The research is pretty clear. Kissing counts. Kissing, and not speaking or smiling, is the key to finding love. Kiss well and you may find a partner for life (or at least for the evening). Kiss poorly, and you won’t get a second chance.
One of my favorite, most detailed studies of kissing behavior was conducted in 2007 by Hughes, Harrison, and Gallup. The group surveyed a total of 1,041 male and female experts (i.e., undergraduate students) on numerous aspects of kissing behavior. Here’s what they found.
Kissing is Persuasive. Both men and women use kissing to decide on a potential partner. Good kissers are more likely to get chosen. Bad kissing, in contrast, can be a deal-breaker. Good kissing creates and maintains a feeling of bonding and attachment, which is important both early in a relationship and over time. Good kissing can also lead to arousal and sex. Passionate make-outs are effective (and often necessary) precursors to further intimacy.
Elements of a Good Kiss. Attractive kissing partners were found to have good hygiene, including fresh breath and clean teeth. Grooming had an effect overall as well. Both men and women found assertiveness attractive in a kisser. Partners who committed to a kiss, rather than making out half-heartedly, were viewed as better kissers. Touching, caressing, and general physical contact while kissing was also key to a successful smooch. Finally, kissing with a new partner was evaluated as best when closed-mouth initially, with minimal saliva exchange (especially for women). Soft, moist lips were preferable; a drooling, tongue-down approach was not. Over time, kissing could work up to greater “passion” and “intimacy,” with increased open-mouth, tongue, and saliva exchange.
Gender Differences. Overall, a good kiss appeared more important to women than to men. The study indicated that women use kissing to judge a date or mate more than men. They are also more likely to use kissing as a way to bond—and to look for kisses throughout a relationship. In addition, they are less likely to kiss when they feel a partner only wants sex and nothing more. By contrast, men were found to be somewhat less picky with their kissing partners. However, they were also found to be more passionate. Men prefer open-mouthed, tongue-included, wet kissing more than women. They also seemed to prefer that their partner makes pleasurable noises while kissing.
When and How to Kiss. Given the research, there would appear to be three main times one should kiss a partner for persuasive effect.
To prove yourself and test a partner – that first kiss. A first kiss can be anxiety-provoking, but that doesn’t mean one should put it off for too long. Remember, assertiveness is attractive. Commit to the kiss. And don’t forget about hygiene … the smell and taste of your mouth are key to success. Brush your teeth, avoid smelly food, or use breath mints. Soft lips are helpful, as well, so don’t skimp on the lip balm.
From there, it’s all about the mechanics. Wet your lips slightly, as nicely lubricated lips are more welcome. When you lean in to begin a (closed-mouth) kiss, be sure to touch as well. Hold your partner’s cheek, brush their hair away from their face, and embrace or cuddle as you kiss. Also, let your partner “lead” the kiss a bit. (You’re judging them and their “style” as much as they are yours.)
A first kiss isn’t the time for a heavy “make-out” session. It may be heartfelt and passionate, perhaps with a bit of playful flirting. Only kiss for a few moments (be sure to leave them wanting more) but, continue to touch, cuddle, and look in your partner’s eyes afterward, too.
To connect and bond. Kissing can make a partner feel noticed, loved, and connected. This is especially true in long-term relationships, in which kissing can often be forgotten. When you want your partner to feel good and “like” you, remember to give them a smooch. The mechanics of a “bonding” kiss are similar to that of the “testing” kiss (hygiene, soft lips, a loving caress, etc.). Bonding kisses can be lengthy and include a cuddly make-out session, but they can be equally persuasive if they are very short, even just a peck or a caring kiss on the forehead. In this case, it is literally the thought that counts, because this is about “bonding”—building a feeling of comfort and attachment here, and not necessarily sexual arousal. These kisses are ideal during “spontaneous” moments, as part of a larger effort to build connection and rapport. This type of bonding kissing is also important after sex to make sure a partner feels loved and attended to.
To arouse and seduce. Kissing, of course, often leads to passionate feelings and sexual activity, especially more “intimate” open-mouth, tongue-involved kisses. If you are “in the mood,” you’ll likely seek to persuade your partner’s libido with a kiss. Passionate kissing is essentially a progression of the other two types. All of the hygiene and touching rules apply. The intensity gets turned up a bit with greater assertiveness. Slowly, the touching and embracing gets a bit more intense, as open mouths and tongues get involved. Arousal kissing also lasts longer; we escalate the intensity when we feel our partner reciprocate. As they become more assertive, we may proceed to kissing other areas (like the neck) and to foreplay. If they slow it down, we may go back to another type of kissing until they are on the same page.
Still Confused? Not Sure?
Kissing is not complicated. If you’re still confused and not sure as to how and when to kiss, then I suggest you buy and watch the below Ceara Lynch video clips. Pay close attention to how the kiss progresses through the testing phase to the arousal and seduction phase. As a general rule, pornography is NOT a good way to learn how to kiss and/or make love with a partner. However, I think it’s safe to say that Ceara Lynch does kissing right … and her clips can be very instructive for men (and women) who lack confidence or technique in the common, but important, art of kissing.