What do you do when Touch is one of your LLs and your partner(s) is/are long distance? The last time I gave my 5LL workshop, someone asked me that question. Because of my baggage, I didn’t have a good answer, so I threw it out to the audience for brainstorming. One of the proposed solutions that I managed to remember was to wear a shirt for a couple days and then send it to the partner so they could wear something that smells like you and vice versa. Preferably a soft shirt, something with pleasant tactile qualities.
Fast forward some time and after I announced our marriage plans, a metamour started working on a set of beautiful matching quilts for us, so we could have something tangible and symbolic of our relationship while apart. This combined the Touch LL with the Gift Giving LL and threw in some metamour bonding and was related to the theme of our wedding which was about the strength of partnerships being tied to the interconnectedness of the supportive family network.
So now, a couple years later, I find myself in strong NRE with a long distance partner at the peak of some Touch Starvation. I’m operating on a deficit of Touch already and all I want to do is be near him all the time. What to do?
As we’re getting to know each other, I’m slowly learning his LLs and his particular quirks and needs and limitations. The first night after I came home from my first visit to him, he remarked about “my” side of the bed still smelling like me. That stuck in my brain. And then it hit me. I don’t exactly remember the order of events, did I think of this right then when he said that, or later at the fabric store or somewhere in between?
I came up with Long Distance Pillows. I’m quite sure I’m not the first to think of this. But I’ve never heard of them so someone else probably needs to hear of this too.
I know he likes soft things. I know he likes to sleep with pillows to cuddle. I know we both like Touch and that I, at least, am Touch Starved. I know he notices scent (not everyone does). So I found some very tactile-favorable fake fur material and made 2 small pillows.
The pillow of Me is solid black fur with little paw prints running up one edge, because I think of myself as a cranky black alley cat - a little rough around the edges, a little weather-worn, a little dark, but soft and lovable when I choose to be. He does not abstract himself in that way. He does not associate part of his identity with colors or animals or other symbols. So I picked a grey fur that matches my decor for the pillow of Him.
Then I slept with the pillow of Me for a month. When I went to visit him the next time, I revealed my surprise and my plan. He would sleep with Him and I would sleep with Me for the week, getting our respective scents on our respective pillows. Then I would go home, taking Him with me and leaving Me with him.
We could then have something soft to cuddle while we’re apart that reminds us of each other. When we get back together, we’ll swap pillows for the time we’re together and do it again.
A few days after I made the pillows, I was in a store and I found fake fur pillows just like the ones I was making. At first I was a little disappointed that I could have just bought a couple of pillows and saved some time. But then I realized that I like the fact that I hand made ours. In addition to putting in a zipper so they can be cleaned or the inner pillow can be replaced later and the little detail of the paw prints for Me, these are things I made myself with love and intent. That means something to me.
So, here is something that hits my Physical Touch LL, particularly the dialects of tactile sensation, scent, and sleep cuddling (which I like emotionally, but physically I have some challenges with), addresses, in part, some of my Touch Starvation, and hits my Gift Giving LL, particularly the dialects of tangible items representing thoughts I had of the person while apart and of creating which may overlap with Acts of Service as I use my skills to do something useful that I’m good at to meet an unmet need for someone.
So I share this for anyone who might find it a helpful idea. If you are not a crafty person, you can buy a pillow or blanket. If money is an issue, you can send a clothing item that you already own either to give them something with your scent or to have them wear it and send it back - depending on what you have and your individual circumstances.
You can even turn old t-shirts and other clothes into pillows and blankets if you are moderately crafty and want to save money. Some methods don’t even require sewing, you just fill the shirt and tie the openings shut. Check out no sew pillows on YouTube. This might be a good idea for those who have certain sentimental items like a concert shirt you got at a show you went to together or something. Even paper items can be turned into quilt squares (I’m not a quilter so I don’t know how but I’ve seen it done) so, like, love notes or doodles on a napkin or stuff like that.
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