If people go without touch for extended periods of time, it’s detrimental to their mental health. There have been studies where baby Rhesus monkeys will cuddle with a toy stuffed with nails, just to be close to something. In Nazi Germany, the children who were raised by the State without any affection at all turned out to have many mental disorders.
When I was in law school, I found most of the people there to be atrocious. Certainly, it was hard to make friends, let alone date. I found myself feeling invisible. Now, if you’ve never been on a grad school budget, it’s hard to understand how impoverished I was. However, it came to the point that I saved up food money to get massages at my gym. Even though I could only get a half an hour’s worth, it was critical for my mental health and well-being. People need touch to thrive.
I know where you are coming from. I also like to cuddle. I have noticed that I sleep better that way. However, there are times when I just want some space and room when I am sleeping. I guess a lot depends on the kind of mind frame we are in at the moment. But overall, cuddling's great.
I agree with you, Tamar. In answer to Larisa's comment, I wouldn't consider myself a very physical person at all--I'm only physically affectionate with very close friends and family, and I tend to be much more cerebral than anything else. At the same time, I think that in an evolutionary sense, touch is really very integral to our well-being. I remember times like you mentioned--being in college and feeling very alienated from others--when my physical and mental states were both extremely depressive. I think that massage is extremely therapeutic and nurturing, even for people who find they have something of an aversion to touching or being touched.
Well...I think touch can be wonderful but I don't think it is as important when you are full-grown as when you are a child. Babies need cuddling. Adults do not. If they did, then it would be impossible for people to go off and meditate in caves and become enlightened spiritual gurus. There is a great spiritual benefit to solitude, and I believe that we can receive great peace and meaning from being alone. All of your examples are about children and babies. So I think it's important to distinguish what babies and children need from what adults need.