A Guide To Kissing

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

A first kiss can be an exciting and a nerve-wracking experience, but having a partner you trust and are comfortable with can help ease a lot of this anxiety. This guide provides simple tips, tricks, and pointers to kissing that will make all the difference and keep your partner coming back for more. This guide will also address common myths about kissing and the benefits of kissing. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely throughout the world; as a result, a kiss can express many different kinds of sentiments. This guide focuses on kissing as an expression of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction, sexual activity, and sexual arousal.

The Five Big Myths

Although kissing is a common gesture of love and romance in some cultures, there are still many misconceptions about it. Below lists a few common myths and explanations of why each myth is false.

1. “Kissing always leads to sex.”

False. Although kissing is a form of foreplay, it does not always lead to sex. Communicate with your partner and, if you have any, express your concerns about moving too fast. Make sure your partner understands why it is important to you to stop at kissing (also known as “1st base”). Set some boundaries you can both agree on. Your partner should respect your boundaries and understand your concerns; if not, chances are they are not the right one for you.

Two persons at face to face, about to kiss.

2. “The awkward first kiss is inevitable.”

False. Having little kissing experience will not make your first kiss awkward. In other words, your first kiss is not destined to be awkward. Accepting the fact that your kissing skills are not yet honed will get you through your first kiss without a fumble. Remember, you are in new territory; take your time exploring it. Rushing at any point may likely lead to an uncomfortable moment that might feel a little awkward. Take it slow, keep it simple, and follow your partner’s advances with some of your own. Having a partner you are comfortable with may also help ease the nervousness surrounding first kisses.

3. “Some people are just naturally good kissers.”

False. Kissing is a learned skill that improves with experience. Therefore, “naturally good kissers” are not inherently talented. Like any other skill, kissing is improved through practice and experience. “Natural” kissers are commended for their approach, not their skill.  Approaching the act of kissing with a cool attitude can make a kiss look and feel natural, even when little to no skill is involved. Anyone can be a “naturally good kisser” if they embrace the right attitude. Avoid worrying about under-performing or over-performing, and just enjoy the moment.

4. “Do it like in the movies.”

False. Movies often misrepresent how individuals kiss in real life. Do not feel compelled to imitate what you see on screen. While most kisses are generally gentle, sensible, and ordinary, movies often depict the polar opposite. Movie kisses are often more intense and dramatic than everyday kisses for a narrative purpose. Focus on finding a style of kissing that feels right, one both you and your partner can enjoy.

5. “Conquered by the perfect kiss.”

False. A good kiss does not make a relationship; likewise, a bad kiss does not break a relationship, so try not to worry about flubbing a kiss after a great first date. Similarly, do not expect a great kiss to make up for a terrible date. The notion of a kiss itself winning someone over is unfounded. Individuals do not choose partners based on their kissing ability alone. More important factors—like individuality, a sense of humor, cleanliness, manners, and compatibility—carry weight during the process of choosing, so do not stress about having to end a date with a perfect kiss. Instead, a good relationship is based on building a strong emotional connection in addition to a physical connection.

Now that a few of the most common myths have been debunked, hopefully this diminished some pressure off pursuing the perfect first kiss Hollywood often depicts.

Benefits of Kissing

Not only is kissing for fun and romance, kissing has a variety of health benefits that may be unexpected.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.
  • Burns Calories. Simple kisses use as few as two facial muscles and burn only two to three calories, however, a more passionate kiss uses as many as twenty-three to thirty-four facial muscles and 112 postural muscles and burns between five to twenty-six calories per minute.1
  • Boosts Immune System. When a couple kiss, they exchange as many as ten million to one billion bacteria, representing 278 different species. In addition, the couple exchanges an average of nine milliliters of water, 0.18 milligrams of organic compound, 0.7 milligrams of protein, 0.71 milligram of different fats and 0.45 milligrams of sodium chloride. Swapping microbes helps increase immune system function.1
  • Decreases Stress. Kissing releases endorphins and dopamine, hormones associated with happiness and stress relief. Some studies have shown that men who kissed their wives every morning live five years longer than men who do not.2
  • Prevents Tooth Decay. Saliva production increases during kissing, which may prevent tooth decay.1

The beneficial health function of the kiss is another reason to have fun and enjoy the experience of the first kiss.

