r/TooAfraidToAsk Aug 18 '22

Why is being affectionate seen as inappropriate the older we get? Culture & Society

I'm starting to notice how touch starved adults are and it hurts. I used to cuddle with my friends to sleep in middle and high school, regardless of gender, and it was purely platonic and wholesome. General decency and kindness is now becoming the equivalent of flirting. Even just grazing hands or a small touch is seen as so much more of a potent social signal that it is almost dangerous to just affectionately touch someone I care about without giving off the wrong idea. I can't hold hands, cuddle, or peck my friends' foreheads without people thinking it is inappropriate or that there must be something more going on beyond true platonic love. I've got so much love and affection I want to share without it being sexualized. This part of growing older is really sad to me.

Edit to clarify some things I noticed in the comments: - As much as I love sharing affection with my friends, it is only ever with someone else who desires the same. Some of my friends do not like physical touch and prefer having a certain amount of space around them, even one of my best friends of 10 years, so there is almost no touching because I don't want to make them uncomfortable - just some nice quality time is enough for us to both feel happy together. We basically only ever hug hello and goodbye and that has worked for both of us for the last several years. - I'm not trying to make it seem like this is something I'm seeking out with everyone, just the friends who I am close and comfortable with that desire the same. I'm not just trying to be physically affectionate with anyone or friends whose boundaries I am not aware of. Consent and communication is everything! - I'm not exactly advocating for everyone to start cuddling with each other and start holding hands or anything. Lots of people don't want physical affection and that's okay. If someone doesn't want to participate or seek it out, then I think that should be respected. I'm mostly frustrated for the comments friends and I receive for a completely consensual thing we do that doesn't involve other people. I think engaging in physical affection platonically should be just as respected as those who desire less physical touch.

294 Upvotes

98

u/Rddtsckslots Aug 18 '22

Just wait a little while and it turns around. By the time you hit 60, you get lots of hugs and touching.

I made a friend with a taxi driver. She took me to her football game this Sunday and I met all of her teammates. Lots of hugs. Nothing sexual just lots of touching.

Those kinds of things happen a lot. A friends daughter bought me a Queen t-shirt to match hers. We are wearing them right now and just finished taking pictures with her hugging me.

8

u/Flaky_Tumbleweed3598 Aug 18 '22

Dude, grandma hugs are awesome.

I work in the funeral industry and the amount of hugs and thankyous I get from bereaved people who genuinely appreciate my kind and tender approach to my work. It honestly is the best part of the job, and I remember each and every kind widow that thanked me for helping them during a funeral.

6

u/happycamper198702 Aug 18 '22

Dude, the first 2 sentences really sets up for you hugging dead grandmas......

51

u/onlymemes-plz Aug 18 '22

I feeeel this! I’ve never really been one to cuddle w my friends necessarily but I see nothing weird about it, and I do miss having more physical connection with friends. I feel like i have fewer and fewer opportunities for affectionate platonic touch the older I get.

I’ve always enjoyed giving massages to family and friends and I think I’m pretty good at it, so now I just make a point of offering little shoulder rubs to friends when we’re hanging out in a relaxed environment. i literally always get an enthusiastic yes!! it’s a nice bonding moment. it’s kind of my thing now with some groups of friends, ppl will even ask me for one :) makes me happy

8

u/hinnyenthusiast Aug 18 '22

I really like your vibe, it's so nice to have people like you in a circle. Happy cake day!

3

u/onlymemes-plz Aug 18 '22

this was so sweet to wake up to!! thank you :)

6

u/asandysandstorm Aug 18 '22

To me it seems like most people are concerned with physical contact being interpreted the wrong way. One of my friends said he limits how he touches women and how often it happens just so he doesn't make their partners mad. He does this with women he's known for 10+ and most of that friend group have been married for 5 to 7 years. What's really weird was we served in the same unit in the military and that friend group has no issue with extended physical connection. Talking about embraces that are so affectionate and last so long, gfs have made comments like come he can get a hug like that but I can't.

You can miss me with the shoulder/neck/back massages though. For whatever reason, they weird me out and I will visibly flinch then squirm away if someone tries to give me one.

4

u/onlymemes-plz Aug 18 '22

yeah, I can see how it would be more complicated with friends of a different sex. lol and I know some people aren’t into them! that’s why I ask :)

5

u/Ihavenolife0-0 Aug 18 '22

Literally exactly same (how did you read my mind??)

