Show Transcript for Episode 10: Kissing

Laurie Watson: Hi, it’s time for Foreplay. I’m Laurie Watson, sex therapist and author of Wanting Sex Again. And I’m here with my cohost, Tony Delmedico, psychotherapist. Today on Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy, we are ready to talk about all things sexual and intimate. And help you get the most out of your sex life.

Tony Delmedico: You can check us out on the web at ForeplayRST.com. Visit us and send us an email if you’d like. Sex talk with Laurie and Tony. Laurie, where will Foreplay lead us today?

Laurie Watson: So, Tony, today we’re going to talk about kissing.

Tony Delmedico: Kissing, smooching.

Laurie Watson: Smooching.

Tony Delmedico: Lip locking.

Laurie Watson: Yeah.

Tony Delmedico: Is kissing really that important, Laurie? Are we going to devote a whole show just to kissing?

Laurie Watson: You know, I think this is the sex act that is the hardest to get right. What I hear in my office is, when this one isn’t right, the whole thing is more difficult. And especially for women, it seems to be a more important and hold more significance for women in terms of what it means. Maybe for men, you know, the technique is more important. But for women, if kissing falls off kind of the romance of the whole thing falls off.

Tony Delmedico: I would agree. I think it all starts there. In fact, I think for guys too, if the kissing isn’t right in a long term relationship, it really goes south from there. And I think some of the saddest moments I’ve felt in working with men and couples is when you hear — And typically the couple will not reveal this together in session. It will be an individual that says, “You know, I never liked kissing him. Or I never liked kissing her from the beginning. And I overrode that instinct.” And now we have 10, 15 years together. And it’s really hard to break up. But there was something in that initial kiss that was saying something’s not right here. So, in our show today, I’m wondering if kissing is teachable for a couple. Like if couples are struggling with kissing, is that a teachable, trainable thing? Or is it more instinctive for a couple? Be curious to know what you think.

Laurie Watson: I think people, some people are natural good kissers. And they have the same style. But people have wildly different styles. And if they were hooked up with somebody with their style, it might work just fine. But somehow or another, I agree, people will tell me, “You know, from the very beginning I really didn’t like his style. Or I didn’t like the way she kissed.” And then, it is difficult to retrain and help them figure out how they can make that work for them. I think kissing is a super difficult thing to work at.

Tony Delmedico: So, you know, in our shows we’re talking about are all sorts of things with respect to technique. And how to approach things. But this is something that I think we’re getting really back to initial instincts. And I think some people will complain about certain aspects of kissing. So, for example, you produce too much saliva when we French kiss. And so, that’s something, I think that a partner —

Laurie Watson: Yeah, sloppy is never good.

Tony Delmedico: Unless they both like sloppy.

Laurie Watson: Very few people I hear like sloppy.

Tony Delmedico: Well, some people I know like sloppy.

Laurie Watson: Okay, okay, okay. But it’s an agreement on the couple. But I think if one person is sloppy and that turns the other partner off. I think that’s something that can be addressed. But I think we’re getting back to this ephemeral feeling of “Ah, you know, something about kissing you is not feeling quite right.” And I think that’s very different than some minor tweaks. Don’t stick your tongue all the way down my throat. Or you know, your kisses are too wet, it feels like, you know.

Laurie Watson: Right. The research does show, we use kissing to assess our partner, to see if this is a person who’s a good match for us. That’s a primary use for it. And I was talking with my kids this weekend. I have son. And they were saying that they kissed girls where it was just gross and terrible. And even though she was really attractive, that’s it. You know, they didn’t want to go out with her again. Or take her out or anything. So, I think it’s true. But the problems we deal with mostly are people who are in it and have either then stopped kissing, right? Or decided that they didn’t like the way that their partner kissed in the beginning and what do they do now?

Tony Delmedico: Right, right. And going back to your, what you just shared about your son, I’m always thinking about for the person that has decided to override their instinct. “That something about this kiss isn’t right, but I’m going to continue to date you and see you and partner up with you.” What is it about that person that’s overriding their own instincts? Whether it’s kissing or other things in their life as well? So, I think, there’s two prongs to that. So, if you’ve overridden it. What other areas of your life are being overwritten? But staying close to kissing, which is the topic of today’s show. I think it’s right. You know, I really do.

