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A Kiss Is Just a Kiss

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 12/19/2001

I have had very limited sexual experience. I grew up a fundamentalist Christian; not only was the "no sex before marriage" edict enforced, but several books were forced upon me during adolescence that entailed exactly how far you could go without sacrificing your purity. (Not very far--I seem to remember hand-holding as the last big step before marriage.) I have only had relationships with two guys. The second guy is now my husband. Almost two years ago, when my husband and I were engaged and I was studying abroad, a guy friend confessed his affection for me and I kissed him. That's it--just a kiss. However, because of my (and my husband's) background, this seems like a pretty big betrayal. Now my problem is that even two years later, despite only limited correspondence with the guy I kissed, I can't stop thinking about that guy. I have elaborate fantasies and dreams about meeting him again and I frequently wonder whether I made a mistake by marrying my husband. Don't get me wrong--our marriage is fantastic and I love my husband. So why am I fantasizing about my one-kiss man? And what can I do to get him out of my mind?

Kiss Is Slaughtering My Sanity

Dear Sanity:
Good lord, girl, after growing up in that repressive atmosphere, you deserve one little breakout moment. Hallelujah for you that it was good enough to remember! Even if you were engaged at the time, one kiss, no matter how splendid, is not enough to wreck your life over, so whatever you do, don't go confessing it to your husband. Keep it to yourself, as your own delicious little secret, and if hubby ever asks, deny, deny, deny. His knowing wouldn't do him any good, and it would tarnish your shiny-sweet memory.

A good marriage is a good thing, no matter how experienced the partners were before. While the fundamentalist attitude toward sex is arguably ludicrous--we wouldn't buy a new pair of party pumps without trying them on--premarital promiscuity is no guarantee of wedded bliss either. Plenty of people with much more "interesting" backgrounds would gladly delete a major portion of their history for the chance at a solid relationship. I'm not suggesting you rush out and screw a bunch of strangers just to give your one illicit moment some company, but it's only because this is the only such moment you've allowed yourself that this fantasy has such a hold on you. And you really don't want to see this guy again. Your imagination has worked overtime to make him into a dangerous romantic hero, and the reality would probably be a huge disappointment.

My latest girlfriend just dumped me because she couldn't handle the fact that I've stayed friendly with my ex-girlfriend. Actually, she did have some reason to be concerned, because I am sort of still in love with my ex. Even though we decided we couldn't continue as lovers, she means a lot to me and I want her in my life. I've messed up new relationships before by being unable to let go of an old one, and it gets really confusing trying to be friends with women I've been in love with, even when I have a new girlfriend. I seem to want whichever one I'm with at the time, and I can't stand letting anyone go. Is this what fear of commitment is? Am I too immature to develop a real serious relationship? Or am I a terrible person who doesn't deserve real love? How can I keep this from happening again?

Messed Up in Michigan

Dear Michigan:
Yes, you have fear of commitment and, yes, you're immature. You may also be suffering from any number of syndromes and disorders in vogue among clinical psychologists. As to your terribleness, cut me a break. That's exactly the kind of self-serving, self-deprecating rhetorical question people ask when they fully expect to be reassured that they're really not so bad. Like, you might be making yourself and a few women completely miserable, but at least you haven't been beating up old folks or selling crack to preschoolers.

Most people have trouble transitioning to friendship with exes. It takes time for those intense, sexually charged feelings to relax and loosen their grip on heart and loins. Unfortunately, until you're completely free of the old feelings, you can't form any new ones. You'll just keep bouncing from gal to gal like an old tennis ball, getting yourself head-swacked into the net every time.

It might be a good idea for you to take a little girlfriend vacation--just stay away from women for a while. Let your brain clear and your groin relax. The next time you find a woman you think you might like to keep for a while, concentrate on her. Stay in casual touch with any ex you must, but spend the bulk of your lady-time with your new love and let her know she's No. 1. Nurture the relationship, and don't yak on about how swell Tiffany, Bitsy, or Muffy was and how she still holds a place in your heart. After all, if she was such a fabulous girlfriend, how come you're not still together?

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