Sex Ed in Bed

Touchy, touchy!
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

As an infant I got plenty of touch from my parents and siblings, but as I grew up I was aware that physical contact was gradually reduced to obligatory activities, like a kiss before bed, hugging Aunt Bertha, etc... And by adolescence, any possibility of enjoying touch seemed to be overshadowed by a fear that I might get too comfortable with it and physical contact had to be closely monitored. Otherwise, I might become a momma’s boy, or (heaven forbid!) I could become obsessed with touch. After all, we all know that touch leads to sex, right boys and girls? It’s easy to joke about, yet our society still predominantly behaves inline with these myths. How about this joke: Why do Baptists avoid standing up when they make love? Because they’re afraid it will lead to dancing. The operative word in the punch line is, “afraid,” and it’s been my experience that many of our sexual behaviors and beliefs are dictated by this fear.

When I became more comfortable with my sexuality I recognized an awkwardness with touch. I felt a nagging resistance to giving someone a hug — even if it was a close loved one. When someone touched me I would often freeze up, even when the person was reaching out with care and concern. Wanting to do something about it, I enrolled in a massage class. Finally, here was an environment in which I felt safe to touch, be touched and practice at it. Needless to say, I blossomed. It seemed my years of piano technique — acutely learning to sensitively touch the keyboard — primed me to be sensitive to the stress and tension in another’s muscles. Even though the fear-based resistance was established first, over time I have retrained my body to compensate for it, and I am still learning ways of freeing myself to give and receive touch more fully.

Though many of you share similar “touching” stories, the vast majority of our society remains tied down by the misinformation in these myths. Furthermore, knowing our history doesn’t always keep these issues from resurfacing. So consider two predominant misconceptions:

The first is that the need for touch is a sign of weakness. Hell! The “need” for anything sounds wimpy to our society. Instead, think of touch like sustenance. Is the need for food a weakness? No. Well neither is the need for physical contact. On the contrary, touch makes us healthy. In fact, Ashley Montagu’s classic book, Touching shows the studies of animals and humans who often died or wasted away when touch was deprived at infancy.

The second myth is that touch always leads to sex. If you considered all of humanity’s physical contact you’ll realize that only a portion of it leads to sex. Touch is its own experience. Sure, before sex there is usually touch, but that’s because touch is pretty incredible all by itself. It’s not that unusual for people to reach levels of orgasm without involving the genitals whatsoever. Touch is that good!

Most of us can see through these myths. However, the biggest challenge in becoming more tactile is getting beyond the initial awkwardness. So here’s some ways to sink your fingers into it:

A safe place Like my story, find an environment that safely allows you to stretch out and be touched, as well as allowing you to touch, like a massage class.

Ask first If there’s any doubt that touching will be ill received, verbally try it out, like, “Can I hold your hand?” Try to make your verbiage sound like an offering, not a taking. For some, there’s a big difference between, “May I give you a hug?” and, “I want a hug?”

Mutual massage Get together with a partner and agree to take turns exploring each other’s bodies for the sole experience of touch, without any pressure of having orgasms. This exercise is especially good for couples who want to broaden their understanding of sensual pleasure.

It’s hard to stay angry with someone you touch So if you’re in conflict with a loved one, occasionally take a breather, and give a hug. You’ll be amazed how well this small act holds your focus on what’s really important.

For those who still think the need for touch is a sign of weakness. I suggest you employ the services of a professional sports massage therapist. One thorough massage later and you will know, without a doubt, that touch is not only a necessary part of physical health, but touch is certainly not for the faint of heart.

So get out there and have a touching good time! Don’t let fear dictate your connection with others. After all, what’s the use of going from point A to point B without giving someone a hug?

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