Kissing is, by its very nature, absolutely revolting.
Mashing together your mouths, which you also use to chomp up food into little digestible pieces, is undeniably gross.
The thought of the germs alone is horrifying.
We’ve all heard of people not washing their legs in the shower, and spotted people sneaking out of the bathroom without giving their hands a quick scrub. Imagine what poor care they’re taking over their mouths.
You think everyone you meet brushes their teeth correctly? You think they swill with mouthwash? What about after lunch? Do they tongue scrape? What horrors are lurking in there?
A kiss is taking a gamble on another person’s health – whether they’re battling a nasty infection, have eaten something disgusting, or aren’t well-versed in dental hygiene. Awful.
Then you get to the actual ins and outs of kissing, and it’s just as gross.
A wet tongue sliding on top of someone else’s. The squelching sounds (you’ve heard them on Love Island and cringed, it’s the same off TV). Tasting what another person has eaten in the last few hours. Lips pressed against lips that can either sit there unmoving or be far too active.
Kissing is disgusting, and there are so many ways it can go horribly wrong.
So when a kiss goes well, it’s sort of a miracle.
Kissing is gross, and that’s the point. If you meet someone, smush your lips together, and despite all the awful things that could happen you actually enjoy it, that’s absolutely wondrous.
Kissing is disgusting because we need it to be. We need it to be awful so that we can use it as a comfortable barometer of our attraction to another human being.
Because if kissing inspires lust and joy instead of feeling deeply unsettled, you must really fancy this person. Or you’ve stumbled upon someone with seriously impressive skills.
We need the grossness of kissing to appreciate the moments when we can overlook the potential for awfulness and find something delightful.
There are so many ways in which a kiss can be bad: the pressure can be all wrong, they can bite when you don’t want them to, their tongue can move in ways comparable to a washing machine or a slug.
So when the universe lines up to make a kiss great, that’s something worthy of recognition.
A great kiss involves a lean in at the perfect moment. It’s soft at first, then deepens. You feel hungrily desired without the kiss tipping into a mauling. Their lips are irresistible, their tongue, lightly brushing yours, is a delight.
The pressure is perfect, either equal or one person seamlessly taking the lead. You’re no longer aware of the strangeness of putting your mouths together, because it just feels so good.
A great kiss is still disgusting if you pause to think about it, but it’s so enjoyable it makes you forget this fact. You don’t pause to think because you’re completely immersed, completely united in the moment. That’s the power of a glorious kiss.
And it’s not just about mechanical skill. Someone can kiss you with the exact same technique and inspire none of the fireworks. Kissing depends on connection and that magic spark to save it from ruin.
It’s the ultimate test of whether this is someone you should actually go further with – because invariably, a kiss you despise leads only to sex that is beyond awful, and a relationship that leaves so much to be desired.
When you meet someone whose intense makeout sessions make your skin tingle and your stomach flip, when their face in the morning inspires a need to lightly press your lips to theirs, when the taste of their mouth doesn’t make you gag, that’s something special and rare.
If they’re the right person – whether just for now, in this moment, or for far longer – the wonderfulness of the kiss will outweigh its disgusting qualities. And so we need kissing to be gross, so that we can recognise this magic when we find it.
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