Years ago I had a honey who, whenever I caressed him said, “That tickles.”  Needless to say, that was not the response I hoped for when I reached for him at night.  “I prefer a heavier touch,” he instructed me.  I understood that, but what he called a heavier touch felt ham handed to me, like I was clumsily pawing him, nothing at all like a caress. It was an ongoing dilemma for us, sometimes amusing, often not.

Also years ago, a woman came into my office in tears telling me her husband was going to leave her if she didn’t learn how to (in the vernacular) “give him a good hand job.”  She then told me all the things she had tried and how her annoyed and impatient husband responded derisively to her attempts.  Fortunately he wasn’t my husband or I would have told him to go do it himself.

Lest you think that men know instinctively how best to touch one another, that isn’t true.  I have seen same sex couples with the same issue: “Your touch just isn’t doing it for me and I want it done MY way.” Owning any particular body part does not ensure knowledge of someone else’s preferences about its handling. 

There exist many instructional books and videos on how to please your man.  They are all quite specific: “Touch here very gently and over there more vigorously” or “Do it just like this.”  These directions are just as erroneous as the assumption that you will enjoy the same caresses that I do.  As I have said many times, there is nothing on earth that starts off with “All men….or all women…”  Watching such tutorials may give you some new ideas and suggestions but by no means are they an absolute guide for pleasing your specific partner.

The best way to learn what someone prefers is to ask.  See if he will show you how he pleasures himself.  Talk about it. Exactly where does he focus his attentions? Stroke him in a certain way and ask him directly if he would prefer a stronger or a lighter touch, with a lubricated hand or perhaps a powdered one.

Since we are talking about touch, your partner can also show you his preferred touch or stroke nonverbally by guiding your hand on his body.  You can also vary your touch and see how he reacts—moving toward your hand or pulling back, by becoming aroused or by becoming annoyed, or even by being lulled to sleep.

Most people will respond positively to an affectionate or sensual touch by a fond partner.  But the timing might not be right or he might be ticklish.  Also, if he learned to masturbate in a regular very specific manner that same kind of touch and timing might be the only way he can reach a climax.  If that’s what you are trying to do you need to know that rather than frustrating yourself and him with stroking that just won’t do it.

Talk with and to your partner.  Play and experiment.  Watch a video together and discuss it.  This is not a Pass or Fail examination but a very intimate Show and Tell.  With good communication, one of you may wind up singing that 1950’s hit by The Platters “You’ve Got That Magic Touch.”

For more writing by Isadora Alman, MFT, CST visit her web site at www.askisadora.com or see her new book "What People Keep Asking Me About Sex & Relationships.

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