In romance, there are few big first impressions we get to make on each other, and kissing might be the biggest one of them all.
I’ve heard many people say that they went on dates with bad kissers and it was a deal breaker for them. Why? Because how you kiss is a microcosm of how you will be as a partner (and lover).
Just like handshakes, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they kiss. It broadcasts their confidence, level of passion, and gives you a taste of their sexual energy.
Whether you’re about to kiss someone new, or have already been kissing someone for a while and just want to improve your skills – this is your ultimate guide for how to kiss, and how to be a better kisser. I’m going to cover all kinds, for all situations.
First, let’s go deeper into why this is such an important skill.
The Overlooked Importance Of Kissing Well
In the beginning, a kiss is usually the first real jump in a human interaction that says, “we’re not just friends,” and opens the potential of getting more intimate. Because of that, there’s a lot of weight and charge around that moment.
Just think about the build up. You’re flirting, reading each other, watching for the right moment, hesitating, then finally going for it. It’s incredibly fun. Some people find their first kiss with someone even more memorable than having sex, because the bridge to intimacy has already been crossed, and there’s often less tension and stress around taking things to the next levels.
Because of all that tension, there’s a lot riding on this moment. I don’t mean to freak anybody out and add a bunch of pressure. Just stating this insight as encouragement to practice and put your best foot (and lips) forward.
Most first kisses are just that – a kiss. They don’t lead to anything further until a little later on in the relationship. It might be the way you end a great date, or a night out together. It’s what you’ll both be grinning about (hopefully) for days to come, until you see each other again.
On the other hand, if it’s a weird experience, one of you might walk away feeling underwhelmed, and lose enthusiasm during those days apart (but I’m going to make sure that’s impossible for you).
Then, as you continue spending time with each other, various types of kissing are great tools for communication and feeding intimacy. In different moments, whether that’s to communicate your burning passion, or tender adoration, a kiss can get the message across like nothing else. Besides using words, kissing is the most common way we express our affection and desire for each other.
How To Think About Kissing
Really, that paragraph heading should say how to “feel” about kissing, because it’s all about using your body, not your head. But for now, we’re in the briefing room talking logistics.
In so many ways, it is best to think about kissing like you think about dancing.
Like having sex, being a good kisser is like being a great dance partner. You have to be sensitive toward and aware of the other person. You have to calibrate to them in real time – noting what they’re responding to, where they want to move, and how they want to move.
Do they want to move slower, or faster? Are they more subdued, or forwardly passionate? What style of kissing suits the moment the best?
You’re each swapping turns taking the lead. You’re constantly reading and reacting to each other’s subtle cues to determine where you’ll go next.
You can practice all you want, but it takes two to tango – as they say. Each kiss is made up of the two people and energies that are coming together for it. All you can do is bring a general knowledge of how to move, and what not to do, and then the chemistry takes over.
And I should say that this dance metaphor is meant to apply to more prolonged kisses, usually the intense kind – what we’d call “making out.” It’s hard to mess up a quick pecking kiss, unless you have poor depth perception and accidentally head-butt them. But it’s very easy to sour longer kisses.
Common Kissing Faux Pas
To achieve mastery in anything, it always helps to know what rookie mistakes to avoid, and the major reasons behind them.
Each one of these stems from a lack of presence and awareness for the other person. These problems can only happen when you’re not calibrating to the other person. So long as you’re paying attention to them, you should be able to steer clear of these issues.
In any style of kissing, here are some of the mistakes people frequently make to ruin the moment:
- Unreciprocated tongue assault. Perhaps the most common is someone throwing out an excessive amount of probing tongue action when the other person is clearly not reciprocating, or wanting it. We’ll cover how to use tasteful tongue in a moment.
- Making it too wet. Somehow, finding a way to drool around the other person’s mouth, or into their mouth. If someone has to use their sleeve to mop up their chin, it’s likely that something has gone wrong (of course unless you’re both into some kinky spit play).
- Making it too sloppy. Passionate kissing may be wild, but it should still be fairly focused and intentional. When someone uses loose lips, too wide a mouth, or a lot of erratic movement, it can feel like making out with a squirming alien sea monster.
