Human touch is important. Massages help us relax, hugs comfort us, and it feels like almost every pop song is called "Touch My Body" or something. New research shows just how important touch can be. When you're in pain, holding hands with your romantic partner makes the discomfort less intense. Pain disrupts that status quo, though. In the study, syncing between not-touching couples who were in the same room dropped off when the woman felt pain.
That could be because pain turns your attention inward, towards your own suffering. Holding hands — or perhaps any physical touch — seemed to revive and intensify that baseline synchronization. More empathetic men experienced higher synchronization when the woman was in pain, and that resulted in further pain reduction for her!
It will take more research to hash out how and why all this works, but a sense of simultaneous emotional and physical connection sure seems to be a heck of a drug.
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