So, you totally lucked out and started dating someone new in quarantine. You text all day, fall asleep together over FaceTime, and have the hottest phone sex. You might have even met their parents over Zoom. But after months of building your relationship online, you now have to cross another milestone off your list: Meeting in person. Suddenly, anxiety kicks in. It may seem kind of ridiculous to feel anxious about your first post-quarantine kiss, but what if your sexual chemistry doesn’t translate in person? How do you deal with being physically intimate for the first time with someone you’ve already been so vulnerable with?
As Dr. Jill McDevitt, couples coach and resident sexologist for CalExotics, tells Bustle, it’s OK to feel a little anxious. In fact, “give yourself permission to,” she says. “Part of what makes a first kiss so special and memorable is because you have all these nerves and jitters beforehand! These are good jitters, see if you can embrace them.”
Everyone wants their first kiss with someone special to go well. But what if being in lockdown for the past three months has made you rusty? Is it possible to forget how to kiss? What if it’s just bad? The anxiety over having your first post-quarantine kiss can make you feel like you’re back in middle school again. So, if you’re nervous about kissing the person you’ve been online dating for months, here’s what to do, according to experts.
Ease Into It
There’s nothing wrong with going slow. As Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., therapist and Director of Clinical Effectiveness for Talkspace, tells Bustle, some people may feel comfortable working their way up to it. “Starting with hugging, handholding, or other forms of less intimate physical contact could be a good way to begin to feel more relaxed and comfortable with a physical connection,” O’Neill says. “Yes, you’re going to kiss folks again, but it doesn’t have to happen before you’re comfortable and ready to do so.”
Spend Time With Them IRL
This is especially smart if you’re also concerned about your health. After all, we’re still amid a pandemic — there’s a reason why wearing a face mask in public is highly recommended to limit the spread of coronavirus. Getting to know your partner before getting intimate can help to establish trust between the two of you.
As licensed psychologist Dr. Kelly Donohoe, tells Bustle, “To calm our anxiety about kissing, we will have to feel trust with our new partner. We grow trust by talking and spending time together without pressure to make anything physical. It can also happen through open conversations about how safe we will each be when we aren’t together. When we trust our partner to be safe, we can feel as safe as possible kissing.”
“Choreograph” Your First Kiss While In Quarantine
According to McDevitt, choreographing your first kiss means talking to each other about how you like to be kissed, what makes a great first kiss to you, your favorite kissing positions, what you like to do with your lips and tongue, and so on. “This has the double benefit of helping to relieve worry because you’ll know what to expect, and it can also serve as a sexy phone session, depending on how explicit you get with describing the kiss,” she says.
Talk About The Kiss On Your Date
Spontaneous kisses can be cute, but they can also increase your chances of exchanging an awkward kiss because you’re suddenly taken off guard. As Elisabeth Goldberg, LMFT, relationship therapist and dating coach, tells Bustle, “Predictability can reduce anxiety and increase excitement. Pandemic or not, always ask permission before kissing someone.”
If you’re nervous about kissing on your first date, let your partner know. Whether you’re worried about the pandemic or just really concerned about being bad at kissing after all these months, be honest. Who knows? Your partner may be feeling the same way.
If Things Don’t Go Well, Try Giving It A Second Chance
So, let’s say you followed the advice, talked it out with your partner beforehand, and were upfront about the fact that you were nervous. What do you do if your fears were realized and the kiss really does go poorly? As clinical psychologist Judy Ho, Ph. D. tells Bustle, don’t panic or get overly disappointed.
“Chemistry does take time to develop sometimes, and sometimes instant chemistry doesn’t actually result in a great relationship in the long run,” Ho says. “Don’t overanalyze. Instead, focus on whether or not there are enough redeeming or positive qualities about this person that will give you the interest to try again either with a second kiss that night or to give it a couple more dates.”
If you’ve given it a second or even third chance and it still feels off, that’s your cue to move on.