- No variety. On the dance floor, if you predictably took the exact same steps, the same way, round and round, without ever mixing it up, you’d make for a boring dance partner. The same goes for kissing. If you do it in the exact same style, with the same intensity, the excitement wears off after about 10 seconds.
- Going handsfree. If you’re too preoccupied with what’s happening with your lips, you might overlook what’s going on with your hands. Besides the rushed on-the-way-out-the-door “See you for dinner, Honey” peck, any truly great kiss has some supporting hand contact to round it out.
Just before we jump into the various types of kisses, and common pro tips, we need to talk about when to go for a kiss, and recognizing someone is open to it.
How To Know When They Want To Kiss
For most people, this is probably the biggest pressure point of the entire conversation, so I’ll spend a little more time here. Because part of being a good kisser is being a talented and calibrated initiator.
Not being able to tell when it’s the right time to kiss can cause a ton of anxiety. Just know that it’s a skill you develop in time, and a big part of getting better at it comes with realizing it’s actually not that big of a deal.
Yes, the right kiss can be an incredibly powerful moment. But the way some people frame it in their minds causes unnecessary stress. They’re on the lookout for the “perfect” moment; where it has to look like a movie, or come with just the right line, or feel just the right way.
The secret is to simply take advantage of good opportunities, rather than one perfect moment. And there are tons of good opportunities. Stressing about needing it to be perfect is what creates paralysis, causing you to miss perfectly good windows of opportunity.
This stress also causes you to miss the subtle subconscious signals we send to each other to create those windows.
And they’re easy to pick up, so long as you’re relaxed enough to pay attention.
We’ve all heard the statistics around what percentage of communication is body language versus tonality and chosen words (roughly 55%, 38%, and 7%, respectively.)
This is why most of the best cues for telling when someone wants to be kissed are either touch or visual. If you’re unsure of whether or not it was a true signal, keep an eye out for multiple ones, so you can be more confident about reading the situation correctly.
Here are some key indicators that someone is down to kiss:
- Being quick to laugh. A common subtle flirtation tactic is becoming more giggly and smiley than usual. It’s an automatic reflex that happens when we’re around someone we’re crushing on. We want to give them playful energy.
- Playful touching. Especially paired with laughter and smiling, finding little excuses to create physical touch and nudge playfully is a good sign they’re into you and want more physical connection.
- Closing distance. As we warm up and become more comfortable with people, our desire for personal space begins to minimize. We naturally tend to stand closer and enjoy touching. This applies to friends and family, but especially goes for romantic interest.
If they’re inching closer toward you, or don’t seem to mind sitting with your legs or arms touching, they’re likely very happy to be kissed. And pay especially close attention to where they put their face. Studies have shown that 18 inches away from the face is our average “intimate zone”. If they’re happy to keep their face within that zone, that’s a very strong sign.
- Looking at your lips. We pay attention to the things we want. If someone is thinking about kissing you, you’ll notice their eyes darting to your lips more frequently. They might even start drawing attention to their own lips by subtly biting or licking them.
- Lingering at the goodbye. When your time together has come to an end, but you can feel that “hanging around” energy, even when they could have easily taken their out and parted ways, you can be sure they’re looking for a little something more to end the date.
- Preening and playing with hair (for women.) This can be a habitual tick many women do. But it has a much different feel to it when done in the presence of a guy she likes. It will have a little more flair to it, almost like she’s getting ready to go out, rather than an unconscious casual touch.
And, of course, when in doubt: ASK
Yes, it’s still sexy if you ask for consent.
Particularly for guys these days, I have to include a quick note about going for the initial kiss, because you might be feeling a little more nervous about reading her wrong, and feeling like you’d mess things up if you used your words.
A lot of the time, it’s pretty clear when someone is into you and would be happy to be kissed. However, if you’re feeling unsure, or anxious about misreading them, it’s totally cool to explicitly check and see where they’re really at. When done the right way, it’ll actually make her more into you.
When it comes to asking for consent, people seem to have strongly mixed opinions and feel confused about whether or not it’s the right thing to do.