Laurie Watson: Well, if you’re saying if they override it. You’re wondering that maybe they don’t pay attention to their instinct. I probably think though that, I mean kissing is important. And it may be very important to a person. But it’s not the only thing that’s important sexually and in partnership. I mean —

Tony Delmedico: Right. But if it becomes an issue in the couple, like I’ve had couples that have come in and said, “You can do everything but kiss me. I just don’t want you near me.”

Laurie Watson: Right.

Tony Delmedico: That becomes anytime you draw us a large boundary like that, it becomes a big problem for the couple.

Laurie Watson: And people draw lots of lines though sexually in terms of what they don’t like. I mean, what do you ask them when they say that? What do you ask the person who is drawing such a firm line?

Tony Delmedico: I think it’s tough. I mean, I’m thinking about, the initial thought that went through my head is, is kissing more intimate than sex itself? So, and not to be stereotypical. But prostitutes would say, “You know, what are we going to do? And everything’s on the table except kissing.” So, isn’t it curious?

Laurie Watson: Rumor has it that is what they say.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah, rumor has it. Yeah. So, and that doesn’t come out of anywhere. So, all of a sudden, it’s face to face. And you were saying we use this as a tool to figure out whether you’re going to be a potential partner or not. So, you can own all of me but not the most intimate part of me, which is face to face.

Laurie Watson: Right. It’s so close. It’s eye contact. And like you said, it is more intimate maybe than some sex acts that people use with each other, right?

Tony Delmedico: I mean, to extend the question, is kissing more intimate than eye contact? So, if I can look at you and just give you a blank face. I might be able to lie to your face through my eyes. But once we start to kiss, does the truth come out there? I don’t know. We’re talking about windows to the soul. Eyes are the windows to the soul. Lips to the window to the heart. Maybe that’s the case. Maybe a kiss doesn’t lie.

Laurie Watson: Right. And that’s your line, right?

Tony Delmedico: That’s a thought. I don’t know.

Laurie Watson: No, say that again.

Tony Delmedico: It’s a working premise.

Laurie Watson: That the kiss is?

Tony Delmedico: That the eyes are the window to the soul. So, maybe a kiss is the, excuse me. If the eyes are the window to the soul. The eyes, I can’t.

Laurie Watson: If the eyes are the window to the soul. Then the kiss is the window to the heart.

Tony Delmedico: Exactly.

Laurie Watson: You said that, I love that. I know, I think that kiss is something important. I mean, obviously, for some people it is the ultimate important. And it tells them whether or not there is this chemistry. I mean, I definitely remember a man that I dated who I wasn’t attracted to and he kissed me and bam, that was it.

Tony Delmedico: It jump started it.

Laurie Watson: That was it. You know, after that, I was always attracted to him.

Tony Delmedico: But got you.

Laurie Watson: That was really important.

Tony Delmedico: Well, in one of our sessions earlier, we were talking about how couples can jump start their intimacy if it’s dead. And I think a passionate kiss is a thing that can really get a pilot light started in a hurry. So, don’t underestimate, even if you’ve been in a relationship for a long time. The importance of taking time for a passionate kiss. One of our tips in a previous program was giving your partner a ten second kiss. And if you tried that, what you’ll find is you have to show up after the first two or three seconds. So, I was actually thinking about the kiss of death. Like what is the kiss of death for a couple in a committed relationship. And I think it’s when their pleasure kissing goes to just a goodbye hun or good morning hun kiss. Which becomes a senseless peck on the lips or the check. And you’re not even present. And that becomes warm.

Laurie Watson: Maybe. But I like that too. I like the ritual kissing as well. I think that mixed into a life of somebody is important. I mean, to me it’s empty if we’re saying goodbye and not hugging and kissing. I mean, I think factored into an intimate relationship. It’s important. I think what you’re saying is, if it becomes mom and dad, right? If that’s the only thing people are doing. The only way they kiss. Maybe that’s the kiss of death. But I think, I mean, I need that too. I think that’s really important. And I encourage couples to do ritual kisses.

