One of the most important aspects of social connectedness is physical touch. It is common to see friends hug each other, guys give a brief and study handshake or high five, and girls dancing hand in hand to enjoy each others company at a party.
The benefits of nonsexual touch are apparent and are found to reduce one’s heart rate, stress, and even blood pressure. It also is shown to lower one’s body’s cortisol level which when high, contributes to distraction and lack of the immune system’s ability to combat outside invaders.
And if this type of friendly touch is so great for your mental and even physical health, why is it that men try so hard to stay away from any sort of physical contact with another man. Especially seen in the United States, any touch between two men, as platonic as it may be, has a stigma of sexuality surrounding it.
European men often greet each other with a kiss or two on the cheek, while American men would absolutely never dare to do so, for fear that society may perceive them as gay. The resistance for fathers to hug their sons, hold their hands, and rub their backs when they are sick are even affected.
Something about society has made it difficult for men to be comfortable with platonic touch, which is pretty unfortunate when you consider all of the benefits.
A 2002 study by Dr. Field who was the author of the study in the journal Adolescence looked at 49 countries where “There cultures that exhibited minimal physical affection toward their young children had significantly higher rates of adult violence. Those cultures that showed significant amounts of physical affection toward their young children had virtually no adult violence.”