For women: Nonsexual Touch
Most women need and desire physical touch that does not lead to sex. They need to feel secure that every physical expression their husbands make isn’t with the expectation of moving toward intercourse. In our survey for our book The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, more than 59% of the women ranked nonsexual touch as a top sex need.
Guys, you may be thinking, Wait a minute. I thought we were talking about sex needs. What does nonsexual touch have to do with that? Isn’t most touch between a husband and wife supposed to lead to sex? Simply put, nonsexual touch, or affection, is intimacy in and of itself. It’s not the means to an end. In many situations it is the end.
“Touch me. Don’t touch me.” Have you ever had that experience with your wife? One minute she wants to be touched; the next minute she doesn’t. No wonder men are confused! But men need to understand what kind of touch works well for a woman. More than 80% of a woman’s need for meaningful touch is nonsexual. Most psychologists will tell you a vast majority of women appreciate and love a hug, a touch, a kiss, holding hands—any physical sign that they are special.
First, let’s differentiate between nonsexual touch and foreplay touch. Nonsexual touch is loving affection. It may have the tone of sexual arousal “around” it, but the goal of nonsexual touch is not intercourse. Foreplay touch, on the other hand, leads to sexual intimacy for a couple. The problem is, to a man, touch is touch is touch. It all feels the same. But that’s not the case for his wife.
We know it may be difficult to understand how an intimate touch can stay platonic. You start rubbing her shoulders, and think you’ve entered the sexual intimacy zone. She thinks she’s getting an affectionate shoulder rub. And when you start to make your move, she resists and pulls back.
What happened? Many men have felt “out on the sofa” relationally, when they long to be “in bed” with their wives. When men go from nonsexual touch to trying to score—they won’t. It’s that simple. Some men keep trying this pursuit, keep failing, and keep shaking their heads in bewilderment.
The reality is when you meet your wife’s needs for affection, you refresh her weary spirit and help her relax. You give to her, which begins to replenish her energy. When you touch her without any expectation that you will end up between the sheets, she will feel much more secure with you and much more open to sexual activity later on.
But when you offer her touch that you think will move into the sexual intimacy zone, you could drain her spirit and push her over the edge. Why? Because if your wife is like most women, she spends her day meeting other people’s needs—giving, giving, giving. She gets tired and drained. When her husband comes home and moves right into “take” mode, she doesn’t have anything to give. She’s empty. And that means sex isn’t going to happen for a long time. Your wife needs you to be a safe and nonthreatening place for her. Nonsexual touch refuels her energy and creates that place of safety. Yes, she really does want to meet your sexual needs, but she needs time to refuel. You can help her do that through tender affection with no strings attached.
For a woman, great sex happens in the context of being held, laughing together, feeling accepted, and sharing feelings. Emotional intimacy is intensely fulfilling for a woman. Although it does not replace her need for sex, her emotional need is as intense as her husband’s physical need. When her husband fulfills her emotional need and sustains it though affirming her, hanging out together, and being affectionate, she feels replenished and safe, making it much easier for her to be open to sharing herself physically with her husband.