I've always been one to like touch. What I mean by this is that I like to touch, and I also like being touched. I enjoy touching things that look especially touch-worthy. This happens when my visual sense cues my touching sense, urging me to touch something that looks as though it would feel good or interesting to the touch. Curiosity is just as much a motivator as is pursuit of pleasure in that case.
I also like the touch of others, or to be touched. I need ample time alone, yes. I don't fancy it a good thing, when a stranger tries to grope something that he isn't welcome (never had that problem though), and I do shy away from intentional touch by near-strangers with whom I am conversing but I do welcome inadvertent touch one is likely to encounter in large crowded cities, close contact like handshakes or kisses on cheeks by near-strangers (I recently learned this is the custom in NY), and the more intimate contact by someone with whom I am more familiar.
As a small child, I remember growing up in a place heavily congested with people, and as in any big cities, living spaces were small. So it was common to find oneself in a sardine-like situation. For some, it could be very stressful to be around so many others simultaneously. There is too much commotion, and too much sensory stimulation, and for someone that is unable to create an area of privacy for themselves, figuratively speaking, among a lot of people-this could be averse. For others, brushing up against strangers could make one feel less alone, which is the case for me.
I think that people vary in the amount of touch that they welcome, and I think the amount of touch that one absolutely needs varies from person to person, but I do think that everyone needs touch to some extent.
This conviction, I think, has been imposed on me by one of my psychology teachers back when I was attending school. I was taking a child psychology class. It was a mix of upper level undergraduate students, as well as lower level graduate students. Without going too much into the not-so-sexy details of the course, now when I think about the importance of touch to human beings, I think about the first assignment for that class. It was to read an article that stressed the importance of human affection for human growth and development. A lack of affection, according to the article, can stunt the development of the mind, stagnate emotional maturity, and even physical growth. I think that it can also contribute to loneliness. And what better way to endow affection than with touch?
Touch to a human is like oxygen to a plant. We can probably survive without it, provided we have other things to keep us going, but we might not blossom as beautifully.