FOXSexpert: On Valentine's Day, Tantalize Your Mate With a Tender Touch

Think about the last time you were sexually intimate. Besides being hurled into orgasmic bliss, what do you remember most about the experience? What made it so intense, breathtaking, beyond words?

While some of you would chalk up your last intimate exchange as mostly passionate, loving, sweat-inducing or gratifying, could you describe your lovemaking along the lines of "My lover touched me — truly touched me"?

Tantalizing. Tender. Red hot. No matter how you paint it, our sex lives boil down to the power of touch. Ashley Montague once said, "In the profoundest sense, touch is the true language of sex."

This makes perfect sense. After all, we each have six to 10 million tactile sensors that make up an elaborate sensory network covering our entire body. Touch is the way we measure body heat, pressure, friction, weight and skin quality.

While this sounds technical and dry, sexually speaking, our ability to measure all of these is what makes for a nonverbal cosmos of sensual and erotic recreation. It’s one major component of sexual fulfillment.

So this Valentine’s Day, you need to really get busy in the boudoir. And when I say that, I mean you need to go beyond zeroing in on "that" spot or trying to have "this" kind of orgasm. Really try to touch your partner.

Touch has been deemed the primary element of sexual expression. Effective physical touch opens the doors to emotional touch. Mother Nature made us that way. Research out of Sweden has found that humans are wired to respond to tender touches in highly emotional ways. Specialized nerves in our skin ultimately trigger an emotional reaction in the brain when stimulated with slow, soothing strokes.

The result: Something as simple as a soft caress can help you to get in touch with your emotions. This helps you to feel more connected to your lover.

This all sounds great until you consider the cruel fact that most of us are not touched in satisfying ways.

Most of us are not receiving the positive physical contact, such as hugging, stroking and patting, which is crucial to our bodies, minds, souls and, especially, our love lives.

Human beings thrive on touch. We need to be lovingly touched and held from the time we are born. Yet, ironically, we don’t exchange enough romantic, sexual or simply supportive touches with that special someone known as our partner, lover and, if we’re lucky, best friend.

Unaware of the full range of benefits that touch can bring into their lives, many couples lack an understanding of their lover’s touch needs and preferences -- and this often is what leads to disappointment and erotic breakdowns.

The development and refinement of one’s ability to give and receive touch is critical to deepening intimacy and eroticism. It is the key to becoming a literate lover.

Remember, you stir the depths when you touch the surface. You can communicate more love with touch than with words. So while you can go ahead and give the standard holiday flowers, chocolate, yada yada yawn, know that nothing will mean more — or have a greater impact — than seducing your lover with romantic touch.

Delight in each other’s tenderness. Feel your lover’s hand. Note the texture of his hair. Run your hand over the curves of her body. Caress each other. Explore every square inch of your sweet’s body. But do this slowly, delectably, relishing every sensation and stirring.

In developing your touch literacy, realize that effective touch first requires good communication. In being the giver, invite verbal feedback as you touch the body. Ask:

— Where do you prefer that I ...?

— What would you like...?

— Can you show me...?

— Do you want more pressure? Less?

Be open to what you hear and prepared to follow instructions. Keep in mind, however, that your lover’s experience will be heightened if touched in ways unanticipated. This is because our brains are designed to notice and respond to new stimuli. Thus, most of us like the surprise of creative contact from fondling to foreplay to the main event.

If you’re the receiver, be honest about your feedback, including the sounds that may bubble up from the depths of your soul. After all, in being stimulated and stroked, sensitive nerve receptors are being triggered, flooding you with messages of love, tenderness and desire. Let it be known how good this feels!

Both of you: In developing the art of touch, make space, clearing out all of your mental static. Tap into the emotions that arise. Amplify the resonating effect of touch, expanding it through mental imagery. Let go of expectations and judgment. Just breathe.

Whether you start on the much-hyped Valentine’s Day or choose another special day for yourselves, indulging your lover and yourself with this intimate form of expression on a regular basis is one of the greatest things you can do for your relationship.

Far better than any drug, the tactile sensations set off by any of the skin's hundreds of millions of nerve fibers can leave you feeling touched as you’ve never known it before.

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Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."