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This week’s newsletter covers the topic of touch. Those in relationships may remember the first few times your partner touched you. Maybe it was a subtle brush of your arm on your first date, a lingering hug after dinner, or a caress of your cheek in your doorway. The first experiences of any sort of sexual contact with a new person can be exciting, but a simple touch has a way of being particularly exhilarating.
As our relationships progress, those thrilling little touches become more and more infrequent. It’s near impossible to retain that electrifying early chemistry with a person, and some of us stop making an effort. Many couples find themselves going days or even weeks without touching each other, and some couples may be in such tumult that partners may bristle or shrink away when they get touched.
Couples struggling with their intimacy and sex lives may find themselves in a particular bind because touch can become very goal- or results-oriented. You may find yourself feeling pressure to touch your partner in the exact right way, or feeling irritated that your partner doesn’t touch you in the ways you like to be touched. One or both of you may get so wrapped up in touching each other in the “correct” way that touch starts to lose its magical appeal.
Taking a step back to the basics can be helpful for virtually anyone. Read over the following exercise first, and make sure it feels comfortable to both of you before proceeding. Find some quiet time one evening where you and your partner (or you alone) can be together without interruptions. You may want to get yourselves as comfortable as possible, by lighting candles, getting out soft pillows or blankets, or turning off all electronics. You will take turns touching each other’s hands. Decide who will do the touching first. That person should take their partner’s hand and start to lightly stroke it in a way that feels pleasurable to the person doing the touching. Let your hand explore your partner’s hand. The goal is not to make your partner feel good, but to find the ways that touching them feels good for you. Notice what it feels like to touch your partner. What are the various sensations you feel under your fingertips? Can you feel the different textures of your partner’s skin against your skin? What does the palm of their hand feel like? Their knuckles? The webs between their fingers? What emotions or memories get evoked? Do you feel energy in any part of your body? Do you feel connected to your partner, or distant? If you are doing this alone, use one of your hands to touch your other hand, and notice what it feels like to simultaneously touch and be touched. If you are working with a partner, switch roles, and let your partner touch your hand in a way that feels pleasurable to them.
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Touch can bring up a lot for many of us. Certain ways of being touched, or getting touched in particular places, can get associated with memories, traumas, and past experiences. If you would like to discuss your relationship with touch, call (415) 658-5738 or visit my Appointments page to set up a consultation.