by Dr Patti Britton, World Association of Sex Coaches Certified Sex Coach
Touch can be an amazing way to communicate when you and your partner share an understanding about the meaning of touch.
As a sex coach, I find that couples often get in trouble and conflict about touch when they are not clear on the type of touch that they want to give or receive, and on what that touch means. The Touch Continuum is one way to view the five levels of touch, excerpted from my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sensual Massage (Britton and Hodgson, 2003).
The continuum of sensual touch moves from lesser to greater levels of intimacy and personal exposure. This is the balance beam – from sensual to sexual touch and beyond. Let’s take a look at the continuum of touch and where sensual massage fits in.
Five Levels of Touch: Healing – Affectionate – Sensual – Erotic – Sexual
Healing: This is the kind of touch that you might receive from a massage therapist. You can also receive healing touch from a friend, or from a nurse during a hospital stay. Even your honey can administer healing touch if they’re conscious about what they’re doing or have taken a course on how to channel healing energy with their hands. Often, healing touch is the kind you want when you are sick, tired or in pain. It is comforting.
Affectionate: On this part of the continuum, touch is used to show friendship, caring and nurturance. It can even be a “Glad to see you, Geri” kind of gesture — a hand on the arm or shoulder. Imagine guys patting each other’s bottoms on a football field as a sign of affection, support and encouragement. The touch is playful, light or silly.
Sensual: Sensual touch gives sensory pleasure — luxuriating in touch for its own sake or to bring two people closer together. Think of a lingering caress on the small of the back, or the pleasurable massaging of the shoulders using a decadent massage oil. Sensual touch can lead to the next two levels of touch along the continuum, should you decide to take it that far. Sensual touch can also be an end in itself, enjoyed just as it is.
Erotic: Erotic touch is usually associated with foreplay to sex — consider those kinds of intimate touches, such as deep kissing or petting that often lead to sexual intercourse. Erotic touch is arousing, full of exciting and enticing energy.
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 anything else you can dream of. Using your bodies — including your genitals — for sexual pleasure is what distinguishes sexual touch from other kinds of touch.
When exploring sensual massage with your partner, you and your partner should talk about the kind of touch you wish to give and receive before you begin. That way, there will be no hurt feelings or dashed hopes.
As I say, “Foreplay can happen at any point along the continuum, with or without erotic touch.”
Dr. Patti Britton is a Clinical Sexologist, Sexuality Educator and Master Sex Coach with top level credentials. As a well-respected pioneer and leader in the field of sexology, she is the author of hundreds of articles, four amazing books, and is former columnist for Penthouse Forum. Dr. Patti is a founding member of the World Association of Sex Coaches, a popular speaker, sought-after trainer and workshop leader, and she hosts over 40 DVDs for women’s and couples’ sexual enhancement.
She has a private practice in Los Angeles and via Skype worldwide. Dr. Patti is the Co-Founder of SexCoachU, the world’s premier training and credentialing institute for sex coaching.