Tony Delmedico: So, we’re talking about the difference between pleasure kissing and ritual kissing? And listen to that, I would agree. Like if you are, I think the idea is just no empty kisses. So, you can go bye hun and you’re not even present in the peck. But if you’re saying goodbye hun and you mean it, you’re aware and she’s aware that you’re saying goodbye, I’m going to miss you today. I’ll see you tomorrow. You’re both present in that moment. Even if it’s just ephemeral, that’s a win as far as kiss goes. I’m talking about empty kisses. There should be no bad kisses in the relationship. You try to show up whether it’s pleasure kissing or ritual kissing.

Laurie Watson: You got lost listeners, Tony.

Tony Delmedico: What? Asking your partner to show up? I mean, I’ve got two small kids. I’m worn out. I haven’t slept all night. This is just one more box I’m going to check. And it becomes empty. And most people by the time they get to my office they’re saying, “I’m living with a roommate. We’ve become good friends.” And that tells me that the kissing has dried up. They may be pecking each other to death. But there’s nothing behind it.

Laurie Watson: There’s no connection is what you’re talking about? Is symbolically, you’re saying, if they are kissing and it’s just empty and passionless. And they never really see the other person then that’s indicative of the emptiness in the relationship.

Tony Delmedico: I’m saying there’s nothing behind their lips. They’re gone. They’re already, they’re already out the door and at work. They’re not actually in the moment, saying “thank you for breakfast. Thanks for last night. You were amazing. I got to go.” This isn’t a pleasure kiss. “But this is, hey, I’m really glad we’re together.”

Laurie Watson: Sure.

Tony Delmedico: I think that’s missing as well. So, maybe we’re just talking about the quality of the kisses.

Laurie Watson: Sure. I think I’m maybe saying though it, you know, if a couple is busy and you know some of the kissing is perfunctory. I don’t think that that’s indicative for them to be, you know, saying that the relationship is really in trouble or worrisome. It’s when they’re — You’re talking about the qualitatively that the relationship is empty of them being present for each other, kissing or otherwise.

Tony Delmedico: I’m saying the kisses have to be meaningful, over time.

Laurie Watson: Every kiss has to be meaningful?

Tony Delmedico: I think you should strive towards that. I mean there’s some couples, women come in and said, “My rule is no bad kisses.”

Laurie Watson: No bad kisses.

Tony Delmedico: Whether that’s a ritual kiss, a pleasure kiss. I’m not going to just take scraps off the table. If you’re going to kiss me goodbye mean it, mean it. Show up like you’re going to say it.

Laurie Watson: Wow. Wow.

Tony Delmedico: Demand that you are going to be present in the kiss.

Laurie Watson: That feels like a lot of pressure.

Tony Delmedico: Could be. You don’t have couples coming into the office going are kisses are too meaningful. We’ve become too intimate, too close, and we’re trying to unravel. Where do couples start to find the divide? And I think kissing is something that happens very early upstream that begins to separate the streams out. We take each other for granted, basically.

Laurie Watson: This is good. Well, let’s talk some more about this. We’ll be back in a few minutes with Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy.

Commercial: Wanting Sex Again, how to rediscover desire and heal a sexless marriage by certified sex therapist, Laurie Watson. Each chapter is designed to fix one of the problems that caused low libido from early marriage through the childbearing years, even all the way through menopause. I’ve also had men read it and tell me that for them it was the most helpful thing they read about resolving sexual problems. Look for Wanting Sex Again on Amazon.com. You can also talk to Laurie Watson for therapy in person or via Skype. I offer couples counseling and sex therapy and I think about both aspects of the relationship, emotional intimacy, and sexual technique. And that combination together helps marriages be happy. Improve your sex. And improve your relationship with awakening center for couples and intimacy. Find out more at AwakenLoveandSex.com and sign up for their next couples retreat weekend hosted by Laurie Watson. AwakenLoveandSex.com, awaken what’s possible.

Tony Delmedico: Welcome back to Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy with sex therapist and author, Laurie Watson, and psychotherapist, Tony Delmedico. The first half of our show, we’ve been talking about kissing and Laurie the battle lines have been drawn.

Laurie Watson: That’s right. That’s right.

