Photo: Olivia Kwasny

The hotly contested hickey

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By Kiki Cekota

We’ve all had it happen to us: a disapproving glance from parents, stares from strangers on the subway, teasing from your friends about how your neck looks like it got attacked by the bear from The Revenant. And all over what? The hotly contested hickey.

Ranging from a light pink to a deep purple, depending on amount and duration of suction, the hickey and its connotations are often looked upon with disdain. Whether it’s your boss or grandma getting on your case, it seems as though the hickey isn’t something to be proud of. Is a hickey tacky, or just a normal part of a hookup that should be as socially acceptable as holding hands in public?

I’ll never forget a guy telling me not to give him hickeys “this time” when we hooked up for the second (and final) time. I asked why; I personally enjoy both giving and getting hickeys, and was genuinely curious as to why he was all of a sudden so opposed to them.

“I have a job,” he scoffed.

“You’re a bartender! How professional could you possibly have to be?”

“Well actually, I meant at my other job. I’m in a position to become a manager at FreshCo, and I don’t want anything to compromise that for me.”

And that meant hickeys apparently.

I was perplexed by his response. I know that much of the working world disapproves of anything with sexual associations, which is understandable. I agree with him worrying that hickeys on the neck would look unprofessional at work. But for some reason hickeys seem like a different story.

I think a hickey should be looked upon like any other bruise: insignificant. It technically is just a bruise, it just happens to be from a sexual act. I think who a person is and how they can help a company or workplace should matter far more than a small mark on their neck.

Even outside out work, people still feel so much pressure to keep them hidden. Hickeys carry a similar stigma to things like the walk of shame, or taking your birth control in public.

I decided to write this column because I think sex is something that needs to be talked about more and it needs to be talked about candidly. For something that most people do and most people want to be doing, I’d love to shed some light on topics that people don’t usually give time to consider. It just seems strange to let something as small as a hickey make us worry so much.

Speaking from my own experience, when I was the lucky recipient of three particularly prominent hickeys — all in a row, on the left side of my neck — I got my share of stares from strangers and teasing from my friends. I just thought so what? Alright so everyone knows I was getting down and dirty last night. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t think it’s a huge deal that a couple marks are left behind. I personally don’t think a hickey is anything to be ashamed of, but if you do, that’s fine as well.

But next time you get a love bite, try to resist slathering on makeup or wrapping yourself up in a scarf because you should wear your hickey with pride and be thankful you’re getting laid.


  1. I’m a poly man who occasionally dates monogamously minded women.
    Jealousy is the first thing that my open status brings up for almost all of them.
    And where there’s jealousy and juvenility, hickeys frequently follow.
    They’ve acknowledge it was an attempt to mark territory even if they weren’t initially conscious of it.
    It shows their insecurity, selfishness, and poor boundaries…and disappoints me.
    My more confident partners never try.
    I can only assume that someone who likes showing them is seeking external validation.
    Best wishes.

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