Tag Archives: kiss

7 things to ask yourself before you contact the person you kissed at midnight at New Year

What is it about those magic bells as December turns into January that make us desperate to lock lips with someone?

Despite having a perfectly acceptable time all night flying solo, the impending “clanging chimes of doom” (thanks Band Aid) of New Year suddenly make us feel more alone than ever. And most years, if your significant other isn’t already a) a thing that exists and b) somewhere nearby trying to pee into a beer can to save having to go to the loo, you end up reaching out to someone for a New Year snog.

But is this the start of something beautiful or merely a germ-swapping exercise to make sure you get most of January off work thanks to snog-flu?

Before you start tapping out your “So…? How’s it going?” text, run through this very quick checklist. Continue reading 7 things to ask yourself before you contact the person you kissed at midnight at New Year

The Wow Moment

Everybody should have their Wow Moment – that one moment in time where you look and feel fantastic and are at your absolute pinnacle of excellence, confidence and desirability. Most people aren’t aware of theirs when it’s happening – which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it – but if I’m ever going to have mine, it’s now, as I walk into the bar precisely 33 seconds late for my date with a man ten years my junior.

The wow is all over my date’s face as I approach him. I don’t see that look too often, sadly. I am nothing if not realistic; I know the only way I’m ever likely to grace the cover of a magazine is if I become a famous serial killer. But whether his expectations were low, or my pictures were bad, or he’s just really desperate, I have no idea – all I know is that his eyes widened when he saw me. And not in horror. It’s delight. I’ve seen it just about enough times to know the difference.

He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in.

He is 25, “a musician” and has a name that sounds like a countryside railway station – Clark Deeping or Brent Malling or something like that – and he is tall and sturdy and looks just the right side of sexy-boring. He definitely collects things, I can tell; I just hope it’s not scalps of hapless middle-aged midgets he goes on dates with. He tells me he’s glad I gave up my Saturday night to meet him. Yes, a first date on a Saturday! Very unlike me, but there was something in his jolly-masquerading-as-confident texts that told me it wouldn’t be a miserable evening. He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. I have always had a soft spot for sartorial awkwardness, so I am not remotely deterred. Clothes come off, after all.

We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

For someone so youthful, he seems a serious soul. There is much knitting of brows and thinking before he speaks. I, of course, am in this ridiculous Wow Moment mode, so am doing lots of what I’m assuming are enigmatic smiles peppered with sparkling conversation. To the outsider I probably look like someone having a stroke while they read out a shopping list. Whatever it is, it is working. We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

He asks me how many dates I’ve been on, and I pretend to mull this over in my head, staring into middle distance, as one would expect a person thinking about something to do. After a few seconds, my acting master class moves on to a lying one, and I throw out a number that shows I have experience, but doesn’t make me look like a miserable slut who uses dating as an excuse to go the pub and stare at men’s nipples through their shirt. He tells me he is fairly new to dating – I have no idea whether this is true but he trembles a bit as he picks up his pint so it may well be – and then says he often ends up going home with his dates.
“What an odd thing to tell someone you’re actually on a date with,” I say.
“I am a bit odd,” he replies.
“How odd?”
“Odd enough.”

An excellent reply. Barman, drink number five, please.

He suggests moving on somewhere else. Given that he has done everything but write “You are going to see me naked later” on a Post-it note and pass it to me, I pretty much know it’s a sure thing, but am intrigued by how much effort he’s going to put in. I play as dumb as I dare, letting him decide where we go. Which direction will he take?

He suggests a place that I happen to know isn’t too far from where he lives. I’d congratulate him for being so smooth if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve played this game so many times before. And with more subtlety. But for a near-novice, he’s doing pretty well. I reward him by pretending I haven’t caught on to his ruse.

Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was.

We arrive at a club that sounds very loud from the outside. I wince, but we queue behind lots of fashionable people who are talking about haircuts and DJing and chlamydia. To my surprise, the girl on the door smiles widely at us and we are waved into the club. I have no idea why: he’s dressed like a member of the Oxford rowing team having Sunday lunch with his parents and I’m sporting what I call my ‘date-boring’ look – a simple polo and slim fitting cords.

