How touching?

I know a couple who is not affectionate with each other. I know – hoo wee! Alert the presses for this shocking news – but I think the reason they stand out is twofold: they aren’t old and neither is demonstrably affectionate toward the other. I pay attention to how couples relate – it’s just something I naturally do – and what you, or I, often see, is that ONE of any given pair is the “affectionate” one. And the other is essentially the receiver (or sometimes it appears, tolerator). For neither to be a toucher or otherwise noticeably affectionate, in an otherwise functional dynamic, surprises me.

No matter how good the rest of the relationship was, I could never live without affection in a romantic, primary relationship. Affection that wasn’t always a prelude to sex or always behind closed doors. I may become close or friends with a “cool,” undemonstrative person, but I would never choose him as my partner.

People’s styles vary. There’s the couple groping and showing off that makes you wanna heave up your lunch. Their affection often – although not always – seems calculated for effect. (Aside: Despite not enjoying the sight of couples dry-humping in front of me, I have never liked nor used the phrase “Get a room.” One time I was giving a prolonged embrace to a male friend whose father had recently died. His friends, a man and a woman, adults – not kids – evidently became uncomfortable, and said, “Get a room.” I didn’t say anything to the friends but wanted to snap, “What the hell is the matter with you?? His father just died.”)

There’s the obligatory, dry cheek peckers who make you think, why bother? Whose relationships seem as perfunctory as their affection. Then there’s the couples whose affection with each other make you think “Awww, that’s nice.” It makes you just feel good by association. Maybe I believe affection; the looks, the touches, the tone of voice, the friendly teasing, etcetera, that passes between two people – things which can’t be faked or not for long – is a fair barometer of the overall relationship.

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