Tony Delmedico: Welcome back to the second segment. So, we got off on a bit of a rant there. I’m demanding more passion and more presence in kisses.

Laurie Watson: Well, I’m not against that. I’m just saying that ritual kisses are important too. They add to the affection in the relationship. And you were saying that even ritual kisses should be meaningful. And I’m saying that might be a little high of a standard for, you know, a young family with kids running all around. You know, kissing goodbye and hello is sweet. I think, I don’t know that it necessarily is always meaningful. Or has to be. But I think it lends to this nest of good feelings, affection, warmth, that kind of thing.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. And I’m not saying has to and always and never. I’m saying as a couple, if we’re fighting to stay close with small kids under our feet, talking about how are we going to do that as we’re going out the door, as we get home. I want to be seen and felt and cherished. And one of the easiest and quickest ways we can do that as in ritual kissing. And so, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a couple saying, “I want you to show up when you put your lips on mine.” You know, it tells the truth. I think is what we’re getting at. The window to the heart.

Laurie Watson: Okay. Kissing is the window to the heart for Tony.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. Jumping around a little bit. I was wondering if one could have an orgasm just form kissing. Is that possible?

Laurie Watson: Sure.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah.

Laurie Watson: Sure. I mean, kissing can be very arousing and absolutely. I mean, remember high school, right? How many kids just made out for hours and hours and had orgasms. I suppose there might have been a little bit of touching going on too.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. I would suppose if we couldn’t go any farther in relationships, if kissing was all we had. Kissing in our minds, most of us wouldn’t have any problems orgasming sooner or later.

Laurie Watson: Right, exactly.

Tony Delmedico: So, that’s how powerful kissing is. And I think that’s why we’re devoting a show to it today. At least one show. I’m sure we’ll have more to say on the topic as we go along.

Laurie Watson: Probably so. So, what do you think makes for this connected kiss in your mind? A real passionate kiss. What makes it good?

Tony Delmedico: I think the first thing is presence.

Laurie Watson: Right. And what does that mean?

Tony Delmedico: I don’t know. I think you can sense when somebody is just giving you a gratuitous peck on the cheek. Or okay, I’ll reluctantly turn my mouth to yours. And when somebody passionately wants you, I think it’s one of the few places that you can let somebody know that you’re really interested in them. And so, a lot of emotion can be translated through the lips. I think there’s a lot. I think the nose and the lips have the most nerve centers on your face. And you know, there’s Eskimo kisses. They figured out a way to do it just with rubbing noses. So, don’t underestimate the power of the kiss.

Laurie Watson: Being there for them? I do think that —

Tony Delmedico: Well go home. If we went home and gave our partners empty kisses. Be curious to know, if we’d be called out on that. So, maybe for the listeners at home, you could try that. Give him dead fish kiss. Give him a dead fish kiss and see what happens.

Laurie Watson: We would love to hear from you to at home. What do you think? I think there is a lot of women out there that are just groaning and saying, “You know, everything I do has to be meaningful sexually. Sometimes I just don’t have that in me.” You know, “And now you’ve added kissing to the list that has to be meaningful and deep.” I don’t know. I think that is a pretty tough expectation. I do think though, if we’re talking about a kiss that is passionate. As a set aside subset of kissing, what you talked about showing up as being present is important. I also think looking the person in the eyes is really important. Seeing them. I mean that to me is what couples say, especially women say is missing. That sometimes he starts to kiss her, and he doesn’t look at her. And so, it doesn’t feel, it feels like a body, not necessarily her.

Tony Delmedico: It’s a way to avoid intimacy, maybe. With the eye contact, it maybe too much. I think I want to emphasize that for our female listeners out there, if you’re taking this as just another thing that you should do. That’s not how we’re intending this. I think what we’re trying to do is bring couples together. So, it isn’t, now you also have to be present in your kisses. I think as a couple having the conversation around, how can we be more present? It is just as fair that he needs to show up in his kisses as well.

Laurie Watson: Sure. Not just her.