My threads are dull to make my personality – and my eyes – stand out more. It’s a boring old tactic, but a well-tried one. And what do you know, within minutes of our arrival, it becomes apparent it’s doing the trick.

Without so much as a warning, his face is on mine and I stand awkwardly – although enjoying myself immensely – spilling my beer all over the floor while we go to town on each other. Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was. The Wow continues.

We break apart and sit down at a table occupied only by one very drunk girl who is trying to do cocaine off her hand, but spilling it everywhere every time she exaggeratedly hiccups. Ignoring her, my date leans in and whispers: “I just want to rip your clothes off right here.”

I can’t help but laugh. First of all, what he’s just said is totally fucking preposterous; we’re in the middle of a club, music is banging and drinks sloshing left, right and centre. Also, I am not the kind of guy that men want to tear the trousers off. In a way, I’m flattered, but it rings hollow. See? My Wow Moment is happening in front of my very eyes and I don’t want to believe it’s true. Perhaps his confession that he takes a lot of his dates home make me feel less special.

However, if this young buck thinks that clumsy line will work on me, who am I to knock his confidence? I’m going to leave life’s harsh lessons for another time – tonight I’m going to have some fun.

“Probably best not to do it right here,” I smile, idly playing with the open neck of his shirt. “How long will it take to get back to yours?”
“About 15 minutes.”
I break into my last enigmatic smile of the evening. And then: “Let’s try to make it 10.”

Stats: 6’3″, 25, brown/brown, Gloucestershire
Pre-date rating: 6.5/10
Post-date rating: 9/10
If the date were a song: Betcha by golly wow

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: johnwennerberg on Flickr

The Hogmanay Kiss

Have you ever been to Edinburgh for New Year? You really should. Edinburgh is beautiful.

The year I go to Edinburgh’s annual street party, usually avoided by the locals, is 1997. I am 22. I have just broken up with my girlfriend. Yes, girlfriend. We weren’t together very long and my tears had dried before we’d even got to the second syllable of goodbye.

My friend and I don’t have tickets for the street party, but we are not-very-reliably informed it is the ‘place to go’, so we buy lots of beer and make sure we are within the boundaries before they are roped off for ticketholders. It is ludicrously easy. But now it is 7.30pm, it’s freezing and I am going to be here for at least five hours.

I light a cigarette in the absence of absolutely anything else to do (this is a very long time ago – I haven’t smoked for over a decade) and as I take a drag, a group of people my age appear before me, one guy and two girls. They are what my grandmother would call “merry”. They ask for a light and we chat for a while.

Alex laughs longest and loudest of everyone.

My friend is very sociable and boisterous, so we soon develop a kind of camaraderie. The guy is warm and friendly and introduces himself as Alex. I’m sorry, girls, but your names escape me all these years later. We get chatting to another group of guys and soon we have a little posse all of our own, swaying as the beers take hold, lighting each other’s cigarettes and talking utter rubbish – each of us pretending it isn’t absolutely freezing. Everybody laughs at all my jokes, even the ones that aren’t funny. Alex laughs longest and loudest of everyone.

The hours crawl by and eventually we resort to the game you can only comfortably play with strangers – Truth or Dare. Various dull revelations are uncovered during the first couple of rounds: weirdest place you’ve had sex, weird celebrity crushes etc. One of the guys we have met, who is freezing his balls off in a kilt, asks Alex if he is gay. Alex says he is, and looks straight at me.

One of the girls, who has been feeling my backside on and off for about half an hour with absolutely zero response from me, dares the man in the kilt to kiss Alex for ten seconds.

Something happens to me that I don’t quite understand. I want to back away from them all, to run. I’m not homophobic – or at least I don’t think I am – but I don’t want that question to come my way. I shuffle from foot to foot and feign blowing into my hands to keep them warm. They are not cold – my gloves are thicker than axminster. I feel nervous and excited. And yet I drip with dread.

The game continues. A dare. One of the girls, who has been feeling my backside on and off for about half an hour with absolutely zero response from me, dares the man in the kilt to kiss Alex for ten seconds. My stomach churns; I feel sick. Mr Kilt reluctantly accepts this challenge. We all watch and cheer.

I play along and exclaim “Urrrrgh” loudly as they kiss, noticing that Alex tries to slip the other guy his tongue. And just as he does, for the last second, he looks me right in the eye.

