Rosie Green: How I became a born-again kissaholic

Frank revelations from our unmissable sex columnist, Rosie Green (@lifesrosie)

‘You are going to get glandular fever,’ laughed my friend Viv. She was commenting on my new-found love of kissing – but it hasn’t given me any sort of virus, rather a shot in the arm of self-confidence and a deliciously sweet taste of joy and hope.

I’ve learnt that if there’s one really great thing that comes from having your heart broken and a marriage ending, it is kissing someone new. Kissing is a delightful thing; it’s a legal high. Apart from the fingertips, the lips are the place in the body most sensitive to touch, which explains why a kiss has the power to create a feelgood party in your brain.

Louise Samuelsen

K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

I remember realising there was a difference between puckering up to your mother and the thing you did with the boys at discos. If I recall, Just Seventeen magazine suggested practising on the back of your hand, which I still can’t quite work out.

My first kiss was at a social club in Birmingham. It was all Wrigley’s Extra and peach schnapps, but the thrill was off the scale.

My posher friends recount fervently swapping saliva with up to ten boys a night at Gatecrasher Balls – those debauched parties populated with toffs in taffeta and tuxes. Luckily none of them ended up on the front page of this newspaper.

But just like my love of peach schnapps, the joy of kissing waned. I think in long-term relationships it often does. I don’t know about you, but snogging slid down the priority list (below keeping the pet guinea pigs alive and above cleaning out the salad drawer).

Even by the time I walked down the aisle, kisses had become more chaste. I take full responsibility for this. I thought PDAs were embarrassing – they made me feel a bit, well, nauseous. I know lots of my friends felt the same.

Some took it even further. My friend Sara told me that if her husband suggested sex she would sometimes say, ‘OK, but no kissing.’

My married friends and I would agree that there was sometimes the worry that kissing would be a signal you were up for sex, so if you were not feeling up to the full deal, you had to hold back on the pashing (as they called it in Neighbours) altogether.

Research shows that within a relationship the frequency of your kissing indicates the strength of your emotional bond, and I can see that. Perhaps how often you kiss is a more relevant indicator about how you feel about your partner than how often you have sex – if someone is irritating/upsetting you then it’s hard to kiss them with feeling.

I always remember that scene in Pretty Woman, when prostitute Vivian says she refuses to kiss her clients because ‘it’s too personal’. You can’t ‘get emotional when you turn tricks’.

But when it’s right, kisses can be life-affirming. And off-the-scale exciting.

At the beginning of a new relationship you never know how they are going to pan out. Soft and gentle? Passionate and fervent? Tender says ‘I respect you’. Ardent means ‘I fancy you’. Then there’s that magical, slightly terrifying moment when someone leans in and it means they like you ‘in that way’ and, if you respond, that you like them, too. It’s no different to being 14.

The thing I love about kissing in a dating context is that it’s all joy and no angst. In the beginnings of a relationship it’s not as loaded as sex. Doesn’t make you feel as vulnerable.

My first post-split kiss was with a man a decade my junior and made me smile the whole way home. My second was with a recently separated (more age-appropriate) man who said it made him feel alive.

Kisses are important. When my friends call me to dissect a date they always ask, ‘Did you kiss? And how was it?’ Fingers crossed I’m a good kisser. I know slobbery is bad (kissing like a saint bernard is a no-go). Washing-machine tongues are not great. Garlic is a passion killer, unless you are both in it together and then, well, fine.

It’s helpful to know that even those deified beings, celebrities, get it wrong sometimes. Liam Hemsworth said that right before a kissing scene Jennifer Lawrence would always say, ‘Yeah, I ate tuna,’ or ‘I had garlic, and I didn’t brush my teeth.’ His response? ‘Fantastic, I can’t wait to get in there and taste it!’ Jennifer Lawrence in turn told Bradley Cooper he was a ‘wet kisser’.

Oh, the mortification of being called out on your technique. Hmm, perhaps on reflection I should practise on the back of my hand after all.