Life Lessons I Learned from Kissing

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Photo by Jonah Pettrich on Unsplash

issing is one of my favorite forms of physical intimacy. It’s one of the first things people do to express mutual attraction, it’s sexy and sensual without being sex, and it’s just really pleasant, in my experience.

In the past, I was a timid kisser. As I got more confident with partners, I learned what I liked when it came time to put my lips on someone else’s lips. Not too much tongue, but enough to keep things varied and interesting. Little smacky smoochy sounds. Taking a break to giggle or sigh and then get back to the kissing.

Kissing is great. And, it turns out, kissing has taught me a lot about life.

I am desirable

Kissing isn’t always sexual.

I grew up with really low self esteem, so the first time I went on a date and ended up kissing somebody, I was pretty over the moon about it. Being passionately kissed for the first time in my life felt like a dramatic movie scene. I believed I was desirable and sexy.

I really enjoy kissing, and I have even platonically kissed friends on the forehead, cheek, and sometimes lips if everybody is into it. Kissing is a great way to show affection and it doesn’t always need to be sexual.

Consent is sexy

Asking first doesn’t have to be boring.

The second person I ever kissed asked before he kissed me. We were watching a movie, and he snuggled up to me, lifted his eyes to mine, and asked, “Can I kiss you?” It was incredibly intimate and really sexy that he asked.

Consent done right is exciting and can amplify a sensual or sexual experience. Asking first doesn’t have to be boring, like “Would you mind if we have sex?” It can be worked into foreplay or activity in an engaging and exciting way. Ask your partner, “Do you want me to touch you here?” or “Can I do such and such?” When they give you the go-ahead, go ahead.

Consent is important

Consent is critical in all relationships and interpersonal interactions.

I went on a date once with someone who grabbed my face and kissed me in a Starbucks before he even said hello. I was taken aback and the rest of the date felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t know how to tell him that was inappropriate.

You should never touch someone intimately without knowing that they are okay with it. And it’s also okay to bring a date or interaction to a halt when someone does something without your consent. I wish I had, and I probably would feel comfortable doing so now, but when it happened I was just starting to explore my sexuality and didn’t fully understand that he had violated my boundaries.

Consent is critical in all relationships and interpersonal interactions. Whether it’s kissing or talking about a heavy topic or — especially — having sex, consent should be established upfront. Consent should be freely given (not coerced or guilted), reversible (you can change your mind), informed (you deserve to know what you are consenting to in entirety), enthusiastic (“sure” or “I guess so” are not consent), and specific (consent for kissing does not imply consent for touching elsewhere on the body — you need to be specific when asking for consent).

It’s ok to ask for what you want

You deserve amazing kisses — and amazing relationships.

I never considered asking my first partner to kiss me any differently. I didn’t know there were so many different things you could do while kissing. The more people I’ve kissed, the more I’ve learned to be confident and specific.

Ask for more or less tongue, ask your partner to brush their teeth if they’ve just smoked a cigarette, tell your partner you like it when they kiss your neck.

Feedback is good. Normalize feedback. You deserve amazing kisses — and amazing relationships.

You can even ask for kisses themselves if your partner isn’t one to make the first move. I assumed that one person wasn’t interested in kissing me because he didn’t initiate it. But I later learned that he doesn’t feel comfortable initiating intimacy a lot, and that released a lot of stress I had. I had been thinking he wasn’t interested in kissing me, when really it had been okay for me to ask for kisses all along.

Learning to ask and navigate boundaries is an ongoing process, and that’s okay.

Boundaries are good things

He had expected my physical intimacy and felt slighted when I didn’t give it to him.

On my first date with one partner, I was very shy and did not kiss him. We hugged at the end of the date. The night before our second date, he tried to cancel because he thought I wasn’t actually interested, since I hadn’t kissed him.

Looking back, this was a big clue about the rest of our relationship. He had expected my physical intimacy and felt slighted when I didn’t give it to him. At the time, I didn’t realize that he was acting entitled, so I fell over myself to reassure him that I was interested.

Another first date with someone ended with him asking for a hug (again, asking is so refreshing and nice), and I said I wasn’t really feeling a hug that day. He was cool about it, and we ended up connecting for a second date that did involve some kissing.

I feel a lot of anxiety around telling people no.

I recently kissed someone after a little bit of flirtatious banter finally hit the point of expressing mutual affection and interest. But after we kissed, she realized she wasn’t ready to be affectionate with someone yet after her last relationship. I thanked her for being honest and I was grateful that she felt safe telling me that she wasn’t ready for anything more.

It made me realize that other people could be just as grateful for my boundaries as I was for this person’s.

After living in an abusive relationship for nearly seven years, I feel a lot of anxiety around telling people no. But experiencing my own gratitude for this person telling me she wasn’t interested made me realize that other people won’t get mad at me for having my own boundaries.

And if they do, they’re not someone I want in my life anyway. And they certainly don’t get any kisses.

Prone to sudden bursts of encouragement. They/them. Queer, autistic author of bit.ly/GaslightingMillennials

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