Preparing for the Kiss

Although the first kiss may be a special experience that can also be nerve-wracking, below are some tips in helping you prepare for the kiss physically and mentally.

Forget Your Insecurities

Two persons facing each other. One person is kissing their partner's nose.

Take a moment to remind yourself you are a great catch. Think of all the positive qualities you have to offer, focus on them, and have confidence. Do not let insecurities decrease your self-worth. Forget trying to cover up your insecurities; instead, make them a part of who you are until they stop bothering you. Embrace and see the beauty in all aspects of yourself.

Have Fresh Breath

Brush your teeth, and use mouthwash before going out. Additionally, carry around some mints or gum (cinnamon, peppermint, spearmint, and green or black tea flavors) to freshen your breath when necessary. If you find yourself in a bad breath situation, an alternative to kissing is a peck on the lips or cheek.

Moisturize Your Lips

Carry around a lip moisturizer. Non-petroleum based lip moisturizers will help you avoid unnecessary lip grease. Chapped and/or cracked lips can take away from the pleasure of the kissing experience. Not only are dry, chapped lips unappealing and rough, but more severely chapped lips can also crack open and cause you pain. This pain can distract you from kissing, but can be easily avoided with lip moisturizer. Take advantage of the wide variety of flavors available such as cherry, vanilla, spearmint, and candy cane.

Communicate with your partner, and find out which flavors they like as well as exploring the flavors that you like. Using a flavor of lip moisturizer that both you and your partner like can make kissing more fun and enjoyable.

Taking these steps to prepare may decrease your anxiety about your first kiss. In addition, practicing on your stuff animals and talking to your parents and friends may also be helpful.

Initiating the Kiss

Making the first move can be anxiety-provoking to some people, below are some tips on how to initiate a kiss with your partner.

Drop Hints. Let your partner know that you are interested in a kiss using non-verbal cues.

  • Get caught briefly looking at your partner’s lips then make eye contact with your partner.
  • Keep your lips slightly parted so you are capable of breathing through the opening, and you are able to bite your bottom lip easily.

Break the Kiss Barrier. To assess if your partner is interested, kiss them on the hand or the cheek first. If they react positively, chances are that they may be okay with a kiss on the lips.

  • Keep your lips soft, lean in, and give them a quick kiss on the cheek. Kissing your partner on their cheek near their lips may make the intensions of kissing their lips clearer.
  • Gently take your partner’s hand and lift it to your mouth. Gently kiss the back of their hand for a few seconds before parting away.

Compliment Your Partner. Give your partner a sincere and romantic compliment. This not only sets the mood for a kiss, but your partner may kiss you for the sweet compliment.

  • Compliment your partner in an intimate way. Look at your partner’s eyes and lower your voice slightly. This body language may hint to your partner that you have feelings for them and you would like to express it.
  • Think of a quality you like about your partner. One way to compliment your partner is to compliment on how you see them:
    • “You are so beautiful.”
    • “You are so handsome.”
    • “You have an amazing smile.”
    • “You have the prettiest eyes.”
Two persons facing each other and smiling.

Ask for the Kiss Directly. If the above methods did not work, or if you would like to make your intension very clear, you can verbally tell your partner or ask your partner about kissing them. Here are some romantic ways in asking your partner for a kiss.

  • “I’d love nothing more than to kiss you right now.”
  • “I’m sorry if this is too straightforward, but I’d would really like to kiss you.”
  • “May I have a kiss?”3

There is no one technique that suits everyone. Everyone prefers a different method in initiating a kiss. The best way to initiate a kiss whichever method that is comfortable for both you and your partner.

Kissing Techniques

Loosen Up and Feel the Moment

Kissing is an intimate act between two (or more) people. The amount of pleasure you will draw from kissing strongly depends on the attitude with which you approach it. In other words, the physical act of kissing itself is not the primary source of its pleasure; rather, the feelings driving the kiss—your attitude—determine how you experience it. Approach it cool and collected, and your kiss will feel pleasant and unforced. Avoid trying to live up to perceived standards as it can make the kiss feel stiff and unpleasant. Do not dwell on an awkward moment if one occurs. Brooding can make you anxious and nervous, and make your next kisses even more uncomfortable. Allow the kiss to naturally develop into something both individuals can enjoy.