For example, guys especially will often ask these two questions:
Q: Doesn’t she want me to just know, and take the lead as a man?
A: Kind of, yes. Women generally love it when men take the lead in most situations. And they like to be surprised with romantic gestures without having to tell you exactly what they’re thinking. She loves to see you being confident and directed. But there is absolutely a way to use your words while still holding the strong, sexy energy of confident leadership.
Q: Really? Wouldn’t it be unsexy and totally kill the moment if I just asked her if she wants to kiss, rather than just going for it?
A: It totally depends on how you do it. There are so many ways to check if she’s on the same page and wants to kiss without killing the mood. Mostly, that worry is just coming from an outdated and false narrative in your own head.
How To Keep Asking For Consent Sexy
Here is the first, basic key: playfulness.
Most often, it’s how something is said that kills the mood, not exactly what you say. It’s the tone and attitude behind the words. So, if you halt the flirty tension dead in its tracks and suddenly shift your energy to serious, creepily direct, fearful, or awkward, that’s when the mood disappears.
But if you hold a playful, open energy, it’s easy for both of you to feel safe, upbeat, and totally natural in dealing with anything that comes up. Calm playfulness broadcasts your confidence in yourself and comfort in your own skin, which is highly attractive.
Then, the second key would be the actual language you use.
There are words you can use to ask for consent that come across as desperate, or off-putting, and there are others that can carry the spirit of fun and respect.
If you’re especially shy, using the simple question, “Can I kiss you?” is usually the best choice. If you deliver it with steady eye contact, and the kind of calm, positive-assumption directness that you would ask “Can I give you my coat?” with, then you’ll be good to go.
If that phrasing doesn’t work for you, you can also try saying:
– “Are you okay with me kissing you?”
– “Would you like a kiss before you go?”
– “How would you feel about a kiss?”
– “I would really like to kiss you.”
– “Are you thinking about kissing me right now?”
Their response to any of these will give another very clear answer as to where they stand.
Besides straight up asking, one last thing you might try is eliciting signals, which means saying things that playfully test the waters and give you more information.
So, when they say something you love, or you find really cute, you could be honest and say:
“Oh my god, that made me want to kiss you so bad…”
Or, “Wow! Okay, it’s official, I definitely want to kiss you. That’s ridiculous…”
The key here is not to finish with dead silence while staring them down. You want to have it be more of a casual throw away before you keep moving on to something else. They will usually tell you right then and there how they feel about that idea.
Their response might be to laugh and say, “Well, then you should…” or “That’s not a bad idea…”
On the other hand, they might say “Uh, maybe later…” which tells you they need more time. They might also close up, or create more energetic and physical distance, which tells you they’re not up for it.
And if they’re not interested…
If anyone ever tells you they’re not interested, be grateful for their honesty. There’s no reason to have a strong reaction, or take it personally. The best response is always to say something like, “Cool, thanks for being honest with me, I had to check,” and then switch topics.
Being a kind human being is always the right move. It not only preserves the possibility of them changing their mind later on if/when they feel more comfortable with you, but it also keeps you comfortable and confident in yourself.
With the framework laid out, let’s get into the various styles of kissing, and how to best go about them.
The Different Types Of Kissing
1. The Peck
A pecking kiss is great for a quick passing moment of intimacy, or a sweet farewell. With closed lips, you press them forward to connect with theirs, usually for no more than a second or so. This could also be something you plant on their face to be cute, cheeky, or intentionally old-fashioned. The extent to which you include the dramatic “Mmmuah!” sound effect is all up to you.
In the beginning of a romantic relationship, the peck is something you might occasionally do to be playful. Most of your kisses will tend to fall into the next category…
2. Open Mouth
This is where we start swimming into open water. Once kissing is done with open mouths, things could go many different directions.
There are three different levels to the open mouth kiss, specifically with the amount of tongue used, and how intensely you use it. Each one might be used in a different context.
If you’re not well versed, here are some general pro tips for open mouth kissing:
- Part your lips, but not too much. Unless you’re using deep tongue, your mouth never needs to open more than halfway. More often, it will be somewhere between 15% and 50% open.
