What It’s Like to Have Your First Kiss in Your 20s

My first kiss was at the age of 22, with a total stranger on the dance floor of a dive bar. Prior to this little milestone, the majority of my evenings were spent trying to come to terms with the fact that I would most likely spend my entire life alone. I had managed to navigate my way through the crazy years of adolescence and two university degrees without ever meeting a guy who desired to, just maybe, press his lips against mine for a moment or two. The landscape of my love life was as barren as the Sahara, and I was more or less resigned to my fate.

Throughout high school, I watched as my friends acquired boyfriends and wisdom, which they then passed on to me with a sympathetic pat on the shoulder (the wisdom, not the boyfriends). They told me that “my time will come.” I listened as they related tales of relationship drama, and stared blankly when they decided to ask me for advice. On the night of my formal, I was the only one of my friends to not have a date, and stood awkwardly to one side in otherwise symmetrical group photos.

Being chronically single had become one of my defining characteristics. In my final year of my university studies, I realized something had to change, if only so I could finally answer Apple’s security question, “Where was your first kiss?” without shattering my computer screen in a murderous rage. I decided to ask out my crush of two-and-a-half years.

Rejection was swift.

Desperately, I sent a text to my best friend. “Can we please just go out this weekend and go to bars and drink and talk to random guys and have fun,” I typed, knowing that she was far more experienced in these things than I was. Little did I know just how well she could deliver.

We visited multiple venues, consumed multiple beverages, and I had to fend off multiple unwanted advances for the first time in my life. The experience felt surreal. All these men wanting my number? How was I meant to deal with this? Most of the time, I faced their suggestions with a blank stare of mild horror, followed by urgently kicking my progressively tipsy best friend to ask if we could go somewhere else.

Somehow, towards the end of the night, we wound up at an establishment well-known for its sticky floors and cheap drinks. You don’t go there for the décor or the ambience, unless your venue of choice is decorated in faded brown tones and filled with backpackers and bikers. It is the place to go if you want to commence the process of inebriation on a budget, or if you happen to be wandering past the entrance just as you realize you need to pee.

My best friend decided that joining the small crowd on the dance floor was an absolutely fantastic idea, so we did. We ended up being approached by two guys who had caught our collective eye and started dancing with us. My guy surprised me by being sober, clean-cut, and well-dressed. He seemed nice enough, despite being foolish enough to think we could actually dance.

We continued dancing (poorly), and he kept moving closer and closer towards me. Staring into my eyes. Holding me rather tightly. Moving his head towards mine. I realized I was probably about to have my first kiss with Mr. Collared Shirt.

Well, I thought to myself, I’ll give it a go, I guess. Carpe diem, and all that.

The first word that came to mind when our mouths made contact was “splodge.” Not because he was a bad kisser, but just because I was not at all used to the sensation. As I pulled away I had to consciously resist the urge to douse my entire face in hand sanitizer. Really? I thought, That’s it? That’s kissing? How am I ever going to learn to enjoy this?! Man, if I end up getting mono from this guy, I am going to be pissed off.

After a few more moments of mouth to mouth contact, we went back to the bar to chat. We exchanged contact details, we learned each other’s names, and he ended up asking me out. After two dates, I realized that he was very definitely not my type, and we parted company. But he’ll always be there in my personal history as the First Kiss Guy.

About a year later, after a few more cringe-worthy dating encounters, I ended up meeting the one who would become my long-term boyfriend (and now, my fiancé), and I’m pleased to report that I definitely enjoy kissing a lot more. If nothing else, my delayed entry into the world of romance has shown me that age and social expectations really don’t matter: There were no fireworks, I didn’t change as a person just because I’d finally smooched someone, and there weren’t any grand epiphanies. I just chalked it all up to experience and went on living. And thankfully, I didn’t get mono.

Emma Lloyd was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, where she works in marketing (but would much rather be writing about things). She spends her spare time drinking coffee, re-organizing her bookshelves, resenting the gym, and planning elaborate travel adventures which may or may not ever happen. She also blogs at laceandfeathers.com and occasionally tweets at @emmanesia when the mood strikes.

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