Tony Delmedico: Not just, “Hi honey, I’m home. Or goodbye, have a nice day, hun.” And give her a peck. So, I’m assuming in our conversations that you’re not taking this as a male female thing. That it’s actually a joint thing. We actually both have to show up for good kisses. And we’re both accountable when they happen and when they don’t. There’s nothing wrong with doing your own self check going, “Wait, I’ve been kissing you all week. And I’m not even present in those kisses.” And coming back to your partner and going, “You know, well, here’s a real one. Remember we said we’re both going to show up for our kisses. And we’ve gotten back into our old rout of not showing up together.” And that’s not throwing stones at one another or setting undue expectations.

Laurie Watson: I guess, I take it as, what you’re saying is qualitative. You are talking about a way of living in general. That is aware of the other, aware of, the needs of your partner. Aware of the needs of the coupleship. And aware of your own needs. And you are bringing that awareness sort of our daily living, right? It’s a more thoughtful way to be versus how we all can get caught up in the hurry scurry of life. And all the things we got to do in our busy-ness. I mean, you’re talking about this thoughtfulness.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. It’s almost as if the relationship is a third thing between us. And we’re both looking at this going, you know, “How do we nurture this relationship in the midst of our busy lives and children and all the other things that we’re asked to do. And one of the ways we can do that is sort of keeps showing up for each other in the form of a kiss, if that’s all we have, if it’s a ritual.” And I think ritual in general is very important. So, I love what you’re saying about ritual. But I also think the ritual becomes empty if we’re just going through the motions of it. And so, to have that meaningful, we both have to show up for that. One of the things I’m thinking about that just ran through my head. There was a documentary of all things on Duke’s Cross Country Program in the 60s or 70s. The pioneer of that program was being interviewed and he was a gentleman in his 70s, maybe even early 80s at the time they were filming it. And he was wandering around campus and they would cut every now and then to his wife. And they’d had a long, long relationship together. And at the end of all the accolades and the story of Duke’s Cross Country Program, they asked him offhandedly, you know, how long have you been married? And he said something like 56 years or something. And they said, “Well, what’s the secret to your happiness?” And he said, “Giving my wife a ten second kiss every day.” And they cut to both of them and kissing.

Laurie Watson: Go Duke.

Tony Delmedico: I know. Go him and go her for committing to do that. And so, I took that and that’s where I got the ten second kiss thing. Unabashedly stolen from that documentary.

Laurie Watson: 56 years, that’s a long relationship. A good one.

Tony Delmedico: And I thought, well, ten second kiss, that’s nothing. Anybody can do that. And then once I started to try to do it, I was like, “Wow, you actually have to show up.”

Laurie Watson: And I think another point that you’re making is, it is the little things that over time, you know, make or break our relationship. You know, the way we give to each other, the way we show up for each other that’s cumulative. You know, it may feel like, “Okay, I’ve been empty for a week because I’m too busy. But maybe then we get ahold of this thoughtful way of living. And then we bring ourselves to our partner. You know, in kissing in other ways.” Right? Other sexual ways. And other ways of emotional connection.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah, I would agree.

Laurie Watson: Yeah, absolutely. I think, let’s go back, though, to the problem, of how do we get people to kiss in a way that the other one likes it, if they don’t like the way their partner kisses. I mean that is tough. I said, looking in the eyes, I think is important. This may seem elementary but tilting your head. You know, people when they do the peck, right? When we do give each other a peck, it’s often our head is not tilted. So, a passionate kiss is often melting into each other with a head tilt. And that seems like so crazy that you would have to mention that. But I can’t tell you the number of people who talk about their partner who doesn’t tilt their head. It’s like, they’re not giving up into the kiss.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. It’s almost like they’re unwilling to go all in. So, as you’re sitting here thinking, I’m imagining into is it a 15 degree tilt? What’s a 90 degree tilt? Is that all, all in.

Laurie Watson: 45 degrees.

Tony Delmedico: 45 degrees.

Laurie Watson: 45 degrees, is really important.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah, you are committed. I’m definitely in.

Laurie Watson: And I think for women, a lot of women talk about that they love it when a man reaches for her face. And I think men like that too.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah.

