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by Greg Krehbiel on 2 September 2004

On Kissing Other Women

I am a married man. It is therefore wrong for me to be kissing women other than my wife. Fortunately, we still have enough sense in this culture that I don’t need to spend too much time defending that notion. But if we spend some time examining it, we’ll learn some important lessons that will help develop a reasonable attitude towards dating.

So then, why is it wrong for me to kiss other women? Why is kissing another woman different than playing tennis with another woman?

Because kissing denotes intimacy. Physical closeness in general implies intimacy — or combat. And kissing is just a little bit “closer” than standing next to someone. It’s a very intimate, emotionally charged closeness.

So what’s wrong with intimacy? Aren’t we supposed to love everybody? And if we love everybody, shouldn’t we show it?

That was the sort of nonsense going around in the 60s, and we’ve been paying the price on that foolishness for several decades now. After coming to our senses we’ve discovered (again! — remember the lesson of the Bene Gesserit) that there is a kind of intimacy that is and must be exclusive. A man can only love one woman the way he’s supposed to love his wife.

Romantic Love is Exclusive

Truth will out, even when we try to suppress it with nonsense. There are rules written deep in our minds, and when we break them, we pay the price. And often, despite our best efforts to deny and rebel against these rules, they end up slipping out in our language, so that in the midst of confusion you’ll often find evidence of the truth, like in the old song “Get Closer” by Seals and Croft.

“Darling if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darling if you want me to love, love only you
Then love only me
Darling if you want me to see, see only you
Then see only me”

“There’s a line that I can’t cross over
It’s no good for me and it’s no good for you
And that feeling deep down inside me
I can’t explain it and you’re wondering why”

There are two things to note here. The first is the assumption that “getting closer” involves exclusivity. More on that in a moment. The second is that last bit about a feeling deep down inside that the singer can’t explain. This is the legacy of an over-emphasis on the intellect. We’re tempted to think that if we can’t explain something or make a rational argument to justify it, then it must not be true. But that’s silly. There are lots of things we feel and know but can’t explain or argue.

A rough synonym for “exclusive” is “private,” and the three words go nicely together — romance, exclusive, private. I.e., romance leads to emotional exclusivity and private intimacy. This is why public displays of affection are rude. They contradict our natural sense of propriety. Romance and affection are not for public display.

We see the exclusivity of romance in the way people talk about their dates. “Are you guys going steady?” someone may ask, by which they mean, “how serious are you?” We all know that when a relationship gets serious, other attachments have to be cut. On the other hand, “he wants to date other people” is a sure sign that a relationship is falling apart.

Exclusivity is not just for the moment

Following along with the silly songs from the past, here’s a lyric from Janis Joplin.

“Take another little piece of my heart now baby”

She means that certain types of physical intimacy are like taking a piece of someone’s heart. That piece belongs to you, and, by implication, there’s not as much left over. Why else do couples eventually ask one another how many other people they’ve dated? They want to get a sense of the competition. What little pieces of your heart still belong to somebody else? What memories am I competing against?

I’m not saying that a person can’t love their second wife very deeply – even more deeply than their first wife – but I am saying that there’s something special about first love, and this ties in with the notion of exclusivity in romance. In love songs and poems we often hear patently ridiculous claims aimed at this very thing.

“Longer than there’ve been
fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been
stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you.”

(From “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg.)

First love is very precious, and we’re always a little jealous of previous loves. This is why the stereotypical smoothie is always downplaying his previous loves. “They were just play. Madness. You’re the real thing.” Why does he say this? To prove that this love is exclusive, at least in some sense. It’s not like the others.

Training Your Kids for True Romance

I hope the implication of all this is clear. While real life gets complicated and messy, our truest, deepest romantic desire is to meet and fall in love with one person for life. To give your children their best shot at this they should be taught to save themselves — sexually, of course, but also emotionally — for their spouse.

This sounds like it’s going to ruin their lives. What’s the fun of high school, you think, if you can’t date? But in reality it prepares them for a far better and deeper love. When they find a mate, they can say “I’ve kept myself for you all my life. I give you my entire heart without any reservation. It’s yours and yours alone.”

The Dating Game

What do kids really want? When a boy meets his first girlfriend, what does he do? He carves “Bob and Susie 4ever” on some tree in the park. Why? Because he’s wired for exclusive, monogamous love. But the dating culture destroys this.