Then, it is my turn to be asked. I pick “truth” – I don’t want to be dared the same.

The other girl tries to focus on me and asks my question: “Do you fancy Alex?”

I try not to glare back. I think what my reaction should be. I pull what I think is my best puzzled grimace.

“Me? No, no.” I laugh nervously.

And then I look at Alex and pat his shoulder with a pathetic ‘matey’ stroke.

“Sorry, man. You’re just not my type. Wrong sex and all that.” I am basically chucking out a #NoHomo response.

Alex smiles back at me without even a hint of snide. “Haha, no problem!”

And then it is over. For the moment.

The game fizzles out once everybody else has snogged each other – it is fairly obvious the man in the kilt will be going home with almost every female within a 10-mile radius – and I drain my can of beer and excuse myself to go to the loo. I’m glad to be away from them, but I am not alone for long. I hear my name being called and turn to see Alex bounding up behind me.

“I need the loo too so thought I’d chum you along,” he says.

My stomach lurches and I start to feel light-headed. He chats to me as we queue for a portable loo but I feel awkward and can’t really process what he’s saying. Suddenly, he produces a cigarette for me and lights it. I look at him.

“I thought you didn’t have a light?” I ask.

He looks from my face to the lighter and back again. Busted.

“Ah,” he says. If his cheeks weren’t already rosy from the cold, he’d blush. “That was just a ruse.”

“A ruse?”

“Yeah, to get to talk to you.”

“What?” I ask. “One of the girls wanted to talk to me?”

“No,” says Alex patiently, gently. “I wanted to talk to you.”

“Oh, why?” I reply, not being deliberately stupid, I promise. I am 22, remember.

He takes a really long drag of his cigarette. “I thought you and your friend were together, a couple,” he chuckles. “I just wanted to check.”

“Why?”

“Because…” he begins, but then a loo becomes free in front of us and a man further back in the queue tells me to “get a fucking move on, pal”, so I leap into it and have a very shaky, anxious piss.

“I want to talk to you,” says Alex, gulping.
“What about?”
“You. You’re gay, aren’t you? I mean–” he scratches his head. “I hope you are. Are you?”

When I come back out, there’s no sign of Alex, so I assume he has gone back to the group. I then feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s him.

“I want to talk to you,” he says, gulping.

“What about?”

“You,” he says, his eyes desperately searching mine. “You’re… you’re gay, aren’t you? I mean–” he scratches his head. “I hope you are. Are you?”

I pull my mouth in tight and attempt to shrug. “No, I’m not.”

Alex leans in closer. “Are you sure?”

I look around to see if anybody from the group is near us. They’re miles away, but I have to make sure. I run my hands over my face and try to think.

Finally, I pull Alex away farther down the street.

“What are you doing?” he smiles drunkenly. I don’t reply. I don’t know what to say. We just keep moving. 

We end up on a narrow, dark street, free of Hogmanay drunks. There is an even smaller close just off to the right, and we scoot down it. It is drizzling. There is just one streetlight, glowing bright orange but far from warming. There is a metal fire escape staircase. It’s almost like I know I will never forget this.

Alex clears his throat. “I want to kiss you. But I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

My mind explodes over and over again. A supernova of confusion, curiosity and fear. I have been cautious all my life, risk-averse. Tonight, something feels different.

I put my hand round Alex’s waist and pull him to me. I feel the damp chill of the fire escape pressing into my back. I am surprised by the feel of his stubble and the forcefulness of his mouth. Somewhere, on another planet, a crowd starts to count backward from ten. Everything melts away.

When we break apart, it is 1998. And nothing will ever be the same again.

The horror of bad kissing and how to fix it

Kissing is vital in any relationship. While a gentle squeeze on the arm or the arse can remind your partner you care, a kiss on the lips – even if it’s a quick peck in the supermarket – is the internationally understood shorthand for intimacy. And you have to really mean it, or your lacklustre kiss gives you away.

You may think that relationships live and die on sex, but for me, the real test comes much sooner. If a guy is a bad kisser, it doesn’t matter how he measures up elsewhere. Slobbering like a St. Bernard or being presented with a tongue like a draught excluder does not a long and happy love affair make. But can a bad kisser be cured? And just what makes a bad kisser anyway?

