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A good kiss can make or break a date — and, well, it’s just plain fun. Kissing in a relationship can help build closeness and intimacy, not to mention that it’s also good for your health. Whether you’re learning to kiss for the first time or simply looking to up your kissing game, sometimes all we need is a little confidence — and a few tips to point us in the right direction.

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Send some signals

If you want to kiss someone, let the other person know by dropping subtle — or not-so-subtle — hints. Looking down at their lips, licking or biting your lip, or leaning in ever so slightly can all signal that you’re feeling romantic. Make sure your breath is fresh, and you don’t have any food stuck between your teeth. Maybe consider applying a fresh coat of chapstick to make your lips soft and kissable.

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Set the mood

Once you’ve sent out some signals, watch to see if your partner is picking them up. If they’re mirroring your body language and leaning into you, you’re probably on the right track. Take things to the next level by flirting or complimenting them. If you’re feeling bold, and you’re sure you’ve got the go-ahead, try kissing them somewhere other than the lips first, like the hand or cheek. This can be a soft ice-breaker, and the other person’s reaction might tell you if they’re ready for the next step.

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Right place, right time

Remember: there is a time and a place for kissing, and it usually isn’t in the middle of a family dinner. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with public displays of affection, so you’ll want to wait until you’re alone before initiating a kiss, especially if it’s a first kiss. Make sure both you and your partner are in the right mood, too; it may seem sweet to distract someone from bad news with a kiss, but it isn’t always going to be well-received.

Couple kissing behind garage door Steve Prezant / Getty Images
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Consent is key

Nobody wants to go in for a kiss only to be rejected, or to end up kissing someone who’s far from enthusiastic about it. Make sure the other person wants to kiss you as much as you want to kiss them. This could mean they’re sending obvious non-verbal cues, especially if you’re in an established relationship, but if you’re not certain, why not just ask? Confidence is attractive, and there’s nothing sexier than coming right out and saying, "I want to kiss you."

Woman rejecting a kiss stock-eye / Getty Images

Take it slowly

Once you’re ready for the kiss, lean in slowly. You’ll want to tilt your head in the opposite direction to your partner, so keep your eyes open — soft eye contact is okay, as is keeping your gaze focused on their lips. Cupping the other person’s chin or cheek in your hand can be romantic and can allow you to gently guide their face in the right direction, but don’t be too forceful. A deliberate — and soft — forehead bump is cute, too, but make sure you aren’t knocking heads.

Couple kissing on street martin-dm / Getty Images

Keep it soft

Start with a simple, straightforward kiss. Your lips should be soft and slightly parted, and the kiss should start with gentle pressure. You can ramp up the intensity a little if your partner is responsive, or try opening your mouth ever so slightly, putting your partner’s lower lip between your lips. If you’d like to try using tongue, test it out first by running your tongue across their lip; if they respond in kind, open your lips wider and touch your tongue lightly to theirs. Never shove your tongue straight into the other person’s mouth, but do let your partner take the lead and respond to their movements in kind.

Close up of kissing couple John Sommer / Getty Images

Remember to breathe

If you can breathe through your nose while you’re kissing, that’s perfect, but if it isn’t possible, take a pause every now and then to breathe. It’s okay — in fact, it’s completely natural — to take short breaks for a second or two. You can even use these breaks as an opportunity to vary your kissing technique a little, and to check in with your partner about how they’re feeling by looking at them to gauge their reaction, or keeping the mood light with a smile.

Romantic couple on beach Cecilie_Arcurs / Getty Images

Don't just stand there

While most of your focus is going to be on your lips, you shouldn’t forget about the rest of your body. Get your hands involved in the kiss by touching your partner’s face or the back of their head, holding their hand, or lightly touching their hips or lower back. The more you touch your partner, the more intimate your kiss is going to be, so make sure the level of touching is appropriate for your relationship.

Couple kissing Hirurg / Getty Images

Pay attention

Throughout the kiss, make sure you’re paying attention to your partner. Verbal and non-verbal cues can both help you pick up on how your partner is feeling. Body language is a big part of how people communicate — is the other person leaning into you and initiating kisses, or are they leaning away, or pulling back? If they seem uncomfortable in any way, or if you’re uncertain, back off and let them take the lead. Kissing is a conversation, not a monologue, so let them have their say. Paying attention to what your partner is doing can tell you a lot about how they like to kiss, too, so try mirroring some of their movements and see how they respond.

Happy couple Aja Koska / Getty Images

Get creative

There are plenty of ways to kiss that don’t just involve two sets of lips. Try mixing things up a little to avoid getting too stale. The cheek, forehead, and hands are all tried-and-true places to kiss someone. If in doubt, ask your partner where they’d like to be kissed, or tell them what you want to do. Kissing doesn’t always have to be romantic, either; a soft kiss on the top of the head, or blowing a kiss goodbye, can let someone know you care about them when full-blown kissing isn’t what you’re after.

Man kissing a woman's hand Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

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