Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The importance of touch

Tara came over last night and we talked about what happened on Monday night. While I admit that my first instinct when there's trouble is to pull back, I'm trying to get her to have faith that I'm not going to make the same mistakes I did last year when I almost walked away from everything. I'm a lot stronger now - with my own identity, with what I want in life and with my love for her.

Plus, great sex cures a lot of relationship ills, something we didn't have last year; at least the sex wasn't that great for me because I was still recovering from my then-recent surgery. I could get all scientific about orgasms and the release of oxytocin, but suffice to say that physical intimacy is very important to me, probably more so than to most people.

I'm one of those people who communicates through touch. I love to cuddle, with platonic as well as romantic partners, and tend to give a lot of hugs. I love to give massages - again, both platonic and sensual - and touch in a variety of ways using my hands, feet, legs, arms, nose, lips, even my ears sometimes. I truly believe that people don't touch each other enough - again, because of all the societal boundaries and limits we've placed on ourselves. We're taught from the earliest ages to keep our hands to ourselves, not touch other people, or even ourselves in certain ways, and we've lost that ability to share through touch (unless you're visually impaired). These days, everyone interprets touching a sexual advance, but that's like saying every greeting is a come-on. We've limited touching to a handshake or a quick hug, and made all other touching associated with sex. It's one of my issues in being non-conformist that I'm trying to cultivate a healthy attitude toward communication through touch.

What's interesting is that my birth family was a stereotypically reserved Asian family that rarely touched each other with affection (although I learned the art of massage from a very early age because my mom has chronically sore shoulders). We would never hug or kiss each other, and in fact, I probably haven't seen my parents embrace each other more than 10 times in my entire life growing up. It just wasn't who we were. On the flip side, we didn't physically abuse each other either. Despite this rather cold upbringing, or perhaps as a reaction to it, warmth and affection expressed through touch is an essential part of all my personal relationships, intimate or not.

I have a very busy schedule in the next several days. I have been invited to attend a prestigious training program for women MBAs at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania sponsored by one of my clients, a large investment bank. Unfortunately, that means I'll be in Philadelphia all weekend, but I think it's worth it for my professional development - plus I've always wanted to eat an authentic Philly cheesesteak. It will be a nice refresher course for me, since it's been 10 years since I earned my MBA at the University of Houston.

Monday I have my first company softball game of the year after work. I bought a new glove Monday night and I've been molding the pocket with a softball and a rubber band. Obviously I lost my old glove in the fire of 2007. Tuesday night I have my first meeting of a new poly women's group in the city, which I'm excited about. As you might expect, at most poly groups, the men outnumber the women, so women's viewpoints tend to get overlooked. As I'm typically more comfortable around women in the first place, I'm hoping this will be a good group to discuss poly issues and ideas.