The Importance of Touch for Si Users
I recently came across a Psychology Today article that revealed startling research regarding the mass starvation of affection and touch. The article, “What Lack of Affection Can Do to You,” portrayed the stark reality of the lonely, affectionless state that most Americans live in. Dr. Floyd implies that touch is a primary vehicle that delivers affection and, like when a nutrient deficiency is present, the consequences cannot simply be swept under the rug.
In our Jungian-Analytical-Psychology community, we know that the impact of touch is experienced through the Sensing functions. Touch represents the functional realm where Ni’s desire and Ne’s desirability manifest in the physical world. Touch — romantic or otherwise — represents the merging of desire and experience. Touch is the stage where the Si user is imprinted upon, and desire is transferred into action. For Introverted Sensors, touch and affection are synonymous.
Is Touch Really a Need?
“Institutions surveyed in 1915 reported that a majority of infants under the age of 2 had died due to failure to thrive, related to the lack of touch and affection.” — Evergreen Psychotherapy Center
Most of us have probably heard the anecdotes about these babies that withered and died after being left alone. The stories are horrifying.
It is terrifying to learn that the least hardy among us can die from a lack of it; it makes you wonder, how much is it really affecting us? Are we hiding the fatal damage by putting on a brave face? As independent and as self-sufficient as we like to think of ourselves, not having touch creates a deep ache that swells within us. Human beings were made for affection.
Dr. Kory Floyd wrote that “Three out of every four adults agree with the statement, ‘Americans suffer from skin hunger.’” Skin Hunger is not being touched enough, in the right ways, by the right people, and at the right time. It may be difficult for some to admit that touch is a need. The temptation to be completely self-sustaining, able to flourish without the affection of another person, threatens honesty in the conversations about our needs
We will be approaching this epidemic of affectionless and touchless living from the perspective of Si users, exploring why and how touch is important, what to expect when the need is not being met, and what the right touch looks like from the Si perspective.
Why Si is Central
Introverted Sensing governs the realm of internal experience. Like the imprint left by a hand in a memory foam pillow, Si users feel the small movements of a physical impact and are able to store that memory as it is etched onto their bodies. This is why Si is tied to the element earth, because the tilled earth carries the imprint of the tiller. And the unique life experiences, from distant memories to the present moment, are inscribed into the Si user’s internal hard drive.
We must also remember that Si is tied to Ne through the Cognitive Axis. Touch communicates desire. There are other ways to communicate desire to an Si/Ne user than touch, but touch cuts through any potential mixed signals and simply says, I see you. And, in a romantic environment, it especially communicates, I want you.
The next time you touch an Si user, whether it be a hug, a thoughtful high five (more than just the palms barely scraping), or even a simple handshake, try to observe their reaction. They naturally sense the intention behind physical actions.
Because of the epidemic of affectionless living, a moment of intentional touch given so deliberately will likely surprise the Si user. To be seen in a moment in time and touched with intention will grab their attention and communicate that they are wanted. It’s the experience they’ve been waiting for.
Desire to Comfort, or Comfort to Desire?
The next question we can ask is: “Well, which direction? Do you make an Si user feel wanted by making them comfortable, or do you make them comfortable by making them feel wanted?” The simple answer is, “Yes.” Because Si/Ne are tied together through Axis, the information flows both ways.
An Ne user who feels desired is going to feel at least a bit more comfortable than if they weren’t desired to begin with. An Si user who is made comfortable will feel at least slightly more desired than if they hadn’t been made comfortable, to begin with.
Beyond the simple “Yes,” the more complicated answer to the question lies in the distinction between the different types of Si users.
The Effects of Not Being Touched
What happens to Si users when they aren’t being touched for an extended period of time? If affection and desire fuel their endurance, perseverance, and willingness to experience new things, whatever the opposite of these things is the collective effect of not being touched. Like how an Ni user withers without freedom, an Si user withers without affection.
A Cure for Bitterness?
Bitterness is the Si user’s burden to carry. While an Se user’s bitterness can come in spurts, an Si user carries with them the injustices and suffering of their past. Their Si hard drive is so readily accessible that every time they look in it, they can’t help but feel the pain of the past, constantly.
