To many women, touching is an important part of sex. One woman wrote to Shere Hite: ‘You can’t love sex without loving to touch and to be touched. It’s the very physical closeness of sex that is the main pleasure.’ A British woman wrote: ‘I can’t understand why most men don’t seem to enjoy touching. Perhaps it’s the way we bring boys up to believe touching is “sissy”. The closeness of our bodies, before and after we have sex, means so much to me. It doesn’t replace the marvellous sensation of having my husband inside me but it adds so much to it.’

The evidence, scanty as it is, indicates that many women want to be touched and to touch more during sexual pleasuring. They want closeness and body contact with their lovers, not necessarily as a way of arousing them as a prelude to sexual intercourse, but for its own pleasure. Mutual pleasuring means mutual touching, exploring each other’s body, and enjoying each other’s shape, smell, and skin texture.

To touch and cuddle one’s lover, except briefly before intercourse, seems to be perceived by many men as inappropriate behaviour. ‘I only wish men could do this without it always and only being a lead-in to sex,’ wrote one woman.

There is no reason to believe that men do not enjoy physical affection and body contact, but their childhood training has conditioned them to avoid it, and to suppress their feelings.

As a first step to being a better lover find out if your partner would like to be touched and how she would like to be cuddled. Find out if she would enjoy bathing or showering with you, if she would enjoy having her body massaged. And if she does, overcome your fear of expressing your feelings and touch, touch, touch.

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These findings seem ‘consistent with the typical American pattern of sexual interaction in which, as long as the wife neither complains nor refuses to have intercourse, the husband assumes that all is well’, Ms Frank writes. The husbands seemed to be unaware of, or insensitive to, the need for pleasuring and emotional sensitivity in love-making.

If so many women are not enjoying their sexuality as much as they might, where does the fault lie? Does it lie in the way that women have been brought up to understand their sexuality, or is the main problem the lack of sensitivity of men to women’s sexual needs?

It seems that both factors are important, but the lack of sensitivity by men is the more important. One reason why sexual relations are so liable to disturbance is because although we know how the body responds to sexual arousal, we know very much less about the psychological responses.

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During the plateau phase, a man’s penis increases in size, particularly the size of the lower part of his glans; his testicles increase to one and a half times their non-stimulated size, and they rise up even closer to his crutch. Late in this phase, two or three drops of fluid may seep out of the ‘eye’ of his penis, and occasionally active spermatozoa are found in this fluid, which is one reason why the method of ‘withdrawal’ is a relatively inefficient method of contraception. The man’s breathing increases in rate, his heart beats faster, and his blood pressure rises further. If he has developed a sex flush, this increases in colour and spreads. Sometimes the muscles of his face and abdomen contract spasmodically.

Her upper vagina expands in size, and her uterus is pulled upwards giving a ‘tenting effect’. Her labia becomes increasingly congested with blood and dusky in colour. Her clitoris, now swollen, pulls in towards her pubic bones.

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A man’s sex drive will only become active if it is ‘primed’ by testosterone, secreted by his testes at puberty. The continuation of the drive is from stimuli, which are interpreted as erotic by the ‘old brain’, triggering the physical aspects of the sexual response, particularly erection, ejaculation, and orgasm.

In reported cases of men castrated after puberty there is a very great variation in the time taken for the sexual urge and penile erections to go, if they cease at all. In some men they go quickly, only weeks after castration. Other men retain their sexual potency for years, or for life. What one needs to know is whether men who retain their potency continue to secrete male sex hormones, presumably from their adrenal gland. Until this is known the place of testosterone in the continuation of the sex drive will remain obscure. At present the evidence is that it plays a very small part, once the drive has been primed at puberty. After this a man’s sex drive is maintained by emotional impulses which stimulate the sex centre in the brain, and initiate the sexual response.

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In Britain, Michael Schofield investigated the sexual behaviour of adolescents. They were chosen, at random, from lists of school attenders in seven different areas of the country. This selection made the sample as representative as possible of the young people of Britain. They were aged about 17 in 1966, and 66 per cent of them were re-interviewed 7 years later.

More men (80 per cent) had had pre-marital sexual intercourse than women (61 per cent), and there was another difference in sexual behaviour. The young men began sexual intercourse at an earlier age than the women, and were more likely to have several partners, but once a woman became sexually active she had sex more often, usually with the same partner, or one other.

Most of those who were sexually active had only one partner at a time, that is they were going steady or were serial monogamists. In the year before the second survey (when the people were aged about 23) 65 per cent of the men and 85 per cent of the women had had sex with one partner only; 11 per cent of the men and 6 per cent of the women had had two partners, but only 17 per cent of the men and 3 per cent of the women were sexual adventurers, having had intercourse with three partners or more.

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