Tackling a bad kisser can be tricky. How honest you want to be depends on how far down the line you are with them and how much you like them.

If it’s early on in the courtship and there’s not much else worth holding on for, you should probably drift away. If you really like them and think it’s worth pursuing, see if you can show them the way.

Too wet

We have all locked lips with someone like this in our lifetime. Usually ‘dribbling mess’ is a genre of kiss that dies out once you exit your teenage years. A slobbery snog is a sign your kissing partner hasn’t had enough practice. If they’re still doing it as a fully formed grown-up, they need to be taken in hand.

If they’re a really wet kisser – which is the worst thing on Earth, no question – then make sure you pause between slobbers to exaggeratedly wipe your mouth. I’m afraid there isn’t really a more subtle way than that. I bet they won’t carry on doing it for long.

Dead tongue

So there you are, in ‘the moment’. How upsetting it is, then, to be on the receiving end of a tongue that isn’t doing anything at all. It just sits there. You move your own tongue around it, hoping to revive it. Nothing happens.

A lazy kisser can be an indicator of a selfish or vain person.  Seriously. Why aren’t they trying? Why do they think you should do all the work? With a laidback kisser, give it three or four goes at getting the dead tongue to move, and if it doesn’t, lean back and look your date straight in the eye with a look of mock-concern. Like Jerry Springer used to do in his final thought segment. “Are you OK?” you should ask. “Are you not enjoying this?”

They will probably splutter: “Yes, I’m fine, why?” whereupon you can explain that as they weren’t kissing you back, you assumed they weren’t quite ready. They will protest otherwise, desperate not to see this moment of passion slip away from them. Make them work for it by saying: “Maybe you’re right. Let’s save this for another night – we don’t want to rush. Let’s wait until you’re ready.” That tongue of theirs will be back out and primed for action before you can say ‘Listerine’. And this time, it will move.

French resistance

Some kissers like to do things the old-fashioned way. And when I say old-fashioned, I mean like you would have done it as a six-year-old with your first sweetheart. A kiss on the hand can be quite continental, as Marilyn Monroe once sang, but a peck on the lips and nothing more is an affront to the senses, to romance. There are songs about French kissing, for goodness sake – it’s a thing of wonder.

If you’re getting a closed mouth in response to your ardent advances, the worst thing to do is just ram your tongue in and hope for the best. Instead, take the kissing elsewhere – above the neck, you deviants – to see if that can get them in the mood. Show them just how good it could be. Kiss around the mouth, ears, neck, wherever – anywhere but actually on the lips themselves. Hopefully, they’ll be so, erm, ‘into’ what you’re doing that they’ll want to experience it lip-to-lip and, eventually, tongue-to-tongue. Allons-y!

Bad technique

What you need to remember, especially when you get to ‘our’ age, is that the person you’re kissing has probably been taught a bad habit or two by whoever got there before you.

Whether it’s purposefully biting your tongue, grinding their teeth against yours, exhaling deeply into your mouth or flicking their tongue up your nostrils (these have all happened to me), a kissing quirk can be a massive turn-off and needs nipping in the bud.

Once they start doing something you don’t like, turn your head away, or pause, and then go back in, doing it the way you like. If they keep doing it, just carry on taking your head away until they get the message. If they don’t seem to be getting the clue, you might have to consider more drastic options. Like never seeing them again.

Telling a bad kisser face-to-face is actually poor form. Once one criticism is unleashed, expect others to follow. And maybe it’s *you* who has the problem – do you really want to be told the issue is with your very own technique? Well of course not.

The key to a good kisser is enthusiasm. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t talk, just kiss.

Image: Flickr

The Christmas Fling

Winter. Brrrr. Mulled wine and Christmas shopping, festive drinks, tinsel and coupledom.

I’m trying not to think about what the festive period is going to be like without a significant other – it’s best not to – but I’m wary of starting something at this time of year. Being alone in winter can be quite scary, but I don’t want to over-compensate, or see romance where there is none, just so I won’t be flying solo during party season. Draping tinsel over a ‘maybe’ shouldn’t make it a ‘yes’.