Living without affection, without touch and desire, will only compound the bitterness Si users carry. To be without affection is to experience life without desire. When an Si user feels undesirable, the only fuel they have left is their bitterness from the pain of their life. In day-to-day life, touch can relieve the pressure that the bitterness pushes through an Si user.
A quote from our own Robert Potts, an Si Hero: “We live life by running what’s happening through the filter of everything that’s ever happened to us, in order to give it context. When someone gives us experiences or desires us, it gives us a chance to live in the moment too. Which is nice because without some of that in our life we go crazy.”
The relief created by comfort plus the desire that is expressed through affection will usually be enough to improve an Si user’s perspective of their life substantially. Affection has the power to redeem pieces of their bitterness. As an Si user looks back at memories of affection, those times will be remembered with joy. Affection gives them something better to compare their bitterness to than … more bitterness.
How to Touch an Si User
There are four different Si users: Si Hero, Si Parent, Si Child, and Si Inferior. Two have optimistic and two pessimistic Si users.
In Season 21 Chase taught us the basics of social engineering. One of the fundamental principles in social engineering is to assuage the optimistic functions first. After meeting the needs of the optimistic functions, the pessimistic functions will follow.
When it comes to expressing affection through desire or comfort, lead with where the optimistic function is.
- For Si Hero and Si Child, leading with comfort — touch, food, warmth, coolness, etc. — will help them relax and experience your attentiveness as affection. You show them you care by being attentive to their experience: “Is it too hot in here? What do you want to drink? Let’s have a snack, I have ____?” Once you see them relax and let their guard down, that’s the sign they’re very ready for the Ni. Touch can be initiated early playfully and escalated as they relax.
- For Si Parent and Si Inferior (Ne Hero and Ne Child), the focus must be on expressing desire and passion. Instead of the priority being present experience — touch, basic needs, etc. — reaching the optimistic Ne user means communicating the things you want to do with them, in the future. Don’t disregard touch, but you can meet the optimistic Ne’s needs by demonstrating that you enjoy spending time with them. Just as Se users crave the attention of Si users, Ne users crave the desire, the vision, and the passion of Ni users.
But, Si & Ne are always linked through Axis, so you can never entirely separate the desire for someone and the experience they receive.
Si Hero — ISTJ & ISFJ
Si Hero can’t get enough touch. So long as it’s the right kind of touch and by the right person, none of us need to worry about “overfilling” the comfort meter of the Si Hero. Affection melts away the anxiety of their Ne Inferior, and touch is a primary vehicle that fills that Ne Inferior with passion and hope.
Sharing new experiences with them, whether it be going out to new shows or stores, traveling to new places, or even cooking different meals at home infuses enjoyment into the Si Hero. They love the imprint of new experiences. As you give them new experiences they will take you back and share their old experiences with you too.
Si Parent — ESTJ & ESFJ
The more cautious, pessimistic Si Parent will be a little pickier about the experiences they want. While Si Hero enjoys an endless variety of quality experiences, the Si Parent is a little more precise about what it enjoys, when, and by who.
But the Si Parent can go on the backburner at the beginning of most interactions. Turn your affection first to their Ne Child, instead. They feel affection most immediately when you want them. Communicating this verbally — “I want you,” “I like you being around,” “You’re the best,” etc. — can be effective. But what most of us will find is that communicating our desire to an Ne user usually occurs implicitly, between the lines.
The two ESJs love the honest expression of your desire, however it comes out.
Si Child — INFP & INTP
Like Si Hero, Si Child never grows tired of a variety of quality experiences. Because of Se Trickster, the Si Childs are even less discriminatory when it comes to new experiences than Si Heroes. The Se Nemesis of the ISJs prevents some willingness to experience new things, but Se Trickster — so long as the INP feels comfortable and safe — is usually down for anything.
I once heard an INTP say, “I’ll try anything once.” This statement captures the essence of Si optimistic, and especially Si Child.
Being attentive to Si Child in the same way as Si Hero — comfort, safety, food, etc. — opens up their cautious Ne Parent to allow itself to feel desired. When affection spread to both their Si and Ne, that Si Child might, just maybe, feel satisfied for once.
