Being as emotionally closed-off as I am, it will probably raise a few eyebrows to see me write a blog post on the subject. I’m well aware that I’m the poster child for aloofness and insensitivity.
Is that a fault of mine? Or a strength?
It’s a bit of both, I think. It’s something that’s served me well when I needed it. It’s a trait that I’m grateful for. I look at people around me, who are always stressing out, completely unable to control their emotions, and it just seems exhausting.
No, thank you.
However, I’ve been thinking about affection and love, both in a personal sense and a cultural one, and how my own actions contribute to a culture that is surprisingly emotionally closed off, relative to the rest of the world.
We don’t touch each other here (in the USA). Even friends may never touch each other. I think I’ve only touched my friend C once, when we hugged at my wedding, even though she was one of my bridesmaids and I consider her one of my best friends.
My best friend, S, and I are more affectionate to each other. We hug every time we see each other, and we say “I love you” quite often. But she’s the only one I’m even remotely affectionate with.
I’ve been to Mexico a few times, especially when I was young, and noticed that my family there hugged and touched each other more than my parents did. But I just assumed it was because some families are more affectionate than others (and my family most certainly not touchy-feely).
It wasn’t until I went to China when I was 19 or 20 that I was really confronted with the cultural differences in shows of affection. Friends held hands walking down the street. Quite often, we saw men holding hands and hugging, which you’d never see between straight, platonic male friends here. I had blonde hair (since dyed red), and more than once, when walking in Xian or Zhengzhou, people would just come up and touch my hair. Talking with vendors or hotel staff always involved them touching my arm or my shoulder.
So what’s the point?
The point is that there’s no reason why I can’t be more affectionate to the people around me.
I noticed it at the last play party I went to. A hefty chunk of it was spent in a discussion, but afterward, as I was sitting on Sadie’s couch, talking to her husband (we’ll call him Mal) about cage construction, a friend Di sat beside me.
Because Sadie’s couch is old, and the middle is sunken in, so I suddenly found myself falling into Di’s lap.
Di and I are friendly, but not really friends. So I immediately felt awkward and clawed my way back upright.
But Di was much more comfortable with it than I was, and eventually, I stopped fighting gravity and allowed myself to lie against Di.
And it felt good. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Di is attractive as hell. A biological female, and what a lot of people would call a butch lesbian. I’ve always been attracted to butch women, so it’s no surprise that I find Di attractive.
But the touch was completely platonic. I was practically lying across Di’s lap, my hand on Di’s leg, and that’s as far as it would go. I wasn’t trying to “make a move,” Di wasn’t trying to “make a move,” I was just enjoying the touch. It felt really good.
And then I got to thinking about the past year. Really, it’s been an eventful year. My marriage to Kazander was touch-and-go there for awhile, and while we’re still not completely out of the woods, we’re definitely headed in the right direction. And I have to acknowledge how much of our issues were exacerbated by me being emotionally closed off.
My own boy, Steel, who wears my collar, has commented that my expression is difficult to read, that I tend to keep a more neutral mask to hide my thoughts and feelings.
I’m going to be 30 in just over a month. In numerology, 2016 will be a Personal Year 5 for me, which represents change, a deeper understanding of oneself, and personal freedom. So maybe it’s time to open up a bit, both emotionally and with physical affection.
And why not? Platonic intimacy used to be common. I think it’s time for it to make a comeback.