Reader Question: Tips for Being a Good Kisser

We have a charming follow-up question on the First Kisses post:

*cough*Could you maybe do a follow-up post on what makes a good kiss/tips for being a good kisser?*cough* (It’s always good to learn knew things, right? *dies of embarrassment*)

Well! I have been thinking about this and I am not sure I can come up with a decisive answer. Or rather, I CAN come to a decisive answer, and it is this: if this question COULD be answered, it would already HAVE BEEN answered and we all would have studied the answer very carefully and now we would all know for sure that our studying had paid off.

Instead, if you were like me, you read the scene in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret where they practice kissing their pillows, and you gamely tried it yourself because apparently that is a thing we do, but then thought, “…But how does this help? Where are the…lips of this pillow?”

It’s like trying to find information on making hard-boiled eggs easier to peel: there are half a dozen methods people SWEAR by, and absolutely no agreement on which one actually works, and in my own experience each method works sometimes and fails to work other times, and apparently it matters hugely what kind of eggs you start with, so anyway you can rest assured that it is a question for the ages and not something there’s a simple answer for. Same with kissing.

And people LIKE different things. This is where we depart from hard-boiled eggs, because with eggs we all agree on the correct result: the shell should be off of the egg, and the shell-less egg should be whole and smooth, and not very much time should have passed. With kissing, some people get dopey-eyed over soft tender kisses and some people prefer to spend the next day with an ice pack pressed to their swollen, abraded lower face, and there are more kinds of kissing than ways to peel an egg, so it’s hard to know what to advise.

I do think we can say one thing based on the comments on the kissing post, and it is this: the problem, when there is a problem, is usually the tongue. Too much, or too soon, or too much accompanying saliva, or some combination of those things. Go easy on the tongue, is my advice; and if in doubt, wait longer to introduce it.

Also, I think it’s safe to say that kissing can take practice, especially with someone new. There are a bunch of things that vary from person to person, and those things take some time to figure out, and it is perfectly normal to bump teeth or to feel uncertain about how long a kiss should last or whatever. With time and familiarity, the protocol is established and things get less uncertain.

10 thoughts on “Reader Question: Tips for Being a Good Kisser

  1. Beth

    Enjoying this conversation! I think the quality/enjoyment of a kiss is almost (almost) completely dependent on the chemistry between the participants. Something weird/unenjoyable with one person can be amazing/hot with someone else. (This theory extends to other things, including sex in my experience.)

    Reply
  2. Aurora

    Kiss to learn how you love to kiss. Kiss to feel the feelings that their mouth makes on their mouth and in your body, to explore them, to learn—be curious, be responsive, seek pleasure. Kiss as a continuation of the dynamic you’re building between the two of you in that moment—quick and teasing, soft and long and lingering, hard and fierce, competitive, yielding or taking charge or switching back and forth (you can take charge while still getting consent—taking responsibility by stating what you want and asking for consent can be a taking-charge move). Notice if you like that dynamic. Notice if it feels responsive and good between you.

    Give feedback. Let yourself feel enough to give feedback. The way your body softens or tightens, bends and moves, the changes in your breath. Don’t make them happen, but do let them. Let the person feel them, let yourself feel them. Use words too when you have them or need them.

    Don’t practice on a pillow, but you can practice on your hands, your wrists, whatever of you you can reach–not to learn exactly what to do with your mouth but to learn how rhythm and pressure feel to you, to learn how to notice what feels good and respond to it. If kissing feels too weird do something else—just pay attention to touch and pleasure.

    If you’re kissing someone and you don’t like it: stop, at least for a moment. If that doesn’t feel completely safe and okay, do what you need to in the moment to stay as safe and okay as you can, but if any of that feeling is coming from the way that person is treating you, pay attention to that. If you do stop and they give you trouble, pay *lots* of attention to that. If the resistance to saying you is coming from you, that’s normal, that’s how we’re socialized especially if you’re a woman or girl or grew up with people expecting you to be a woman, but work on it. Practice. This is where you are learning how the two of you communicate. You *need* to be able to say “no” or “not yet” or “not like that” and know for sure that both of you can survive that and respond like people who care about each other and each others’ pleasure. You cannot say yes if you cannot say no. Prove to both of you that you can—this is how you prove yourself trustworthy and how you find out if they are.

    Kiss to find out how they love to be kissed. Kiss to feel the changes in their bodies as they respond to you. Kiss to learn how to make those changes happen in the way you want them. Kiss to create a feedback loop between your pleasure and theirs.

    Take feedback well. Remember that that person is learning too—that their feedback won’t always come right away and perfectly because they have to process their experience. If someone tells you something that changes your view of your experiences together first of all check if it is just cruel and unkind and delivered in order to hurt you, but if it’s not, pay attention to the risk they took in telling you. Support their learning and their risk and expect the same of them. Center your own feedback not on what they’re doing *wrong* but on your experience—you’re sharing it, and they should want to know.

    Know that all this can be hard. Know that we are not brought up to learn it easily. The communication skills you’ve learned everywhere else in your life *do* apply, even if your culture has told you that they don’t. You can use them. They’re there for you. Know that this can be nervous-making and awkward for everyone and it’s okay to acknowledge that—be together in the awkwardness, navigate it together. You might feel selfish centering your own pleasure, but remember, that’s why you’re doing this and a good kisser will want you to and will be doing it right back. Chemistry is the thing that happens when two people’s pursuit of pleasure and joy build on each other and enhance each other. Chemistry is the feedback loop. It won’t always happen, but learn to show up for it because it can’t happen without you.

    There are people who won’t like all of this. Who will want you to perform pleasure rather than experiencing it. Those people are not good kissers. Don’t kiss them.

    That’s what I think. Out of my vast experience of kissing exactly one person. Kiss to learn what you think. You are the only person who can define good kissing for you.

    Reply
    1. KTI

      “There are people who won’t like all of this. Who will want you to perform pleasure rather than experiencing it. Those people are not good kissers. Don’t kiss them.”

      YES to this– it’s really the only objective measure of whether someone is a bad kisser. Everything else is a matter of taste (no pun intended).

      Reply
  3. juliloquy

    I love this quote from Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlen): “I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job. But they don’t give kissing their whole attention. They can’t. No matter how hard they try parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus—or their chances of making the gal—or their own techniques in kissing—or maybe worry about jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Mike doesn’t have technique . . . but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. You’re his whole universe . . . and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.”

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      This! This is why kissing in books so often sounds amazing! Because the guy is focused on the girl instead of the thousands of other things that tend to distract guys in real life. I’d never realized that until I read this quote! Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Becky

    May I report, with intense levels of embarrassment, that my 9th grade boyfriend and I read a BOOK (Our Bodies, Ourselves) that I had gotten from my very liberal CHURCH. We read the part on French kissing carefully. Several weeks later we tried it. Books don’t help – only practice. I may be the only person ever who used a BOOK to tach me how to kiss.

    Reply
  5. Jd

    I just have one suggestion: regular dental hygiene.

    Mouthwash, gum, a quick scrub don’t cut it. Garlic at dinner is 100% fine as long as it eaten by clean, frequent flossed teeth.

    Reply

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