DEAR DR. JENN,
I just started seeing someone new and we haven’t kissed yet. With New Year’s Eve coming up, it feels like the perfect time for a first kiss. How can I make this happen — without it feeling fake or forced? I just wanna smooch! — Kiss Me Already
DEAR KISS ME,
You are not alone. A State University of New York, Albany study found most women consider kissing to be emotionally important in a relationship. As a matter of fact, only 15 percent of women said they'd have sex with someone without ever kissing them (about half of men said they would).
Here’s why kissing is so important: Researchers believe that the skin around the nose and mouth is rich in sebum which has pheromones that contain information about our biological makeup. It is believed that we are more drawn to people who have different types of immune systems in order to have genetically healthy offspring. The saliva we exchange provides information about our physical health and even, if we are ovulating. Besides all that, kissing is just fun and hot and romantic.
A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that more frequent kissing was associated with increased relationship satisfaction. Kissing activates the brain’s reward centers by releasing neurotransmitters like oxytocin (aka the cuddle hormone) and vasopressin (a bonding hormone) which make us feel good.
Kissing can also be good for our health. A Western Journal of Communication study found that the more frequent kissers in their study were less stressed out, more satisfied with their relationship and had improvements in their total serum cholesterol. Kissing can actually strengthen your immune system. Sharing bacteria that you might not otherwise be exposed to makes you both more equipped to ward off future infections.
You are onto something about the importance of kissing and science backs you up! You may want to share some of that info with your bae.
You can read all sorts of articles and books about unique kissing techniques and tips, but to be a world class kisser you have to have a good foundation. Here are the basics that you need to know.
1. Mouth Hygiene
Make sure that you have brushed, flossed, and, ideally, done some tongue scraping in order to have the freshest breath possible. Mouthwash doesn’t hurt. Delicious kisses don’t usually come after a cigarette, cup of coffee, or a pile of garlicky pesto pasta. Being minty fresh is a good place to start.
2. Moist Lips
A scrub like Bliss Fabulips topped with Smith’s Rosebud Salve that won this year’s beauty award from InStyle, goes a long way towards velvety lips. And moistness is a good start when you’re talking about any erogenous zones.
3. Eye Contact
Eye contact activates parts of the brain that allows us to be more connected and process another person’s feelings. It also shows where your attention is directed and lays the foundation for connection. Think of this like the mind-control phase of getting a girl or guy to kiss you.
4. Body Language
Being a good kisser means you’re reading your partner’s cues. Sensing your lover’s reaction to each romantic move you make while kissing is key to being a responsive lover. If you touch his hands, does he hold yours back? If you put a hand on her thigh does she lean into the gesture? These are signs you can move closer to the kiss.
5. Balancing Passive And Aggressive
Think of kissing like Goldilocks and the three bears. This kiss is too aggressive, this kiss is too passive, and this one is just right. Don’t go in too intense and aggressive or it may overwhelm your partner. If you aren’t sure what level they’ll be comfortable with, you may want to test the waters with a kiss on the cheek, like when you’re saying goodbye from a first hangout, before you go full French kiss on New Year’s Eve.
The most important thing in a relationship is the ability to communicate. If you think a kiss is long overdue, there may be a reason your partner hasn’t planted one on you yet. Have you been misinterpreting signals? Have they been sending mixed ones? Try to talk openly about your feelings in a way that they can give honest feedback. Sometimes it can be painful to hear negative input from a would-be lover, but maybe there’s something fixable holding them back, and together you can unlock a midnight smooch that puts everyone else at the NYE party to shame. The best way to find out is to ask.