Sarah Irby ~ Assistant Editor

If you grew up in a household like mine, then your mom probably told you that if you ever came home with a hickey you’d be grounded because, you know, they’re gross. Whatever, Mom. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

In all reality, hickeys are just bruises that are caused when the tiny capillaries directly below the surface of your skin break due to the sucking and/or biting action you’re being subjected to.

In high school, hickeys were all the rage; you were totally cool if you walked through the hallways wearing an implication on your neck that you were getting frisky with someone. You became the talk of the town for a while, so to speak.

Now that we’re living in the “adult world” of college, some people find hickeys more disgusting or embarrassing than thrilling, but there are others who still think it’s hot (guilty as charged). Granted, it’s probably not something you want your professor or an interviewer to see, but really it’s all based on preference and what you’re into.

Interestingly enough, scientific studies of “love bites” began with animals when Psychologist Havelock Ellis noted in his research that male mammals often held female mammals’ necks in between their teeth before mating.

It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that this applies to humans as well. After all, “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals.”

Another intriguing fact about hickeys is that they are discussed in chapter five (“On biting…”) of the “Kama Sutra.” According to this ancient text, the best kind of bite comes from a set of excellent teeth with no defects, the quality of which is measured by: teeth equality, proper proportions, brightness and sharpness.

The chapter goes on to explain the different types of biting and placement, such as the “Coral and the Jewel,” where the lips (coral) and the teeth (jewels) are brought together on the skin of the cheek.

Personally, my favorite part of this chapter is when Vātsyāyana writes: “When a man bites a woman forcibly, she should angrily do the same to him with double force.” I agree, dude.

Now I’m sure by this point in your life you’ve heard of or maybe even tried some of the “cures” for hickeys. How did that work out for you? Yeah, probably not that great. That’s because there really isn’t any way to magically make a hickey disappear; its only cure is time.

“But what about using a toothbrush or a coin …?” Nope. Doesn’t work. In fact, in some cases it can make it worse, so just leave it alone.

If you really don’t want someone to see that big red spot on your neck (or wherever else), then your best bet is to invest in some good concealer.

Sometimes hickeys happen accidentally, and sometimes your partner is obviously trying to give you one. Not everyone is into vampire activities.

If you’re one of those people who feels like they should be wearing the “cone of shame” after receiving a hickey, then you should make sure you disclose those preferences with your partner.

If you’re both into it, then go for it. Simple as that.


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