A Teenager’s Guide to Kissing

Two persons smiling and sharing earphones.

This guide provides simple tips that aim to help any first kissing experiences go as smoothly and enjoyably as possible. Moreover, it addresses some common myths about 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 to express the sentiments of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction, sexual activity, and sexual arousal.

Five Big Myths About Kissing

A man carrying a woman. They are face to face, under the rain.

1. “Kissing always leads to sex.”

False. Although kissing can be a component of foreplay, it doesn’t always lead to sex. Communicate with your partner and express any worries that you may have about moving too fast. Make sure that your partner understands why it is important for to you to stop at kissing (also known as “1st base”). Set some boundaries you can both agree on. It is likely that your partner will respect your concerns and support your wishes; if not, you may consider re-evaluating whether or not they are the right partner for you.

2. “The awkward first kiss is inevitable.”

False. Your first kiss is not destined to be awkward just because you have little experience with kissing. Awkward moments happen by rushing into something that you are not familiar with without holding compassion for yourself in the situation you’re in. Accepting the fact that your kissing skills are not yet honed will get you through your first kiss without embarrassment. Remember, you’re courageously diving into new territory, so allow yourself to take your time exploring it. Rushing at any point will likely lead to an uncomfortable moment that might feel awkward. Take it slow, keep it simple, and follow your partner’s advances with some of your own.

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 skill. Approaching the act of kissing with a relaxed attitude can make a kiss look and feel natural even when little skill is involved. Anyone can be a “naturally good kisser” if they embrace the right attitude and are with a compatible, trusted partner. Do the best you can to relax and soothe yourself. Try not to worry about under-performing or over-performing; simply enjoy the moment and your partner.

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 opposite. Movie kisses are more intense, excessive, and momentous than everyday kisses for a narrative purpose. Focus on finding a style of kissing that feels right to both you and your partner.

5. “Conquered by the perfect kiss.”

False. A good kiss doesn’t make a relationship. Likewise, a bad kiss doesn’t break a relationship, so don’t worry about messing up a kiss after a great first date. Similarly, don’t expect a great kiss to make up for a terrible date. The notion of a kiss itself winning someone over is untrue. Individuals don’t choose a partner based on their kissing ability alone. Different factors such as individuality, a sense of humor, and politeness, for example, carry more weight during the process of choosing a partner, so don’t stress about having to end a date with a perfect kiss. Instead, focus on strengthening the connection with your date, perhaps building a strong basis for a relationship and purely enjoying your time with them.

Preparing for the Kiss

Forget Your Insecurities

Especially before a date, take a moment to remind yourself of your greatness. Think of all the positive qualities you have to offer, focus on them, and have confidence. Try not to let insecurities decrease your self-worth! Further, instead of attempting to cover up your insecurities, recognize them as parts of who you are until they stop bothering you. Recognize your shortcomings, and demonstrate that these minor setbacks do not define who you are as a person. A sense of humor may help you in your approach to this. making a light and funny joke at your expense can get the uncomfortable moment out of the way by not taking yourself too seriously.

Two persons smiling at each other, face to face. They are wrapped under the woman's wedding veil.

Trying to cover up your insecurities can make them appear more obvious. Maintain a healthy dose of confidence, in spite of your shortcomings. Look at your insecurities with a positive attitude and keep in mind that you are no less capable of achieving happiness because of them.

Fresh Breath

It’s never a bad idea to brush your teeth and use mouthwash before going out. Additionally, carry around some mints or gum to freshen your breath when necessary. If you find yourself in a situation with smelly breath, an alternative to full-on kissing is a quick peck on the lips or cheek.

If you’re going to kiss someone, having fresh breath is helpful to both partners. Not only will following this rule help you avoid putting off your partner, but also it is good for oral hygiene. Bad breath is a sure way to disrupt a great kiss.

Moisturizing Your Lips

Carry around a lip moisturizer such as chap stick. Take advantage of the wide variety of flavors available and maybe even communicate with your partner to find out if there are any flavors that you both enjoy. 

Chapped and cracked lips can take away from the pleasure of the kissing experience. Not only are dry, chapped lips rough, but more severely chapped lips can also split open and cause pain. This pain can distract you from kissing, but can be easily avoided with lip moisturizer. You may want to avoid using petroleum based lip moisturizers when kissing your partner. Although they are great for healing dry, chapped, and cracked lips, petroleum based lip moisturizers leave behind an oily residue that can transfer onto your partner’s lips and feel very unpleasant.

Honing the Kiss

Loosen Up and Feel the Moment

Don’t be so serious. Unlike dramatic movie kisses where the intensity level is high, real-life kisses are often light and playful. Forget the depictions of the “perfect kiss” in movies—they’re a myth. Approach the act of kissing with an open mind, and do what feels natural. Keep in mind that the idea of a perfect kiss varies from person to person, and that you are not required to put on a Hollywood-style performance for your partner. Forget all of your expectations of what you think a kiss should look like, and let the kiss develop organically. Laugh through the uncomfortable moments instead of worrying about them. A kiss is not a public performance, so release any pressure that you may be feeling about getting it perfect. Remain calm, feel the moment, and let your kisses fall into place.    

Two persons holding each other and touching noses.

