There's no denying kissing is important in love and sex, especially since it’s usually your first initial physical contact with a new partner. It's also why a bad kiss can end things before they even start.
In fact, a 2012 survey by the State University of New York at Albany found that the majority of people will straight up end a relationship because of a bad kiss, with 59% of men and 66% of women bidding adieu to someone who didn't kiss well. A 2013 study from Oxford University also suggested kissing is a way for us to size up potential partners, as well as a way to keep long-term relationships together.
Of course, bad kissing is subjective. While you may not like to have your teeth licked during a make-out session, I’m sure someone out there does, and if that makes them happy and turns them on, then good for them! I once had a guy suck on my chin, and although I thought it was horrifying, I believe he’s out there right now sucking on someone else’s chin and they’re loving it.
The effect a great kiss has is like a drug, due to a neurotransmitter called dopamine that's released, causing you to crave more. It's why we lust after people who are great kissers, and forget the ones who aren't. But no worries, you guys; anyone can be a better kisser, and here are 21 tips to prove my point.
1. Keep Your Lips Moisturized
Have you ever tried to kiss someone whose lips were chapped? Yea, it's not great. So make a point of prepping your lips before a kiss by applying lip balm. If you don't have any on hand, sip some water or quickly moisten your lips before leaning in, and the kiss will be much more pleasurable.
2. Avoid Pungent Foods Before A Kiss
If you know that your chance of kissing is high, you might want to skip smelly foods like garlic, raw onions, cabbage, broccoli, and excessive coffee and liquor — whiskey especially. These items, although delicious, can do a number on not just our mouths, but our stomachs.
Bad breath isn't always found on our tongue, but can make its way up the throat from the pits of the bowels, and will be extra strong after eating these foods. While it's not the end of the world, knowing your breath is fresh will make for a better kiss, because you won't be holding back.
3. Have Mints On Hand
You never know when a kiss could happen, so having mints or some sort of minty candy or gum on hand is a great idea. But, let's say for the sake of argument, your roommate stole the last of your minty freshness from your bag. In that case, a lemon is a pretty decent second choice. The citrus can neutralize bad breath. If you're in a restaurant, all you have to do is ask your serve for a slice of lemon, and drop it in your water.
4. Follow Your Partner’s Lead
Now, to get into the actual act of kissing, remember that it’s all about compromise — especially if you and your partner don’t have the same technique. Not everyone kisses the same way, which is why it's often a matter of meeting in the middle. You know, a proper give and take. So, if you notice you have different techniques, try letting your partner lead the way...
5. Or, If Need Be, Lead The Way
Or, if things are going in a territory that isn’t your kissing scene, then take the reins and lead the way. There's nothing wrong with taking over a bit when it comes to kissing, or showing someone what you like.
Some folks are timid with their kisses, while others have never really learned how to kiss. Think of it this way, by taking control you'll be helping your kissing partner and bringing to their life the joy of the perfect kiss.
6. Remember There’s More To Kissing Than Just Lips
A really awesome make-out session is about the neck, the earlobes, the collarbone, the cheeks, and maybe a bit of play-biting, too, if everyone is OK with it. It's also about occasionally stopping and looking at each other, or maybe even telling them how much you enjoy kissing them. Don't be afraid to move past the lips!
7. Educate Yourself About Other Erogenous Zones
While your lips are packed full of sensitive nerves, they're not the only erogenous zones in that general area. There's the neck and earlobes, as I mentioned above, but the shoulders and fingertips, too. Erogenous zones love as much attention as they can get, and in touching and stimulating them, you're making your kiss that much better.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Honest
If the kiss isn’t going well, don’t be afraid to say something about it and suggest trying it again. If your partner values your input, they definitely want to hear what you have to say.
In turn, open your mind (and ears) to their input on your kissing, too. Sometimes your lips and tongues can only haggle so much before you just need to stop and talk about it. It will be a learning experience for both of you.
9. Have The Tongue Versus Lips Chat
True story: Some people are more into lippy kisses, while others prefer more tongue. The reason why people kiss this way is either because that's all they know or what they ultimately prefer. Either way, it's definitely something to discuss so you can get on the same page.