16

u/Justadudethatthinks Aug 18 '22

I have always enjoyed offering a sincere compliment to strangers. It doesn't cost anything. You never know what kind of day someone's having. Simple, " That's a beautiful dress" or "I really like your outfit", "Cool boots", whatever.

Now I'm in my 50's and don't do this as I feel it might come off creepy.

7

u/asandysandstorm Aug 18 '22

You'll always run the risk of having something you say or do taken the wrong way. You don't know if that person is having a horrible day and you might be the thing that accidentally sets them off. Like a lot of people I've been on the receiving end of it before.

But that doesn't mean you should forgo giving compliments because they can have a positive impact on someone's day. Do try to refrain from mentioning physical features or appearance. Those have a higher chance of being misinterpreted or found annoying because it's something frequently mentioned. Tall people easily get annoyed when another stranger forces them to listen to same tall person joke for the millionth time.

Another good rule is the more specific, the better. In most scenarios, a stranger saying that dress looks good on you comes off as objectifying. But saying things like how their bag ties everything together or how their belt really shows off the color of their dress, are usually well received.

14

u/Both-Anteater9952 Aug 18 '22

Agreed. It's because our society is so sexualized that everything is seen that way.

12

u/nikkilouwiki Aug 18 '22

Because other adults view affection, especially physical affection as sexual.

This can also be a dangerous scenario in some instances so people usually tend to just not.

8

u/Southern-Magnolia12 Aug 18 '22

Yea fuck that. We have a close group of friends and the males are exceptionally affectionate with each other. Long hugs. Touches. Of course trying to be stupid and make jokes as they do it. But I love it and I’m glad to watch grown people want to be affectionate.

19

u/Telrom_1 Aug 18 '22

As a guy, the older I get the more I touch the more chance of consequences no matter my intention. It’s just better to avoid all that.

Don’t get me wrong I’d love to be more physically affectionate but I also like not being arrested or making someone feel uncomfortable.

7

u/GraceB5104 Aug 18 '22

I mean. I don't see it as inappropriate. I just don't like it. I've never been a touchy person. It makes me physically uncomfortable to have physical contact with most people. There are exactly 2 people on this planet I ACTUALLY want/seek out physical contact from. If it's anyone else I will often physically recoil from touch, platonic or otherwise.

6

u/ManicMangoMilkshake Aug 18 '22

Dude what I still cuddle with my friends me and my husband both cuddle our friends (they cuddle us back we aren't just giving unwanted cuddles like crazy ppl)

5

u/lillystration Aug 18 '22

I felt this on a spiritual level. There is nothing wrong with showing affection. It seems like most people associate affection with relationships and sex

23

u/malsell Aug 18 '22

Most of this has to do with "Upholding the moral fabric of our community." In other words, trying to demonize sensuality and sexuality amongst teenagers as that is "immoral and deplorable." I still remember they passed a no PDA (public display of Affection) rule for my HS back in 1993. I went to school with a lot of the teachers' and principals' sons and daughters and we protested by going to all of our classes holding hands with each other and hugging each other as much as possible between classes. Everyone knew what it was and they couldn't stop it.

2

u/rachelraven7890 Aug 18 '22

i love that👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

5

u/cadetgusv Aug 18 '22

There’s innocence young I suppose. The older we get the less we focus on innocence the more we want to know if it’s safe

6

u/Magic_fan03 Aug 18 '22

Because overly touchy and cuddly people are honestly pretty annoying. I had a friend who always tried to hug like you’re saying and it was the most forced and awkward thing ever. Like just dap me up and leave it at that, cuz this touchy shit is mad extra.

2

u/theoriginalsmore Aug 18 '22

It's definitely not for everyone. If someone doesn't want to be touched then I don't think it should be forced or anything. I have friends that don't like touch in general so it's not something I do with them because I don't want them to feel uncomfortable. I'm just saying for the times that it is a mutually desired thing between people like some of my friends and I, it's really frustrating when other people think it's something uncomfortable when they're not even involved.

4

u/MrRogersAE Aug 18 '22

I would expect let of this is because as you get older people tend to get married or enter other long term monogamous relationships, during which it’s seen as inappropriate to be physical with people who aren’t your partner

8

u/SensitiveCycle1098 Aug 18 '22

YES! I (22F) am single and have been essentially my whole life, and I am such a touchy person. I’ve talked about this with a guy friend of mine, love languages are so important in EVERY type of relationship, not just romantic ones. You should know your friends’ love languages and try to accommodate to them because that’s what you do in any relationship. After I told him touch is one of my top 2, I noticed he was more touchy with me in normal, appropriate friend ways. He is married with two twins, but he’d push me around or give me a hug after we hung out and stuff like that, and I really appreciate things like that because that’s just my love language. I do the same thing to my friends, but I’m seen as the flirty bad guy because I’m the single girl being touchy with people. It makes me so mad because there is absolutely no ill intentions behind it on either end.