Kissing is an intimate act between two (or more) people. The amount of pleasure that you will draw from kissing largely depends on what attitude you go into it with. In other words, the physical act of kissing is not the primary source of its pleasure; rather, the feelings driving the kiss—your attitude, comfort, and feelings about your partner—determine how you experience it. If you are relaxed, your kiss will likely feel pleasant and unforced. Avoid trying to live up to any immeasurable standards as the kiss may then feel stiff and unpleasant. There is no need to dwell on an awkward moment if one occurs. Maintain an open, playful attitude and allow the kiss to develop naturally into something that both individuals can enjoy.

Don’t Rush

Get a feel for your partner’s preferred style of kissing before escalating into more intense forms of kissing. Start off slowly with smooth, light, gentle kisses, and build into more passionate kissing. Don’t rush it! Follow your partner’s advances, and your partner will likely follow yours. Think of kissing like a game of chess; one person’s move on the board elicits an appropriate counter-move from their opponent. Your partner’s forward advance on your upper lip, for example, invites you to make an equal or more forward advance on their lower lip.

Build your way up to more passionate kissing. Rushing limits your understanding of your partner’s likes and dislikes. Slow down, and get to know your partner’s preferred style of kissing. Then, you can get an idea of and settle into a style that both partners can enjoy. Be willing to compromise! Holding back and building into a passionate kiss also keeps both you and your partner interested. Self-restraint builds suspense, creates anticipation, and arouses your partner’s curiosity. You may even make your partner wonder, “Can this get any better?”

Head Turning

Be flexible, and adjust your head turning-preference to be compatible with your partner’s. If your partner leans to the right, you should naturally lean to the left (and vice versa). A common way to avoid the awkward “My side or yours?” situation is by 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. Don’t hesitate to switch it up, but make your adjustments slowly to allow your partner to adjust with you.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

Many individuals have been shown to have a preference for leaning right or left when kissing their partner.1 We emphasize flexibility­, so be open to leaning towards whichever side allows both of your faces to naturally fall into place.

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 looking at each other and smiling. The woman is hugging the other person from behind.

Stopping a kiss in this manner does not ruin the moment. Instead, techniques like this can help you cultivate a deeper emotional connection. This can make your encounter feel more intimate and playful. For some people, extended periods of kissing are not pleasant. Make sure to take breaks to give yourself and your partner a moment to breathe and use that time to take in the beauty of the person that you are kissing.


Split the workload equally between you and your partner. Kisses should be a joint effort and both partners should be contributing equally. Play off of your partner’s advances—again, 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 equally committed to the relationship (or just to the kiss) as they are.

Two persons kissing on the mouth.

Kisses are more satisfying when both parties are equally involved. This balance prevents one partner from dominating a kiss and forcing a particular style of kissing on the other. In a 50/50 situation, both partners compromise to create a style that they equally enjoy. Moreover, actively kissing your partner reinforces your appreciation of them and the intimate time that you’re spending with them.

Lips vs. Mouth

Focus on individual parts of the lips, and move between them. Kiss the upper lip, move to the lower lip, and then massage the tongue. Shift the order and repeat, or better yet, ignore the order and do what feels right in the moment.

A person kissing and biting their partner's lips.

People kiss on the lips, not the mouth. Kissing the entire mouth is uncomfortable and can feel somewhat strange. 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.

The Teaser

Alternate between kisses and pecks. Slowly and gently kiss around your partner’s mouth, face, neck, or body (not just their lips). 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 maybe even use the moment as an opportunity to whisper something romantic or passionate to them. Make an effort to kiss more than just your partner’s lips if it feels natural to move elsewhere on their body every so often.

Two persons kissing on a bench, while one person lays on the other person's legs.

Variety is key to keeping a relationship alive and interesting. Kiss your partner in unexpected ways to keep your kisses fresh and exciting. Changing up your kisses has the ability to restore novelty and can switch up the timeless pleasure of kissing.

Gentle Bites

If it feels right, gently bite your partner’s bottom or upper lip. Avoid biting too hard, as the lips can easily bruise. Biting is not for everyone, so be attentive of how your partner responds to it. If your partner reacts negatively, do not do it again. Instead, wait for a good time to communicate and ask, “What did you think about me gently biting your lip?” Attend to the reason they give you for their feelings, and support your partner’s 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 is centered on being naughty in bed.

A person biting another person's lips.

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 vulgar and distasteful to a partner who finds this kind of kissing unappealing.

Tongue Kissing 

Kissing should be done as a lips-only operation at first for make out sessions, but can progress to incorporate the tongue if desired by both partners. If so, 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 or down their throat. Use the tip of your tongue to caress and stimulate your partner’s tongue while they are doing it to you. Use your tongue with moderation! If you 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 tounge-kissing.

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—to the simplest form of kissing. French kissing can take the pleasure of kissing to another level. In addition, this popular style of kissing adds variety and can make kissing even more interesting. Having a range of kissing styles to choose from makes it possible to switch between styles in unexpected ways and make the time that you’re sharing with your partner feel all the more special.

Concluding Remarks

When kissing is unfamiliar, it can seem nerve-wracking to experience for the first time. But when the time comes, kissing can be an incredible way to explore feelings of closeness with someone. Kissing will always vary from experience to experience, as there is no “right” way to share a kiss; rather, it should just come together naturally in the moments of intimacy being shared with your partner.


1. Karim, A.K.M.R., Proulx, M.J., de Sousa, A.A. et al. The right way to kiss: directionality bias in head-turning during kissing. Sci Rep 7,5398 (2017). Accessed 14 November 2019.

Last Updated: 14 November 2019.