A hickey is essentially a bruise, usually caused by another person sucking on the skin and pulling it into their mouth for about 30 seconds. This breaks blood vessels in the spot and causes either a red or brown, semi-circular shape to appear on the skin.
Also called a love bite, the hickey can be the mark of possession by another person. It is popular in high school to give and receive hickys, and they may either be sexual in nature, or non-sexual, since some find the effects “cool.” The neck is the most frequent location to give one, because most people who enjoy them want them to be seen.
Not everyone enjoys getting or giving a hickey, however. It is a mild form of sadism, because they are a bit painful to receive. They also make some people self-conscious, and for the underage person, a blatant mark could cause problems at home.
It is important to ascertain before giving a hickey that the receiving person actually wants one. There are many people who do not like them, and who find them both mean and offensive. Since hickeys are often associated with sexual foreplay, many teens and adults do not wish to advertise their sexual behavior in this way.
Just as most people wouldn’t kiss someone who didn’t want to be kissed, giving a hickey to someone who doesn’t want one could be considered a form of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. It should be something two people both agree to and should never be forced on an unwilling participant.
Like most bruises, a hickey will heal in time, which varies depending on the person. More serious ones tend to take longer to heal since more damage is incurred on the blood vessels. They cannot cause permanent damage but can stay on the skin for several weeks.
Someone who has received a hickey but wishes to conceal it can try to use concealer to minimize the bruising. This may still show the mark in certain lights, however. Covering the area with clothing is also a solution, and turtlenecks work well for this purpose.
A person who has received an unwanted hickey needs to set boundaries in his or her relationship with the other person. It is never okay for someone to be subjected to something he or she doesn’t want sexually or playfully. A partner or friend who cannot understand this does not have the person’s best interests at heart.