We would have died if not often touched after our birth. Being touched is equally important to the well-being of our adult love relationship. Lovingly applied, physical contact literally nourishes us and helps to keep us emotionally and physically healthy. Each touch is a small but essential building block in what accumulates to become trusting connections. Touch is the medium through which love may be delivered, but it also has the capacity to communicate a wide range of feelings
The full spectrum of touch ranges from expressing cold to hot emotions. Examples of emotionally cold and cool touch are violent strikes intended to cause pain, touch used as a method of instilling punishment and discipline, the utilitarian touch required to provide rudimentary care and the civil touch of a business-like handshake. The withholding of touch, too, sends a message. A friendly hug, a pat on the back, and a warm, accepting stroke reside at the warmer end of the touch spectrum. Distinctions may be made between different kinds of love-based touch, such as: affectionate touch, loving touch, sensual touch and finally sexual touch. The loving kinds of touch, if applied appropriately may facilitate healing.
Each time you touch your partner, or are touched by your partner, something is communicated. Words are the language of the mind; touch is the language of the body and emotions. Each touch by-passes the mind and directly influences our emotions. It communicates feelings. What are the messages you communicate to your partner through touch? Each kind of touch has its appropriate time and place, for instance, if a sensual touch is given when a friendly touch is best, a negative reaction will result.
Touch is a language all its own. Not only does the kind of touch express a sentiment, but the frequency of touches does as well. We each need a certain amount of physical contact; an amount which is unique to us and which will either nourish or deprive the partner and relationship of love and strength of connection. Each touch between lovers is like a single note in a song. The pressure, length and speed of the touch create the pitch and tone. With too few touches and the song becomes simple and boring; a two minute song with only two notes? When touch is frequent and varied, the song may be beautiful. How often and in what way do you touch your partner?
Love-making is a nonverbal conversation. Varying and generous touching in a sexual encounter determine the quality of the soothing, pleasure, arousal and excitement. Here too, the varied touches are like the notes which determine the nature of a song: romantic, deeply intimate or passionate. Each key must be touched on a piano to produce the sounds of music, like your fingers on your lover.
Many partners are not generous enough in giving loving-kinds of touch. And to think, it costs the giver nothing. Some partners make mistakes of giving the wrong kind of touch at the wrong time. Many male partners are guilty of giving sexual touch when their female partners are in greatest need of loving or affectionate touches. A sexual touch may communicate sexual desire, but is best given when a sexual opportunity is truly available. Female partners generally offer too little affectionate touch to their male partners, especially in moments when an appreciation for a kindness is warranted. Your generous, loving touch is a way of building a stronger, more positive bond with those you love. Andrew Aaron is a relationship and sex therapist who practices in the New Bedford Seaport.