Given all the stories of inappropriate or unwelcome touching, it might be time to reevaluate the way we treat the personal space of each other. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s when greetings didn't go much further than a handshake. A firm handshake for guys and a gentle handshake for girls. Hugs and kisses were reserved for family members that encouraged them or people you were dating. However, boys will be boys and girls will be unpredictable.
Lessons From My Youth
Most of the kids that I grew up with behaved themselves in public. The no kissing, no hand holding, no inappropriate physical contact rules at school helped indoctrinate students with behavior that followed community standards of the day. However, it was difficult for both boys and girls to resist the urges that came with puberty. To make matters worse, a lot of us mimicked what we saw on TV.
All of the kids in my neighborhood grew up together. It was very suburban despite being located just a twenty minute drive from New York City. Not so typical of most neighborhoods located in the suburbs, we had stores, restaurants, a bowling center and more a block and a half away from our Long Island home. I was often tasked with walking my friend Jayne or some of the other girls that lived on our street to the store.
Jayne and I were close friends and she lived right across the street from me. Neither of us had any brothers or sisters. We went out of our way to spend time together. Her dad was self-centered and away a lot. Her mom dealt with that by hanging out with other neighborhood wives during the day and drinking at night. She was a good mother, but Jayne often felt lonely. During those times, day or night, she came over my house.
At the age of eleven puberty started kicking in for both of us. It was during that summer that I began to look at her in a whole new way. Jayne was attractive with dark brown hair, pale skin and lots of freckles. During the summer she regularly came over to join me in our above ground, backyard pool. She also had a pool, but her mom would sit outside and annoy her and her friends when they used it.
Jayne was very self-conscious about her body. She had many freckles on her face and everywhere else. She often tried to hide them by wearing long sleeve, high cut blouses. As she arrived at my house to join me in the pool for the first time that summer, Jayne was wrapped in beach gear. She stood on the wooden deck attached to our pool and unwrapped. Her two piece swimsuit revealed that her body was changing and filling out.
She climbed down the pool ladder from the deck. I held her arm and supported her back as I always did. That time was different. I felt very attracted to her. We splashed around, played water volleyball and talked with each other. We enjoyed talking. I invited Jayne for dinner. She went home to change and ask permission. She was back a short time later having dried her swimsuit. We planned on going back in the pool that evening.
My parents liked Jayne. She wasn't wild or disobedient. We had that in common. After dinner we went upstairs to a large room where I had a portable TV, stereo, records, some furniture and other stuff. We listened to records for a while and danced with each other, then we sat down on a couch to watch TV. A coming of age movie was on. It was about kids a little older than us testing the waters of romance.
Jayne and I normally talk about whatever we're watching during commercials. Not that time. Watching kids not much older than us work their way up from handholding to kissing in a passionate embrace left us speechless. All I could say was, "Wow!" while Jayne giggled a little. At that point I asked Jayne if she wanted to go in the pool? She did. I think we had both seen enough of that movie.
A week before that my favorite cousin came over for a long weekend and brought her friend Angie. My cousin and Angie were both three years older than me. They lived in the city and were glad to get out for a few days. Both girls were exceptionally attractive and liked to wear provocative, two piece swimsuits. They also liked to tease me, especially Angie. She dared me to chase her the first time we all went into the pool. If I caught her she would kiss me on the cheek. Angie lied
When I caught her she grabbed me around the waist and said, "Kiss me first." I managed a cheek kiss. She acted annoyed and said, "Not like that!" Angie began kissing me on the lips. My cousin eventually stepped in and made her stop. The next morning I found myself alone in the pool. Angie came out of nowhere and joined me. My cousin was sleeping late.
Angie asked me if I liked kissing her? Once I got over the initial shock, I did. This time she played it cool by asking me if I wanted to make out with her? I agreed and we moved to a secluded corner of the pool. That began a secretive, long term relationship that lasted a few years. By the time Angie and my cousin went back to the city I was reasonably competent in how to make out with a girl.
It was summer, so even at nine it was still light out. Jayne and I casually swam around the pool for a while, then I took the plunge. I asked her if she wanted to make out just as the couple in the movie had done? She giggled a little, but did not become upset or say NO. There is the gray area that gets guys in trouble. They assume that no definitive answer gives them carte blanche to do as they like.
Instead of plowing ahead I backed off and asked Jayne if she wanted me to kiss her on the cheek? She did. I kissed her gently on the cheek. To my surprise she returned the favor by kissing me on the cheek. We moved forward from there and after a few minutes we were making out. That was the right way to handle the situation.
Control Your Passion and Use Common Sense
Whether guy or girl, gay or straight, never let your passion over take your good sense. Give your partner a choice and don't attack them, kiss them gently. What you feel may not be what they feel. No one has the right to use another person to simply satisfy their lust. Feelings have to be mutual so no one feels used. Overstepping your bounds can lead to problems later, especially if the other person feels they were forced into doing more than they intended to do.
Part of being a Responsible Romantic means making the other person feel at ease. That is not going to happen if they feel trapped. Make sure you find a mutually agreeable place to put your responsible passion into practice. And there is nothing wrong with asking if the other person is comfortable with your choice of environment. If you are not sure they are emotionally comfortable or ready to make out or move to another level of intimacy, dial things down and suggest postponing the occasion to some future time.
On TV or in the movies we often see people that just met and who suddenly find themselves in the throws of passion charging each other like rhinos. That's the land of make believe. Real people rarely do that. A Responsible Romantic doesn't ATTACK, they charm. Moving slowly, especially when it comes to making out, can be a very erotic and stimulating experience for both parties.
Not everyone likes to be touched, let alone hugged or greeted by someone with roaming hands and rushing fingers. The sensible thing to do is to offer a verbal greeting, then let them take the next step if there is one. Otherwise, you run the risk of a hug or touch being misinterpreted. People have long memories. A misstep in your youth can easily lead to a scandal years later. Think before you act.
(DOCTOR KNOW) Bill can be contacted on