Physical expressions of affection, pls
July 26, 2018 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I would like to expand my repertoire of ways to physically express affection. What I'm hoping to receive by way of answers are tons of tiny little things like "she puts her hand on the back of my neck while I'm fumbling for the keys to front door" or "he kisses the top of my head while I'm reading the newspaper over breakfast." Go!
posted by HotToddy to Human Relations (39 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
My partner has a couple of unusual ones:

* Mimes a sawing-off motion on my leg with the side of her hand.
* Entwines one of my fingers with two of hers, like scissors, then says "snip".

I don't know either. It's weird.

but adorable
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:12 PM on July 26, 2018 [16 favorites]

Okay that's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Everybody else, follow Jon Mitchell's lead!
posted by HotToddy at 6:18 PM on July 26, 2018

-"Feets gotta touch, otherwise it doesn't count." So we touch feets from our own sides of the sofa.

- I like to kiss his forehead but he almost always REFUSES because as he says "LIPS!" so we end up bonking our faces as he tries to move his face up. We've now had to coordinate so we don't bonk faces when I try to kiss his head.

- A good old fashioned BIG hug.

-Honestly, we touch each others butts a lot.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:25 PM on July 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I was a little kid I would gently pinch my grandfather's earlobes between my fingers and tell him I was giving his earlobes a tiny hug. I now do this with my boyfriend.
posted by ilovewinter at 6:31 PM on July 26, 2018 [14 favorites]

- Nose bops *boop*
- Finger bop onto the nose
- Nose bopping while saying "hoot" :)
- Squeezing his biceps, or shoulders as a way of getting attention
- Lots and lots of little kisses
- Sneak up and hug from behind, and keep hugging while he tries to walk away
- Surprising butt touches :D
- Playing footsie
- Squeezing thigh gently if we're sitting next to each other
posted by ellerhodes at 6:32 PM on July 26, 2018

Back scratches are big in my house. Or if we’re sitting on the sofa one of us usually has our leg stretched out and toes touching the other. Passenger in the car rests their hand on the driver’s leg, or when we go around a curve I’ll sometimes let the force of the turn tip me over until I’m briefly resting my head on my partner’s shoulder. He rubs my temples for me if I have a headache.
posted by Stacey at 6:35 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Exaggeratedly big, open-hand pats to the knee/shoulder/top of head. This is giving pats and it happens whenever someone seems like they need pats.

Slide my hand in their back pocket when we’re standing in line.

Pretty much never letting the other butt go by without a quick squeeze or pat.

Stick my index finger between their index and middle; they squeeze harder while I’m trying to get my finger back (like a fingertrap toy).

Hold pinkies while driving, like a pinky-swear that keeps going.

Gentle thigh squeezes or knee squeezes when sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching TV.

Nose boops, sometimes verrrrry verrrry slowly. Sometimes quickly and paired with the stealing of said nose.

Quick smooches on the shoulder/bicep.
posted by assenav at 6:35 PM on July 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

There are, of course, butterfly kisses (fluttering your eyelashes on your partner's cheek). But I prefer "goldfish kisses." Visualize a goldfish's mouth movements. Do that, but faster, and all over your partner's cheek, a million tiny light kisses. Like a goldfish. Announce your intention ahead of time.

It's weird.
posted by duffell at 6:36 PM on July 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

My partner really likes to crack my hand and toe knuckles (he does his own, too). I don't love how it feels, but I like seeing the silly pleasure it brings him.
He also lazily (and very gently) slaps the side of my chest when we are lying on our backs, in, bed, after sex. Like a water bed effect, I guess.
Oh and will sometimes gently bite the inside of my upper arm (which he doesn't know I used to do to my mom when I was very young)
I like to kiss the apples of his cheeks, they're islands of juicy softness amidst all his face scruff.
I also really like running the length of the rounded line on the bottom side edges of his very slight belly with my hamds, but I think he gets self conscious about it so I hold back on that one sometimes.
Aside from that, it's loads of 'normal' physical affection, and loads of butt touching!
posted by PaulaSchultz at 6:55 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

My honey is much taller than me, so when I'm sitting in my desk chair, he is able to bend over and kiss me upside down, Spider-Man style. I always try to be sitting down whenever he goes to say goodbye on his way out the door!

If we are walking up any stairs, I always get ahead of him so I can turn around and kiss him while we are the same height.
posted by Jazz Hands at 7:15 PM on July 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

Nothing beats an old fashioned ass-grab.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:18 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hands in partners pockets. Getting things or just a place to store your hands.
posted by Grandysaur at 7:37 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hugs that go on a leeeeeetle too long. Like, they try to pull away and I don't let them.
posted by sacrifix at 7:38 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

A bunch of light pats all over, while announcing gleefully: “a General Pattin’!!”
posted by little cow make small moo at 7:51 PM on July 26, 2018 [11 favorites]

I am all about these. I don't really like kissing very much, but am a very physically affectionate person when not out in public, so I get creative.

