Should I stop touching her breasts?

Originally Published: July 9, 2004 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 27, 2008
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Dear Alice,

My girlfriend and I have been together for two months now. When we kiss, we both enjoy it. I touch her head, neck, arms, hands, and legs, but when I go to touch her breasts, she grabs my hand and pulls away. She lets me touch them over her clothes, but not when I go up underneath her shirt. Should I stop trying to touch her every time we make out? Or, how should I talk to her about it?

- Mr. Confused -

Dear Mr. Confused,

Sounds as if your girlfriend is sending you signals about how she likes to be touched, but the signals are not clear to you. Being physically intimate with someone is one example of a way people communicate, similar to how conversation is communication. People communicate with one another in many ways — in this case, your girlfriend is using body language to tell you something, and you are trying to interpret and translate, or figure out, how to respond.

Right now, she seems to be the only one who knows why she does not want you to touch her under her shirt. She may have one reason; she may have several reasons. Maybe it's too early on in the relationship and she has not yet established a comfort level that will allow her to enjoy the feel of your touch; maybe it feels unpleasant to her when someone touches her bare breasts; maybe she's self-conscious about that part of her body; maybe she has not had any or much experience being physically intimate with another; or, maybe it's all or none of these reasons.

You have a wonderful opportunity here to strengthen your relationship with your girlfriend. You can begin by respecting her non-verbal statement by not touching her breasts under her shirt. That will take some pressure off, and regain some of her trust. You can also find a time to speak with her verbally about what you've noticed. You can say something like, "I've noticed that when I touch you above your clothing, you are as into it as I am, but when I try to touch you skin-to-skin, you pull my hand away. I think you are so hot, and it makes me confused. I don't want to do anything you don't want me to do, but I thought you might like this as much as I do. Help me to understand this."

And listen.

The problem with non-verbal communication is that it can be misinterpreted. Maybe you can make an agreement that the next time you are intimate together, you use words to be sure that you are doing what she wants, or that she is okay with taking it to the next level. Verbally ask to touch her breasts, and if she says "no," then don't try it, and continue the conversation at another time about why she's uncomfortable. You can also ask that she ask you the same thing about how you want her to touch you.

Everyone has different likes and dislikes in terms of sexual activity and intimacy. Learning about your partner's needs and desires, and communicating your own needs and desires, serve as important steps toward a pleasurable, healthy sexual relationship.