Do Not Rush

Get a feel for your partner’s preferred style of kissing before escalating into more intense kissing. Communicating with your partner about each other’s preferences and dislikes is a good way to make kissing more pleasurable.  Start off with smooth, light, gentle kisses, and build into more passionate kissing. Do not rush it! You and your partner may follow each other’s advances. Think of kissing like a game of chess; one person’s move on the board elicits an appropriate counter-move from his or her opponent. Your partner’s forward advance on your upper lip, for example, invites you to make an equal or more forward advance on the lower lip.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

Build up to more passionate kissing. Rushing puts a limit on your understanding of your partner’s likes and dislikes. Slow down and get to know your partner’s preferred style of kissing. Then, stick with a style you both enjoy. Be willing to compromise! Holding back and building up to a passionate kiss also keeps your partner interested. Self-restraint builds suspense, creates anticipation, and arouses your partner’s curiosity. Make your partner wonder, can this get any better?

Turn Your Head

Be flexible, and adjust your head turning-preference to be compatible with your partner’s. If your partner leans to the right, you should lean to the right (and vice versa). A common way to avoid the awkward “My side or yours?” situation is by simply keeping your head centered as you move in for a kiss, allowing your partner to choose a side. At that point, adjust slightly in the opposite direction. Do not hesitate to switch it up, making your adjustments slowly to allow your partner to adjust with you.

Observations from several studies in which participants kissed a doll’s head have reported head-turning biases. That is, individuals have a preference for leaning right or left when kissing their partner. Changing your head position during a kiss can create novelty, which increases pleasure and adds excitement.2

Pull Away and Smile

Be sure to pull back from kissing every now and then. Smile at your partner as you do so, and look into their eyes.

Two persons facing each other. Their noses are touching.

Stopping a kiss in this manner does not ruin the moment; on the other hand, techniques like this can actually help you make a deeper emotional connection. This will make your encounter more personal and lead to an increasing sense of emotional connection. For some people, extended periods of kissing are not pleasant. Make sure to take breaks. Give yourself and your partner a moment to breathe, and use that time to take in the beauty of the person you are kissing.

Share the Work

Split the workload equally between you and your partner. Kisses should be a joint effort, and both partners should play equal parts. Play off of your partner’s advances—like a game of chess—and respond with moves of your own. Mirror your partner’s emotion and effort to reinforce the fact that you are as equally committed to the relationship as they are.

Kisses are more satisfying when both parties are equally involved. It prevents one partner from dominating the kiss and forcing a particular style of kissing on the other. In a 50/50 situation, both partners compromise on a style they equally enjoy.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

Move Around

Focus on individual parts of the mouth, and move between them. Kiss the upper lip, move to the lower lip, and then massage the tongue. Shift the order and repeat; better yet, forgo the order and do what feels right in the moment—your lips will naturally fall into place.

People kiss on the lips, not the mouth. Kissing the entire mouth is uncomfortable and somewhat bizarre. Focusing on a single part of the mouth allows you to stimulate one specific area more efficiently. Narrow in on the upper or lower lip—never aim for the whole mouth itself.

Tease Your Partner

Move between kisses and pecks. Kiss around your partner’s mouth, face, neck, or body (not just their lips), and make it slow and gentle. Start by moving away from their lips and towards the corner of their mouth, go down to their jaw, and then down to their neck or up to their forehead. You can kiss your partner’s ear, and use the moment as an opportunity to whisper something romantic or passionate to them. Make an effort to not kiss just your partner’s lips, and move elsewhere on his or her body every so often.

Two persons facing each other, with close proximity of their faces. One person is holding the other's head.

Variety is key to keeping a relationship alive and interesting. Kiss your partner in unexpected ways, and keep your kisses fresh and exciting. Prevent your kisses from becoming monotonous and boring. Changing up your kisses restores their novelty and can bring back the pleasure of kissing.

Gently Bite

Gently bite your partner’s bottom or upper lip. Avoid biting too hard, as the lips can easily bruise. Biting is not for everyone, and it is very possible that it is not for your partner. Be attentive of how they respond to it. If your partner reacts negatively, do not do it again. In addition, ask your partner, “What did you think about me gently biting your lip?” Listen to them and support their wishes. If your partner responds positively, incorporate gentle bites into your kisses. Or, make gentle bites a part of role-play, particularly when the theme centers around being naughty in bed.

