Touch is a normal part of human interaction and behavior, but some people develop an aversion to touch. This means that they do not like being touched and the severity of the aversion can range from mild to severe.
This article includes all the basics about touch aversion including potential causes and treatment options.
What is Touch Aversion?
Touch aversion is a dislike or fear of being touched. For some, it is just a mild annoyance or dislike when they are touched. However, for others it can be distressing and harm relationships and quality of life. In extreme cases, it can be considered a phobia known as haphephobia.
Touch aversion can be temporary or reoccurring, but in some cases, it can also last throughout an entire lifetime. For some people, the aversion to touch is related to a single person or group of people, but it can also be related to all people. It is also known for developing during pregnancy or after giving birth.
Sometimes it is related to unresolved anger or conflict or a symptom of autism or Asperger’s. It can also be a characterization of an anxiety disorder like OCD. Other times, though, there is no underlying condition that contributes to the touch aversion.
Touch aversion can harm relationships and make it difficult to be intimate or comforting. It is characterized by several different symptoms but will differ in every individual who suffers with an aversion to touch.
Some symptoms of touch aversion include sensitivity to touch or movement, avoiding affection and touch, a dislike of certain textures, hyperactive or hypoactive behavior, difficulty relaxing, intrusive thoughts, irritability, compulsive behaviors, isolation, and self-medication.
What Causes Touch Aversion?
There are some potential causes of touch aversion, but not every person who suffers from a dislike of being touch has an identifiable cause.
One thing that often contributes to touch aversion is a problem with sensory processing abilities. This is a disorder where the brain does not respond to information in the normal way.
This can cause a person to be extremely or overly sensitive to the environment and situations around them. Autism disorders and Asperger’s are often related to sensory processing issues as well.
Some mental health disorders are also related to touch aversion. Someone who has anxiety or OCD may be obsessive about their aversion to touch or has anxiety when they fear they will be touched or when someone touches them. Depression can also be characterized by touch aversion in some instances.
Anger and unresolved conflict in a relationship can lead to touch aversion and avoidance. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also lead to the development of touch aversion.
One of the most common causes of touch aversion that people discuss is asexuality. Not everyone who is asexual has an aversion to touch, but it is experienced more commonly in those who identify as asexual.
Finally, past trauma or abuse may heighten the risk of developing touch aversion. People with PTSD may have touch aversion for a specific group of people. This may be more common with those who suffered from traumatic events related to intimacy or sexual abuse.
How Does Touch Aversion Impact Relationships?
Not liking to be touched can be hard on a relationship. It can cause other people to feel rejected or unattractive and intimacy is an important factor for a healthy romantic relationship.
This does not mean that you cannot have a healthy, positive relationship if you suffer with touch aversion. It is important to communicate with your partner if you do not like being touched. You can also learn ways to manage your symptoms.
Treatment Options for Touch Aversion
Touch aversion can be quite distressing and harm a person’s overall well-being and happiness. It is important to know the types of therapies that can help.
If you suffer from an aversion to touch, then you may want to check out BetterHelp. They have a lot of qualified therapists that can help you overcome your symptoms and learn to manage the negative behaviors.
An aversion to touch often develops over time and becomes a deep-seated condition. However, with effort and help, it can be overcome. It is important to identify and examine any potential underlying causes of the touch aversion.
If there is an underlying cause, then therapy can help to target that root cause. Then, you can work towards healthier coping methods and thinking patterns that can help you change your behavior.
Exposure therapy is a form of treatment often used for people with touch aversion. This type of therapy slowly exposes you to the feared or disliked experience.
Therefore, you would be gradually exposed to touch in a safe place. This allows you to become more comfortable with the touch and then you can work towards building positive experiences around the touch.
In some cases, medication is also used for touch aversion. Medication can treat underlying conditions like anxiety or depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and dialectical behavioral therapy can also be treatment options for someone suffering with touch aversion.
Touch aversion can be distressing and make you uncomfortable. It can even harm your relationships and livelihood. However, there are treatment options including different types of therapy that can help. While it may take a lot of effort to stop fearing or hating touch, it may improve your overall well-being in the long-run.