The importance of touch in intimate relationships varies from partnership to partnership. Some of us want/need lots of non-sexual touch. Some of us do not need or want it at all.
Therefore, it’s important in relationship to determine what each persons needs and wants regarding touch are. Otherwise it can become a source of conflict and difference that can erode the foundational connection in the partnership.
Talking about our needs and wants regarding touch is crucial in relationship. Actually experiencing the touch, we want and need, can be transformative – for the relationship itself, and for the individuals within the relationship.
One way of bringing more of the type of touch that we both want in our partnership is the exploration of touching together. A key factor in this exploration is in bringing more awareness (consciousness) to the loving touch we want more of.
The concept of conscious touch is a new one for many people and leaves them wandering what exactly it is.
Below is a framework which outlines a practical and simple way of bringing more awareness to the type of touch being experienced between you and your lover/partner.
This then informs you both, what exactly you want more of…
1 – NON-CONSENSUAL TOUCH
As with many things non-consensual touch runs along a continuum from the gross to the subtle.
At the gross end of the spectrum we have obviously physically violent and violating acts.
At the other more subtle, end of the spectrum, we may have types of touch that might be described as gentle – yet they are coercive in nature and intent – the person being touched has had their choice removed.
Both ends of this continuum, and all in between, contain disrespect and disregard for the needs and wishes of the person being touched.
Therefore ALL touch in this category, is to be avoided and named as the violation that it is.
2 – TOLERATING TOUCH
Have you ever had someone touching you in a way that leaves you feeling impatient for the touch to end?
This is called tolerating touch.
It’s not pleasant.
There is no pleasure in receiving it and there is a feeling of having our choice in ending the touch being removed. So, we end up enduring, an unpleasant experience of tolerating.
It can occur between lovers. Or, in a situation with a stranger.
Maybe you have had a massage, where the touch has not been what you wanted. The therapeutic touch has been too firm, light or uncomfortable – leaving us with an experience of tolerating.
This can occur during a massage. We know the person has the intent to touch in a way that is pleasant. Yet it is not. And it leaves us in a position of risking offending the person, so we say nothing. We endure and end up tolerating a type of touch we do not want.
Another way this can occur is between lovers.
Maybe you have had the experience where a lover is giving you physical pleasure. At first it feels great, awesome even. They want to please you, so they enthusiastically keep on with the same touch. It becomes too intense. They do not vary what they are doing so it becomes uncomfortable.
We know they want to please us and we do not want to upset them by offending them. Which leaves us feeling afraid of communicating effectively, so the touch does not change and we end up tolerating a type of touch we do not want.
Simply put, tolerating touch leaves us feeling yucky and often resentful or angry. Because we feel we are unable to say ‘Stop’, or, ‘No more’, ‘Please change what you are doing’ ‘Can you go back to doing what you were before please?’
The first two types of touch; Coercive and tolerating touch, are what we want to stay away from in everyday life and particularly in our intimate relationships.
Now we explore the types of touch that feel good and are pleasurable to experience.
Allowing & Requested Touch can be a challenging concept to understand, because from the outside it looks as though nothing has changed – the same person is being touched.
What has changed is the person being touched, is either; the one receiving, or the one being in service.
3 – ALLOWING TOUCH
Let’s take a heterosexual situation where one lover, let’s say the female, is lying back allowing her lover to touch her body in the way he wants.
With a cursory look it appears that she is receiving, yet in actual fact, she is offering her body to him so he can touch her in a way that maximises his pleasure.
She will experience pleasure as well of course, (for if she did not, the touch would be entering the zone of tolerating touch) yet it is important to understand she is allowing him to touch her, in a way that primarily gives him pleasure.
She is in service to him. Even though she is the one receiving the touch
4 – REQUESTED TOUCH
Let’s stay with the same heterosexual couple and now reverse the roles.
He is still touching her.
Yet now, he is touching her in the way she wants.
He is in service to her, as he follows her requests to touch her in the way that maximises her pleasure.
He will get pleasure from touching her of course, yet his intent is to serve her, by giving her what she requests, in the specific way she wants.
Having Fun Exploring Loving Touch
As you and your partner experiment with ‘Allowing and Requesting’ be aware of the habits and patterns you both unconsciously reinforce, by slipping into the role of giver/receiver, active/passive, dominant/submissive.
The intent is to empower each other to consciously be in choice around Allowing and Requesting.
For many, ‘Requesting’ the touch they want can be daunting – as they have unconsciously been in the ‘Allowing’ role in their relationships. Yet requesting touch can be a very empowering experience.
In the workshops we facilitate on Conscious Touch, we make it very clear how important it is, when ‘Allowing’ your lover/partner to touch you, that it does not slip into ‘Tolerating’.
‘Allowing’ is pleasurable for both parties. When it becomes something you are enduring, the touch has slipped into ‘Tolerating’ – so gently give feedback to your lover to change what they are doing or their intent and focus, when touching.
This way of clearly communicating what touch we want to give and receive can open up a whole new world of tactile fun and erotic experiences.