I'm reading Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists. About halfway through the book, two characters are debating whether or not everyone's actions are selfishly motivated, that maybe good people are only good because they want to feel like good people, and that counts as a self-centered motivation. Within this discussion, one character asks the other, "So why do you kiss someone? To give pleasure or to take it?"
I wasn't planning on thinking about this point for very long. I was almost satisfied with simply thinking, "aw, snap!" and moving on to the next paragraph, but then my brain switched on because the posed question is a combination of two of my favorite things: critical thinking and mushy romantic shit.
At first it seemed shamefully obvious that the answer was the latter. I kiss because I want to. We all kiss because we want the erotic pleasure of our mouth on another's mouth (or other body part). So we kiss to take pleasure. But with only a little more thought, it becomes clear that A) there are other ways of kissing besides erotically, almost all of which are to express love, be it romantic, friendly, of familial, and B) even with erotic kissing, a kiss cannot truly be be enjoyed without the kissee deriving pleasure from the kiss as well (unless one is sadistic, and for our purposes we are assuming one is not)--in fact, it is the same in case A; love is not so well expressed or enjoyed if it is not mutual. And it is only in unfortunate circumstances (or, I suppose, circumstances of prostitution) that one is kissing for the purpose of giving pleasure, but not to receive it (we'll file such circumstances, along with sadism, under "things we will ignore for our purposes).
So, unlike so many other things in life, kissing falls under the category of mutual give and take, a perfect example of an act that (except for those few circumstances we are ignoring) breaks open the "selflessness is selfish" argument.* It can only be properly executed by both parties simultaneously wanting to give and accept the gift of physical intimacy. And if your mind is mechanical in the same way mine is, you can see that a kiss is the definition of love. Cue "The Shoop Shoop Song." **
* Devil's advocates: I'm sure if you wanted to debate this with me, we could. Heck, I could debate this with me. But in the end, kissing is awesome, so shuddap.
** Actually, I will cue "The Shoop Shoop Song," because it's an awesome song. Here:
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