- Tilt your head, a little. To fit together for the best kiss, and to work around our noses, our mouths have to be tilted a bit in opposite directions to interlock. But you don’t want either of you to be kinking up your neck. The tilt should only be slight, less than an inch in either direction.
- Slightly firm your lips. You don’t want to make your lips fully solid or pursed. You also don’t want to do the opposite where they’re totally slack with no form. Pushing forward very slightly at the sides of your mouth turn your lips into delectable cushions, which feel fabulous to kiss on. If you do this at yourself in the mirror, it should look like you had some lip filler injections.
And you won’t be doing this the whole time, either. There’s a rhythm to it, of slightly opening and closing. As you open, the lips go loose, and as you close, they’re pushed forward slightly.
- Use your hand(s). For both sensual and practical effect, you should definitely have at least one hand placed somewhere on them. It might be their waist, ribs, the side or back of the neck, etc. This helps press yourselves together, while adding a strong undertone of passion, connection, and pleasure.
- Switch positions. If you’re making out, or kissing for 10 seconds or more, you’ll want to start considering changes in position. If your head is tilted to the right, and theirs to the left – switch. If your hands are placed lower down, bring one to their cheek. Fluctuate the intensity for a second, either less or more.
How To: Open Mouth With No Tongue
This is the style of kissing people do most frequently. It can range from a quick saucy kiss any time of day, or something more heavily done with passion.
You will basically take all the tips above and stitch them together. With your head slightly tilted, slightly firm your lips to make contact, before slowly beginning the pulsing rhythm.
The ideal mouth shape and movements is intuitive and very tough to describe. But the closest description would be how you would imitate a wolf’s howl, just without the sound. Try softly making the “Aahh-OOooo!” sound yourself, then repeat and mouth it slowly without making any noise. This is the basic mechanics of the open mouth kiss. Yup, it’s weird. But it works, you’ll see.
At the same time, a very subtle waving rock of the head naturally comes into play. As you reach the “oo” shape with your mouth, and your lips press forward a bit, the chin swings forward ever so slightly in rhythm.
Also, remember to utilize your hands. These are a huge accent to kissing, especially as it gets more sensual. Depending on the length of the kiss, you might just have one hand on their cheek, or neck. Or you might bring the other one onto their waist, the back of their head, or both on either side of their ribs, etc.
As you read the other person’s mouth and body response, you can quickly tell how far open your mouths will go, and whether or not tongue will be introduced, and how much of it.
How To: Open Mouth With Light Tongue
This is a delicious kiss. But tongue is an art form, and easily misused. When you think about using your tongue, it’s rarely ever with the tip, and slipping in and out like a snake. It’s really the middle-to-front section of the tongue that gets offered forward to connect.
To introduce good tongue, here’s the general idea: Place the tip of your tongue on your bottom teeth against the back of your lip. Now pretend it’s attached there by a hinge. So, when you push your tongue forward, the tip should stay right there, while the middle section raises up and forward, creating a small pad of tongue sitting just behind your lips.
As you subtly open and close your mouth, there’s a bit of a wave that happens. On opening, the tongue relaxes, and as you connect and close, it waves forward, and so on. The exact rhythm and shape will emerge once you connect with your kissing partner. But it happens alongside the same rhythm as the subtle head rock and closing of the lips.
As you go, you might venture out to make a soft and very slight licking motion against their tongue, which uses the tip just a little bit.
How To: Open Mouth With Deep Tongue
If in doubt, consider deep tongue as something that should only come out in the most passionate of scenarios. It might be in your partner’s style, or it could naturally emerge during a heated goodbye kiss. But for the most part, people are more receptive and prone to the use of deep tongue when in more sexual contexts.
In many ways, this is an extension of all of the techniques from light tongue. There is still a rhythm and wave to it, but we’re allowing the tip to get a little more free, and fully enter the other person’s mouth.
You may require a little more head tilt to comfortably deep tongue. From light tongue, work into it over several waves, rather than jarringly jumping right to it. If you’re leading the kiss, you want to invite the person into it and sense their response. If you’re following, you want the chance to do so fluidly.
