Taking a bit of a diversion from politics now and then.
This is going to be one part of a series that I think is warranted. Focusing on the male perspective of existence, especially in America.
This part is focusing on male sensuality.
The first thing to point out is that too often sensuality and sexuality are seen, especially with men, as being inseparable. That perspective is not accurate. You cannot have sexuality without sensuality but you CAN have sensuality without sexuality.
Sensuality pertains to anything having to do with the senses. Any and all physical senses. Most specifically, the enjoyment of the senses. It really is that simple.
Men are often accused of not being sensual. Which is not true. Most often, men focus on senses in ways deemed “acceptable” by society for them to indulge in. (We can all debate how this came to be but that is not the point of this article. This has to do with the here and now.) Largely food and drink for taste and smell. Sometimes cologne or perfume for smell. (Yes, some men enjoy less appealing odors I will not discuss.) Visual does not have to be explained. Music for hearing.
The sense which is most often lacking for males is touch. Human touch is a powerful thing which binds us in ways we do not understand. Infants lacking touch fail to thrice while infants who have enough touching stimulation flourish. Why do so many people think this ends at some point? It truly does not. Elderly patients in nursing homes fare far better with caregivers who engage in simple touch than ones who do not receive that contact. Ever experience or see two men at a bar who are good friends literally rubbing shoulders? Harmless touch is a sign of trust and helps build trust. It cannot be forced but it is absolutely there.
In no way will I try and convince anyone that it should be acceptable to hug men you do not know well or are uncomfortable hugging. (I tend to not be a hugger, myself unless I know a person well. I can be convinced but would still be uncomfortable.) What I will discuss is touch within families and relationships. Even friendships, if adequately defined.
While female children are often allowed touching via hugs, touching on the arm, back or shoulder in more gentle ways, male children are too often “kicked out of the nest” much younger. Nobody explains it well. Nobody defines a certain age at which a male child is no longer allowed to touch or be touched. So by puberty, the only touching allowed for male children is hitting, punching or sex. Leaving the child confused and still wanting basic human contact but being denied.
The result is that males seek out that human contact by any means they can find. The yearning becomes so great that they will try and seek contact by subversive or aggressive means. Combined with often not being allowed to explore or express their emotions, they cannot define or state what they are even trying to achieve. I’ll go into the deeper emotional aspects in a later installment. Notice that in countries where there are fewer limitations on human contact, there are lower rates of assault, rape and teenage pregnancy, not to mention a higher average age of marriage.
Where families and friendships are concerned, it is often clearly seen that the more free a person feels to engage in simple touch, hand on shoulder, etc, the lower the rate of conflict, the more open each one is in expressing their emotions, including negative emotions.
In more intimate relationships, too often touch is seen as purely sexual. The happiest relationships are ones which involve non-sexual touch and affection. Those are the relationships where the partners again feel most open to express their emotions, even if those emotions are negative. If touch is limited to always leading to sex, why would anyone expect the male to not seek out sex more often? Holding hands, touching each other on the arm, shoulder or face, kissing, etc mean far more than heading to the bedroom. Or should. In many cases it may lead that direction simply because of hormones and/or because of the emotional freedom involved shared between two people. When you see elderly couples who have long, happy marriages, most often you will see that they never stopped touching each other, even years after sex is no longer involved. They also tend to live longer and healthier lives and remain sexually active to a later age.
Even where sex is concerned, far too often men are perceived as wanting touch only in specific areas of the body. The term is erogenous zones. Most men when asked enjoy being touched in far more places than their genitals. Focusing only on certain areas rushes the act and has the tendency to become routine, even boring over time. While it is specific to each individual, men may enjoy being touched on the chest, arms, legs. Any part of the body is conceivable. Partners who learn their partner’s favorite Places have far more fulfilling sex lives than those who do not. It is literally a tragedy that men know that women often enjoy being touched in many places but women often go straight to one place with the male. Don’t do that. It’s not even fair to each other. If you do not know you responses or your partner’s, then ask or explore. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I am straight but have witnessed something which tends to be quite evident. Gay couples, both male and female, tend to be more in tune with each other’s erogenous areas than straight couples. There are no absolutes, of course but on average this often holds true.
In my own past relationships and relationships I have witnessed, one of the most evident signs of emotional separation and decay is when a couple decreases their level of touch over a long period. It may be a sign of other issues or it can actually lead to deeper issues. In any case, the ultimate result is the same. It leads to a greater sense of separation and loneliness for both partners. It is a signal that communication has broken down. Trust either has fallen or it will as time goes on, the longer it continues. Then followed by resentment. It is a natural emotional progression. In a monogamous relationship, in my book there is no real reason for cheating. However, lack of touch or touch being only focused in one direction does eventually lead to that need being unfulfilled. If not addressed, cheating or the end of the relationship will result. Unless the couple remains in a state of resentment. If other problems cannot be immediately discussed, simple touch is always a good place to begin. It need not lead anywhere else. Just regain contact if it was ever there to begin with. You’d be amazed at the result.
The end point of this is where I began. Human touch is a powerful thing. For all genders. It comforts us, calms us, makes us feel connected at deeper levels than the touch itself. It often drives us more than we realize. It is arguably the most important of our senses. We can lose our senses of taste, sight, hearing and smell. They contribute far less to our emotional well being, sense of safety or human connection than touch does.
Touch guides us from the first embrace of our mother at birth to the hand of a loved one at death. It binds us or repels us.
And that is what sensuality is all about. Even for men.