One of the most basic ways we communicate with each other is by touch. Whether it’s a pat on the back of a friend or a hug for a lover, touch is a crucial source of information. It can say “I care” and convey our authentic presence in a way that words cannot. Even in business relationships, a handshake communicates a lot – and sometimes serves as a contract.

Is it possible that you are neglecting this vital means of communicating with others, not even aware of doing so? We are all different in how much we like to touch or be touched. Our attitudes reflect our upbringing; as children, we were taught a particular attitude toward touch. In some families, touching is a regular part of life, while in others, it is hardly available. Gender training also affects our ease with touch – leading to big differences between females and males.

Many of us restrict our use of touch. For example, with a romantic partner, touch may be used to signal sexual desire but may not otherwise be available. This card reminds you that touch is a basic part of communication, and asks whether you limit yourself in giving or receiving it.

In a romantic relationship, touch can be warmly loving – or hotly passionate. It is best when you have access to all kinds of touching. Touch may have sexual overtones, or it may be a simple exchange of affection from one heart to another. It can be the embrace of two souls. Spontaneous hugging, cuddling, and holding communicates love ever so sweetly, especially when there is no goal beyond the basic desire to connect. With no expectations or motives attached to it, pure loving joy conveyed through touch can make hearts sing.

Whether in a romantic partnership or any other type of relationship, touch should never be forced. Always remain sensitive to the other person’s level of comfort with being touched. We are all different in this, and we each have the right to have our boundaries respected. But remember, you can always ask for more touching, even from a partner who doesn’t seem to like to be touched. In a romantic partnership, if you want more touching, ask your partner for it!

In all relationships, the appropriate kind of touch can be a means of communicating support. It can soothe us when we are hurt, or help us celebrate when we are happy. Sometimes a touch is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, when there seems to be nothing one can say, an appropriate touch can convey the best message of all.

The card TOUCH invites you to be more aware of how this important dimension of relating functions in your life. How comfortable are you with touch? Do you often initiate it? How sensitive are you to others’ level of comfort with being touched – what they like, what they don’t like, what seems to be appropriate? With a romantic partner, do you freely engage in all sorts of touching – or do you restrict it? Do you feel free to ask to be touched? With friends or family, in what ways do you engage in communication through touching?

If you recognize that you have inhibitions about touch, it may be time to allow yourself to experiment a bit. Perhaps you no longer need to limit yourself. Touch is a basic form of nurturing – one that we can all afford to enjoy!