The real meaning behind different types of kisses
There are more than 30 kinds of kisses found in the Kama Sutra, sex and relationship expert Psalm Isadora confirmed when speaking to Bustle. Thirty! Although the ancient Sanskrit text can be considered a manual of sorts, Isadora said kissing should not be confused with being a science — rather, it’s an art. As such, sex and intimacy coach Zoë Kors believes there should be more emphasis on locking lips. “Kissing is a destination in and of itself,” she told the publication. “When we view kissing as a necessary prelude to sex, we are missing the beauty and the value of an exquisite way to connect with [a] lover and cultivate intimacy.”
The expert further compared kissing to dancing. And, just as there are different types of dances for different songs, different kisses can mean different things. Are you curious to know what the most common kisses signify? We’ve got you covered.
The platonic kiss
We are all quite familiar with the familial platonic kiss on the cheek. You know, the kind your mom plants on the side of your face, leaving behind a smudge of lipstick, or the one with which you greet your loving grandmother. Obviously, there’s no romantic element behind these sorts of smooches.
However, platonic kisses can also find their way into romantic relationships. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself. If you often find yourself at the receiving end of your partner’s platonic kisses, Carolyn Finch, a communication expert and author of Victory at See, told Cosmopolitan this could actually be “a paternal gesture that shows he wants to take care of you.” Still, you probably don’t want your romantic relationship to be, well, not romantic. Finch recommends spicing up your goodbye routines to avoid getting into a habit of solely exchanging pecks on the cheek.
Although you may know of an angel kiss as a type of birthmark, it’s also a type of kiss. Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, explained on her site that this kiss involves “lightly [touching] your partner’s eyes with your lips.” Much like a kiss on the cheek, an angel kiss is not a hot and heavy buss — but it’s not platonic either. Wood revealed that “a peck on the cheek” can be a “friendly way of greeting someone,” whereas an angel kiss “is a very caring and loving gesture.” She continued, writing, “This is a very sweet gentle type of kiss.”
In her experience, Wood has also found that women seem to especially enjoy being the recipient of an angel kiss. “Men, just to let you know,” the body language expert revealed, “a woman feels especially cherished when you gently and loving give an angel kiss.”
An “Eskimo” kiss is unlike many other types of kisses because it doesn’t actually involve the mouth. In Western culture, an Eskimo kiss means rubbing your nose against another’s. You may have exchanged this kind of kiss with your parent when you were little, but it doesn’t have to be familial. In fact, Holly Richmond, a psychologist and certified sex therapist, told Cosmopolitan this kind of kiss can be very intimate. “You have to be very close to someone, whether you’re looking into their eyes or closing your eyes and feeling their breath,” she explained.
This sort of kiss is thought to stem from what the Inuit call a kunik — and it’s actually more about smell than touch. David Joanasi, an information officer of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a group which represents the Inuit, explained to South Coast Today that kuniks call for sniffing and rubbing a person’s face with your nose. This is because there are scent glands in our cheeks. Although this kiss is more affectionate than romantic, Joanasi said it’s not something he would do “in front of a large audience.”
Katia Loisel, a body language and kissing expert and spokesperson for the dating site eHarmony, said you can tell a whole lot about your partner — including “interest, attraction, and level of commitment” — simply through his or her kissing style. And this doesn’t just mean how your other prefers to lock lips. You can decipher some important information from something as simple as a butterfly kiss. In an interview with the Australian site FRANKIxo.com, the kissing guru explained the meaning behind this unusual kind of kiss. “The butterfly kiss indicates trust, tenderness and a close physical and emotional intimacy,” she revealed.
But, what even is a butterfly kiss? Basically, this type of kiss is a mix between an angel kiss and a kunik. Like the Inuit kiss, a butterfly kiss doesn’t actually involve the lips. And, like an angel kiss, it does involve the eyes. Loisel summarized how to give a butterfly kiss in her interview, saying, “Flutter your eyelashes against your partner’s or bring your faces and eyelashes together until your eyelashes flutter together.”
Surprise or "stolen" kiss
On her site, body language expert Patti Wood detailed what a surprise kiss entails. “Kiss your partner when they don’t expect it for example: in the middle of cooking dinner together, across the dinner table, just after you have gotten in the car, or just after you brush your teeth,” she wrote. This type of kiss is generally thought of as romantic and lustful.
