Kissing With Your Eyes Open
There’s a popular pop song by Bruno Mars called “Grenade”. In it, the Hawaiian-born singer famously says:
Should have known you was trouble from the first kiss
Had your eyes wide open
Why were they open?
The song was a massive hit around the world and it brought some much-needed attention to the subject of toxic love. But what does it mean exactly to keep your eyes open during a kiss and why does it matter?
There are numerous studies about the chemistry of love and kissing plays a huge part in all that. The act of kissing leads to the body producing endorphins, or happiness hormones, meaning that both the kisser and the one being kissed feel happy and relaxed. Kissing also helps to reduce the body’s cortisol level, thus indirectly reducing stress. A good smooch produces serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, a heady feel-good elixir that decreases anxiety and increases relaxation and wellness. Not to mention, it reduces your blood pressure, helps relieve cramps, boosts your immune system, improves your cholesterol levels, etc. etc. Pretty magical, right? Check out this article here and you’ll find yourself eager to test it out. You’ve been warned.
The science on the matter is extensive and you’re free to explore it at your leisure. But I’m not interested in that right now. I want to get to the bottom of Bruno’s pain: what does it mean to keep your eyes open during a (romantic) kiss and why does it matter?
Health benefits aside, kissing is a deeply intimate activity that is at its most meaningful when the subjects are invested in each other. When they mean something for each other, above the superficial. A great kiss requires a genuine connection and that can be easily observed in the mechanics of the kiss. Kissing with your eyes “wide open” interferes with that connection and it’s basically the equivalent of static interference. When two people kiss with their eyes shut tight, what they are effectively doing is shutting out the outside world. It’s like a curtain falls and it’s just them, safe in their private precious bubble. Everything fades to the background, all worries melt away, the space-time continuum goes haywire. The eyelids are the doors that keep the magic inside and contain the fireworks of love and attraction. See where I’m getting with this and why it is so important?
Just imagine this. How ridiculous would it look like for one partner to be totally into it and the other to stare numbly into the distance? Take a passionate kiss worthy of an MTV award (are these still a thing?) and make the substitution. Should we try it with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman? No, you’re right. His eyes were covered by the mask anyway. Bad example. Let’s go instead with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, the definition of swoon-worthy. You can’t get any more iconic than that. What would that scene be like if Noah crushed Allie to his chest only to then gaze away into the pouring rain, in effect canceling out his partner? Pretty lame to say the least. It would break the seal of connection and render the whole thing meaningless and even laughable.
Now real life isn’t always as grand as the movies, but the principle stands. Kissing with your eyes open takes something important out of the gesture. It greatly mutes its importance and demotes it to the mechanical, extracting the whimsical, the “je ne sais quoi”, the undefined.
Don’t take my word for it. You could always try it out on your own. If you’re fortunate enough to have a special someone in your life try kissing them with your eyes open next time your heads are on an intersection course and see how it feels. With an immediate and full disclosure to your partner afterward, of course. Ask them if they felt something different too. And then hit the repeat button, with the curtains drawn. I’ll be waiting for your findings.
In conclusion, the theory on the subject is extensive. I’m more interested in the practical side of things, as I rarely take something at face value. Instead, I try it on for size and see how it fits my personality and worldview. Keeping it authentic and all that.
Kiss away, my friends! And kiss well, lest we disappoint Bruno some more.