[Image: This is the world’s first MRI image of a mother kissing her 2-month-old baby. Her kiss has caused a burst of oxytocin in her son’s brain – a hormone that generates feelings of attachment and affection.]
The first time a woman kissed me gently on my forehead I cried. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I let it happen anyway. She was comfortable enough to stay with it. I cried, cradled in her arms for 10-minutes. It was ground-breaking for me. I was feeling and healing something very deep in my core. For those ten minutes, this woman was giving me complete and non-sexual attention. My entire body responded. My soul was kissed from that point on. It signaled a turning point in my relationship, yes, with the woman, but more deeply, with myself.
We All Want to Be Loved
This was a fairly new and sexually charged relationship, so yes, we were naked and embracing in her bed. But the forehead kiss unlocked something deep in me that none of my previous “sexual” experiences had unlocked. It was deeper. It was primal. It had something to do with this photograph.
As we learn to differentiate ourselves from our mothers, as we are forced to do so by society and the very aspect of being born, we still long for a return to that perfect love. A mother’s love is unlike any other love. And as a man, I crave some sort of return to that deep feeling of connection. A connection that says, “I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are.” (Thanks to CSN)
In this moment of quiet intimacy, my girlfriend tapped the mom-spot. Once we discovered and unlocked this powerful show of affection we practiced the forehead kiss from time to time. I’m not sure she ever felt the same existential change as a result of being kissed for several minutes on the forehead, but she too expressed how powerful the connection felt.
Nobody Wants to Be Alone
As we grow into individuals and eventually adults, we grow further and further distant from our core emotional needs. We learn to toughen up. We learn that our moms are not always available. And we learn that our hurts and scrapes are going to be ours alone. We learn to soothe ourselves in painful moments when no one is there to hold us. And, of course, as adults, we can never return to the embrace of our mothers. We can stay close to our moms. We can visit our moms and express our mutual love and attention for each other. But once we have separated from her, the mom-kiss no longer works.
How amazing to discover, at 55, the mom-kiss with a newish girlfriend. We had been quite intimate, so it wasn’t a case of feeling open or close to someone else. And it was completely disarming when I broke down in her arms. And to her testament, she leaned in and continued to kiss and cradle me. Amazing. (Thank you, dear woman.) And there is no way I can do this “kiss” for myself. At this moment, over a year ago, I opened up some neural pathway that connected deeply with my feelings of love and being connected. For a few minutes, I felt completely loved.
The Mom-kiss In Practice
- I didn’t have to do anything but feel the love she was expressing
- Sex was not part of the moment
- I did have to let go of the fear, of letting someone else see my vulnerability and tears
- We had to pause and savor the moment, not rushing through it
- We both expressed awe at the power of what had happened between us
- I returned the favor a few days later and we both enjoyed a similar opening
- As the giver, the attention must be focused on loving the entire beautiful person in front of you and connecting with them
- As the receiver, we just have to feel the feelings and let go enough to experience the deep touch
If We Can Accept that Loving Feeling
It is not easy to let ourselves be completely vulnerable. The mom-kiss is a powerful and primal way to express and receive deep love. For me, even in that 10-minute session, I experienced a new sense of confidence and happiness. And while it was about the woman I was with, it was also about how I had softened my heart and let the feelings flood through my body, and allow my body to respond in its own healing way. In this case, my body grieved for the loss of that mother-son connection. And in the filling of some of that painful loss, I was able to move forward with additional confidence to let down my guard in future encounters.
The mom-kiss was something we practiced together over the summer together. And while this relationship didn’t survive, I can still the deep appreciation for this woman who unlocked me.
If we can accept the loving expressions of another person, if we can open to trust, and open to the possibility of a painful breakup, we can open to the healing energy of being seen, held, and loved in a way that heals a deeper part of ourselves. From this experience, I’ve learned to go deeper. I’ve learned to express my pain in a richer way, both here in my writing, and in my relationships. If I can uncover and release more of my pain and sadness at being alone, I can strengthen my confidence as a man, as a lover, and as the father of two teenagers.
Accepting Love Is As Important As Giving It
Love has to be reciprocal. If we love deeply while our partner remains detached or afraid, we eventually run afoul of the mismatch. But, if a partner can learn to let go with us, can learn to be vulnerable with us, can accept and embrace our vulnerability along with their own, we’re on the path to building a deeper and stronger relationship.
We just want to be seen. Part of being loved is being seen and appreciated for who we are at any given moment. Even when I’m having a hard day, I want my partner to hold a loving space for me. And if I can hold that loving space for my partner, through disagreements and disappointments, if I can continue to give my love even when I’m feeling scared of vulnerable myself, I can reach through that distance between us and maintain a secure attachment. I can tell my partner, “I am here for you.” It is a very different experience to actually BE there with someone in all the flavors of life, highs and lows.
Today, I am accepting love on all levels. I am also attempting to hold another person’s best interest above my own agenda or expectations. It’s not easy, but this, I believe, is the magic trick of building a long-term loving relationship. The mom-kiss is a wonderful tool for breaking down some of our fears and barriers. I don’t know if my brain lights up like the MRI image above, but I do know that my ability to love and be vulnerable was forever changed by giving and receiving such a deep expression of non-sexual affection.
Love on, deeply, fully, and with abandon.
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- She Can’t Contain My Sadness: She Can’t Contain My Happiness Either
- Heal Your Heart from the Fear and Loss by Opening with Vulnerability
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- 3 Required Traits for Building a Lasting Relationship
- Emotional Intelligence Essentials for Long-Term Relationship Success
- Pausing in the Gap: Trying to Force An Answer Is Not the Way
- 7 Habits of a Sizzling Sex Life: Relationship Building
- The 3-point Formula for Loving Relationships: Where You Lead I Follow
Image: From Smithsonian Magazine
Homework: Watch Brené Browns TED Talk on Vulnerability