Home » A Touchy Subject

The other day three year old Jack and I were cutting cookies out of play dough.  He cut something and handed it to me.  It was a heart.  He followed that with a “because I love you.”  That’ll get your attention.

It’s hard for a lot of us, especially guys, to say stuff like that.  Likely as not we would say something like “me too.”  Maybe with the little ones we can be a little more expressive.  Not sure why this is, but it does seem harder and more uncomfortable for a lot of us guys to do that.

Others have issues with hugging or other forms of close contact.  Before grandkids and twenty-five years as an elementary principal getting attacked every day by little bundles of affection, I think it was harder for me.  I didn’t come from a touchy feely bunch of folks.  I came to understand that I might be one of the few sources of affection for some of the little ones as I came to know their backgrounds.  I reckon I’m probably still mostly a hand shaker or shoulder patter with adults.  I’m most comfortable that way.  At least now I don’t mind a little one reaching out to me for a little spontaneous affection.

Marriages can be interesting.  Partners come to understand the comfort level and boundaries of affection they’re okay with.  Some guys may find themselves becoming a little more spontaneous over time, but generally most of us continue to maintain a level that we’ve come to be used to in life.  A lot of what has shaped our responses to affection from others is our family upbringing.  Another interesting development occurs when new partners enter the marriages.  It’s fun to see some guys my age remarry, but this time to a totally different kind of person than spouse number one.  One friend who was married to a lesser affectionate person has found himself dating a total ball of hugs and kisses.  If she can’t do it in person, telephone and text have to substitute.  I think he likes the extra warmth of her desire to be close, but like a lot of us, it can be a challenge when you’re feeling the need for a little space.  Some people are all in or nothing.  Sometimes you can handle it with occasional breaks.  Once married it may be a bit more challenging.  Later in life we know better what we’re comfortable with; the reality is that the likelihood of finding someone we’re comfortable with goes way down.  Most widows and older divorcees don’t try.  It’s easier to hang out with girl friends and family and check off that box: been there, done that.

I don’t think this is my area of expertise.  Not sure what I would do if placed in that situation.  Most of us enjoy a little company and occasional affection.  It’s so danged hard to change as we age.  I like my toothbrush and coffee cup where they are.  I know I’d probably get a little lonely, but not sure how much and not likely I’d find a replacement.  Don’t know what I could give up for some TLC.  Not sure how she’d feel about being in the shadow of St. Sheri.

By Dr. Juan Harrison

 

 

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