- Back scratchies for me
- Head massages
- Nose boops. All the time. Sometimes while saying "boop" or sometimes not.
- Dodging nose boops and trying to boop back (this became very one-sided once it became clear that between the two of us only I was capable of booping at speed without slapping the other person in the face)
- Nose kisses when leaving for work (and especially when the person under the covers still has morning breath)
- Tapping out patterns on his knuckles while we were watching tv
- Karate-chop-drumming each other's shoulders when on the computer
- Regular massages or back rubs while reading
- No matter what bizarre contorted reading position I'm in on my side of the couch (and constantly changing), always touching them somehow; a knee, foot, hand, elbow, whatever
- Just general light touching when lying in bed in the morning; just learning the other person's body with your hands in a non-sexual way. Not just different parts of the body, but different parts of the hand; the other person's stomach feels different with your palm vs the back of your knuckles.
- Doing the same, but really, really in-depth, with the other person's hands, often while watching tv/etc
- Drawing imaginary pictures on their arms/legs/whatever is within reach (I used to do this when it was my ex's turn to read aloud)
- Putting a hand on the small of their back, edge of hip, etc after any "hey can you hold this for a sec; I need a third hand" request while the task is being completed
- Choosing one particular cat hair or piece of lint out of the several hundred on their shirt to pick off, just to have an excuse to touch
- Finding a cat whisker and putting it on their shoulder, or sticking it into their hair
- Hunting it down after inevitably losing it in there
posted by Urban Winter at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2018

Beloved Partner is shy about PDAs, so if we are in public we link little fingers-- this "is the same as a kiss". We might do this at a party, or across the table in a restaurant, that sort of situation.
posted by librosegretti at 8:16 PM on July 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

My partner has great eyebrows (strong and wiry) and I love to play with them — push them in the opposite direction, smooth them out, repeat.

He lays his head on my lap and I play with his hair.

I like to trace his lips with a fingertip, and also touch his lips with one finger (like I’m making him say shh). If I leave it there more than 2 seconds, he kisses it.

Hand on thigh when we are sitting next to each other in the car or a restaurant.

He playfully bites my elbow or shoulder sometimes.

I crack his knuckles. He cracks my back.
posted by yawper at 8:38 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Beard scratch! My boyfriend has this impossibly wiry beard and loves it when I get in there and give it/the skin beneath a good scratch with my fingernails.

Kissing butts (but not like that)! When it is nighttime and we are going to sleep but can't spoon anymore (too hot, he is sick of chewing on my hair) he flips over and scooches his butt up to mine and says 'our butts are kissing!' and that is how we say goodnight, I guess.
posted by BeeJiddy at 8:46 PM on July 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

There is only one place Mrs. Lhauser is ticklish, it is in a moderately intimate place, and I am the only one who knows it. Therefore, I almost never tickle her there. She just stares at me when I do this.
posted by lhauser at 8:48 PM on July 26, 2018

This thread hurts, but in a good way? Little touches like this are the best memories of relationships.

I sneak things into my partners pockets, and "try to not get caught" which usually means I end up with an apparent ask favorite, butt touching! Butt, with added bonus of a flower or mysterious candy wrapper! In winter it's a cute way to get into someone's cozy jacket pockets and give them stupid presents like a rock.

Also I like to stick my fingers in partner's mouth when they yawn. Sometimes that means finger kisses which are nice!

It's hot as hell right now everywhere in the N Hemisphere. Hold a cold stuff and go grab partner under their shirt. They'll yelp but then lurve you for a second. Opposite in cold, of course.
posted by zinful at 8:57 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Beyond many things that others have noted, if one of us is standing in the kitchen waiting for something at the stove that means it’s time for bad junior-high slow dancing to no music.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:07 PM on July 26, 2018 [9 favorites]

I love massaging my partner’s earlobes as well. I love it when he lightly plays the drums on me with his hands, he’s not a drummer but he’s got good rhythm.
posted by like_neon at 12:01 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

My partner pretends he is stretching and then I pretend I’ve mistaken him stretching for wanting cuddles and jump over there and then he pretends I’ve mobbed him and he has fallen over. Its very silly.
posted by Nilehorse at 2:16 AM on July 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

He puts a hand on my shoulder (if we're on an escalator or something) and I tilt my head to trap his hand between my shoulder and cheek.
I really love having his hand resting on the small of my back when I'm lying on my stomach. I don't know why that feels good, but it does.
posted by huimangm at 4:00 AM on July 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sticking one finger up the sleeve at the wrist while watching a movie. Wrists are sensitive!

I had an ex that used to hold one of my fingers and rub my fingernail gently with the side of his finger. I've since started doing it to others.

