What’s the Deal with Hickies?

What do you think of hickies? Are they bad, are they tacky, should they be hidden, are they healthy? I’m curious.
—Nervous Necker

I really can’t think of hickies without being reminded of a somewhat traumatic teenage memory. My ballet teacher had a not-so-fun ritual for when any of us showed up to class with a hickey: we’d have to stand alone in the centre of the room while everyone watched and do whatever jumps she requested while “Love is in the Air” played.

Needless to say I only made that mistake once.

The neck is one of the most accessible erogenous zones and a hickey can be a sort of sexual status symbol, so it makes sense that they would be pretty popular among teens.

I remember hickies being an expected thing teens got out of make out sessions. Parents and adults never even seemed really shocked by them and, unlike anything else remotely sexual, I don’t remember them ever being associated with a sense of shame.

I think the teenage association is also where some of the stigma around them in later years comes from though because there’s an implication that they’re something you’re supposed to grow out of.

People don’t just tease you or make you do a silly dance in a room full of smirking girls like they used to. The older you get and the more professionally geared your life may be, the less socially acceptable visible hickies become.

Still, despite any negative perceptions, the neck is an erogenous zone with lots of sexy nerve endings, so it’s bound to feel awesome when someone caresses, licks, bites or sucks on your neck at any age.

In terms of whether or not they’re healthy, hickies are really just bruises caused by the bursting of capillaries—the smallest blood vessels under the skin. They’re often not even as bad as a bruise you would get from something else, since these vessels aren’t actually that hard to burst.

While it may not be the best idea to cover yourself head-to-toe in them daily, you’re not doing any significant damage by getting a few hickies now and then.

Whether they should be hidden or not really depends on if the person wants them to be seen. Sometimes part of the pleasure comes from the mark left behind and from someone else knowing you were getting hot and heavy.

Hickies can be a sort of trophy, a reminder of what you did the night before—the same way some people who enjoy more aggressive sex like showing off the bruises or marks they get from it. I think if someone feels that way about their bruises and/or hickies then they should show them off and feel no shame.

Some people may also like the feeling of getting a hickey but not the hickey itself, so there are some ways to speed up the healing process. The most obvious is doing what one usually does when hurt—ice the spot.

Some people also recommend what’s called “the toothbrush method,” gently rubbing the hickey with a hard-bristled toothbrush to break up the pool of blood and stimulate circulation. I suggest just covering it with makeup or a scarf and patiently waiting out your weeklong love bite.

Finally, I don’t think hickeys are tacky, but maybe you do, and really neither of us is wrong. Like many sexy things, hickies are simply a matter of personal preference and people should feel free to do what they want without any shame!

Submit your questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook.

Need some extra help? You can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola.

Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number.

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