AJ's User Manual

Touched Out, Peopled Out

Touch and connection with people. It’s something we all need but we want it on our own terms. Molly and Angela talk about being touched out and peopled out in this episode. Join us for this conversation as we talk about the shame and guilt that comes with touch in a variety of our relationships and how we can move away from those feelings while creating, building, and maintaining relationships in ways that work for us and support the needs and desires of everyone involved.

Touch is a continuum

Of course you are touched out! There is this strange belief that touch is something that just happens and doesn’t need to be negotiated. That’s simply not true. Whenever you are feeling frustrated and resentful and want to run away from any touch, it is because whatever touch is happening is not within your own zone of consent. Molly talks frankly and honestly about touch along with her experience of breastfeeding, parenting, and partnering. Angela outlines the touch continuum and explains how understanding it can help you be within your zone of consent so that you can participate in your relationships in all the ways you want. 

Assumptions and definitions

Assumptions are the root of evil, especially when we are talking about touch!  “They then assume what that touch means. And then that’s where everything goes awry…That touch says, I’m gonna fix dinner, I’m gonna do the dishes. I’m gonna get the kids to bed, and then I’m going to be expected to perform” (Angela 20:26). But what if that isn’t what that touch means at all? And Molly adds, “if you come with announcing No Strings Attached touches, then I’m not going to get irritated” (23:15).

And it’s not only in our personal relationships where assumptions occur. Our definitions of touch play a big part in the assumptions that we make and this can be harmful. Angela points out that although it can be sexual,  “sensual” in itself doesn’t have to have anything to do with sex (14:00). Defining touch and negotiating that with your partner(s)—and anybody else who is touching you— so that everyone involved is on the same page is crucial to healthy relationships.   

Peopling and lump status

“I’m strong because I have to be. I have no frickin’ choice,” (Angela, 35:28). This little conversation led into the bigger one of doing things because we have to where Molly explains, “because I have some weird hierarchical system in my brain that’s like, this is a requirement. And I somehow can get to do that one activity. And then after that, there’s nothing. And I’m back to my lumps status” (41:34). Although it is hard to control our environment, knowing what works for us and what doesn’t can help us communicate our needs so that peopling doesn’t drain all of our energy. Some days peopling will always be hard, but it doesn’t always have to be.