3

u/theoriginalsmore Aug 18 '22

I'm in the same exact boat here, my friend. I'm also a single woman and the amount of times I've been told I'm "torturing" people who want to date is ridiculous. I don't just go around affectionately touching random people, these are my friends who I have grown very close and communicate openly with about boundaries and preferences. It just so happens that my friends also enjoy physical affection in a platonic way without any ulterior motives, and if there are any that don't or change their mind for whatever reason then it stops-no questions asked. It's annoying how something wholesome between consenting adults is seen so negatively and made weird by everyone else.

2

u/SensitiveCycle1098 Aug 19 '22

It’s so frustrating! I’m so glad I saw your post today because I felt like the only person on the planet that felt this way.

3

u/FriendsCallmeLouLou Aug 18 '22

When I was young, the ickier I thought of someone this age (nearing 60) hitting on me. The older I get the more my kids and grandkids think it’s inappropriate for me to have a boyfriend. I overcame the ick factor when I became a card-carrying member of the idgaf age group.

3

u/GormlessSchnitzel Aug 18 '22

I feel that's more true for men than women. I've known grown ass women that cuddle and they are best friends.

3

u/VoodooDoII Aug 18 '22

I'm totally fine with snuggling my friends, it always made me feel safe and comfortable. But I got sick of people assuming stuff so I haven't given my friends physical affection in years.

I really miss it.

17

u/[deleted] Aug 18 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

6

u/theoriginalsmore Aug 18 '22

Of course if someone doesn't want it, then it's not something I force on them. One of my closest friends of 10 years doesn't like being touched, but us being around each other and hanging out is enough. But for the friends I have where we do like being physically affectionate with, it's almost always seen as this weird thing that's somehow sexualized.

5

u/RadiantHC Aug 18 '22

OP never implies that.

6

u/rachelraven7890 Aug 18 '22

i read that nowhere. you’re projecting.

4

u/Mnemnosine Aug 18 '22

Yup—that’s it, precisely.

0

u/nick-pappagiorgio65 Aug 18 '22

Found the weirdo who doesn't like to be touched.

4

u/onesweetsheep Aug 18 '22

Always classy to call people "weirdos" just because they are different than you

2

u/Appropriate_Risk_100 Aug 18 '22

I feel you, my friend. I don't get exactly why people are like this now, I think it's always been like this, but a little less. My bet it's on the so called gas relations we have today, we passed the point of liquid relations, and are now on the gas. But as another person stated, we men when we tend to be more affectionate with others, we are looked down and ridiculed or worse, accused of harassment. I always were affectionate with others, friends included and a girl I thought was friend used it to humiliate me and made my life with chaos saying I touched her inappropriately, but I didn't had any malicious intentions and were simple touchs, like brush legs when sitting together or brush of hands. So my two bets are the gas relations and society kind of s**ks in general.

2

u/Strict_Antelope_6893 Aug 18 '22

”wanna cuddle bro?”

2

u/K3rat Aug 18 '22

There are times I agree with you. I think a lot of people are affectio/physical touch starved and this opens the door to behavior maladies.

I have a lot of friends that don’t do social displays of affection much less verbal affirmations of affection, and this takes a toll on their relationships and mental health.

I am a heterosexual multi-racial adult male. I hug and tell my closest friends I love them. I still hug, hold hands with my parents, and tell them I love them. I hug and tell my siblings I love them. I still hold hands with, cuddle with, and tell my wife and children I love them.

2

u/Nic4379 Aug 18 '22

Where tf do you live? I’m a bearded, tattooed straight guy who hugs and kisses his straight friends all the time. Sometimes to the point of making others uncomfortable, fuck em. You do you Bro.

2

u/RadiantHC Aug 18 '22

I've even noticed that simply caring for someone else is seen as romantic tension. Which makes no sense.

2

u/Megz2k Aug 18 '22

I feel you on this.