"baby kisses" where you just slowly move towards your partner with your mouth wide open and rest your open mouth on your partner's laughing face. Like you don't understand how kissing works.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:05 AM on July 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I tuck my hand under his thigh when he's driving and I'm in the passenger seat. I don't know why.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:59 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

We are groomers. I'll often scratch his beard or his head when we're lying on the couch, or run my fingers along the insides of his ears or rub behind his ears. Sometimes when we're lying on the couch (we are layabouts!) we'll just face each other and breathe out little breaths into each other's mouths... it's hard to explain, but it makes little noises and usually we wind up cracking up. Sometimes he'll bite me on the nose with his lips over his teeth as if he was a parrot ("namf!"). If we're lying head to foot on the couch I'll often knead his shoulder with my toes. If I'm sitting with my head on his lap I'll sometimes swirl his leg hairs into tiny circles.
posted by jessamyn at 6:21 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

We act out the “poom”/“attaque de puces” segment from this YouTube cat video, including dialogue.
posted by matildaben at 7:13 AM on July 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

I am VERY physically affectionate, but my husband is not. Some of the things we do:

We poke each other (lightly!) with our pinkies. This means, "I love you." I don't know how it started but my husband will randomly poke me in leg with his pinky when he's driving or walking past me in the kitchen or whatever.

I love kissing him next to the corner of his eye. It's an excellent, neglected area. I come up to him when he's on his computer and scratch the back of his head lightly.

We give each other nose boops. (You have to say, "Boop!" when you do it.)

One of the best incidences of affection I can remember: shortly after we moved in together, I was wearing a tank top and my husband (then boyfriend) grabbed me by the elbows and planted kisses all over my face, neck, shoulders and upper chest. He's a reserved guy so this was a truly extravagant, spontaneous show of affection.
posted by Aquifer at 7:43 AM on July 27, 2018

That mention of wrists being sensitive reminded me that having the insides of my forearms lightly petted/scratched is AMAZING and if we're watching TV there's like a 50% chance that if he starts absentmindedly petting/rubbing my shoulder, I will wriggle into whatever weird contortion is necessary to encourage him to do the inner-arm scratching instead and then I purr a lot. I don't think he quite gets it - he doesn't seem to have that same response on his arms? - but it's the greatest thing.
posted by Stacey at 8:04 AM on July 27, 2018

Lots of scratching: back scratching and lighter arm/forearm scratching/tickling.

Lots of butt touching, patting, smacking, etc. Bongo buns are when you play someone's buns as if they were a bongo drum, usually while they're laying down, always while you're singing.

I give fake haircuts a lot. Grab pieces of hair between index and middle finger like the hairdresser does, use other hand to mime coming across with the scissors. I often do this with arm or leg hair while laying around.

Head and hair rubs. He thinks my hair is soft and often just rubs it between his fingers after lightly rubbing/scratching my head.

Also really good, solid hugs that last so long you start swaying like middle school dances.
posted by kochenta at 8:36 AM on July 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is familial rather than romantic (and perhaps proof of the oddness of my family but):

my mom does a thing where she'll come up behind a person (if they're tall enough), yell "Tooth hug!" and then very gently bite their shoulder.
posted by darchildre at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2018 [7 favorites]

That thing where people blow a raspberry on a baby’s belly and you get a fart noise and a tickle laugh all at once? Not just for babies, we find out.

I put my chin on my husband’s shoulder when behind him on down escalators.

Scalp massages are some people’s idea of fun. I’m not those people but I married one of them, and he has nice non-tangly hair so it works well.
posted by armeowda at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2018

Oh also, back-scratch “battleship” games. Also also, drawing simple pictures on each other’s backs to see if we can guess what they are. I do mailboxes, boats, and lightbulbs mostly.
posted by armeowda at 5:35 PM on July 27, 2018

We taught our preschooler that when we’re holding hands, two squeezes means “I love you” And now we do it too
posted by sestaaak at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oooh, I love these! I'm an affectionate person and have a best friend who puts up with/enjoys lots of physical touch, so we have lots of our own cuddles.

Most common thing we do is finger boops... (also known as "Adam and God", if you're into art history). One person holds their finger tip out towards the other to initiate, and then you touch fingertips.

She also recently coined the term "face hugs," because I have a tendency to squish my face against her face when we hug. Sometimes we just squish faces without hugging...

Then there are walking hugs, where you put your entire arm and as much of your shoulder as possible around the other person's shoulders and walk like that until they tell you to get off.

Today she came up with "grandpa hugs," to describe what I do when I try to hug her around the middle. I'm taller, and apparently when I want to hug her from below, I squat, waddle towards her, and continue to squat while hugging so I don't have to bend my back. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We also do goldfish kisses :)
posted by switcheroo at 6:42 PM on July 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Head nudging - like a cat wanting pats, just smoosh your head into another person. Or resting your head/chin on them somewhere.

Fanging - not biting but just resting your upper teeth on someone (usually hand or shoulder).

I will smoosh my face into my husband's armpit.

I once tried to pat his shoulder but got his face so we do 'awkward face pats' rather like the 'poom' from the cat video above.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:06 AM on July 29, 2018

We do super-light barely-touch karate-chop motion on the other person. You must announce this action by saying "chop" at any volume. For best effect, the other person pretends to have suddenly lost use of that limb/appendage as it has been chopped off.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:45 AM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and because we are weirdos, sometimes my husband and I hug like we are Ken and Barbie. We hold our arms at weird, bent angles and hug stiffly and say, "BARBIE HUG."

I don't know how this started, but it's hilarious. (To us.)
posted by Aquifer at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

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