I was asked recently from where I receive affection. My response: *blank look* When discussing this later with someone who I shall call The Unnamed Expert, I expressed my abject confusion over the question. The Unnamed Expert asked me to describe, in my own words, what affection means to me. So what did I think of first? Chimpanzees! (Please put on your Sir David Attenborough hat and walk this way.) The way they touch and the sense of belonging and acceptance within the group. But when The Unnamed Expert asked me to extrapolate the question to humans....I couldn't! What seems completely natural in chimpanzees seems alien in humans...alien to me anyway...
Affection is a basic human need, which is not the same as a requirement for life (like food & water, shelter and warmth); it is not a want. Humans require attachments with each other for their emotional and psychological development; nature and the quality of early development permit a child to develop various templates (e.g. for affection). And these templates govern our unconscious reactions; they fit together, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, to make up the sum of who we are.
And what does all of this mean? *deep breath* I have come to the realization that my template for affection is....warped, for want of a better word. The affection that is second nature to so many is completely alien to me...but more than that, it feels wrong. I don't like to touch others...not do I like to be touched...and yes, that means everyone. (So yes, that impacts on oh so many areas.) I no doubt come across as awkward, standoffish and cold at times because that innate affection is absent... And why am I like this? The current theory is that I have suppressed my need for affection. If affection is a necessity, when you don't receive it as your template is developing then you have to adapt...suppress the need and learn to live without it...and after a while you become conditioned...and affection becomes alien, and you avoid it.
So where does that leave me? On a very long road. But....I'm walking, even if it often feels like two steps forward and one step back. I just hope that, if I'm ever lucky enough to find the other half of me, I'll have walked far enough to have made a difference.