Sexual Health/Sexual Touching

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Touch and Affection[edit]

Touch is commonly used to convey affection. Holding hands, kisses on the cheek, and "pecks" (quick, closed-mouth kisses) on the lips are all common ways to display affection between friends, family members, and romantic partners.

Different people and cultures have different comfort levels and cultural norms when it comes to affectionate touching. Body language is very important in human relations, and like spoken language, is variable easily misunderstood.

In the United States, two adults holding hands is usually considered to signify romantic attachment. In Asian and Middle Eastern countries, however, friends without romantic intention commonly hold hands. In the United States, kisses are generally only regarded as appropriate between very close family members and romantic partners, in many European countries kissing cheeks and making a sound with the lips closed is a common greeting between family and friends of any age and any sex.

Sexual Touching[edit]

Sexual touching is touch that is used to provoke sexual arousal and is sometimes called foreplay. Usually, touching a person's breasts, nipples, genitals, inner thighs, or buttocks is considered sexual. (A few exceptions exist, such as medical examination.) Using hands to touch these areas sexually is known as "fondling" or "groping". Kissing on the lips, especially with the mouth open (French kissing) is also likely to provoke sexual arousal.

The difference between affectionate touching and sexual touching is not always clear, however. A kiss on the lips may be purely platonic, or intensely passionate. A shoulder massage may be a friendly gesture, or an intimate experience. It is very important to get consent from the person being touched before touching occurs.

Sexual Touching and Affection[edit]

Touching someone sexually is often considered to convey a strong emotional connection to that person. However, some people engage in such activities only because of the positive physical feelings that result, and not because of a romantic connection.