Monkeys groom[Warning - this may turn your stomach.] In a move to extend humans' variations on social grooming to the very intimate moments, Anna Holmes investigates the phenomena of women picking their boyfriends' zits. Ew. Okay, Gothamist realizes it happens. But it's wrong (or at least, that's what our facial aesthetician Leah tells us).

One woman, Julie, tells Holmes, "It's difficult to explain, but picking at Dave and removing his blackheads or ingrown hairs makes me feel like I've done something useful ... something good." Various writers of human relationships give their two cents, like Helen Fisher who thinks grooming helps a "women to connect to a man and keep him...touch involves increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone long associated with attachment." Some other psychologists scoff at this burgeoning field of "psycho-dermatology" and one says that this kind of grooming is a way for the groomer to calm herself.

2003_8_anihouse.jpgHolmes also addresses the inescapable imagery of what it means to squeeze a zit. One psychologist/dermatologist (a joint specialty Gothamist wasn't previously aware of but it makes sense) offers, "If a woman is squeezing something and there's material coming out of the skin, surely a sexual similarity is in play. There is an undeniable buildup of tension and undoubtedly an orgasmic component to the release. I've even had nurses who admit they really 'get off' on removing blackheads." And Julie affirms that "the fact that I can do it to Dave and he won't reject me, that he accepts that I do it, makes me feel really loved."

While there is a place for brushing lint off someone's shirt, noting there's a bit of food on the corner of the mouth and reaching to dab it away, we're not sure how we should feel about this. It may be nice and intimate to perform extractions on someone's back and there is satisfaction in popping a zit (see Hairspray), Gothamist is pretty repulsed still. Is there code on personals for this, like "I give great back massages" means "I know how to take care of that lingering back acne." And are we in trouble if the people we date have good complexions or we don't want to pop their zits - will there be no love then?

For those of you who don't have someone to pick at your back or for those of your who would rather leave those things to professionals, you can add an upper back buffing to a massage at Bliss.