Is it okay for friends to kiss? Beak to cheek, yes… but nix on the lips?
Some of us are touchers, though we pick our spots and easily differentiate sexual gestures from platonic ones. Then again, some touchers have different standards as to what comprises a sexual gesture, and kissing a friend on the lips poses no problem.
So what if you’re on the receiving end of a sexy little lean-in, or a hand grazing your arm or shoulder and lingering, or a smooch on the mouth that catches you off-guard — and you feel your space invaded, a line crossed, and a mixed signal or two flashed your way? How do you respond?
Do you step back, speak up, stiffen… or just grin and bear it?
Is it ever okay for friends to kiss on the lips? And what about strangers?
The Significance of a Kiss
Now about that kissing question between buddies and besties… I was curious to see how people think about the subject. Thought Catalog takes a clear stand on whether you should or shouldn’t kiss friends, with a definitive “no.”
Except… reading the reasoning presented, and certainly assuming the kiss to be bordering on romantic (or decidedly so), you just might change your mind…
You definitely shouldn’t kiss any of your friends because it will change the relationship that you two have. It’ll probably be a change for the better, but usually it takes a while for both parties involved to realize this.
It seems to me that the confusion and complications that might be aroused are the real stickler. What if the quick kiss stirs a sexual response? What if the friend is married or seeing someone? What if alcohol is involved marring your judgment (or his)? What if he or she is romantically available (and you are, too), but if anything goes farther, you risk the friendship?
What if one of you harbors sentiments beyond the platonic, and they aren’t reciprocated?
Touch… Always Tricky
Not long ago I met someone who is by nature, I believe, a toucher. His energy is mischievous and playful, his affectionate gestures are non-threatening, and a kiss goodbye after a shared drink felt natural, easy, and perfectly pleasant. While kissing on the lips, for me, has always been reserved for romance and I definitely place us in the Friend Zone, given his more physically affectionate style, the smacker felt just fine.
This reminded me just how personal body language is — and how easily acts of affection can be misinterpreted.
Friends with benefits?
On my planet, it’s an option for some and features numerous advantages. On the other hand, it’s typically short-term, both involved need to be clear on their roles, and it isn’t an arrangement that is workable everyone. It’s especially problematic for those who don’t make a distinction between sex versus lovemaking.
And I would certainly imagine that friends with benefits kiss…
Casual pals or avowed BFFs?
As in the Thought Catalog article, I find myself inclined toward viewing this as potentially hazardous to the health of the friendship. Yet even as I say as much, I realize that the best relationships are generally founded on friendship. So theoretically, couldn’t you start out as friends? Couldn’t a smooch shift the ‘conversation’ in a promising direction? And might that kiss spark an awakening to something you both really want?
While I grant that it isn’t easy (and it’s also subject to change), doesn’t it help if you know what you want out of every relationship?
Thoughts on Intimacy
For many of us, there are clear boundaries between emotional and sexual intimacy. And if you’re looking for a definition of intimacy, try this, according to The Free Dictionary, describing intimacy as
Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity; relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature; marked by informality and privacy
Dictionary.com sums up intimacy more succinctly:
a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person
Interesting (to me) – physical intimacy is defined as “sensual proximity or touching” [Wiki] which may encompass affection, whereas sexual intimacy becomes both more explicit and harder to pin down – at least, from the numerous articles and references that don’t seem to nail it.
Emotional intimacy is all about mutual trust, respect, and deep caring — precisely the sort of thing that we hope to find in a best friend as well as a life partner. And the depth of reciprocated compassion and understanding is precisely what makes emotional affairs such dangerous territory.
Even in friendship, if we add physical affection that borders on sexual, might we find ourselves looking for trouble? Can we “read” the other person, and know what is or isn’t acceptable or even reassuring to them?
Respect for Personal Space
Touch by a stranger?
That one is a matter of personal space just as it is between pals or family members. We may sense when it’s fine, and sense when it’s not. In fact, we are constantly honing this awareness as we see and engage with someone we are just getting to know.
Touch between friends — new or old — is a matter of interpretation. Because I value my friendships, I would hate to muddle them with crossing boundaries. I am also a firm believer in erring on the side of caution when it comes to respecting personal space, with or without sexual attraction in the mix.
Context and circumstances matter, of course. Is the friend married? Does his or her wife resent displays of affection between you? Is either of you making the other uncomfortable? Is one of you in a particularly needy or fragile position? This, in my book, means you should be especially careful to keep the nature of your relationship clear.
I can’t help but visualize the pivotal scene in the iconic rom-com “When Harry Met Sally” and the kiss that landed the pair in bed, as Harry consoles a tearful Sally after her breakup. Don’t we get this? Aren’t there times when touch is the most healing connection in the world, as we grapple with grief or loss? Doesn’t physical affection serve as a sure sign that we are still alive, still capable of trusting our vulnerability, and resilient in the face of profound sorrow?
Besides, isn’t a flirtatious or romantic kiss potentially provocative… and pleasurable?
Isn’t there a problem only if you’re ambivalent about what it means or where it might be leading?
Do you know or sense when friendly flirting goes too far?
If no one else is hurt by a shared kiss, shouldn’t it be okay if both of you are fine with it?
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