Maryanne Fisher, a psychology professor and a member of the Women and Gender Studies Program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, refers to these kinds of kisses as “stolen” kisses. “The media routinely shows us ‘stolen’ kisses where someone simply can’t help it — she or he must lip lock with the object of desire,” the expert wrote in an article for Psychology Today. “It’s as though two trains are on the same track, heading towards each other, and the engineers have checked out.”
While it’s true that a surprise kiss can be romantic, it certainly requires the kisser to read the room. Many feel it is better to ask for permission as opposed to “stealing” a kiss.
Although you might not think much of a kiss on the forehead, it has spurred a lot of conversation among experts. Holly Richmond, a psychologist and certified sex therapist, thinks forehead kisses are compassionate and loving. “The forehead kiss is atypical, which makes it more memorable,” she told Cosmopolitan. However, there are experts who disagree.
Terri Orbuch, a couples therapist, professor at Oakland University in Michigan, and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great believes it’s not actually a sweet gesture at all. “Personally, I think it is a sign of more power and status for the kisser,” she revealed to Women’s Health. “Parents do that to children, older people do it to younger, smaller people.” She continued, saying, “Or it means I have something over you — ‘I have more wisdom so I kiss you on the forehead.’ It’s a sign of experience or expertise and an imbalance in status, and I don’t think of a romantic relationship involving kisses on the forehead longterm.”
A closed — or closed-mouth — kiss on the lips can mean good things, according to body language and kissing expert Katia Loisel. “It’s says, ‘I’m really into you and I respect you and I will follow your lead,'” she revealed in an interview with FRANKIxo.com. However, much of what this kiss means rests on timing. “In the early stages of courtship, a closed mouth kiss is used to test the waters and indicates that he’s still respectfully cautious and not quite comfortable getting up close and personal,” Loisel clarified. However, if closed-mouth kissing becomes the predominant form of kissing in a longterm relationship, this could indicate that the relationship needs some work.
When speaking with Women’s Health, Terri Orbuch, couples therapist and professor at Oakland University, said that kissing on the lips is certainly the most intimate form of kissing, but also acknowledged that there is a difference between a quick closed-mouth peck and a prolonged lip-lock. According to the expert, the longer the kiss, the greater the romantic involvement.
Although you might confuse an open-mouth kiss for a French kiss, they’re not one in the same. In the case of an open-mouth kiss, tongue is optional. Often times, though, an open-mouth kiss without tongue will lead to one with tongue.
In fact, when speaking with Bustle, sex therapist Vanessa Marin recommended starting a make-out session with this kind of kiss. Yes, keep that tongue out of the picture — at least for a little while! Marin advised transitioning back and fourth between closed- and open-mouth kissing. Claudia Six, a California-based clinical sexologist and counselor agrees that there’s no reason to interject a tongue too early. “Ease into it,” she told Glamour. “Sometimes people are anxious and jump into the kiss. It’s not smooth and it can get awkward.”
Although the open-mouth kiss doesn’t get as much recognition as its French cousin, kissing expert Katia Loisel told FRANKIxo.com that an “open mouthed kiss on the lips” still says “I’m so attracted to you and dying to kiss you!”
The French kiss may be the most well-known kiss of all, but do you know how this kiss got its name? According to Public Radio International, French kissing got its name in the early 1900s because, at the time, the French “had a reputation for more adventurous and passionate sexual practices.” Ironically, though, there was no word for this style of kissing in their native language. It wasn’t until 2014 that the word “galocher” — meaning to kiss with tongues — was added into the dictionary. Despite not having a label for it, the French — and people from other parts of the world — have embraced this style of kiss. And the reason for this is pretty universal.
Chris Donaghue, a clinical psychologist and sexologist based in California, told Glamour just what we’re really saying when we kiss people in this manner. “When you’re French kissing with someone you’re saying ‘I have passion for you. I want to connect deeper. I want to build intimacy with you.'” Because you’re trying to communicate all of those things with your partner, he says it’s important not to get so hung up on technique.
The bite kiss isn’t just for vampires, y’all. Psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond told Cosmopolitan that kissing with an ample side of biting can be titillating. However, she cautioned that it’s something you’ll want to approach slowly. “Go easy to start and you’ll know if it’s well-received,” she recommended. “If the person pulls back, it’s off the table.” If the nibbling is appreciated, though, this can be a fun way to bond with your partner.
