I don’t know what’s going on anymore. Someone touches me slightly and I flinch and accidentally hit them. I’ve never been abused before. I’ve done it so much on accident and I can’t control it. I’ve done it to my parents and friends. They usually make a scene when it happens and I apologize, and then they condescendingly ask if I was ever abused. They refuse to talk to me after. I’m so confused.
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A lot of people think that being sensitive to other people’s touch can only stem from rape or abuse. However, there are other reasons why this can happen. For instance, it can be due to trauma. If it’s trauma, something must have happened to you to make you wary and uncomfortable being physically close to people (whether or not you remember it). Trauma can mean something small that has happened to you, like people not respecting your personal space or invading your comfort zone. Another explanation is that you were born more sensitive to touch than normal. Some people can feel overwhelmed being in large gatherings which can make them act out somewhat inappropriately and uncomfortable. An example would be people with autism who have one or more senses heightened.
It’s been found that people with higher levels of self-confidence are more open to physical touch and those with higher levels of anxiety are more hesitant to engage in affectionate touches or hugs even if they are from family and friends. A word to describe individuals who truly can’t tolerate another person’s touch is called haphephobia. Depending on your severity, you may be willing to: 1) have someone touch you if they ask for your permission first, 2) able to build enough trust with one or two individuals over time so that you no longer flinch when they touch you, or 3) uncomfortable with any touch at all.
If you think that you have haphephobia, I think the best solution is to get cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat it. With a great therapist, you can expect the process to take some time but understand that the rate for successful treatment for a phobia is around 80-90%. Perhaps you won’t completely be comfortable with touch, but you may learn how to manage your fearful reactions to them. Talk to your loved ones. Ask them to be patient and respectful to you throughout this journey and they will be supportive of you. Your family and friends will try to be understanding and show their love through other means instead of physically touching you.
I hope this helps and wish you the best. Here are some additional articles that you can read in the meantime: