The way Hollywood sells it, kissing should happen effortlessly. We should long to kiss our loving partner all the time, and we should be in instant ecstasy the minute the kiss begins. When our partner approaches for a kiss, we should tilt up our head like a young starlet and receive his mouth like opening to the sweetest nectar. We should always be ready and hungry for the next kiss, and the first kiss should tell the entire story of the rest of lives: if that kiss sets off fireworks, you’re destined for happily ever after. But, god forbid, the kiss is… eh, so-so… you’re doomed for a lifetime of mediocrity.
That’s a lot of shoulds, and the reality of how women feel about kissing tells a very different story.
First off, the first kiss is just that: a first kiss. It can be great or it can be not-so-great, and it has absolutely no bearing on the satisfaction in your relationship. In other words, even if you start with a not-so-great kiss, you can still grow a passionate marriage. And if you start with a firework kiss, the relationship can still end in dying embers.
More importantly, kissing in a long-term relationship is an entire world unto itself. Because of the way it’s been sold, we expect kissing to be easy and effortless, but for many women, kissing is more intimate than intercourse, and it’s often a litmus test for how open and safe she’s feeling in her body and with her partner.
Kissing is also the carrier for a long legacy of expectations that we carry about what marriage or a long-term relationship should provide or include. We expect to kiss at certain times of day (morning, after work, goodnight), whether or not it makes sense or we feel called to kiss at those times. Expectation is just a step away from obligation, and where we feel obligated, we shut down.
If you’re not feeling open and safe, or if you’re feeling the backlog of 4,000 years of patriarchal expectations that says it’s your job to kiss your partner whenever they want to be kissed, you might find yourself flinching or bracing when your partner approaches for a kiss.
Let me be clear: Flinching or bracing does NOT mean that either of you are doing anything wrong. Your partner isn’t wrong for wanting to kiss you, and you’re not wrong for bracing against it. While that moment can be painful for both of you, we have to remove the belief that there’s something “wrong” in order to excavate what’s underneath.
I want to underscore how normal this dynamic is because when clients share this experience with me in session they often follow it with shame-based statements like, “Nobody else struggles with this” or “This must be evidence that I’m with the wrong person.” Neither of those statements are true. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of couples struggle with this exact dynamic.
What’s the remedy? To slow down that moment and become curious about what’s happening for each of you. This isn’t easy because you might both be triggered into a place of rejection or self-doubt, but it’s good to bring even those experiences into the moment.
Instead of seeing that moment of flinch and friction as evidence that something is wrong, I encourage both partners to see it as a signal to slow things down. If you’re the approaching partner reading this and you see your partner brace, you might pause and say, “Are you feeling scared or unsafe right now?” If you’re the partner being approached and you notice yourself brace, you might say, “I just noticed that I braced. Can we slow this moment down? I want to be close to you but I’m noticing that I’m protecting myself right now.”
Of course, this doesn’t only apply to kissing. We can flinch, brace, or shut down around any part of touch and sex. But kissing seems to carry its own worlds of expectations and vulnerability, and it’s the one that shows up most throughout a regular day (as opposed to full sexual contact).
As kissing is one of the ways that we can stay intimately connected to one another, it behooves us to shed the shame and replace it with curiosity so that we can unpack what those tense moments contain. When we learn how to slow down, trust our bodies, and listen to our voice, we can then bring this to our partner and begin a very different kind of conversation: one that leads to more closeness and safety instead of one that creates distance and resentment.
Learning to reduce shame so that you can trust your body and listen to your voice is what I teach in my Sacred Sexuality course. I am deeply passionate about this course because I know in my bones that releasing the shame that we carry around our bodies and sexuality is one of our most powerful pathways for healing. Our bodies are the conduit to our aliveness, our sensuality, our creativity, and our voice, and it’s time that we reclaim what is rightfully ours so that we can step into our true power as women.
If you’re ready to be guided along a gentle yet effective roadmap that will help you soften shame and ignite desire, please join me for this 8th round of Sacred Sexuality, which will start on January 14th, 2023. I very much look forward to connecting with you there.
Also, I’m excited to be sharing two free offerings on this topic:
1. A one-hour webinar tomorrow, January 9th, at 6:15pm ET. You can sign up here.
2. Our recent Gathering Gold episode called “Sovereign Sexuality”, which you can learn more about here.