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Inviting More Touch

Inviting More Touch

Dear Rosies,

The other night, I was packing my bags for 6 weeks on the road, and trying to finish in time to receive a promised late birthday massage from a male friend before I left town. But when he arrived, I was still trying to get things into suitcases. so he made himself a tea, took a seat on the furry chair, and as I folded and sorted and rolled, he told me about his life updates. By the time I was done, there was no energy for bodywork, so we just lay down and cuddled for a while.
We placed our heads close on the pillow and intertwined our legs in the cool air, with the frogs chirping away, warm and sensory and content, but with little charge and talked. I heard my ex’s footsteps approaching. He called my name through the screen door. I said “come on in, our friend is here, we are cuddling”. I was expecting an awkward moment which never came. Instead, he slid open the door, said an effusive hello, and then I just scooted over to the middle and my ex crawled into bed on the other side of me. The three of us lay there talking and stroking arms, gossiping, trading data and laughing for a long while. I was in utter heaven. Two strong, protective, safe, kind and undemanding muscled bodies? What a complete joy. 
I’m sorry to tell you that’s where it ended, because the story would be better, but that was the energy. Not sexual.
At first yawn, they both got up and left together, with casual "love yous" all around. I set my alarm for 5 a.m, oiled myself up, and drifted off to sleep. 
Not very erotic, right? And still deeply satisfying. I feel good about getting to this point of openness. It was good in part because we all felt acceptance and belonging, and in part because we were all getting an oxytocin bath from the touching and the proximity. 
Oxytocin is an anti-stress hormone which helps with arousal and with a woman’s sense of well-being in general (when I first learned this, by the way, I tried an oxytocin nasal spray- but that did nothing- sadly- had to stay with good old fashioned human contact.) Oxytocin has a direct impact on cortisol, the stress hormone. When oxytocin is plentiful, you feel really good. When it's depleted, it can be implicated in bipolar disorder and depression and all kinds of things, even in GI tract discomfort. Any kind of touch, light or strong, or stroking the hair, or cuddling without any skin-to-skin contact, even petting your dog, boosts oxytocin. 
I’ve been interviewing women and men about the needs for intimacy in the last third of life. We did a big survey with hundreds of respondants on intimacy in midlife, and found that most people over 60 are either having intercourse, or desire to have intercourse.
There was also a correlation between aging and a desire just to be held, just to have sensual touch, warm touch, reassuring touch, or simply stroking of the face and hair, or rubbing the back or tickling the back lightly, comforting, without the pressure of sex.
Many people surveyed who were unpartnered, or in a sexless or loveless partnership, said they missed the touch the most. My first instinct would be to try to rekindle loving touch in an otherwise friendly relationship, to ask for it, to freely give it, or to do some work together with a guide or counselor to invite touch back. But if that’s not possible, there are a lot of ways to make space for nonsexual touch.
We’ve written in the past about cuddle puddles and hug dates and contact dance and same sex touch dates.
I have confidence that if this is something you desire, you can make it happen in a a way that feels right for you. You can have what your heart desires. We are creating a new world each time we expand our understanding of what is possible.
To more joy, less suffering, a soft heart and an open mind,


All love, 
Christine Marie Mason
Founder, Rosebud Woman
Host The Rose Woman Podcast on Love and Liberation