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What’s The Most Intimate Display of Affection?

Curious about the most intimate way to show your partner you care? Hint: It’s not just about sex!
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Intimacy is weird. There are people who are super great at sharing themselves fully with their partners, and there are others who can’t be bothered to try. For those of us who are not so good at it but looking to try new things, it can be intimidating territory.

Personally, I’m terrible at showing my partners affection, and it’s really not because I don’t want to. I’m pretty romantic most of the time – at least in my head. The only problem is I have a hard time translating that to my body.

I know I’m not alone, either.  It’s estimated that approximately 97% of couples are lacking when it comes to intimacy, and it’s not always from a lack of trying – more often, it’s coming from miscommunication and it doesn’t always mean that they’re not having enough sex.


Are you having the sex you want to have?

As many as 75% of people are not having the sex they fantasize about, simply because they’re not telling their partner their fantasies. 51% of people are embarrassed or ashamed of their fantasies, and don’t share them out of fear of judgment. If your partner cares about you, it seems silly to be ashamed to admit your desires – especially when you consider that these numbers refer to people in committed, long-term relationships.

If you are embarrassed about sharing your desires with your partner, you might think that it’s an discomfort with your own kinks, but in all actuality, it’s more likely that you’re uncomfortable with your sexuality in general. As women, we are often taught from a young age that we must allow ourselves to be seen as sexual objects while remaining “pure” in our reputations. This can turn into quite a conundrum as we explore our own sexuality.

There’s a paradox built into these numbers, though. An estimated 80% of people want to share their sexual fantasies with their partner – which is a large enough for some overlap with those who are embarrassed to do so. The obvious answer is to open up, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.

When we offer ourselves completely to our partner through communication, we are allowing her to see parts of ourselves that we don’t share with the rest of the world. In an age where sexuality is often on display, it’s nice to reserve this type of intimacy for someone close to us.

But does that mean that your fantasies make up the most intimate form of affection?


Are you laying your heart and soul in the open?

Talking obviously goes much further than just sex, and opening ourselves up to our partner emotionally is a great way to strengthen our bond. Gritty, raw emotion is something else that we as women are told to keep to ourselves. When a woman displays “too much emotion” in public, onlookers may subconsciously assign excuses to her.

“She must be on her period.”

“Wow, she sure is sensitive.”

“She must be crazy – look how she reacted to _____!”

It’s sort of funny, when you think about it, because these types of assumptions would royally piss us off if we knew we were on the receiving end, too. We pass judgment on others without even thinking about it, but we become defensive if we know others are judging us, too. It can become a vicious cycle if you let it.

Note that this doesn’t just apply to women, either, although there is a bit of misogyny associated with the phenomenon. After all, men who exhibit similar emotions will undoubtedly have some witnesses who assume that they must be effeminate or prissy. It’s definitely not a female phenomenon, but it’s associated with femininity.

For butch women, this adds an extra layer to the emotional wall – butch women are expected to refrain from “feminine” behaviors, which means that they’re often cast out if they display any. Butch women are expected to be strong and sturdy. The obvious issue here is that they have feelings, too, and they deserve the right to express them freely.

Ladies and gentlestuds, let me tell you. If you’re not sharing your feelings with your partner, you’re leaving her to guess them – and we are not all exactly mind readers. Some women might not even care to know your emotions, but that’s not generally a sign that your emotions are wrong – it’s a sign you’re with the wrong woman.

So, does this mean talking is the most intimate way to show your affection?


Are you kissing your partner as much as you can?

Even in completely happy relationships, after some time, the urge to touch each other diminishes. It’s not that you don’t want your partner, it’s just that you have other things going on – possibly even important things like work or school or raising children. But it’s important that you find time to kiss your partner, as often as you find the opportunity.

I know I’m bad at this myself. I’ve often said that I don’t even really like kissing – I’ve had partners who I dated for months and only kissed once or twice during the entire time. I’ve had a partner I dated for years, who I probably only kissed a handful of times during the last year or so of the relationship. Kissing just feels weird to me if I’m not 100% sure about the person.