Nevertheless, here I am on the dating site being very cautiously wooed by our latest contestant. He’s neither brash nor particularly confident but he can’t seem to say a thing wrong. He’s sweet, intelligent, funny and, from his limited number of public pictures, handsome.

He’s a journalist and we talk about pretty much anything, settling into a jocular tone very early on. I don’t ask him out for a drink because I sometimes worry something so perfect electronically can turn out to be only a disappointment when flesh comes into play. If he asks me, however, I won’t say no. The games you play with yourself and others. How beautifully time-consuming and utterly pointless it all is.

He does ask, and my hand is forced.  The date is a long time in the making: conflicting diaries and last-minute work commitments mean that the first meeting is delayed twice. By the time we do meet, December is on the horizon. I am to meet him on a Tuesday night in a pub in a beautiful part of London that’s brimming over with Christmas cheer and ambience. Continue reading The Christmas Fling

The Keen Bean

The fag-end of summer approaches over the horizon and I have fair torn through the dates in the last 4 or 5 weeks. To say I’m weary by this point is an understatement, and when this guy gets in touch and starts whispering virtual sweet nothings, I’m fairly indifferent.

He doesn’t have a lot to say for himself, and when he does his grasp of grammar isn’t a huge selling point, but he seems a  decent guy and in the absence of any other stimulating suitors, I think I might as well. When I accept his invitation to meet him for a drink, he seems genuinely pleased – excited even – rather than playing it cool and being non-committal, which is kind of a plus after being on the receiving end of so many dreary attempts at ‘mind games’. How refreshing to meet somebody who isn’t going to a date with a gun at his head – myself included. So we agree to meet after work for a couple of pints on a late summer’s eve.

The day arrives and by the time I am heading to the date, it is pissing it down. Summer is having its last laugh. It’s warm, yes, but the rain is torrential and east London looks very sorry for itself as its entire population’s denim cut-offs and flip-flops are drenched in the bucketing rain. If there’s one thing guaranteed to put me in a shitty mood it’s arriving somewhere wet, if you know what I mean, but I try to push these natural urges of fury to one side and paint myself all sunny and smiley in my mind so I don’t give the date the wrong impression – or should that be the right one?

And there he is, waiting for me. He’s fairly attractive, his profile pictures being a true representation of what he looks like, so another point in his favour. (It’s really rare.) He’s dressed in a contemporary style that doesn’t scream fashionable and looks like he knows his way around a bar of soap.

Continue reading The Keen Bean

The Youngling

Young people. I tend to have very little contact with them, except for the ones who play dubstep through their mobile phones on buses or ‘tsk’ me loudly if I take too long a while packing my shopping bags in the supermarket.

So it is with a sense of dread that I discover on the dating site I have been ‘favourited’ by a mere 25-year-old. He first adds me as a favourite way back when I first join the dating site, and although he doesn’t have any publicly-available pictures –  a no-no from me usually – something about the way he describes himself makes me warm to him. I’m a sucker for a well-constructed sentence, after all. I consider the fact that no 25-year-old in their right mind would ever look twice at me in the street and my vanity gets the better of me, I’m afraid; I send him a brief message saying hello. I’m not entirely surprised that I don’t hear anything back and so shrug it off and forget about it, and indeed him.

Months later, I see he’s been looking at my profile again. There are no secrets on this dating website: practically every move you make is monitored and reported back to those it may or may not concern, like a particularly keen office gossip. If he’s looking again, it must mean he’s interested, right?

I send him another message, inviting him to show me his photos and opening myself up to an acre of disappointment and embarrassment if he doesn’t respond. Eventually, he does. I’m expecting Frankenstein’s monster, but I take a look.

He’s cute. He doesn’t look quite as young as his 26 years (he’s had a birthday since we first ‘met’), yet still has a fresh, cheeky face. I’m intrigued. Why the secrecy? He won’t say. We arrange to meet.

The day of the date, I wake up with tonsillitis, and have to cancel. Is this a sign? He’s fairly unperturbed and seems happy to rearrange, which we do – a couple of weeks later once my tonsils have retracted back to a more manageable size, ripe for tickling. We are to meet at a railway station, straight after work. A fairly insalubrious venue, yes, but I’m conscious of retreading the same old ground and/or bumping into someone I’ve already been on a date with. So here I am at the station. Continue reading The Youngling