Is Your Relationship Firing on All 5 Cylinders?

Rather than just talking about the areas of sexual touch, Alyssa spends a minute on the kinds of touch that lead couples toward connection and erotic fulfillment.

By Alyssa Doberstein, LMFT

Expanding Connection & Erotic Fulfillment

Monica Gellar might not have been far off when she explained the erogenous zones of female pleasure to Chandler on the hit sitcom “Friends.” But rather than talk about the areas of sexual touch, let’s spend a minute on the kinds of touch that lead couples toward connection and erotic fulfillment.


According to McCarthy & McCarthy (2012), there are 5 dimensions of touch, and if you’re like most couples, you probably only use two… That’s like leaving 60% of your pleasure untouched!

Taking time to explore which dimensions of touch you utilize most, and which may need more attention, can help you create a new sexual dialogue with your partner.

Five Dimensions of Touch

1. The FIRST DIMENSION of touch is Affectionate Touch, and it provides the basis for intimate attachment and anchors our partners arousal.


Affectionate “clothes-on” touch is often not even considered strictly sexual, and can include things like hugging, kissing, and holding hands. But before going from a smooch to sex, there’s plenty of touch you’re leaving on the table.


2. The SECOND DIMENSION is Sensual Touch. Maybe it’s a cuddle on the couch, or maybe it’s that backrub your partner has been asking for.


Sensual touch is about creating a trust position where both partners feel safe and connected. If Affectionate touch is the anchor of our sexual relationships, Sensual touch is the bridge that leads us to sexual desire, and since clothes are optional here, feel free to either grab the massage oils and go all in, or leave your partner primed and wanting more later.


3. DIMENSION THREE is Playful Touch, where we mix genital pleasuring with other non-genital touching.


Playful touch is where we leave our inhibitions at the door and trade them for teasing and pleasing. It’s a bath or shower together, an erotic lap dance, or maybe a tantalizing game of strip poker. What makes Playful touch so arousing for couples is the unpredictability that follows the safe secure attachment brought on by Sensual touch.

4. It’s time for DIMENSION FOUR, the most challenging to maintain for couples – Erotic Touch.


Try turning your touch into tantalization with some Erotic touch that involves manual or even oral stimulation. Try a toy or some enhanced touching and rubbing.


Erotic touching is the zone where couples provide each other with a sense of vitality, creativity, and may hold more surprises. And if the fourth dimension leads you to orgasm, you might even find you enjoy the novelty of non-intercourse climaxes.


5. DIMENSION FIVE is Intercourse, and though it comes last, that doesn’t mean it is final.


A common misconception between couples is that the light kissing in Affectionate touch should lead right to wham, bam, thank you and good night, but that’s not the case at all. Couples can begin to understand the pleasure of touch and how 1) Intercourse is a natural continuation of our pleasure and not necessarily an end goal, and 2) the transition to Intercourse comes on at the high notes of our erotic flow and subjective sense of arousal.


Happy-touch couples continue multiple levels of stimulation during and throughout intercourse and may flow in and out of the various dimensions numerous times over a single sexual experience. 


Taking time to explore which dimensions of touch you utilize most, and which may need more attention, can help you create a new sexual dialogue with your partner. It’s normal to find that you each enjoy certain dimensions more than others.


We can move between the dimensions of touch with our partners throughout the day, and the anticipation of pleasure can be a great way to spark desire. How can you begin incorporating more dimensions of touch today?

Alyssa is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and owner of Relational & Sexual Health initiative. She holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Sex Therapy Certificate. Alyssa specializes in relationship/couples and sex therapy.  She helps people work towards improved connection within themselves, their relationships, and their sexuality. 


Alyssa is also trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy and Gottman Method Couples Therapy, a systemic approach that helps couples repair/manage conflict and deepen intimacy. She works to help couples create renewed intimacy and emotional experiences with their partners while exploring and making meaning of their relational “dance.” 


Social Media: IG is @rs_healthcounseling 

Facebook: Relational & Sexual Health Initiative, PLLC

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