Is there anything more awkward than the time and place of a first kiss?
First dates are a mess — a big, huge, filthy, uncomfortable mess. Just give me a set of stirrups, a small, cold room and a hospital gown and I'd feel more at ease.
At some point during a date, you look at the other person and think one of two things — "Is he going to try to kiss me after this date?" or "Please don't try to kiss me after this date."
A diagram of the first kiss
It's really kind of silly when you think about it. You meet someone for the first time, they buy you dinner and a couple of drinks and you end your time together with one of the most intimate things two people can do together? You don't lock lips with your dentist after you see him for the first time. You don't swap spit with your boss at the end of the day (most people don't, anyway). Why is it somewhat implied that you'll kiss someone you've only known for a few hours just because you spent a couple of hours together?
To kiss or not to kiss: What's more awkward?
About this columnist:
You know how one minute you're in a happy and fulfilling marriage and the next you find out that your husband of 20 years has been cheating on you with someone 10 years younger? Well I do. I went from country club wife and mother of high school students to a single, 39-year-old “cougar.” In this weekly feature, I will share with you all the mind-boggling, head-scratching, is-this-someone's-idea-of-a-joke moments from my so-called single life. Consider this your private invitation to my tremendous learning curve…
Those of you who saw Enough Said starring the late James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus likely remember that excruciating moment at the end of the date when Gandolfini leans in for the kiss goodnight and Louis-Dreyfus pulls back and says that's she's not sure yet. Brutal. Just brutal. This scenario proves that not kissing can be just as awkward as kissing someone you barely know.
To kiss or not to kiss can drive a gal to distraction. I've been in both situations, but I must admit my dating experiences seem to end up in the "How am I going to get out of the kiss goodbye" category. You know you're on a bad date when halfway through you start formulating an elaborate exit strategy to avoid the kiss goodnight, all the while smiling and nodding at the very person you are going to great lengths to avoid physical contact with.
The absolute best possible scenario has happened to me once, just the other night. The guy I was on a date with was different. Unlike my other dates, I actually liked him. I was actually physically attracted to him. After we held hands by a fireplace sipping wine in a restaurant for several hours, he kissed me goodnight and it was the most organic, coolest ending I've had to a date in the four years I've been single. The memorable interaction was devoid of awkwardness, nervous laughter or mentally wishing I was anywhere but there.
Why are some first kisses so amazing while others are just weird? In The Science of Kissing, research scientist and author Sheril Kirshenbaum tells us that our reaction to kissing is about more than gut feelings. Kirshenbaum explains, "Lip contact involves five of our 12 cranial nerves as we engage all of our senses to learn more about a partner. Electric impulses bounce between the brain, lips, tongue and skin, which can lead to the feeling of being on a natural "high" because of a potent cocktail of chemical messengers involved."
Kirshenbaum goes on to say, "We can readily describe sensations of butterflies in the stomach or feeling weak in the knees when things go well, but we are less aware of the ways that kissing helps us to make a reliable assessment of another person."
So does that make the guy behind that amazing first kiss "the one?" I'm not sure, but if the dating gods are listening, I'll take a few more of those scenarios and a few fewer of the dating situations that make me wish the restaurant would explode in flames so I'd have a valid excuse for running for my life.