Do you remember your first kiss? I do. It was a stolen kiss in a barn. I was 13 and so taken aback I froze. Forty years later, I vividly remember the sweet and gentle sensation mingled with the newfound excitement.
Sometimes we forget how important a kiss can be. We grow up, get jobs, have responsibilities, and lose that connection. We take for granted the soft, sensuous intimacy of a kiss that compels us to want more, reminding us that we are alive.
Recently, a couple came in for sex therapy, and after four years of marriage had lost their interest in sex and kissing. They loved each other, wanted to be together, and were raising a young child. When I asked about their sexual habits, I learned that they initiated sex with one or the other saying, “We should probably have sex tonight.” When asked about kissing, they just stared at me like I was a nutty therapist. It wasn’t something they were engaging in to enhance their sexual experience or their lives together.
Kissing has a science behind it. When we kiss someone, a surge of oxytocin is released in our brain. This hormone is critical to our bonding and attachment to another human being. Its release makes us feel wonderful, safe, and deeply connected to our lover. It creates a breathtaking intimacy between the two. This deep connection is probably the reason why no video time is wasted on kissing in pornography. Kissing not only generates sexual excitement, but also euphoria. Yes, euphoria! So why, after a couple of months or years together do we forget to kiss our partner in just that way that drives them wild?
Kissing also has an evolutionary history. Some believe that it came about to insure the species continued. Mothers chewed their food in tiny bits and fed it to their babies, mouth to mouth. Another theory is that kissing was a way for women to test out the future father of their children. Some even say that kissing began as a way of spreading germs to a woman before she became pregnant so as to build her immunity.
But I do not think the scientists nor the historians have the entire picture on kissing. How can a scientific model explain the level of intimacy when two people decide to come so close their lips brush together? And how can an historian really explain the emotional surge that comes along with the tingle that starts in the hundreds of nerve endings housed in your lips and courses through your entire body?
They don’t comprehend the significance of a simple kiss. A kiss is not just a kiss. It can make or break a relationship and/or sexual encounter. Think about Snow White’s kiss with the prince or the tale of the princess and the frog. These kisses were more than just a simple joining of lips. They symbolized a rebirth, a transformation. Eve Glicksman says, “Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls, because the spirit was said to be carried in one’s breath.”
No matter the movie, East of Eden, The Notebook, or Brokeback Mountain, we all remember the scene that draws us in and ignites something inside. The connection between the characters and their longing for one another heightens our anticipation of the kiss.
A single kiss can mean so many things – a greeting, a farewell, a fondness – but what really draws us in is the longing for another, the promise of a sweet surrender to come. Or maybe it is the breath of life, letting us know we are vibrant and alive. It is part of the human experience. As Shelley said, “Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips”.
So how can you become a better kisser? Maintaining good oral health, using lip balm, gazing into your partner’s eyes, moving in, and tilting your head are all things that will help you plant one on your lover. Beyond that it’s important to maintain a sense of being in the moment. What makes a kiss special is what it says in that very moment, solely between those two people. The best thing about the kiss is the experience of being mindful with your full attention on your partner and his or her full attention on you.
So go ahead, give your partner a full on, luscious, mouth-to-mouth smooch tonight. It might not be your first kiss, but it can be your best.