Is affection important?

Holding hands, kissing, cuddling and touching are a big part of many relationships. What does affection mean? What if it sometimes feels embarrassing or fake?

A couple hugging

Being affectionate is a way of showing that you care about someone.  It feels good. It can be an important part of keeping a relationship strong and loving.

You can show affection by what you say (like  ‘I love you’) as well as by touch -  holding hands, kissing, cuddling and touching.

Sex can be a way of showing affection, but it isn’t the only way. There are many other ways of showing that you love someone or care about someone that don’t involve sex.

Affection do’s and don’ts

Two lesbians smiling

  • Don’t assume what your boyfriend/girlfriend likes – everyone is different. Ask!
  • Don’t be affectionate only when you want sex or to get sexual.
  • Tell your BF/GF when something they do feels good.

Getting sexual without sex

Becoming sexual is a big experience. Taking the time to enjoy touching, exploring and being close to someone else is part of it.


  • open-mouth tongue kissing
  • feeling each other’s bodies through your clothes
  • stroking, kissing, licking and touching each other’s body.

When affection doesn’t feel right

Sometimes, showing affection to our girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t feel right – it might seem embarrassing, difficult, awkward or fake.

Why doesn’t it feel right?

  • Is it because the relationship doesn’t feel secure?
  • Is it about your partner’s reaction? Maybe when you’re affectionate, they think you’re being cheesy or that you expect something back.
  • Is it because you’re not really into them, or they’re not really into you?
  • How affectionate is your family?
  • Does your ethnic background or religion affect if and how you show affection?
  • If you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, queer or bi, do you feel comfortable showing affection to your boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • Do you feel under pressure because your boyfriend or girlfriend only shows affection when they want sex?

If this is happening, take some time to think about what’s going on and what you feel.

If you can, talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about it. Tell them how you feel.

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