I am interested in learning about Buddhism, and there are a lot of questions. I wonder (since it seems to me Buddhists are quite independent, and they don't attach that much to people or things) what about like if they did have families or friends or wives or husbands: do they live without affection etc.?
Marriage does not guarantee happiness (some married people are unhappy). This answer includes advice about how to choose a marriage partner.
And chapter 6 of A Happy Married Life (which is titled "Security, Respect and Responsibilities") identifies what attitudes and behaviour are recommended by Buddhist doctrine/scripture, between husband and wife. There may also be affection between e.g. a mother and her children.
I don't think it's affection that's identified as the principal problem in Buddhism: the problems are craving (e.g. for what you don't have), and attachment. So for example if you craved more affection than you think you're getting, you will "suffer" (and, I think, cause suffering too). Also, a characteristic of sensual pleasure (and of other "compounded" or "conditioned" things) is that it's impermanent. So for example "physical touch" cannot be a permanent (even if continual it couldn't be continuous), and so people must learn (or must also learn) to live, to behave, to control or regulate themselves without it. And I think that attachment is likely to cause the survivor problems when their partner dies, etc.
For these kinds of reasons, the pursuit of sensory pleasures may be unwise or unsatisfying.
As for "living without affection" there are attitudes which I think are recommended by Buddhism and which are like affection (perhaps these are affection, or perhaps they're a good substitute for or alternative to affection), for example kindness, benevolence, harmlessness, even equanimity.
As for the title ("Do Buddhists need...?"), I'm inclined to read that as "Do Humans need...?". I'm not sure whether to say that all humans are the same, and have the same needs. Perhaps they do, but have different capacities or abilities to deal with those needs. There's a field of Western psychology (which I'm not familiar with) called Attachment theory, which has theories such as how secure people feel depends on things like how they were treated and how they developed when they were infants: as well as how they developed (how they were developed, and how they developed themselves) as children and so on into adult life. Maybe people's needs, or how "needy" they are, varies according.
Buddhist generally show kindness. Living in solitude is encouraged to practice detachment and other Buddhist teachings.
A need is a personal preference. A Buddhist may choose to entertain affection at the risk of losing his "sila"
Buddhists come under 4 groups: monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen.
Monks and nuns are not allowed to engage in any romantic or sexual activity. They are not even allowed to touch a person of the opposite gender even as a friendly gesture.
Laymen and laywomen are only expected to refrain from sexual misconduct. ex: Becoming intimate with another's wife or husband. So as long as they keep to the five precepts, they can show affection to another in any socially acceptable method.
Very interesting question that you asked. The short answer to it is “yes!”. Buddhists who are well grounded in Dhamma do have intimacy. They have friendship, companionship and intimacy with the good, because of their abstinence from excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures, abstinence from drunkenness, and non- indulgence in gambling.
The five precepts… specially the third... Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - “I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.” Is a safeguard for us from such.
The five precepts as we know and practice is the worldly right view and worldly right conception. The distinction made in the discourse between worldly right view and the right view that is above the world (supre-mundane) is that, in the case of the latter, this means **Complete Abstinence, expressed by the use of these three more terms - aarati virati and pativirati. Such abstinence applies to right action and right livelihood as well.
One who takes the five precepts with an aim of walking the Noble Eightfold Path, towards attaining Path-Fruition aim for the aarati, virati, pativirati level of abstinence.