Who’d have thought that good way to improve your relationship would be by tickling your partner?

I generally don’t give tickling much thought unless there is an imminent threat of it, in which case I run! Then I came across an article in Psychology Today that got me thinking.

I’ve never much liked being tickled, but apparently, according to tickling research, this makes me odd, because most people do enjoy it.

The article concludes that because tickling is associated with affection, play and general sociability, it is an ideal antidote to tension and a great way to de-escalate a conflict.

Improve your relationship

It recommends that instead of slamming doors we should turn domestic disputes into tickling matches in order to defuse the conflict. It even gives a list of our most ticklish areas (when I say ‘our’, I mean everyone else, not me. I proved this by testing the list on myself).

It said that tickling provokes laughter, which I like. I also warm to affection, think we should play more, and like to be sociable. But tickling just doesn’t do it for me.

For me, assertive and intrusive tickling is tantamount to a declaration of war, guaranteed to produce conflict. It might improve your relationship, but not mine!

I have a vague notion that in my early life I was pinned down by brutal older kids and tickled until I fainted. My pleading for it to stop amounted to nothing. It taught me I was powerless and marked me for life. Obviously, as this was so traumatic for me I have surpassed the memory, but the traces remain to influence me today.

I should probably go into therapy to uncover the original trauma, but I’m scared. So I’ve had to live with the double burden of my odd tickling phobia and the feeling that I’m not like everyone else.

I still see tickling as torture, though the roots of this reaction are speculative. I suspect that I made the story up because I don’t like being tickled, not the other way round.

Either way, and whatever the research shows, I definitely don’t feel that being tickled would improve my relationship with the tickler.