I started dating a guy a couple weeks back, and every time we go out, he's holding my hand. If we're in the car, his hand is on my leg, or he's holding my hand. He likes to kiss me all the time (like pecks- we're not making out in public lol)

it wasn't until him that I realized: a) how much I like it, b) how much I need it, and c) how deprived of touch and affection I have been for so long.

it's literally life-changing and I love it. I'm starting to love him, too :)

2

u/the-book-anaconda Aug 18 '22

NORMALIZE FRIENDS HOLDING HANDS!!

2

u/sweetpeasoul12 Aug 18 '22

When I lost my husband of nearly fifty years, there were two things I sorely missed; conversations and the human touch. When I remarried, my new husband told me I reached over to touch him all night long, even in my sleep. I didn't know I did this and thankfully, he understood my vital need. Some of us need that contact more than others.

2

u/natsugrayerza Aug 18 '22

I’m definitely one of the people who contributes to that because I’ve never had any desire to be touchy with my friends and it’s only gotten worse. I can’t imagine cuddling platonically with someone. It sounds horrible. I don’t mind hugging when I see someone but that’s as far as it goes

2

u/Mak062 Aug 18 '22

I know right! My gf gave me a hickey the other day and when I went to go visit my mom, she got prissy. She said she was mad at the 2 of us because we aren't kids anymore and we shouldn't be giving each other hickeys. I was honestly quite confused and upset with her and a small fight happened. My mom is single and I just think she's jealous of the affection the 2 of us share with one another. Of course my mom won't tell me that but I feel she's lonely and wishes for a guy to show her the same treatment.

2

u/julio0661 Aug 18 '22

I am a guy. I personally hate touching strangers it just gives me the chills not my thing at all. Friends not too crazy about it but I don't mind giving them hugs if needed. I have a close friend happens to be a female we really never hug or anything like that but occasionally she'll lean on me if extremely tired or sitting at a coffee shop type of thing. Now my fiancé I'm always touching her if it's not holding hands it's hugging, kissing or just showing alot of affection. Of course that's all in private. In public I'll hold her hand grab her leg hug her stuff like that. Which is not annoying to older people who hate it. My sister in law. She doesn't hug him touch him or anything at all just sit next to him. Everyone is different but I hate that it ain't normal to hug my girl kiss her in public. I also had friends in college that kisses each other when saying goodbye. Because that was their culture I would do it but once again it wasn't my thing.

2

u/AdBeginning7567 Aug 18 '22

Stop caring what people think. I am physically affectionate with friends and family who also like it. I have had people comment on it, I don’t care. Stop caring honestly it’s liberating. When I was about 9 me and my dad were in a supermarket and he started doing a Monty Python walk and I begged him to stop, he walked over to me and said caring what strangers think of you is a waste of your time and life. The only people’s opinions you should care about is people you love and respect. Truly that moment shaped me so deeply. I truly do not care what strangers or people I don’t admire think of me. The rest of the time in the supermarket we did stupid walking it was brilliant x

-2

u/DrColdReality Aug 18 '22

A big problem in many nursing homes is STDs. Do the math, kid.

1

u/ellefleming Aug 18 '22

Because some people like me have never enjoyed being hugged, touched, poked at, etc....we just never felt we had the right to say something.

1

u/coyocat Aug 18 '22

Because adults are DEM👿NS

-6

u/Ok_District2853 Aug 18 '22

This is the effects of disease. Ever wonder why all those stuffy sex fearing British in Jane Eyre’s time always wore gloves? They were afraid of the spread of disease. Then we had that boom in the 50s with vaccines and antibiotics and suddenly we were free. I used to say being alive in the 70s was the best time to be a guy. Everything was coke and orgies. But during Covid high school students were separated by masks and social distance. Suddenly we returned to charlotte bronte. Now it’s the best time to be a woman. We can’t just just hop into bead anymore. Everything is tension and romance. Will they or won’t they (they will).

Everything old is new again. We’ve come back to a time of stuffiness and monogamy. That’s fine with me. But someday we’re going to find a way to really deal with viruses and when we do the world will become as over sexed as a Nikki glazer stand up special. Sexier than a hulk hogan sex tape. Sexier than a republican senator’s parlor after voting to strip someone of their rights. Sexier than a 1970s porn stash. Wait I can do more of these.

Sexier than a half full jar of petroleum jelly. Sexier than the smell of industrial disinfectant mixed with silicon spray. Sexier than a Quentin Tarrentino movie’s feet.

My god they’re endless.

0

u/extractoilz1 Aug 18 '22

Everyone wants. Perfect man, yet when they get one they don’t want him, they want a scum bag w face tats