10. Give Positive Feedback To Each Other
Nothing boosts a kiss like telling each other, “You’re a great kisser.” If you can't say that without feeling like a liar, though, try sandwiching the positive feedback. In other words, give them a compliment, then a constructive critique, then another compliment. This will soften the blow of pointing out a "flaw," while also making it easier to overcome.
11. Kiss With Your Whole Body
Passionate kisses mean putting your whole being into it, so try using your body to show just much you're enjoying yourself, possibly by caressing your partner's hair, holding their face, or pressing up against them. Trust me, it's hot.
12. Don’t See It As A Necessary Step To Sex
Although I know that kissing, for some, is something you do as a lead-up to sex, you don't have to see it like that. Kissing is something that should be able to exist on its own and not be viewed as a base you need to touch before you can score your home run. Kissing, in itself is really satisfying, but if you’re thinking of it as a step, then you’ll miss out on the satisfaction.
13. Be In The Moment
Similar to having great sex, you need to be in the moment when you’re kissing. Try not to think about anyone or anything else. You won’t get the most out of the moment if you let your mind wander to places that have nothing to do with the kiss, like those bills you have to pay, or that problem that happened at work. Try grounding yourself by focusing on the sensation of your partner's lips on yours, or other physical stimuli happening around you.
14. Don’t Compare Your Partner’s Kissing Techniques To Past Partners'
It won't do any good to compare your current partners’ kissing to those from your past. While doing so doesn’t make you a bad person at all, it is an unfair way to approach physical intimacies, because we all do things differently and we all enjoy those differences in other ways. Not to mention, it'll take you out of the moment, which will further detract from the kiss.
15. Don't Be Afraid Of PDA
As Americans, we’re not as open when it comes to PDA as our counterparts across the pond or down south. (Have you ever walked the streets of Paris on a nice spring day? Tongues everywhere!)
So maybe we should be a bit more open to the idea of PDA, if only for a brief, thrilling moment. If you and your partner feel comfortable with the idea — like stealing a kiss on a sidewalk — you might realize it only adds to the excitement.
16. Get Passionate
Passion is everything, especially if you're making out. Remember, a steamy kiss involves your whole body, so you might pull each other in close, let your hands wander, and go for those erogenous zone.
To go one further, let yourself moan, if it feels good. While moaning may be something you save for the bedroom, it will add to the sexiness, and make for an even better kiss.
17. Don’t Fear Being The Initiator
If you want to kiss someone and you know that they want to kiss you, but they’re shy, then ask them if you can go ahead and do it. If you misread their signs and they politely tell you "no, thanks," then apologize.
If it does work out, the fact you're taking control can really set the mood. It shows you're super into the person you're kissing, and the kiss will be much more passionate as a result.
18. Have Regular Make-out Sessions
Kiss often. Kiss every chance you get. Let your kisses linger and turn them into proper make-out sessions. Practice makes perfect, and kissing is healthy AF (and fun to boot)!
19. Pay Attention To Your Partner
This isn’t just about following your partner’s lead, but being cognizant of how they react to a playful lip bite, an ear nibble, a neck kiss, or a gentle slip of the tongue.
On the flip side, those same signs and signals will let you know what they're not into, so you can adjust what you're doing. Basically, paying attention to the other person will make you a better kisser.
20. Close Your Eyes
Fun fact: When you block out one sense, the other senses become heightened. If you don't believe me, cover your eyes the next time you take a bite of pizza; you'll see that it tastes even more amazing. Because of this, closing your eyes while kissing will make it that much better, too.
21. Give A Bad Kisser A Second Chance
If you do come across a bad kiss, consider giving that person another chance, especially if your date was good otherwise. While it's true that a kiss can make or break a connection, it's also a skill that can be practiced! Being open is what makes someone a great kisser. And learning how to be better kissers, together, can be so much fun.
Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2007). Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 5(3), 612–631. https://doi.org/10.1177/147470490700500310
Wlodarski, R. & Dunbar, R.I.M. Examining the Possible Functions of Kissing in Romantic Relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-013-0190-1
This post was originally published on March 21, 2016. It was updated on July 2, 2020