When you're a teenager, kissing isn't so much a matter of skill as an opportunity; even Casanova wasn't a particularly good snog1 when he was in his teens (probably). But once the urgent rushes of hormones calm down a bit, you tend to move away from 'rampant squid-mouth' towards something that might approximate the tender feelings you have for your loved one. Being a good kisser is something that you can take pride in.
Reaching that point where your lips are perfect for puckering can't be achieved alone (even pillows get tired sometimes). But what if you can't find anyone willing? How can you gain experience and become a master or mistress of the embrace?
As ever, you, the h2g2 Community, have responded to the call for help. You told us not just how to do it, but also how to prepare for it, how to make the moment last and hopefully make it so good another date is in the bag. This is what you had to say on the matter...
First Kisses - Practice Makes Perfect
For starters, it's not a bad idea to put a little practice in. You might feel a little foolish, but try practising on your arm or on a mirror to get used to the idea. Look on this practice as a warm up - like an athlete might do before an event. But make sure you do this in a private place to save you from a severe ribbing from friends or family!
If you're kissing someone you haven't kissed before, the number one rule to kissing with confidence is fresh breath. It's not something that you want to have to worry about while in the middle of a passionate embrace, so make sure your nasty niffs are neutralised beforehand with one or more of the following methods:
Brush your teeth and tongue. Making sure that you don't have a furry tongue is especially important, as when you think about it, it's the repository for all the smelly stuff and toxins. Just brush your tongue after your teeth and gargle and you should be fine.
Alternatively, reach for the mints. Bear in mind, though, that like most air fresheners, mints will 'cover up' any other tastes, rather than removing them. The strength of the mint flavour will therefore determine how effective they are. One slightly different method is to chew a sprig of parsley after eating. It's so good, in fact, that you can use it in conjunction with a meal containing a fair amount of garlic and the smell is neutralised.
Some old romantics carry about one of those breath freshener sprays whilst out on the pull. They're actually pretty good and small enough to hide away inconspicuously. Breath strips from Listerine also work wonderfully well. They feel like they're disinfecting your entire mouth, but make sure it's fully dissolved before you dive in, or you risk passing that burning, disinfecting sensation onto your sweetie, which can be quite a shock if they're not expecting it.
Don't let eating strong-flavoured food put you off kissing. There is such a thing as a romantic curry, and those little seeds and sweets mixture they usually provide at the end of the meal in curry houses have a lovely taste and smell.
Checking Your Breath
One Researcher shared a nifty trick for checking your breath. Lick the back of your hand and allow it to dry. Then give it a sniff and you'll be able to tell.
Picking the Moment
You should pick your moment for a first kiss with care, as this will be a moment that the two of you are going to remember. Supermarkets aren't romantic. Neither are industrial estates. Being out of breath, for example, after a football match can be irritating. And kissing on the roof of a building on a winter night at minus 32°C is just plain uncomfortable. Also remember that full on pashing in public can be annoying for other people - particularly in full railway carriages. Self consciousness can be a real dampener to romance, so keep it discreet.
Ideally, kissing and being kissed by someone you're completely into is the key to perfect kissing. Do take your time and respond to your partner's actions and remember, as far as tongues are concerned at least, a little goes a long way... Don't just stick your tongue in and do nothing. There is little worse than the sensation of having a warm slab of inactive meat in your gob. Truly tasteless. Also, don't go over the top by trying to complete a complete circuit of your partner's mouth in the quickest time possible. You're making love, not a tonsil smoothie.
If you have to wet your lips before contact, do so surreptitiously. You're about to caress your loved one, you don't want to appear as if you're about to eat them.
No passionate kissing if you have bronchitis.
Rubbing the nose on the other person's glasses or confusions with other adorning thingies, like piercings can be embarrassing or even painful.
Don't go out expecting to get snogged if you've got a weeping scabby upper lip brought on by Herpes simplex, otherwise known as the coldsore.
Biting your lover pops up quite a bit in the Kama Sutra, and quite a few Researchers admitted to liking a little gentle lip biting (both giving and receiving). 'Gently' is most definitely the key word here, no-one wants to have their lower lip bitten off. Gentle nibbling is a more accurate description.
If you're both wearing train track braces then the last thing you want is tooth-clash... if your teeth clash it means the shrapnel that's adorning your mouth can become impossibly intertwined with the shrapnel adorning your lucky victim's mouth... cue either delicate use of an oxy-acetylene welder or an embarrassing trip to the dentist with your respective parents in tow.
