On the continuum of touch:

I often find that couples get in trouble and conflict with touch when they are not clear on the TYPE of touch that they want to give or receive.

Here is one way to view the five levels of touch, using the Touch Continuum, excerpted from my book, now available at amazon.com or in local bookstores by November 1st. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sensual Massage, Alpha Books, 2003. Britton and Hodgson, authors.

The Balance Beam: From Sensual To Sexual And Beyond The continuum of sensual touch moves from lesser to greater levels of intimacy and personal exposure. Let’s take a look at the continuum of touch and where sensual massage fits in.

Healing Affection Sensual Erotic Sexual

Healing: This is the kind of touch that you might pay massage therapists for. You can also receive healing touch from a friend who does this for his or her own gratification or maybe from a nurse during a hospital stay. Even your honey can administer healing touch if he’s savvy about what he’s doing or has taken a course on how to channel healing energy with his hands. Often, healing touch is the kind you want when you are sick, tired or in pain.

Affection: On this part of the continuum, touch is used to show friendship, caring, and nurturance. It can even be a “Glad to see you, Frankie” kind of gesture—a hand on the shoulder or arm. Think guys patting each other’s butts on a football field as a sign of affection, support and encouragement. The touch is playful, light, or silly.

Sensual: Sensual touch is for the pleasure it gives — lavishing in touch for its own sake or to bring two people closer together. Sensual touch can lead to the next two levels of touch along the continuum, should you decide to take it that far.

Erotic: Erotic touch is usually associated with good old foreplay to sex—it’s those kinds of intimate touches, such as deep kissing or petting that often lead to sexual intercourse.

Sexual: Sexual touch can be as simple as kissing, but also can involve anything two naked bodies might do together, including petting, oral-genital contact, penile-vaginal intercourse, G-spot stimulation, anal sex, or whatever else you can dream of. Using your bodies—including your genitals—for sexual pleasure is what distinguishes sexual touch from other kinds of touch.
You and your partner should talk about the kind of touch you wish to give and receive before you begin the massage. That way, there will be no hurt feelings or dashed hopes.

Dr. Patti Says: “Foreplay can happen at any point along the continuum, with or without erotic touch.”

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