Laurie Watson: You know, the face, as you talked about earlier, is so intimate. And so, it is this touch. I also think it blends the caress of a parent, you know, a mother touching a child’s face, cupping their face. And then the romance of that followed by the intimate kiss. I think that sometimes it’s not actually what they do in the kiss, but it’s the whole setup that can help them.

Tony Delmedico: It’s funny, we talking about passionate kisses, perfunctory kisses, ritual kisses. I mean, what you’re describing is a real kiss. I’m going to grab — I’m going to take you by your head or vice versa. I’m going to allow whatever I want or whatever’s evolving between us to happen.

Laurie Watson: Right. Right. And I know you said that some people like sloppy kisses and very few that I would say. But you know, when we talk about French kissing, I think, one thing, one advice I would give is to start with slightly parted lips. But not necessarily swallowing your partner hole in the beginning.

Tony Delmedico: Got you. So, don’t —

Laurie Watson: So, don’t swallow their head.

Tony Delmedico: Go slow. Go easy.

Laurie Watson: Nibble a little bit, you know. Take it slow, it begins, and it has a middle. And it has perhaps an end too. But it isn’t just, you know, being devoured. Maybe sometimes. Sometimes right, the fast up against a wall being devoured is great.

Tony Delmedico: Sure. Looks great in the movies anyway.

Laurie Watson: But most French kisses, you know, begin with some sort of –

Tony Delmedico: Some warmup.

Laurie Watson: Some warmup. Even then —

Tony Delmedico: And allowing the kiss to bloom into whatever it wants to bloom into.

Laurie Watson: Right. And I think the one problem is, you have to know where your partner feels like the meeting point is. I mean, some people, their natural meeting point is outside the mouth. You know, their tongues meet outside the mouth. Sometimes it’s in her mouth. Sometimes it’s over her mouth. Sometimes it’s, you know, what you do in a French kiss, that meeting point is the big place I see couples mix it up. And it’s just an expectation. You know, they have their style. This is my meeting point. And they think that is natural. That’s normal. That’s where everybody meets in a French kiss. And it isn’t necessarily. There are lots of meeting points and natural places. And you kind of have to talk about that. If you don’t like the way your partner kisses.

Tony Delmedico: Yeah. Well, and even if you do, I mean we all get into patterns. And I think, it can be really exciting when that pattern is broken. So, if you’re the person that’s usually putting your tongue in the other person’s mouth, at some point in love making, if he or she is coming back at you. That can be very exciting as well. So, having some flexibility around it versus we always do that, or we never do this. It can really add some excitement to it.

Laurie Watson: And just your tilting your head, I mean, you said her putting her tongue back. I mean, I do think there is something that men are more penetrating in general. I mean in general.

Tony Delmedico: And how exciting to be penetrated as a man with her tongue.

Laurie Watson: Sure, exactly. Exactly. That can be great. I think the other thing is that the kiss needs to deepen. You know, as you start kissing, then you pull your bodies together. You know, it’s the reach to the face, maybe entangling your fingers in their hair, and then it’s pulling your bodies in. And sometimes people are too stiff. And their partner feels that. And I think it goes back to what you said, they don’t feel their presence even if technically the kiss is on point. You know, something is happening the way they’re not melting together in it.

Tony Delmedico: Laurie, that brings us to the end of the episode. And time for our tips of the week for kissing.

Laurie Watson: Just the tip.

Tony Delmedico: Just the tip, Laurie. What is your tip for kissing?

Laurie Watson: I think that you have to really pay attention to good dental hygiene, dental floss, brush your teeth. I cannot over emphasize how women particularly really like smells to be sweet and good. So, go for the dental floss.

Tony Delmedico: And my tip is, just ask. Let’s talk about our kissing. What do you like about my kissing? What don’t you like about it? So, have the couple have the conversation.

Laurie Watson: And brings up the conversation that might be difficult. And maybe has never been had.

Tony Delmedico: Right. Well, Laurie, today on kissing, we have touched on the philosophical aspects, the technical aspects of kissing, we’ve certainly opened up a few boxes of worms here that hopefully should get people talking at home.

Laurie Watson: I hope so.

Tony Delmedico: Thank you for joining us today on Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. I’m Tony Delmedico, psychotherapist, with author and sex therapist, Laurie Watson.

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