The Language of Touch

DH came home the other day, freaking out after an appointment with a dermatologist. He has what we thought was psoriasis on his forehead. Flares up when he's stressed. Turns out it's something else a little less complicated, thank God. But that's not the point. The doctor, while doing the examination, had to feel hubby's skin. So he ran his fingers very gently all over hubby's face. The funny thing, DH said, was that it just didn't feel right. He knew the doc was just doing his job, but he said it felt so personal to have a person who he had never met before touching his face in such a way. He said it was more unnerving than having a check up of more...ahem...personal areas of his body.

So of course, being a romance writer, I had to analyze that reaction to see how I might apply it to a story. A touch to the face can be very intimate. There's an emotion that goes with it, something that goes far beyond lust. It usually expresses, IMHO, a deep affection. That affection can be familial, such as the caress from a parent to a child. I'm reminded of the movie Face Off, with John Travolta. His character had a gesture where he placed his hand on his loved one's face and let it slide down over the nose.

But a touch to the face can also be very romantic. I have found in my writing that I use those sorts of gestures alot between my romantic characters. An innocent but meaningful touch to the cheek, a kiss to the forehead can send the chills up my spine a whole lot faster than more graphic descriptions of sexual activity. And the reason, I think, is because of the intimacy, the depth of emotional feeling that comes behind such a gesture. A person can go out and have sex with a stranger, a one night stand if you will, and not think a thing of it (if that's how their moral code works, of course). But that same person might shrink back from a simple caress if they aren't expecting that kind of intimacy from the toucher.

So my final assessment? A touch to the face can convey a whole lot more love--the real thing, not just an animalistic drive for sex--than other, more "passionate" physical contact. Applied to writing, I believe if a romantic scene is set up right, with the proper touches and eye contact (or in some cases, lack of eye contact) there's really no need to go into grotesque detail about other physical acts.


Marianne Arkins said…
I absolutely agree with you. I love to use small touches in my writing... I think they can be far more sensual and romantic than having your characters leap into bed.

Good post.

Your poor hubby, LOL.

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