We can’t fool ourselves about the power of physical contact. Contact can begin innocently—hugging or holding hands—but it may not end there. Even something seemingly innocent, like tickling, can become passionate embracing in the blink of an eye or can create a situation in which the hands might touch somewhere that’s not appropriate. It can happen so easily, even with the best of intentions.
The Chemistry of Physical Contact
In fact, there are chemical reasons for why physical contact can start something that is difficult to stop.
For example, studies have shown that pheromones, chemicals released by both men and women, can increase sexual attraction. Pheromones appear to be particularly influential on women, and they generally work through a woman’s sense of smell to influence her brain. The smell may be so subtle that she is not even conscious of its presence. If a woman is physically close to a man, even without actually touching him, the pheromones from the sweat on his skin may increase her attraction to him at a subconscious level.
Furthermore, the book Hooked by doctors Mcilhaney and Bush,explains that physical contact between men and women—even mild contact such as hugging—triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone produces a sense of bonding in the woman, increasing her trust for and her emotional bond with the man.
This explains why so many women stay with abusive boyfriends or husbands; the oxytocin reinforcement of sexual contact between a woman and her abuser makes it difficult for her to get out of the situation. This also explains why women who get involved with men on an emotional level, starting out with innocent hugs and hand-holding, find it increasingly difficult to say no to more intimate physical contact.
In her book The Female Brain, neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine adds that behaviors such as emotionally satisfying interaction, prolonged eye contact, touching, kissing, and sexual excitement all stimulate oxytocin release. Oxytocin turns off the brain’s sense of caution and anxiety, leaving the woman in a state of impaired judgment.
The Progression of Physical Contact
Women are not the only ones who find it difficult to stop the sexual progression. The book For Young Women Only shows that once physical contact is initiated, it’s hard for guys to keep from getting more involved.
According to the surveys cited in the book, the average man expects the woman to place limits on the physical relationship, because the man knows that he will always want more. That’s a lot of pressure for a woman. She might think a kiss is just a kiss; he might think it’s a stepping stone to something more, even if she’s made her boundaries clear.
We might think we’re spiritually and emotionally strong enough to resist temptation, and then we may get into the situation and find out otherwise.
Even if we think we’re strong enough to handle a certain situation, how do we know that the other person is strong enough too? Are we willing to trust our purity to someone else’s self-control? How much are we willing to risk in order to test the limits of self-control?
A young woman once told me, “I never thought I’d make those choices—never. Then, when I got into tempting situations, I found out that I had much less self-control than I ever imagined. I learned that I wasn’t invincible.”
God doesn’t tell us to stand firm against sexual temptation. He tells us to flee. In other words, the key to being sexually safe is not to exert more self-control; it is to stay away from compromising circumstances.
 Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Childrenby Joe S. Mcilhaney, Jr., M.D., and Freda McKissic Bush.
 2 Timothy 2:22
I'm 28 and single. I have a chronic illness. I just came out of a difficult home situation.