Here's one Researcher's story.
I dated a girl with whom this was a real problem...
It stemmed from her being too ardent in her kissing. Once she learned to relax and enjoy it and really wallow in a good long slow kiss she stopped having that problem. Passion is nice, but too much is just painful. Unless that's your bag.
The Mechanics of Kissing
Okay, so it's a given that kissing is all in the lips; it's certainly the original 'no-brainer'. What they don't tell you is that it is, in fact, all in the lip. Specifically, the lower lip. Not that the upper one isn't important. But let's face it, your upper lip is the bass player, the tail rotor, the Ernie Wise of kissing. Sure, it's vital to success, but it's not the main event. It lends control and direction, but if that's all you want you may as well kiss Stephen Hendry. Kissing is about passion; sensuousness; all those moist, soft things that only a full and confident lower lip can transmit.
Next time you look at your partner's mouth before a kiss, notice exactly where you're looking. Lips are attractive because they're doing the same things to our subconscious as breasts, biceps and buttocks. Now then, which one is it that holds all that curvature, all that promise of sensuous pleasure? Not the 'stiff' upper lip, that's for sure. As a great kiss ends, is it your partner's upper lip that lingers, reluctant to let you go? Thought not. Nothing in a kiss becomes you like the leaving of it. You may have been snogging for so long that you're malnourished; the authorities may have roped you off and re-directed traffic; but it's the last seconds where the message of a kiss really lies, and it's the soft caress of the lower lip that does the job.
By all means be mindful of established preparation techniques; hygiene, moistness and body context are all important. But don't forget who's in charge, and let it show. When trying to look kissable, allow the lower lip to protrude, just a smidgen.
Oh and to address the question 'How do you breathe?' Um. Through your nose. Isn't that obvious?
No-one likes the shove-it-down-yer-throat approach. The overbearing deep throat kiss is very much a thing of youth. So how does one go about a really good kiss?
When it comes to open-mouth kissing, don't rush. Sometimes the fast and furious 'hungry' kiss is appropriate as it conveys your desire, but generally a slower approach is sexier. Savour every moment, every point of contact. Don't crush the other person's face or make the use of tongues into some kind of in-mouth duel. A kiss should be a caress. Also, make sure you pay attention to your partner. Generally, they will kiss you in the way they want to be kissed. Hopefully they will be paying you similar attention, in which case amazing things can happen.
Keep the lips soft in subtle moments, but firmer during at more aggressive points (which should be few!). There is the belief that French kissing should be a demonstration of how good one's tongue might be at other things... and so should not be too violent. It's also important exactly what you do with your hands. Gently cupping the other person's face, head, or pulling their upper body towards you adds to the sensual touch.
It's worth mentioning that a good kiss is probably something that can't be fitted under a general formula (Lip pressure divided by tongue frequency minus stubbly beard roughness equals kiss quality is not how it works.) There are too many other parameters based on the experience of the kissers.
Some people like to feel the whiskers of a stubbly beard, some people like to touch the tongues without touching the lips, some like it moist, some prefer it dry. Some guys like to feel the lipstick smearing under the skin, some don't. It's all a question of, um, taste.
I have to say that the most amazing kiss I've ever had didn't even involve tongues. That's not to say I haven't had some fabulous kisses in my time but there is one that stands above any I'd had before or, indeed, since. She was lovely... she was also going out with someone... and it took me six months to kiss anyone or even consider kissing anyone else.
We had kissed briefly earlier in the evening although strictly speaking I think it was actually morning, and were back at where she was staying. Everyone else in the house had passed out and we were just lying on her bed together, fully clothed and totally innocently, chatting in that semi-conscious, not quite still pissed and not quite asleep state. The sun was threatening to come up and she leant across and gave me a peck on the cheek, the likes of which I have never witnessed before or since. I don't know what it was about it or why it felt so special but it did... as I said, she was lovely...
I have to admit that it even beat any of the more lingering and possibly more loving kisses I received when going out with the long term ex... Still makes me feel good thinking about it now!
Of course you want to look good when out on the pull, but there is something to be said for not wearing too much makeup. It can smear all over your loved one's face and it stains clothes. If you can see the smears, tell your other half so he is at least forewarned. If you don't tell him, you might put him in an embarrassing situation, especially if he has an unlucky encounter with a relative prone to mickey taking. However, your conquest may alternatively see it as a mark of victory.
