Why Do I Not Like Being Touched
“I don’t like to be touched.” How many times have you said this? It’s an understandable feeling because it is uncomfortable and can seem unnatural. The truth is, we are all connected to one another through touch. We feel loved when someone touches us, which is why touching others makes us feel good about ourselves.
But what happens when our sense of self becomes threatened? What if something happened as a child that made you afraid of being physically touched? For some people, there was an incident where their boundaries were crossed, such as being held too long, put down hard, or forced into doing things against their will. Or maybe there was a recent experience involving physical harm. Many adults who grew up with parents who didn’t protect them from abuse find it difficult to trust anyone and therefore avoid intimacy altogether. Even if you weren’t harmed yourself, you might still carry trauma from a past abusive relationship. This could explain why your fear goes beyond simple discomfort; you’re actually terrified of being touched.
For those who experienced sexual assault, haphephobia — anxiety over being touched — can be related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Haphephobia is often confused with other types of body image disorders, including dermatillomania (a compulsive need to repeatedly pull out one’s skin) and ichthyosis vulgaris (an inherited condition characterized by thickened dry, scaly skin). People suffering from these conditions often use scratching as a way to manage pain associated with itching. But while both haphephobia and ichthyosis involve excessive touching, haphephobia involves more than just the act of touching oneself. Haphophobia is defined as “fear of receiving any kind of bodily contact,” and it affects how a person feels about their own bodies.
How do you know if you suffer from haphephobia? If so, here are five signs to look for.
Sign 1: You Avoid Physical Contact
If you’ve had enough experiences being touched without your permission, then you probably have haphephobia. You might even have avoided hugging your parents or siblings during childhood. If you’re shy, you may have avoided eye contact with others, too. There are two reasons for this avoidance behavior: First, you might believe that you’ll lose control if you let yourself get close to another person. Second, you may think that you won’t receive adequate comfort if you allow someone to hug you.
Sign 2: Touch Makes You Feel Uncomfortable
Many people with haphephobia report feelings of shame around their bodies. They may say that their skin isn’t attractive or worthy of love. It’s important to note that although you may dislike certain parts of your body, you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has different body shapes and sizes, and everyone deserves respect and kindness.
Sign 3: Your Fear Goes Beyond Discomfort
Some people with haphephobia avoid all forms of physical contact, but others only avoid certain kinds. For example, you may avoid hugs, but you wouldn’t mind receiving kisses. Or you might want to hold hands with your partner, but you’d rather keep your distance. When asked to define your fears, you might respond that “it would make me anxious to be hugged.” Although you may not enjoy being touched, you’re specifically bothered by specific situations, such as ones that involve intimate relationships.
Sign 4: Your Fear Hasn’t Changed Much Over Time
Your ability to embrace new experiences depends largely on your beliefs, values, and attitudes. The more time that passes since your last traumatic event, the less likely it is that you’ll experience a flashback or other type of emotional reaction. However, if your fear hasn’t changed much over time, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. Instead, ask yourself whether your aversion to physical contact stems from a general mistrust of others, particularly men, or does it reflect a deeper issue?
Sign 5: You May Have Experienced Trauma As a Child
We all learn from our surroundings. Whether it’s a parent, teacher, friend, or romantic interest, our interactions with those around us teach us about life itself. In addition, early traumas can leave a legacy within our bodies. A child who witnessed domestic violence may grow up to distrust men. An adult who lived through a natural disaster may become wary of strangers. And those who were sexually abused as children may develop a fear of sex.
Although haphephobia is a relatively uncommon phobia, knowing that you aren’t alone can help you begin to heal. Treatment centers offer support groups, therapy sessions, and medication to address haphephobic symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing your thoughts and behaviors, whereas exposure therapy exposes patients to stimuli until they reach desensitized states. Medication works well for some individuals, but it takes time for treatment to take effect. Unfortunately, haphephobia can cause significant distress, making it essential to seek professional assistance.
In Greek mythology, the Titan goddess Aphrodite gave birth to Eros, her son, after seducing either Zeus or his brother Poseidon. Because he was born fully formed, Eros was given a bow and arrows before learning how to speak. He eventually became known as Cupid, the Roman god of desire and love, whose arrow brings together lovers.
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