Is Kissing Considered to Be More Intimate Than Sex?
On the spectrum of sexuality, kissing is often deemed innocent, PG and, ultimately, a gateway drug to more serious sensual activity. But for some, locking lips is considered the top-tier method of physical intimacy. More so, even, than sex.
"I can not touch intimately and still f*ck, not have to look someone in the eye," said JB, 28, who lives in Wisconsin. "Kissing is way more intimate to me."
The meaning of a kiss isn't static within the scope of intimacy, either. On the one hand, platonic kisses have been shared between friends, family members and complete strangers for centuries, and on the other, a passionate kiss can consecrate a romantic relationship. A kiss can contain multitudes, and for some people, it's the pinnacle of connection.
How important is intimate kissing?
Sex isn't always the star when it comes to getting intimate. Sure, it requires certain physical proximity, but sometimes it's simply functional. Meanwhile, a kiss is literally in-your-face, and can easily channel the mind.
"Kissing, face closeness and eye contact, in general, is disarming in a way, to me, that other acts of sex are not," JB said. "This sounds weird and faux-heady, but I think I live in my body more, so when things are further from my head, I can more easily let go and let my body work."
This tracks when considering our evolution. There's a reason we often hear sex described as primal, and beyond pleasure-seeking, it still (at times) fulfills its evolutionary purpose of reproduction. On the other hand, while some scientists theorize that kissing intimately evolved from the method mothers used to feed their infant offspring, that method is long gone. Still, we kiss.
We’re more vulnerable when we kiss intimately
We get a lot accomplished with our mouths, and kissing is one of the more exciting extracurriculars. But our mouths also serve such higher purposes as speaking, eating, singing horrific karaoke songs—it's the rotating barrel into the funhouse of the human body. So, allowing access can feel like admittance onto sacred ground.
One comment on an r/unpopularopinion subreddit post on the topic reads, "After a long period of having afternoon quickies (blow and go) (oh and we're both married), I kissed my sex partner for the first time on his lips and suddenly the whole vibe changed. We both enjoyed it but we also suddenly felt guilty and concerned that we might have entered a dangerous territory."
Said territory could be the vulnerability that comes with a kiss. We're incredibly physically vulnerable during sex, but kissing intimately invites a different flavor of openness. For some, this mental vulnerability is more significant.
"Closeness to the face, head, brain is [a] vulnerable space and reserved for romance," JB said. "If we're kissing, I really, really like you a lot. But I can f*ck almost anyone and dissociate pretty easily."
We're incredibly physically vulnerable during sex, but kissing invites a different flavor of openness.
Similarly, Will Heitert, who's 27 and lives in Chicago, said, "For me, I think it's more of a risk factor thing. I'm someone who very much lives in their head, so during a sexual encounter, if it's not enjoyable per se, it's easy to retreat into fantasy. A make-out session, on the other hand, forces a certain amount of being present that can be way more tortuous if you aren't feeling it."
This makes sense, especially when considering some sex workers place a higher premium on kissing privileges as part of "the girlfriend experience," which offers clients a heightened level of intimacy. At some brothels, this is the most expensive and most requested service, demonstrating there's something to be said for the mouth-mind connection and what it can mean.
"(My) face feels like 'me,' versus a body part is 'my dick'—what I am versus what I have," Heitert said.