From light tongue, gradually introduce a little more intensity and depth over a few kisses. If you can feel their energy and tongue doing the same, you’re good to get wild. If not, you can back off a little and continue on with business as usual.
If you’re cleared for deep tongue, you’re probably about to intensify the use of your hands as well. They can move and squeeze with more passion, and around areas like the ass, chest, and groin (depending on the moment, your level of comfort with each other, and the stage of your relationship). This is where you might also close your fingers around their hair (if it’s long enough) and gently tug on handfuls.
All of these types of kissing are implemented in a few key styles of kissing. Think of the types as tools in a set that can be used.
Styles of Kissing
1. Sweet kissing
This might be the kiss you sneak in when you meet up, or step out of the restaurant. It has a cheeky, fun lightness to it. The sweet style of kiss communicates affection, using very minimal open mouth, and might have a variety of hand positions. You could go just lips, a hand on the cheek, or place both hands on either side of their face for extra sweetness effect.
2. Romantic kissing
This will likely be the style of choice for your first kiss with that special someone. The romantic kiss isn’t a passing connection, nor a full-on sexual romp. It’s somewhere in between. It begins “sweet” and moves toward passionate, but you’re not groping wildly. Most of the talking is still done with your mouth.
It pulls prolonged focus and intensity, feeling almost slow-motion, maintaining a touch of class. Think of most big movie kisses, where two people finally connect, the music reaches a crescendo, and the woman bends a knee to lift her foot off the ground. It’s also a great way to give (and get) a teasing sample of passion. You’ll taper on, stay a little restrained, then taper back off.
The standard romantic kiss would begin with the guy placing a hand either on her waist or side of her face, as an initiating move, with the other hand to follow in the opposite position. On her face, the best hand position is placing the thumb between her cheek and the front of her ear, with the other fingers along the side of the neck.
Start slow and savour the initial contact. It will usually begin with slightly open mouth and no tongue. After a few seconds, introduce some light tongue and pay attention to the response. If it’s welcomed, then kiss like that for a few more seconds, before toning it down a little by switching back to no tongue. You might do this back-and-forth once or twice, before finishing with a few sweet-style kisses, and then grinning at each other like love drunk idiots.
3. Passionate kissing
Close your eyes, Grandma. Here comes that deep tongue! The passionate kiss is the hot and heavy kind usually reserved for private spaces, or out in the street during a rainstorm at night.
This is where the dance of reading each other is really put to the test, because you’ll be exploring a much fuller spectrum of energy and dynamics.
If you’re out somewhere public, with limited privacy, it might simply be more intensity with the tongue and hands. There’s a greater speed to everything – from lip and tongue movements, to position changes with heads and hands.
If you’re at home, you might begin with a light open mouth kiss, introducing light tongue, moving into deep tongue, then backing off, perhaps switching to kissing and licking the neck and chest, then back to deep tongue kissing.
Amongst all the variables, there are a few pieces of common ground to any passionate kiss. One is dynamics. Play with ebbing and flowing the intensity, and riding a wave, rather than full throttle at one speed.
The other is accompanying or slightly leading the intensity with your hands. The strength and passion with which you squeeze, or pull in, is a good cue to escalate the passion with which you’re kissing. The two are interlinked.
To end any solid kiss, they tend to carry their own momentum, and you can feel it winding down. Again, calibration is key. As a general rule, it’s always best to leave them wanting more, rather than making out for as long as the muscles in your face can stand it and losing the exciting charge.
Now go practice!
At the end of the day, the best way to practice is with a partner. You’ll pick up different tricks and refine your intuition as you kiss more, and with other people. If you’re only doing so with a long-term partner you already have, then just put in the repetitions!
Very quickly, your biology takes over and you enter a flow state. You’ll find you know exactly what to do without even thinking about it. The basic tips you find here will happen automatically (and if they don’t, hopefully you have a partner who will ask for what they need from you if there’s any changes to be made).
Start by being calm and on the lookout for the right cues. When you move in for the kiss, take it slow and calibrate to see where the kiss wants to go. Keep your hands in play, to match the intensity of your lips (and tongue), and play around with the dynamic, and you’ll feel like a seasoned pro.
Dedicated to your success,
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