Communication in relationship is incomplete without touch just like an eye contact or smile. In fact, touch can establish, repair or even ruin a relationship. Touch has very crucial importance to express feelings for other person - from formal to intimate. Touch can break boundaries and tie two persons into close relationship. The secret behind same is more than skin-deep.
Skin covers largest part of our body and protects vital organs supported by muscles and bones. Skin is the major part of body that is exposed to outer world. It’s the largest sensory organ. It senses temperature, humidity, pressure and vibrations. It regulates the temperature of body with help of hypothalamus. Most important above all, skin can sense of pain and pleasure.
Apes have their skin almost covered by hairs except face, palms and soles of feet. Apes groom each other by running fingers through hairs in leisure time to strengthen social bond. We and apes evolved from common ancestors we don't have that much hair covering our skin. Course of evolution lead us to shed hair from most part of skin. Expose skin invited more challenges and opportunities equally.
Being more sensitive to climate, we got to cover our skin by cloths. We started living in shelters accompanied with tribal members for survival. Coming into close contact of each other by exposed skin was quite natural. Our ancestors adopted and evolved touch as medium of communication more efficiently than any other creatures. Touch can be of different type - caring, friendly, supportive, encouraging, suggestive, provocative, grabbing, offensive or dominant.
We cannot imagine the kind of soothing and sense of security child experiences while being cuddled or massaged by mother. Gentle touch or caress secretes happiness hormone Oxytocin inside the brain. It helps strengthening emotional bond between mother and child so among others. Oxytocin prohibits Autism. Research proves that lack of massage can lead to emotional and cognitive disorders in children. When we experience caring and firm touch, we feel quite relaxed and cherished. Self-touching brings same relaxation at some extent.
Hostile touching leads to anxiety, threat and sense of vulnerability. Accidental touch among strangers can lead to retaliation or even fighting. Absence of touch between two persons in close relationship is precursor to lack of interest, trust or sympathy.
Two persons who aren't interested to go beyond formality avoid touching each other. Even if they touch, it appears to be very brief or happened by mistake. Touching to each other in public might be regulated by social, gender, cultural or regional norms.