Think ahead either don't wear lipstick, or put on light-coloured stuff, good ol' Vaseline or lip gloss. Lip gloss makes your lips look fuller (thus increasing your chances) and it's easier to scrub off your face or your partner's. Or alternatively, buy the kind of lipstick that doesn't smudge.
For some, there is nothing worse than kissing a man with stubble. For others there is nothing better. For those that aren't keen on bristles, it's relatively okay when you only have a few little stubbly areas like on the chin, but if you're one of those guys who gets major five-o'clock shadow, shave it off or don't kiss the girl. Nothing hits the spot pain-wise like pash rash does. If you'd like to experience the effect, then try rubbing your face with sandpaper. Try to understand that if a girl likes you she probably won't stop kissing you until it becomes agonising for her, and she might not say anything if it's an early date) for fear of offending you. Play it safe on early dates and shave before you take her out. If she does like a few whiskers, you might find out on later dates.
Beards, goatees and moustaches don't seem to be so much of a problem. When stubble gets longer after three or four days without shaving, it's a lot softer to touch - it bends.
Also remember that stubble burn is the sort of thing that will give your family ammo when you get home. Just as lovebites do...
Some people are proud of huge hickeys, but lovebites can be a source of mockery for parents, siblings and friends the morning after the night before. Being on the receiving end of a big one can be very embarrassing. Which is why lots of people don't like them:
I hate hickeys. It seems to me it's the equivalent of a dog peeing on a tree. I'm not interested in being marked as someone's territory. It would definitely end a beautiful relationship.
Clashing of Spectacles
Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses. Tch, well that's not true for a start. But getting poked in the eye isn't pleasant. The trick is to remove them without killing spontaneity. There's always the Clark Kent/Miss Jones quick and sexy removal technique, thus avoiding any clashing, specs falling off or (quite uncomfortable) glasses being pressed into the face when it gets passionate.
How and When Do you Stop?
When is a reasonable amount of time to move towards the end of a good snog? Thirty secs? A minute? Five? Half an hour? An hour? It depends on the couple. A good one could last all afternoon. However, if you're finding the encounter a little tedious, it's just as well to have a few techniques up your sleeve to let the kiss come to an end.
If your tongue is beginning to hurt, the chances are theirs is too, and bringing the occasion to a close will be a blessed relief for them as well. Move to the face and neck, and then you can move off completely. Once you've done this, saying something will help, then they can't clamp back on to you. A compliment would be a good strategy. Not 'Ow, my tongue hurts'.
How Do You Avoid Kissing Someone You Don't Fancy?
You can do several things so as not to hurt their feelings.
Just say no. This may hurt their feelings a little, but it is a simple, plain signal. And they can't argue with that.
Say I'm sorry, but I already have a boyfriend/girlfriend. This way, you're giving them a valid excuse. You can say this even if you don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend, but if the willing party eventually finds out you were lying, then you will hurt their feelings quite a bit.
If they lunge towards you, go for the cheek. Still polite, but shows you don't want to swap saliva. Either that or you're just very shy, of course.
A hug works quite well too - and at least it's affectionate.
Kiss the air roughly in proximity to the bit of the face they are presenting to you, and make a sharp exit.
Go for the 'dummy'. First, make like you're going to kiss them on the left cheek. If they are expecting tongues, this will destabilise them for a start. Secondly, at the last minute, and at speed, swerve and go for the right cheek. If you get it right this will produce a satisfying 'bong' noise as your faces collide, glasses get entangled and so on. If you get it really right, it should look like they have no co-ordination or social skills, leading them to back off flustered.
Pucker those lips really tight. This will have the additional advantage of giving you a face like a sewer rat, giving them a rough idea of how you feel about the experience.
Or headbutt them. They'll be so concerned with their hurting nose they won't give a thought to their hurt feelings.
A final word has to be given to social kissing. Whether you do it to be chic, or as a cordial greeting, two cheek kissing is here to stay. However, do be aware that, especially in the UK, some people don't like swapping pleasantries with virtual strangers. Not that you have a choice in mainland Europe. In France, for example, you can get away with two pecks, but it depends where you are. In Paris it's four, in Avignon it's three and in some areas it's five. In the Netherlands, it's three. Always begin by leaning left to kiss their right cheek. Remember that social gatherings in Europe can be hard work. Good luck!