Sometimes All We Need Is a Caress

Sometimes All We Need Is a Caress
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Sometimes all we need is a caress. Nothing more. We don’t want the same old words, nor the same phrases that have been used time and time again. We want to be reaffirmed, welcomed and valued by the contact of that hand moving softly over our skin…

Few things offer such an emotional and mental calming effect as the simple act of caressing someone. Furthermore, within the field of humanistic psychology and transactional analysis, they tell us that every person needs to be touched by the people they love in order to feel “acknowledged.”

Nothing is more pleasing than an unexpected caress, such as the touch from someone who, despite being covered by a thousand scars, is still capable of offering the softest caresses.

Sensory deprivation is a reality that isn’t only experienced by a baby towards his mother. It also exists between couples, and it can happen at anytime. These are bonds which lack an adequate amount of contact, where the person isn’t recognized by caresses, hugs, or kind words…

In this kind of relationship, there is no transmission of affection, or that love that goes beyond words. A child that suffers from maternal sensory deprivation experiences a much slower development and possible reactive and emotional disorders later on.

On an emotional level and within a couple it may happen that one of the two people lacks that implicit emotional wisdom in their simple caresses, which help build up an authentic relationship.

In these cases, the other member of the relationship will feel empty and will doubt the feelings and validity of the compromise of said relationship. Caresses are the food needed by the soul and our emotional brain in order to feel part of this world. To feel like a part of the things you love.

A caress: a psychological, biological and social necessity

couple napping on couch

A caress is a weapon of power, an essential gesture which encloses a whole world of emotions, inner balance and psychological well-being. This need to be recognized is something that will characterize us for life.

A caress builds life, it reaffirms and constructs it, and weaves an invisible blanket that unifies us to that person who resides within our heart. No technology can substitute something like that. No machine has the warmth of a hug, nor the sweetness of a caress.

They also say that the way in which a person has received their caresses throughout their childhood will also determine the way they expect caresses from others. 

If they never received a caress, it’s very possible that they won’t know how to offer them. But their need to receive them will be without a doubt very intense, despite not really recognizing this need. It’s complex, because our deficiencies during childhood will determine many of our aspects in adulthood.

And though there may be many inter-individual differences, the need for touch, closeness and affection is universal. It isn’t only found in humans, but also in animals. In fact, we can see this need in our pets.

Nevertheless, let’s look at the basic characteristics and psychological implications surrounding caresses.

The power of unconditional caresses

In order for a caress to have an impact, relevance and transcendence, it must be unconditional. I caress your face with my hand, because that’s what my heart feels, because I recognize you as a part of me. And I do so selflessly. Unconditionally.

A caress is above all a sensory stimulus. A sensation is produced. But in order for it to be authentic and unconditional, this caress needs to awaken feelings and positive emotions.

If the caress is sincere and unconditional, an adequate reciprocity is established. The two people recognize themselves as part of each other. They receive these caresses as a type of language that bonds and fortifies them.

couple hugging in rain

There’s a part of me within every caress I offer you

People don’t caress others simply to offer pleasure, to soothe, or to care for and gratify. We caress to transmit a part of ourselves and build a bond.

Once a caress is given, it is what it is. Later the other person must judge it as something authentic or fake. Because, let’s not forget, there are also some caresses that can cause harm; pious or ironic caresses that can destroy the bond.

A caress can say a lot about us. Therefore, we must offer them calmly, with tenderness, transmitting those complicit messages which need no words.

Caresses as part of healthy attachment

Within our website we often talk about the concept of attachment. And while it’s true that often attachment is perceived as “dependence” or clinging too much to something or someone; from a humanistic or emotional point of view, people need healthy attachment in order to create a bond.

A caress is a gesture through which we recognize, enfold and integrate one or more people into our being. They become a part of our hearts, and we need that skin to skin contact to reaffirm our emotions.

A caress is a word etched on the skin which we all need to receive, because there is no better glue for broken hearts than a whole load of caresses.

couple hugging

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.