Believe it or not, that’s exactly why it’s so important to kiss your partner. You know how that first kiss in any rom-com brings sparks, fireworks, celebrations, and that extra-special foot raise? Yeah… Kissing shows you the chemistry in the relationship. When you’re fighting, it reminds you of your love. When you’re making love, it reminds you of your bond. When you’re sick, it brings you comfort.

There are a million types of kisses, and each has its rightful place – and will feel all wrong if the situation isn’t right for it.

Our lips have nerve endings in them that directly correlate with our mental state, our sexual attraction, and even our maternal instincts. Those of you who were raised by a mother-figure or a grandmother-figure (which, it’s important to realize, is not always the same as a biological mother or grandmother) may remember her kissing your face to determine whether you had a fever. Those who had this growing up are likely to be calmed by it as adults – and those who didn’t have it as children are likely to yearn for it later in life. This is probably why most people feel a sense of calm when someone they love kisses them on the forehead or cheek.

The particular sensitivity of our lips is something that makes an obvious connection to sexual attraction and satisfaction, too. After all, it’s widely assumed that someone who is a bad kisser is also a bad lover. (Do you think that has anything to do with why lesbians notoriously have better sex than straight women? Hmm. Maybe it’s in the tongue.)

Additionally, kissing is linked to our emotional state as well, being one of the catalysts for oxytocin production. This particular brain chemical is responsible for bonding, and is also produced during orgasm, childbirth, and even cuddling. By definition, anything that produces oxytocin is an intimate activity – so what makes kissing so special?


Kissing is open-ended.

Compared to many other forms of intimacy, there’s no implied destination when it comes to kissing. It can be the whole journey, a form of foreplay, a goodbye, a gesture of good will… The opportunities are limitless.

When you are communicating (verbally) with someone, there are two main objectives: Either you are trying to understand the other person, or you are trying to be heard. Occasionally there may be a third goal (hearing your own voice) but we try not to focus on that one since it’s not really productive. While communication is necessary for a healthy relationship, it understandably has its limits.

Having sex with someone opens the doors to intimacy a little wider, but it’s still largely limited. In sex, your goals are to a) bring your partner pleasure; b) bring yourself pleasure; and often c) exchange pleasure with your partner. It implies a greater amount of trust than a conversation, although that trust can definitely be initiated by liquid courage. Still, it’s not exactly the biggest indicator of happiness – you can have sex every single day and still not be fulfilled.

Kissing, on the other hand, doesn’t come with a predefined list of goals. In some cultures, kissing the face of your friends is considered the fondest greeting, while in other cultures you are expected to have your first non-familial kiss on your wedding day. These aren’t the only two possibilities, either – there are literally hundreds of reasons why you might kiss someone, and just as many places and ways to kiss them as well.


Kissing is naked and honest.

You can’t fake a kiss. It’s honest and true, and it’s up for debate whether you can improve your kissing ability. It’s largely accepted that each person has their own kissing style, and not all styles are compatible – just as not all sexual chemistries are compatible. You can’t really pretend to be into a kiss if you’re not; your body most likely won’t let you.

Think back to the romantic movies you’ve watched. In the loving scenes where the characters share their first kiss, which ones stick out to you? There are bound to be some that just looked so genuine and pure – and often it’s revealed when the movie is in post-production that the characters are actually romantically involved. Do you think this is a coincidence?

Even professional actors have a hard time selling a “fake” kiss. Kissing is a way to lay open your soul to someone without saying a single word. There’s a multi-billion-dollar international industry suggesting that sex just doesn’t offer the same type of connection.

Kissing is intimate because it’s completely genuine. In a world full of artificial things and half-hearted promises, kissing remains its own unique language. In this language there are no lies, no secrets, and no expectations. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything were that simple?

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Author
Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” - an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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