Si Inferior — ENFP & ENTP
Si Inferior is a bit tricky because of the visceral reactions you can get if they are not comfortable. Like how you must be attentive to an ISJ’s Ne Inferior, and not provoke suspicion from their Inferior, you must be mindful of the Si Inferior even as you are primarily directing your initial affection toward Ne Hero.
Share your passion with Ne Hero without restraint. If they are desired highly by you, they want to know. Desire melts away the discomfort in their Si Inferior and allows them to open up to you — and finally be able to relax.
But, while you desire them, you don’t have to target the Si Inferior at first; BUT you must go out of your way to make sure you aren’t stepping on Si Inferior. The same applies to every Inferior function: don’t go after it right away, but also don’t step on it accidentally as you appeal to the Hero.
As your desire spreads, their Si will become warmer and warmer to sharing new experiences with you. Often, like all Si users, they will share things in return with you too.
The Philosopher (Fi/Te) & Crusader (Ti/Fe) Distinction
Touch targets the deeper perception functions, but touch alone does not encapsulate affection. Correctly engaging an Si/Ne user’s judgment functions will not only make them feel more desired but it will allow them to relax more quickly.
Si + Fi/Te
Desire is a confirmation of the Philosopher’s importance. They want to feel prioritized, and when you go out of your way to single them out as someone you want to express affection toward, it confirms the Philosopher’s status of being a priority.
In the 8 Rules for Love season, one of the 8 Rules for the ENFP is to “Make them feel chosen.” While this most explicitly applies to the ENFP, it applies generally to the entire Philosopher Quadra. Ne + Te wants to feel chosen. Part of being “chosen” is seeking their opinion so that they can openly share their values, research, and moral philosophy with you.
If Fi is in the optimistic slot, go for that first and ask them to share how they feel about things. Then, as you move to their Te pessimistic slots, be careful to gather your thoughts, and engage with their opinion without judging them — especially if you think their opinion is biased or incomplete.
If Te is in an optimistic slot, tell them what you think and allow them to refine your thinking. But as you engage with their Fi pessimistic, point out moments of generosity and gratitude that they display.
The best thing to do for any Fi user, however, is to not squander what they invest in you.
Si + Ti/Fe
Desire is a validation of the Crusader’s worth. They struggle with self-worth, but when they are desired by others, it is a validation that they are treasured.
If their Ti is optimistic, ask them for their thoughts — constantly. Ask them questions about their thoughts and communicate how much their thinking has been useful and helpful to your growth. Be careful to be precise when you eventually aim at their pessimistic Fe, showing targeted and genuine appreciation for how helpful they have been and how high quality of a person they are.
If their Fe is optimistic, tell them consistently how you feel. Point out how often they go out of their way to be fair to others, and to be even-handed even when others are not being kind to them. Let them help you and let them be generous.
As you aim at their pessimistic Ti slots, be careful when engaging with their thoughts, and reflect on what they’ve shared. Ask pointed questions that indicate you have carefully considered what thoughts they’ve shared. Don’t tell them they’re wrong unless you provide evidence with accompanying questions for them to process through. And especially point out key insights they’ve shared that haven’t been widely regarded as important.
Rules for Affection
It might be overwhelming with all these “Fi/Te”, “Ti/Fe” rules that you may feel you have to follow to a T (pun intended). But the priority in communicating affection is in the perception functions — especially for perception Heros and Inferiors.
The “rules” are quite simple: Make them feel wanted and comfortable. Whichever slot is in the optimistic (Si or Ne), lead with that first before engaging the judgment functions.
For the judgment functions, confirm their status as someone special to you (Fi/Te), and validate their worth as someone who contributes much to you (Ti/Fe).
The purpose of this article was to demonstrate the importance of touch. And words, while important, can only ever make up a fraction of communication — let alone affection. So, to show affection to your Si user, touch them and let your passion fill them up. Attentive affection can change the narrative of the affectionless life, where the path of bitterness is matched by affectionate experiences.
In order to have hope, the Si user must believe there is more to life than their bitterness. You must show them that there is.