Don't Underestimate the Power of a Second First Kiss

Black & white picture of s couple kissing
Black & white picture of s couple kissing

I can remember sitting on my friend's couch in the seventh grade, the credits of How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days rolling quietly in the background as I asked my friend for the tenth time that night how she'd gotten her guy. And her first kiss. It happened for her at another friend's birthday party, during a game of spin the bottle, and that night he'd texted her "Tonight was fun less-than-three [<3]."

And for the tenth time that night my own less-than-three felt like < / 3

In fact it would feel very much the same way for another five years. I was 17 when I had my first kiss as a junior in high school and although I'd been envisioning that moment for years, it was nothing like I expected. We'd been watching Anchorman with a good six inches between us while the other couple in the room had progressed well beyond the first kiss stage of their relationship and were too busy to notice our nervous glances from each other to them to Will Ferrell, and back to each other. At one moment our foreheads hit and in the next we were kissing. Simultaneously better and more awkward than I ever could have dreamed of, I drove home from my then-boyfriend's house with a huge smile on my face, but a slight pang of disappointment in my less-than-three. That was it.

In the following three years I spent with said then-boyfriend, I both cherished the fact that I'd only ever kissed a single person and wondered if I'd ever get that butterflies-in-the-stomach, "Oh my god what is happening??" feeling again. Every love song about kisses I'd ever listened to only concerned the first ones, and after I ended that three-year relationship I didn't know whether my kisses had risen or fallen in stock value, so I waited.

Having only experienced a first kiss followed by a three-year relationship, I wasn't sure I wanted to waste another first on a guy I didn't know as well or who might not be interested in a long-term relationship. Lots of girls can kiss casually with no strings attached, but not me. I figured at 20 years old I should be more comfortable with the notion of kissing (it wasn't my virginity, for goodness' sake!), but I feared my next first kiss would carry both too much or too little meaning and so still I waited.

By some eerie coincidence, my second first kiss occurred almost four years to the day of my first first kiss. Instead of taking place in a boyfriend's basement, this kiss happened in a college apartment with two bottles of Stella on the coffee table and a B-rated horror film playing in the background. Knowing for the vast majority of the movie that the kiss would happen before the end credits rolled, I suddenly found myself back in seventh grade wondering what exactly this experience would be like.

Would he kiss the same as my ex? Where would he put his hands? We were in college, so did that mean tongue was expected the first time around? Shirts on or off? Was the movie too corny? Should I have reapplied deodorant? Should he?

But just like junior year, it happened too quickly for me to analyze in the moment. All I knew is that our mouths were touching, the butterflies were back, we weren't dating, and this was wonderful.

Of course my first reaction was to compare this kiss to those I'd shared with my ex-boyfriend. This guy was thinner, more toned, and less hair to run my hands through. He also didn't seem to get that curly hair has more knots in it than meets the eye, so there were a few awkward interjections when I'd say "Ouch! Yeah, you pulled my hair. No, just a little. It's fine." He also smiled more, touched my face, and agreed when I said, "Well, that was nice."

The best part about it, however, was that I didn't know what to expect. Not before, not in the moment, not after. We were just two people getting to know each other, and that was exciting! This kiss was filled with the same curiosity as my last first kiss and the same hesitation as before. The rules of the game hadn't changed (OK, well, shirts did come off this time), but kissing someone new was a thrill in itself.

No one talks about the second, third, or fiftieth first time they kiss someone or hold someone's hand, or even stutter an embarrassed "Hello" to a new crush. Why is it the first firsts get all the attention? I promise you, darlings, nothing's lost with an old or ended relationship. There are so many beautiful, confusing, awkward moments that will make your less-than-three beat faster than you thought it could after so many years. Let's celebrate those moments, too.

Originally posted on Literally, Darling, an online magazine by and for twenty-something women, which features the personal, provocative, awkward, pop-filled and pressing issues of our gender and generation. This is an exact representation of our exaggerated selves.