A kiss is more than 'just a kiss'.
Do you remember your first real kiss? I do. I had kissed others before, made out with others is probably a better way to put it, but this was my first kiss.
The first time I felt the anticipation for hours, felt myself falling in love with him as we watched Chariots of Fire in the theater with the swells of the soundtrack almost too much to bear, the visceral tingle of sitting next to him, the feel of his strong hand in mine, the smell of him next to me. And then after, when I pulled my mother’s beat up Dodge Dart to his house, and I stared forward, I trembled, wondering what he’d do. And I waited. He whispered, but with strength, “Can I steal a kiss?” “You don’t have to steal it,” I said, and he held my face in his hands and his lips met mine and it was the most intimate, most sensual, most incredible kiss ever.
I was sixteen. And I can still see it in my mind, and I can still feel it in my heart.
Kissing is, I believe, one of the most important displays of affection in a romantic relationship; the ultimate in closeness.
You may be thinking, um, there is something else a little closer: sex. Sexual intimacy, when two people are together, body, mind, and soul connected in the ultimate of ways. I think intercourse is great. When you’re in a romantic relationship, that closeness is beyond compare. It brings two people together in a way nothing else can.
But it all starts with a kiss, and it’s not the same without kissing. It’s sex without the personal, intimate, I want to look in your eyes, I want more than your body, I want your soft cheek cupped in my hand or the feel of your unshaven chin scratchy against mine.
Kissing is not only intimate, but it is highly personal. In the movie Pretty Woman, both parties initially make an agreement, they will have sex all week, escort here, there, and everywhere, but no kissing on the mouth. It’s too personal and romantic. And when the plot shifts and they fall in love, they kiss. And when they kiss, everything changes.
Yes, I’m referencing a Hollywood movie about a prostitute gone clean, but the point is, they nailed it on the kissing. It’s personal. Kissing is more personal than sex. And in this case, Hollywood has a point. I’m a little more discerning about who I sleep with than any old Richard Gere in an Armani suit, and I don’t tend to have sex with anyone I wouldn’t also want to kiss, but I think you get the point.
Kissing: The Love Drug
In an ABC article, psychologists reported that the First Kiss Is More Powerful Than First Sexual Encounter. In fact, up to 90% of people remember details of their first romantic kiss, a memory that is even more powerful than their first sexual encounter.
According to psychologist and licensed clinical social worker LeslieBeth Wish, lips are highly sensitive tissue, with nerve endings that signal reactions such as hot and cold, sharp and soft. The nerve endings in lips also activate feelings of closeness and attachment by arousing the brain’s love chemicals such as oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that gives us that wonderful, weak-kneed feeling. And the chemicals that produce that feeling prompt you to want to kiss more and create more, like a love drug. So kiss away.
Casual sex is so common these days, it’s easy to forget how much a kiss can do. Kisses are powerful connectors of the first touch and can overwhelm you with pleasure.
What About Eye Contact? Or Talking?
Eye contact adds to the intimacy of any sexual act, so if you’re kissing with your eyes closed you are missing out.
Take a look at your partner eye-to-eye and establish this is a special moment. It doesn’t mean you need to have a staring contest, you might freak your partner out. But sneak a peak every now and then, and if your partner’s eyes are closed, maybe use the next tip about talking, and tell them, in a whisper, “I want to look at you, open your eyes, this feels so special.”
Kissing is a strong language. Does talking ruin the moment? Not always.
Michael Christian, author of The Art of Kissing, says talking can add to the chemistry. His research found the number one sentence most like to hear is: “You’re such a good kisser.” He also suggests, “You’re so beautiful,” “You’re so hot,” or “I never want to stop kissing you.”
This does two things. First, it shows you’re serious about who you’re kissing. And second, it communicates you’re in the first stage of what you wish was a closer connection. It’s not just a kiss, it’s the start of something more. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want that from the person they’re kissing?
Sealed With a Kiss, Or Not?
From Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo of the sailor kissing the nurse after World War II, to the lip-lock of gay cowboys Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, a relationship can truly be sealed with a kiss. It can also break the deal.
According to Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, 59% of men and 66% percent of women end a relationship because of a bad first kiss. A kiss is the ultimate litmus test, so much is communicated with a kiss, including the kisser’s ability to be sensitive to his or her partner’s kissing style and to adapt to it.
In addition to opening the door to romance, revealing technique and sensitivity, a kiss may serve an evolutionary purpose. Men’s saliva contains testosterone that can, over repeated exposure, arouse a woman’s libido and eventually persuade her to mate. In addition, in Kirshenbaum’s State University of New York at Albany study, men described kissing as a “means to an end” while women saw it as a route to a deeper relationship. Women are more sensitive to scent and taste, using their senses to detect if the man is the “right match.”
Kissing includes both nature and nurture. My first real kiss was the moment I first fell in love, and everything about it was perfect. I remember so many others: A kiss atop the Eiffel Tower; a kiss from a special love on New Year’s Eve; a kiss from a man I loved as a friend when we finally took our relationship to the next level; a kiss at the top of a ski slope when I was terrified and needed reassurance; a kiss after years of flirtation, knowing it would be perfection, and a morning kiss after, well, the morning after.
Kissing is a connection that is instinctual, romantic, sexual, emotional, nurturing, comforting, gentle, aggressive, protective, vulnerable, confident, scared, and loving. So much can be communicated with a kiss. And that is why, a kiss is more than just a kiss.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.