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for old married folks only
The New York Times just published an article titled “Watch Out for This Common Intimacy Killer”—which is about as clickbaity as you can get. Here are the first two paragraphs:
A few years ago, Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist in Santa Barbara, Calif., noticed an interesting pattern among her clients in long-term relationships: They would complain that their partners only touched them to initiate sex. The gesture, a back rub or a playful grab, would make them flinch.
This was so prevalent that Marin, author of “Sex Talks: The Five Conversations That Will Transform Your Love Life,” started calling it the “bristle reaction.” It’s what happens when your partner’s touch makes your entire body tense, “because you know it can mean just one thing,” she said.
In other words, many people who have been together a long time get to the point where the only time they touch is when looking for sex and that one-reason-only version of touching becomes repellent and triggers a ”a defensive response” from the touched.
I can’t remember where, but more than once when I was young I read that when couples are headed for divorce, their last remaining interaction, after losing talking and kissing and so forth, was sexual intercourse. It didn’t make sense to me.
Honestly, I only sorta understand it now, but the Times’ so-called bristle reaction makes more sense. Crazy we are a species where both things are true.
Anyway, once upon a time long long ago in a book I read either just before or just after Lady Steed and I got married (depending on whether it was in the book that was a supplemental text for a BYU class or the one that certainly was not) I read that, in a heterosexual pairing, the woman will be more open to sexually-intended touch if that day had already included twelve decidedly nonsexual touchings.
There’s a paradox built into this intelligence, of course, in that twelve nonsexual touches intended as prologue to sexual touching is, I guess, foreforeplay? and, it would seem, therefore sexual.
Love languages are less disproved than learning styles, but they still seem to be nonsense, scientifically speaking. But it’s still no great controversy to say a couple may differ in just how much, say, touch each desires.
I think Lady Steed and I are not one of the couple written about in the Times in part because there is plenty of casual touch between us. Perhaps treating twelve-times as an unofficial motto of my early husbandhood (without ever—and I think this is important—ever counting) put us into something like healthy habits.
Yet the bristle response does sometimes occur, whether the touch is sexually intended or not.
I doubt I have a point here, but let me tack on that longterm relationships have their own value. And the article’s purpose is to suggest fixes. So, y’know, if this sounds like you, check it out? If you’re not ready for the six-second kiss, there are easier steps available.
I wish you much good touching and many unstressful touches.
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