Have you ever written someone off because they were bad at kissing? You’re not alone. In my experience, most people make judgments about potential partners after the first kiss—for better or for worse.
And while a good kisser may seem simple, it’s actually a craft that you work on throughout your entire romantic and sexual life. If you’re wondering how to become a bitter kisser but have zero ideas on how to start, don’t stress. These tips will give you the skills you need for cinematic, swoon-worthy kisses.
1. Do the necessary prep work.
Prep work for kissing? Aren’t the most romantic kisses supposed to be super spontaneous? Yes, but the goal here is to get you into a pattern of prepping for kisses. If you’re trying to become a better kisser, you’ll want to get into the habit of doing the essential prep work. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to cover the basics. Moisturize your lips, keep mints handy, and for the love of God, please brush your teeth.
Pro-tip: For those last-minute, post-meal moments, a travel-size bottle of mouthwash can be a lifesaver. If you think you and your special someone might be making out after dinner, make a special trip to the bathroom to do a quick rinse-and-spit. Or just grab a mint on your way out of the restaurant. It’s like dessert that makes you taste better.
2. Pay attention to your partner.
A “good kiss” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing from person to person. Different people like different smooches, so more often than not, being a good kisser is about working with what your kissing partner likes and doesn’t like. This means learning what your partner likes and not just replicating what you learned from porn or previous relationships.
Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues and come into every new make-out sesh with the attitude of an explorer. Let their mouth lead the way.
3. Start slow.
Because kissing is so personalized, and our preferences can be so different, it’s important to start small. After all, lots of people judge a potential partner based on the first kiss, so you’ll want to take some time to learn their style.
Start slow with a kiss on the lips (no tongue!) and build from there. If you’re worried about getting a kiss started, read your beau’s body language. Are they leaning in? Is their mouth opening? Can you sense their excitement? Make eye contact, lean in, see how they react.
4. Add tongue.
Okay, now that you’ve had a moment to establish a rhythm to your kissing, you can start to introduce a little tongue. French kissing is an art form and everyone likes their french kiss prepared in a different way, so take some time to test the waters before you start playing an intense game of tonsil hockey. (Most people don’t like the sensation of saliva dripping down their chin.)
Start by gently touching your tongue to your partners, and build together from there. Mirror the movements of your kissing partner, and develop a rhythm of opening your mouth, introducing your tongue gently, and closing your mouth. The tongue is a pretty strong muscle, so be sure to use it delicately, and read your partner’s body language (including their own use of tongue) to see if you can increase the Frenchiness of the kiss.
5. Get handsy.
Alright, now we’re entering the Big Leagues. Note that these next couple of steps don’t need to happen with every kiss— they apply if you and your partner are on the same page and moving towards something a little more sexual. It’s important to check in with your partner and ensure they’re feeling safe and excited. If all systems point towards go, then you can start to escalate by incorporating your hands.
Start with holding their head to intensify the passion and depth of the kiss. Touch the small of their back, caress their arms and elbows, and generally let them know that you like touching them while also respecting how quickly or slowly things are moving between you two. Don’t just automatically go for the boob or crotch grab—keep it cool. (You’re not a teenager.) But also…keep it hot. If you both want it, why not take it further?
6. Go off the map.
You’ve got the kissing going, got the tongue involved, and your hands are in the mix. It sounds like you might be ready for a full-on make-out sesh. (Yay!) Explore your partner’s body by very softly kissing other nearby erogenous zones, like their ears, cheeks, and neck.
Think of each little kiss like a step you take towards a new area, all the while checking in with your beau’s body language. Ask yourself: does it seem like my partner likes this? Are they leaning into my kisses? Or do they seem a little disconnected? Everyone has different pleasure points, so don’t be afraid to explore and see what resonates. Adjust based on their reaction. When in doubt, asking “do you like that?” can help put a person at ease.
Take the time to notice what they like and don’t like, and adjust from there. If you keep their pleasure in mind, as well as your own, you’ll be a pro kisser in no time.
Tessa Skara is a writer and comedian. She is bravely bicoastal. She loves all things queer, including, but not limited to sex. Follow her on Instagram @tessafuckinskara.