How many people do you know who married the first person they dated? Virtually none, I’m sure. The pattern these days is to meet someone, go out, go steady, have some level of emotional — and yes, sexual intimacy — and then break up. Then they repeat the pattern again. And again. And again.

What does this do to a young person’s heart? It trains them to form romantic attachments, knowing that they won’t last. Knowing that they’ll eventually break up. It trains them to believe that romantic attachment, and even some level of sexual intimacy, have nothing to do with life-long commitment. It trains them for divorce.

So how will you guide them through this? You have two choices. When Bob comes home with the local elm tree all over his pocket knife, you can say, “Bob, let’s be serious. You’re not going to marry Susie. By the time you’re 23 you’re not even going to know her any more. Get over these silly romantic notions and just have fun with her. Be honest with her and admit that this isn’t going to last forever.”

Great lesson, right? Love doesn’t last. Woo her, win her heart, then drop her when she becomes inconvenient.

The other option is to tell Bob that he has to guard his heart (and hers!) until he’s ready to marry. At this point in his life he isn’t able or ready to make those decisions. Getting too close to Susie is going to expose him to desires that he can’t legitimately fulfill. And it’s not fair to Susie for Bob to lead her on – to give her false hopes – to steal a piece of her heart that doesn’t rightfully belong to him.

No fun, right? But you have to sell it with the larger vision of a man’s responsibility. Show him, on the one hand, the nobility of protecting a woman’s heart against false hopes of romance, and, on the other, the rascally way that some men play on women’s feelings for their own pleasure. Your young man shouldn’t feel deprived, he should feel like a knight. He should know that he’s giving up his personal pleasures for a higher goal.

And for your daughters, teach them to remain polite but distant. Girls have a much stronger association between sex and romance than guys do, which is why guys feign romance to get sex. Warn them about this. Remind them that there are guys who will say anything to get in their pants. Warn them to keep emotionally distant until they’re old enough that marriage is a real possibility.

The Georgia Satellites provide a great model for girls.

“I got a little change in my pocket
goin’ jing-a-ling-a-ling
Wants to call you on the telephone baby,
a-give you a ring
But each time we talk,
I get the same old thing
Always no hugg-ee no kiss-ee until
I get a weddin’ ring
My honey my baby,
don’t put my love upon no shelf
She said don’t hand me no lines
and keep your hands to yourself

“B-b-b-baby baby baby
why you wan’ treat me this way
You know I’m still your lover boy
I still feel the same way
That’s when she told me a story,
’bout free milk and a cow
And said no hugg-ee no kiss-ee
until I get a weddin’ vow
My honey my baby,
don’t put my love upon no shelf
She said don’t hand me no lines
and keep your hands to yourself

“Go man go

“Hold it here
See I wanted her real bad,
and I was about to give in
But that’s when she started talking
about true love, started talking about sin
And I said, honey
I’ll live with you for the rest of my life,
She said no hugg-ee no kiss-ee
until you make me your wife-a
My honey my baby,
don’t put my love upon no shelf
She said don’t hand me no lines
and keep your hands to yourself”

-- 2004-09-02  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 8

  1. Crowhill weblog on culture, politics, religion and current events » Most interesting comment ever on the Crowhill blog
    7 September 2004 @ 12:30 pm

    [...] how I got to this website but that was completely interesting. good call guy.” (See Dating)


    The URI to TrackBack t [...]

  2. jamie
    2 September 2004 @ 7:44 am


    I appreciate your fine-tuned insights, especially those on family and fatherhood. I just discovered the blog, and will be a regular visitor. God bless!

  3. GregK
    2 September 2004 @ 7:47 am

    Thanks Jamie. Welcome.

  4. Marlow
    7 September 2004 @ 3:59 am

    Wow I’m high so I can’t remember how I got to this website but that was completely interesting. good call guy

  5. Marlow
    7 September 2004 @ 4:01 am


  6. antonnia
    2 October 2005 @ 8:04 pm

    One essential element in a good relationship is commitment and sincerity. It is natural for you to be attracted to the opposite sex even when you are already committed. But if you really love your partner and you care for the relationship to last, then be sincere and true to your special someone. That is also called effort and courage in a relationship.

  7. lotharion
    25 October 2005 @ 7:47 pm

    I do agree that sincerity is an impotant element of a relationship. I also think that couples deserve to have flexible communication Love will always last as long as there is respect for one another. When all these things are present, then a relationship wil never break down.