A gentle bite to the lips can stimulate this very sensitive area without injury. This light form of sadomasochism can be arousing to a partner looking to spice things up a little, but can be disliked by a partner who does not find pain sexually arousing.

Use Tongue 

Massage your partner’s tongue using your own during deep kissing. Have your partner meet your tongue halfway; do not just shove your tongue into their mouth. Use the tip of your tongue to caress and stimulate your partner’s tongue while he or she is doing the same to you. Use your tongue with moderation! If you begin to feel as if you are trying to reach the back of his or her throat with your tongue, it is most likely too much.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

Tongue kissing (also known as “French” kissing) is a sexually arousing and more intimate style of kissing that adds an extra layer of stimulation via the tongue. French kissing can take the pleasure of kissing to another level. In addition, this popular style of kissing adds variety and makes kissing interesting and easy to enjoy. This is because having a range of kissing styles to pull from makes it possible to switch between styles in unexpected ways.

Manage Saliva Levels

When you notice that your lips are getting a little too wet, pulling away to wipe and swallow the extra spit back from your mouth will keep the kiss from being too “slobbery.”


Breathe through your nose while kissing. If you need to catch your breath, just simply pull back, take your time to catch your breath.

Use Your Hands

You can place your hands gently on your partner’s shoulders, around their waist, or around their shoulders to be closer and more intimate with your partner. Another technique is to put your hands on the sides of your partner’s face, and using your thumb to trace their cheekbone. You can also put your hands around your partner’s head and softly pull on their hair.3

Two persons laying down and facing each other, about to kiss.

Things to Remember for Your First Kiss

Below are some important pointers you may want to know and keep in mind:

  1. First kisses can be awkward; however, laughter and a good sense of humor will help you and your partner get over the awkward stage and focus on the special moment you both just shared.
  2. If you are kissing someone who is more experienced than you, do not feel embarrassed! Kissing is a learning process and your partner had been where you are.
  3. You should only kiss someone because you want to, not because you feel pressure to kiss your partner. Do not feel like you need to kiss your partner because he or she wants to kiss you or because you think you should want to kiss your partner. Take your time, there is no rush.
  4. Some first kisses are very special, while some may not be quite the way you imagine; However, do not feel like your first kiss needs to be a perfect moment.
  5. Finding somewhere more private for your first kiss may ease your worries about your friends or other people watching.4

Remember to slow down and go at a pace both you and your partner are comfortable with. Enjoy the moment, do not worry if your first kiss turns out awkward.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

What if Someone Wants to Kiss You but You Do Not Want to Kiss Them?

If you do not like them or you do not want to kiss them, make sure to communicate and make your concerns clear to them. You can tell them “no” by saying, “This doesn’t feel right” or “I don’t want to do this.”

If you like them but do not feel ready to kiss them, it is also important to let your partner know that you are interested but you are not ready for the kiss yet. You can communicate this by saying, “I like you but I am not ready to kiss yet.”

What if You Want to Kiss Someone but They Do Not Want to Kiss you?

If someone does not feel attracted to you, there is not much that can be done. Respect their decision and know that there are other people out there who would be attracted to you. Do not let this hurt your self-esteem; you are wonderful!

If they are nervous but they tell you that they like you, respect their decision as well. Make sure to give them time to feel ready. Be understanding and communicate to them that they should not feel pressured to kiss you.

Never kiss someone who tells you that they do not want to be kissed. Only kiss someone if they want to kiss you back.4 Make sure to receive consent from your partner before every physical act.

Two persons face to face, hugging. They are tounge kissing.

Concluding Remarks

Having your first kiss can be a great experience when you have a trusting partner. Remember that being a good kisser does not come naturally, but takes time and practice. There must be consent between you and your partner. It is important for both partners to be comfortable about the kiss. Kissing can be seen as a step closer to maturity and a wonderful experience shared between two people. So, remember to relax and have some fun!


  1. Alpert, Joseph S. “Science of Kissing.” Science of Kissing | The American Journal of Medicine Blog, June 2013.
  2. Person. “19 Things You Never Knew About Kissing.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 7 Oct. 2017.
  3. wikiHow. “How to Kiss.” WikiHow, WikiHow, 26 June 2017.
  4. “How to Kiss Someone for the First Time.” PairedLife, 28 Oct. 2016, pairedlife.com/physical-intimacy/PandasKissingHub.

Last Updated: 14 March 2018.