“Biting is a way to express one’s passion and aggression in a playful, uninhibited way,” Jane Greer, a marriage and sex therapist in New York and the author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship, told Women’s Health. “It’s a way of saying how much you desire your partner — you’re literally eating him up.” Just as Richmond advised, Greer recommended a gentle approach. This way, your partner will experience “biting as positive and playful” and not, you know, terrifying.
While your clavicle is near your neck, a neck kiss and a collarbone kiss can mean slightly different things. It’s confusing, we know. “The neck is a sensitive area,” Traci Brown, body language expert and author of Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence, told Cosmopolitan. “So kissing in the neck is a way for someone to get really intimate really quickly, and to build anticipation for more to come later.” The expert added, “Lengthening and exposing the side of your neck is also a sign of attraction.”
Not only is the neck a sensitive area, it’s also quite literally a vulnerable one as this is the home of the ever important carotid artery. David Bennett, a relationship counselor, explained the significance of this style of kissing to Popsugar (via MSN), saying, “If they’re kissing you on the neck, they’re trying to tempt and tantalize, and they’re asking you to show your vulnerability.”
A collarbone kiss, on the other hand, “implies intimacy and manifests a certain degree of erotic intention in the giver,” according to Mabel Iam, psychotherapist, and relationship expert. Although it doesn’t require quite the same vulnerability, it’s still “a very effective seductive gesture.”
Top of the head kiss
If you’re wondering if a kiss on the top of the head is a sweet gesture, well, we’ll be honest with you: it depends. “Kissing on the head or hair is a nurturing and intimate gesture that shows affection and protectiveness and indicates a close emotional bond. It says, ‘I’m here for you,'” Katia Loisel, a body language and kissing expert and spokesperson for the dating site eHarmony, told FRANKIxo.com. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Yet and still, body language expert Patti Wood said this same kiss can also be a red flag in a romantic relationship.
On her site, the expert agreed with Loisel in that a top-of-the-head smooch can spell out, “I feel protectiveness and nurturing as well as lust for you.” However, if you’re pretty much only getting kisses atop the head from your special other, the body language guru said it might mean he’s begun to think of you more like a little sibling rather than a romantic partner. Eek.
If your partner leans over to kiss your shoulder, that’s a good sign, according to kissing and body language expert Katia Loisel. She revealed in an interview with FRANKIxo.com that “a kiss on the shoulder is a sign of both emotional and physical intimacy.” Without uttering a word, a kiss on the shoulder speaks volumes. “It says, ‘I’m here for you and I want to be close to you,'” Loisel translated.
Prior to 2018 season finale of The Bachelorette, Lillian Glass, body language expert and communications consultant, correctly predicted that Becca Kufrin would choose Garrett Yrigoyen based solely on their body language. After observing Becca’s interactions — including a particular shoulder smooch — with Garrett, Glass had a feeling he’d be the winner. She explained her observations to InStyle, saying, “Kissing him on the shoulder, looking back just to throw him a kiss — these are some things she hasn’t done with anyone on the show before.” She continued, saying, “She is coy with him, lets him take charge and initiate the kisses. All these signs signal her clear interest.” Those shoulder kisses tell all.
Whole body kiss
Although most kinds of kisses call for targeting a certain area of a person’s body — be it the cheek, neck, or other NSFW regions, kissing doesn’t have to be confined to just one part of the body. And that’s where full body, or whole body, kissing comes into play. If your partner is into this, it says good things about your relationship. “Whole body kissing shows that your partner is sexually interested in you and very attracted,” relationship counselor David Bennett told Popsugar.
Body language expert Patti Wood refers on whole body kissing on her site as the “Arabian Nights kiss.” She explained, writing, “There were 101 stories in the Arabian Nights. Kiss from the top of the head to the waist and or from the toes to the thigh.” She added, “You can start this kiss from the top of the head or forehead and slowly move down on the face and further kissing gently everywhere.” But, what does this kind of kissing actually mean? “Your partner wants to be deeply intimate with you,” Bennett revealed, “and is quite content to spend time familiarizing themselves with every inch of your skin.” Hubba hubba!
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