Contributing writer Kimberly Couzens submitted this post as a Reader Submission for Gurl. We love hearing your stories! If you’d like to submit your writing to Gurl, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I used to dread when someone announced that it was time to play Truth or Dare at a party. Almost every time, girls get asked the same question: What have you done with a guy? How far have you gone? I didn’t want to admit my shameful secret: that, at 17-years-old, I had not been to second base, or even first base, or even hit a foul ball. I had never kissed a guy.
At a time when it felt like everyone else around me, from friends to enemies to even the students who were younger than me, had kissed someone or gone even further, I was embarrassed and ashamed of the fact that I had never locked lips with someone before. Was there something wrong with me? I wasn’t sure, but honestly, sometimes I felt really left out because of the fact that I hadn’t been kissed yet.
The first problem was my braces. I got them when I was eight-years-old and had to wear them for seven torturous years. During that time, I had to avoid popcorn and gum, spent endless hours trying to get clumps of bagel unstuck from my wires and once discovered a piece of broccoli in my front teeth after talking to a cute guy at sleepaway camp. It was a major confidence-killer.
Braces aside, I had another problem: I was terrified to kiss a guy because I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to kiss right. And if it was obvious that I didn’t know how to kiss, it would be obvious that I was inexperienced. The last thing I wanted was for a crush to find out he was my first kiss ever.
As you might have guessed, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I got my first boyfriend, Jake* when I was 15-years-old. Jake and I talked about kissing a lot during our three-hour nightly phone chats, but when he pecked me on the lips for real, I freaked out and didn’t let it go any further than that. Because it was so quick (like how your grandma kisses you), I still considered myself an NBK: Never Been Kissed, like the Drew Barrymore movie.
People at school talked about kissing, making out and that sort of thing all the time and I felt like I could never relate because I HAD NO IDEA HOW TO FRENCH KISS and how could I possibly have managed to make it through most of high school without having kissed anyone? I felt like the letters were written across my forehead, like everyone could tell just by looking at me.
When I was 16-years-old, I met a cute guy named Zach on a school trip. At night we were taking a walk alone together and I realized that he might try to kiss me. I liked him, but I was too freaked out. When we said good night to some friends, I abruptly said “good night” and RAN AWAY from him.
The summer I was 17-years-old, I met a guy named Tyler* on summer vacation. He was handsome and athletic with brown eyes and we had been spending a lot of time together. The night before I had to leave, we were hanging out alone at the beach. I knew we were going to end up kissing, which made me super nervous, but I decided I didn’t care anymore. If I turned out to have no kissing talent, I could go home the next day and never see Tyler again. There was no way I was going to let my fear of being a bad kisser ruin this opportunity. I also could not take being an NBK anymore.
There are some activities, like ice skating or riding a bike, that require a lot of practice before you can get it right. Lucky for me, kissing isn’t like that and I caught on quickly. Kissing Tyler was awesome, partly because it finally lifted the burden of my NBK status. I no longer had to feel like the only girl in the whole world who had never kissed anyone.
Even though I was older than some girls are when I had my first kiss, I’m glad I can remember the experience as special instead of a sloppy drunk makeout (no judgement though, I had plenty of those later). Even though Tyler and I didn’t keep in touch, we did see each other again several years later and there may or may not have been more kissing involved. When we were hanging out, I finally felt I could tell him what I never would have wanted him to know at the time: that he was my first kiss. He seemed surprised and it was obvious he hadn’t been able to detect my lack of kissing experience.
As you can see, all the time I spent freaking out about my lack of kissing experience was not time well spent, but I never look back and wish that I had started kissing guys earlier. The truth is that there is no universal perfect age for a first kiss. No matter how old you are when you start, you have your entire adult life to spend kissing! I really wish I had known this earlier. (Especially for Zach’s sake.)
(*Name has been changed.)
How old were you when you had your first kiss? Have you not had your fist kiss yet? Have you ever been afraid that you’ll be a bad kisser? Tell us in the comments.