Pop Culture Pet Peeve: Underwater kisses really aren't that romantic

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

Movies and television make a lot of things look really romantic. When I was young and impressionable, pop culture taught me that kissing in the rain was about 100 times better than kissing in any other weather, and that you didn’t properly ride a Ferris wheel unless you were making out with somebody during it. Additional lessons included the appeal of the “up-against-a-wall” kiss and the shirt rip, all of which I enjoy watching and don’t have an issue with. However, there is one “romantic” gesture I’d like to address: The underwater kiss is not nearly as great as it is portrayed to be.

Let’s start with a realistic take on this: Underwater kisses can make for a good picture, but not much else. As a teen, I constantly made my boyfriend test out these pop culture theories with me. (I was a great girlfriend.) On my birthday, I remember making him run outside with me to see if kissing in the rain was really better than kissing on a perfectly dry day. And considering I don’t remember the outcome of that, I’m going to say it wasn’t the greatest moment of my life. However, I do remember how my pool kiss turned out. Honestly guys, when both parties are submerged in water (or have been recently), lips are really slippery, and the result is just not sexy. I’m sorry to crush your dreams.

But even if I let go of the reality of it all, I don’t particularly enjoy watching underwater kisses on-screen. Sure, a part of me finds them super romantic, but let’s look more closely at the swimming aspect of things. Nobody looks graceful underwater. Nobody. And watching two people try to maneuver in a zero-gravity situation in order to get to a position where they’re close enough to kiss? It’s not exactly hot. It would be like watching two astronauts try to float together to kiss (which actually sounds hilarious, and I’d watch that movie).

And once the lips finally do make contact, I’m less focused on romance and more focused on the fact that nobody in that scenario is breathing. Call me old-fashioned, but I like for everyone in a romantic situation to be inhaling and exhaling at a healthy pace. This, of course, brings up the “breath of air” underwater kiss, much like what happened in Splash or in this week’s episode of Star-Crossed. But that variation makes me even more uncomfortable. If someone is giving you air because they’re a mermaid or an alien and can breathe underwater, great. As I previously mentioned, I’m all about breathing. But if that moment of someone saving your life then turns into some sort of pseudo-romantic awkward kissing scenario? Eh, that makes me uncomfortable.

Now, I know that people have their favorite adorable underwater moments. There’s the cute pool kiss in Whip It or Leonardo DiCaprio’s underwater moment in Romeo and Juliet, and I fully admit that some of them make me smile. But, let’s not play them up as some big romantic thing. In addition to the awkward flailing and the slippery lips and the lack of breathing, there’s also the fact that, in order to see the other person and get over to them, you have to open your eyes, which often hurts under water. So tell me where the romance is guys, because I’m not seeing it (probably because my eyes are stinging from salt water or chlorine).

Finally, particularly pertaining to Star-Crossed, there is an element of cheesiness that I sometimes enjoy, but that sometimes rubs me the wrong way, with the underwater kiss. In Star-Crossed‘s case, I was a little upset that this underwater exchanging of air served as Roman and Emery’s first kiss. I know that they actually kissed once they got out of the water, but still, the first time their lips touched was underwater, and don’t tell me he was giving her air. I watched Baywatch, and I know she wasn’t holding her mouth properly for him to do that. They were making out, and all I could think was, “Please don’t inhale any of that gross lake water.”

So as someone who loves a good on-screen kiss (probably too much), I just don’t get the hype behind the underwater kiss. But if you want to keep enjoying it, that’s your right. My advice? Don’t ever try it in real life.

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