September 29, 2022


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The talking finally slows down and we look at each other. But not for too long at a time because the bridge built between our eyes struggles to withstand the weight of our silence. Just as I begin to contemplate reviving our conversation about running, or reading, or whatever topic we chose to distract ourselves from the real reason we were spending time together, he puts his arm around me. At first we just lie against each other breathing and listening to each other’s heart rates skyrocket in anticipation of what approaches. Then I turn to him and our lips finally make the long awaited connection. Eventually my mouth finds its way to his neck and I do what I knew I was supposed to: give him “love bites.” I repeatedly pinched the skin of his neck between my teeth in my attempt to mark him with those special bruises everyone flaunts the morning after a particularly good night. 

So at this point in the article you, precious reader, should be cringing or laughing or dropping your jaw in horror. And if you do not exhibit any of those reactions, you should begin writing your fanmail now to thank me for educating you before you learn what I had to learn the hard way: hickies, while colloquially referred to as “love bites,” should not involve actually biting another person. 

Let me now take you back to the bedroom, after this person and I had concluded our exhilarating session of exploring each other’s bodies and were just hanging out again. At this point two hours had passed since I had given him (what I thought at the time were) hickies, but all there was to show for it were a series of small red marks along his neck — none of the purple bruises I had aimed for.  Since I had never given someone hickies before, I just assumed that the bruising must only show up many hours after the event, even though on my own skin they already had started to appear. 

Maybe a less confident person would have taken this as a sign to re-evaluate one’s actions, but I felt pretty good about accomplishing my goal — after all, they are called “love bites” and I certainly executed that definition (assuming love just meant general romanticism). The next time we saw each other I still didn’t see any of those tell-tale bruises on his neck while I still had a few lasting marks that had earned many comments from my friends (and funny looks from my non-friends). I again chalked it up to my easily bruisable skin. However, when I made a move towards his neck he took pause to mention that he was seeing his parents soon and so I had to “be gentle.” I did not think about this comment too much at the time because it seemed pretty reasonable, but what did cause me to reflect on my methodology was the fact that I again had those signature hickey bruises on my own neck after we had been together even though he definitely never bit me in any kind of way. My suspicions of my improper tactics were confirmed when I facetimed my (much much more experienced) best friend and was greeted by five minutes of tears rolling down her cheeks as she laughed hysterically at my idiocy. 

While I never had a chance for redemption with this particular person, I can confirm for the readers that I have since grown quite adept at delivering a “love bite” in a much less literal way. And, for those that need the clarification, hickies should be delightful, not painful. So, while this experience has been a source of incredible humor for me (and for my friends whenever anything even remotely related to teeth or biting comes up) as I hope it has been for the audience, it has also prompted a lot of growth on my part. Obviously, I came away from the experience with a very important new skill, but it also opened my eyes to the power of honesty and communication in physical relationships. I mean, how was I supposed to know how to give a proper hickey without ever having done it — in fact, a lot of things in the bedroom do not come naturally to me. Successfully pleasuring another person, especially one with anatomy different from one’s own, takes a lot of practice — and it still can totally change from person to person (even with the same genitalia). This guy giving an excuse so I would avoid biting him, other than being comedically embarrassing, does not teach me anything about how to actually become better at making him (or anyone else) feel good. And, because I cannot rely on him to tell me what he does or does not like, I then doubt other ways I try to make him feel good, which makes the experience less fun for both of us and makes me less eager to want to try new things with him.

On this note, I will now turn my own experience into a call to action for the audience: communicate with your partner(s) — it only makes hooking up better for everyone involved. Certainly this is easier said than done — I definitely felt like I was killing the mood when I had to tell someone to move their hands off my body because they were touching me in such an entirely unpleasurable way. But this gave me the opportunity to then guide their hands and show them how they can touch me in a delightful way, which opened the gates for them to show me how to improve their physical enjoyment as well. I now go into every sexual encounter excited for what I will be receiving as well as the opportunity to learn how to become even better at giving. This honesty has only ever paid off for me — I have the love bites to prove it. 

Mike Litoris is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected].Meditations of a Masterbater runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.