In this day and age, seeing people kiss as well as hearing and reading about kisses and hickeys are all too common in mainstream media. As a result, you may be feeling a little performance anxiety when it comes to smooching with your partner. But if you’re not too experienced (or have never been kissed), this can lead to a lot of nervousness. If the question on how to kiss—and specifically how to kiss well—is bothering you, look no further! Read on for a few tried-and-true tips for a successful liplock.
Do the prepwork.
Ever kissed someone with bad breath? Or with cracked, unmoisturized lips? Both those scenarios can turn a good kiss sour—quite literally, if your mouth smells like something died in it! Keep breath strips or a breath spray on you, and use that Chapstick regularly. That way, you’ll be prepared even for spontaneous smooching! Plus, really, it’s just a matter of good hygiene and self-care.
Don’t forget there’s more than one way to kiss.
Sure, you have the classic liplock, which usually has a romantic and/or sexual meaning, but remember there are other types of kisses too! Here are some of the most common:
Air kiss: More common with family, friends, and acquaintances than romantic partners and often used as a greeting or farewell, this type of kiss involves pursing the lips then leaning in as if to touch the cheek of the other person, but without actual skin contact.
A kiss on the cheek: As its name implies, this involves pressing one’s lips to another person’s cheek. This is also a kiss that works with platonic relationships as a greeting or goodbye; however, it can be a sweet kiss between romantic partners as well, often used in polite company.
Kiss on the forehead: This type of kiss is often associated with tenderness and care as it’s frequently a kiss shared between parent and child. Supposedly this originated as a way to check if a loved one is feverish. However, it is now often used as a kiss to convey comfort and protection.
Kiss on the back of the hand: This is a somewhat old-fashioned kiss to use between acquaintances, although it may still be used in very formal settings and generally involves a man kissing a woman’s knuckles or someone of lower rank doing the same to someone of higher rank (as a vassal to a king). In a romantic context, it carries the same implication of supplication or service, but less formally.
Kiss on the palm: Although this is also a hand kiss, pressing your lips to the center of your partner’s palm has a completely different feel from one to the back of the hand. As the palm is more sensitive, the kiss has a higher implication of romance and sensuality and is often a promise or request for something more once you have moved to a more private venue.
Peck on the lips: Sometimes used between parents and children, this is often a casual kiss between romantic partners. It is a closed-mouth kiss that lasts briefly and is often an expression of greeting, farewell, gratitude, or some similar emotion.
Closed-mouth kiss: This is a kiss between romantic partners that will be more common in the beginning stages of a relationship. It is often something used to test the waters, to see if your partner is receptive to deepening the kiss.
French kiss: This is a high-heat kiss between romantic and/or sexual partners that is open-mouthed and involves your tongues. It is the kiss associated with making out and can be a precursor to something more.
Do take a moment to consider the ambiance.
Are you in public? If so, what kind? A kiss you share at a dinner party with family members must be of a different type and flavor from one you share on the dance floor of a club while you’re on a date. The kiss you give your partner after your first or second date will be different from your tenth. And the smooch you lay on your partner at a monumental event like a proposal—or your wedding!—had better be one for the books! So take a moment to think about when and where a kiss is happening, and adjust your style and technique so it’s appropriate.
Don’t steal your kisses—ask for them!
Try not to be too enamored with the idea of stealing a smooch from the person you’ve been crushing on. The truth is, grabbing a kiss without the other person’s agreement or participating might succeed in some cases but has just as much (if not more) potential to leave you in trouble.
So up the romance, anticipation and, yes, sexiness by making sure you have your partner’s consent. Asking “May I kiss you?” or telling them “I’d like to kiss you now” and then waiting for verbal and/or nonverbal cues before proceeding isn’t just courtesy. It’s sweet and, more importantly, shows that you are interested in your partner but also respectful of their own desires.
Do adjust as you go along.
Not every kiss will instantly result in fireworks or that legendary leg lift espoused by Mia in The Princess Diaries. Kissing is something you have to work at, and what will work with one partner may not necessarily work with the other. Awkward angle? Don’t be afraid to readjust. Too forceful? Slow things down, gentle things up by cupping the other person’s cheek or breaking off the liplock to nibble at their lips or jawline. Going too slow for your liking? Deepen the kiss, or bring tongues and teeth into it.
Don’t just use your lips.
There’s more to a kiss than just the liplock. What are you doing with your hands? Do you wrap them around your partner’s neck? Do you clutch at their hair or stroke it? Do you cup their face? How closely are your bodies pressed against each other? All these things can affect both the tone of the kiss (hot vs tender vs sweet, for example) and also help you transition from one to the other.
Do provide feedback.
Relationships give people the chance to grow—individually and together. That applies to just about any aspect of being in a relationship, including the smooching. As you get to know your partner, you’ll learn more about their likes and dislikes and be able to educate them about your own.
So while it might not be a bad idea to just up and tell your partner you don’t like the way they kiss, you can definitely nudge them in the right direction with comments like “I really liked it when you ______” or “it was a little awkward when we ______, maybe we should try it this way instead” and the like.
Don’t be afraid to get it wrong.
You’ll never get every kiss perfect, especially right away. That doesn’t mean you should let your nervousness about your kissing skills (or lack thereof) get in the way of enjoying the kiss. Try to make it good for your partner, but if it isn’t right away, remember our advice about adjusting where you go and giving feedback. In fact, ask for feedback in return. “Do you like this?” is something you can often ask in the heat of things without cooling things down.
The most important thing to do when you kiss is to mean it—pour your emotions, yourself, into it. Passion, attraction, love, and all those feelings are all essential. Technique you can pick up along the way.
Do take your time.
If you’re kissing with an end goal in mind, you might just be doing it wrong. A kiss isn’t a race to a finish line; it’s an expression of emotions that requires physical contact because words and looks are not enough. It’s a celebration of the feelings between you and your partner. As such, kisses should not be seen as tasks to be completed or hurried through.
That doesn’t mean that they should be sedate, however. There are slow, tender kisses just as there are hot and steamy ones. It all depends on your and your partner’s mood, the stage in your relationship, and so many other factors. But please, take the time to get to know your partner in this small way rather than rushing through the liplock.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Finally, enjoy yourselves! Laugh at your mistakes, heat things up or slow things down as you like. Adjust your kisses to maximize enjoyment and minimize discomfort. With any luck, the kisses you share with your partner will be repeated and revisited many times over!