apart from, ya know, generally protecting others as well as your own gorgeous selves, apart from that: My mum’s a nurse. Every time someone says “Well, you can’t expect people to social distance when the weather’s nice” or “Lockdown’s pretty much over, it’s all sorted, innit,” or even “we’ve had enough” or anything like that, you make her and her colleagues’ day harder. And if my mum gets sick because of selfish and stupid thinking like that, I want want you to know, I will find you.
A mate of mine was on Instagram the other day, moaning about how he misses hotels, and drinks at hotels, and photoshoots at hotels, and meetings at hotels, and “meetings” at hotels and generally just trying to big up his rock and roll lifestyle. Well, I say ‘rock and roll’, it’s more of an ‘only’ and ‘fans’ lifestyle. Which he should do, to be honest. He’s a hottie, even if he is trying to be Carrie Bradshaw. But his ‘aspirational’ post got me to thinking… What do I miss?
Weirdly, the first thing that I could think of that I miss was being annoyed by tosspots in bars. There’s a place near my flat, which is always too hot, too crowded, and staffed by pretentious east London tosspots with stupid facial hair who are much more interested in talking and drinking amongst themselves rather than serving any customers their overpriced drinks. Every time I go in there I get annoyed by just how slack the staff are and how shitty a bar it is. God, I miss it.
Ooh, that was a nice little rant. I might not even need to have a wank later, now. Still will, though, obviously.
The other thing that came to mind is hugs. Which might seem a bit weird, me being English and all. We’re not supposed to be down with all the physical affection and everything. A bit too foreign for our liking. That was certainly the case when I went to that German hippy retreat thing. There were big bean bags off in a corner of the break room, and every now and again, all these lovely German boys would spontaneously have a ‘cuddle puddle’ where they’d all just cuddle up together, like a litter of puppies or something equally adorable.
Part of me really wanted to join in, but there was another part of me that was a lot more English thinking “Oh, no. That doesn’t seem right. It’s not hygienic, surely. And besides, I haven’t been introduced to their parents yet. Cuddling up to strangers is a suspiciously foreign thing to do… So I didn’t do it, really. A couple of times I sat on the mats and hoped a cuddle puddle would sort of happen around me. But it didn’t work like that.
But yeah. Turns out missing hugs and physical intimacy is a real thing. It’s important to us as animals.
This was hammered home, if you’ll excuse the phrase, when I gave the hot homeless guy outside my flat some change. I know this was when I realised how much I’d been missing touch because he hugged me as a thanks for my change and I did not let go anywhere near as quickly as he wanted me to. Which felt nice, for a little while. Although when I got back home I was getting REALLY itchy, so I had a very hot shower with some dettol and a wire brush.
But apart from that, it’s been upwards of 76 days since I’ve had any meaningful physical contact with anyone.
And to think there were times when I was sick of being touched, and just wanted to be left alone. Oh, how far away those days seem now! Well, not really. I keep reminding myself that I used to really hate it when people were constantly touching me. Like you’d be next to someone in bed and getting too warm, so you move a little away from them and they follow you, so you’ve basically being chased around the bed by some hot water bottle motherfucker who seems to be generating more heat than a mid-sized power station.
I think I’m probably not the only one, to be honest. I’ve been getting a lot of horny texts from gays I”ve hooked up with. Some from fucking YEARS ago, suddenly messaging me out of nowhere. And you can tell they’ve been slowly working down their contacts list going further back into their dating past, messaging everyone and seeing who responds. Everyone has their A List, that they go to first, then after a week or so it’s the B list, and then after a month the desperation starts to move in as they’ve just trawling back to find that random guy they hooked up with in 2012 who they swapped numbers with but never messaged, and then they’re all like “Hey mister, how’ve you been? I’ve been meaning to text you for ages!” Yeah, like seven years, fucko. Keep moving. Off you fuck, go on.
I’ve not got much of a sex drive at the moment, anyway, so it’s not like Im missing out on much. Luckily. I’ve found that, with people I actually like, a bit of sexting can be fun. Although I’ve never been one of those people who goes for the hyperbole stuff. Like “We’re gonna be at it all night, baby!” sort of thing. Nah. Twenty minutes, tops, And even then if I get distracted or accidentally think about Boris Johnson in the middle of it then it might not happen. Too much honesty can definitely be a mood killer, though. Apparently it’s a bit of a mood killer to respond to “What would you do to me if I were there?” with something like “I would want to cuddle up, talk to you, feel your skin against mine and maybe cry a bit.” I can just hear the boner sort of deflating on the other end of the chat at that point.
Oh! I’ve thought of another thing that’s annoying about being touched! When someone is running a finger up and down your arm or your back or something, absent-mindedly. Sometimes you don’t notice, or it’s quite nice, and other times it’s the only thing you can think about and really bloody irritating. If that happens to you, my protip is to say something. Don’t do what I dio, which is overthink the situation so much that I daren’t say anything for fear of hurting their feelings, and instead just kind of...grab their finger to make it stop. Because, a lot of the time, they won’t realise that it’s annoying you, and will start doing it with the other hand. Or another finger. And then you have to hold that one too, and suddenly you’re playing a weird hybrid game of whackamole and twister, where every time they start touching you with some part of their body, you have to use a part of yours to stop it. And it’s only making you more and more annoyed but you couldn’t possibly say anything, because that would be awkward, and might hurt their feelings.
I am beginning to realise why I might be single.
But yeah, there’s a sweet spot between ‘not having enough physical contact’ and ‘too much get off me leave me alone jesus’, and everyone’s thresholds are different, which is why some people come across as super clingy, and others very cold and aloof.
There’s a name for being deprived of touch, aside from ‘touch deprived’, I mean, which you’d think would be enough, but someone decided to take the creepy up several notches to coin the phrase “skin hunger”. Which really feels like it should be followed by “ffftfftfttftftft”
I wonder, how many times I’ve opened Grindr, or hooked up with a random dude not because I was horny, but just because I needed to feel skin against mine. Hopw many times did I have sex with someone I wasn’t into because I didn’t know any other way to get the feeling ofbeing held by another human. How much joyless, mechanical sex do we get through, just because there’s some physical touch involved?
And don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely possible to have great sex without it having to be deep and meaningful, when both of you are in the mood and attracted to one another and there’s a general vibe of fun. I’m talking about the other kind, where it’s a bit grim and you just both kind of grit your teeth and get through it and immediately leave afterwards.
I wonder, how many of us, including me, I’m not special, lack the self-awareness to tell the difference between “I’m horny and want to have sex with someone” and “I’m lonely” or “I want to be held and feel skin against me”.
And if I can’t tell there’s a difference in myself, or perhaps even notice that there IS a difference, then there’s no way I’m going to be able to vocalise that to anyone else. Like I said, I struggle to say the simplest things like “please keep your hand still” or similar for fear of upsetting someone else, so “Would you mind not sticking that in me just now, I’d rather just cuddle” is going to be hard. Heh. Hard.
It’s like with food. Being stuck at home, I open the fridge 50 or 60 times a day and am always surprised to find exactly the same stuff in there each time. I have to ask myself, “Am I hungry? Or am I bored? Am I eating because I don’t want to deal with some emotions?”
And maybe it’s something I should try, back when we’re allowed to touch one another again. Maybe I should start with asking myself “Am I actually horny? Or am I just lonely? Do i really want sex? Or do I just want some skin? And do I have any more chianti?”