I was talking with a friend the other day about kissing.
I wrote a post a while ago about the idea of being a “good kisser” and how it didn’t make sense to me. I commented to my friend that, more recently, I have found myself coming around somewhat on the idea of kissing being a skill. I said I’m not sure if that is because it actually is more of a skill than I had thought when I wrote that post, or if I have just developed a strong bias toward the particular styles of kissing that I prefer, and started interpreting that as “skill”.
They responded by saying that they think a big part of being good at kissing is adapting your style to the style of the other person. This hit upon an idea that I had thought about before but hadn’t actually put into words until this conversation: it all comes down to being a good listener.
You can’t adapt your style to the unique accent of each person you kiss unless you listen to them. You have to listen to the ways that they move, the ways that they move away from you or towards you, press into you, shift around you, increase or decrease intensity, etc. Different people work in different ways — the way one person moves when they want to get a better angle maybe the way another person moves when they want to stop. The noise one person makes when they like something can sound incredibly similar to the noise another person might make when you are biting a little too hard. Often it isn’t too hard to tell the difference if you’re listening. Sometimes it is, though, and at those times, listening skills are still what’s important.
One of the big pieces of advice on being a good listener is to ask questions that help you understand the things the person you’re listening to is saying. You can have trouble understanding a movement, a sigh, or a shudder in the same way you might have trouble understanding a story. When you do, in either case, you ask what is meant by them.
This isn’t just about kissing. It’s about cuddling and it’s about sex and it’s about, hell, playing improvisational music together. In all of these things, a certain degree of adaptation is incredibly important, and getting that adaptation right is impossible without listening to what’s going on on the other end.
I wonder if that is part of what I’m noticing when I think of people as “good at” or “not good at” kissing: the ones who seem to be the best that it are the ones who know how to listen.