There's more nuance to a kiss with a romantic interest or romantic partner than just an equation of lips and tongues, and there are easy ways to set the pace even if you're not exactly the most experienced kisser.
It goes without saying that when you're inches from someone's face, no one wants to inhale whiffs of stale coffee or a mouthful of garlic and onion. Popping a mint or brushing your teeth shows you’ve put in some effort. No one wants to kiss someone whose breath smells like a mix of that morning’s coffee and lunch sandwich. Even if you're kissing a long-term partner that you've kissed 1,000 times, try to avoid making them taste what you've eaten that day.
Time the Moment Right
Follow the other person's body language cues to know when it's the right time to initiate a kiss. Consent is key, so it's always best to ask before leaning if you're not sure. Don't insist on leaning in for a kiss if it doesn't feel right, or leave the other person waiting so long that they start questioning whether you're interested in them. When in doubt, ask!
Work Your Eyes
When you're leaning in for a kiss, you can't use your mouth to speak, so why not say what you need to through eye contact? When you're actually mid-kiss, though, dial it back it can be unnerving to find someone straight-up staring at you in close range (see: Bruno Mars' "Grenade"). Temporary blindness during a kiss can intensify the way it feels; the sound of another person's breathing, or the gentle touch of their hand.
Start Without Your Tongue
When you go in for a kiss, start without a tongue to get your bearings and rhythm. Gently touch your lips to your partners and see how they respond. As you get a little more into the moment, you can increase pressure. When it comes to tongue, lightly touch your partner’s tongue with your own to start.
No one is into being slobbered all over during a make-out session. Keep your tongue game in check. You don’t want to go wild with passionate tongue-ing unless your partner is also into that kind of kissing.
Stay In the Moment
You're guaranteed to feel more connected to the other person if you stop feeling anxious about your kissing skills or something you said 10 minutes earlier just tune out any extra mental chatter and giving into the moment.
Take Your Time
Kissing is a team effort. Don't squelch someone's spirit by going on the offensive (a.k.a. getting too heavy-handed with tongue) or trying too hard to control the situation or lead the way. Take a deep breath (not while you're kissing, that would be weird), and do what feels right.
Pack Some Balm
No, no one expects your lips to be "kissably soft" all the time. But it does help to pack some lip balm in your bag if your lips are a dry, flaky mess in winter.
Keep the Passion Up
Kissing makes your partner feel special and close to you. Go into kissing with the mindset of letting your partner know how drop-dead gorgeous they are. Boost the ego a little bit and make them feel wanted.
Pay Attention to Surroundings
Whether it's candlelight, a tent under the stars, in the ocean, or in a sudden rainstorm, exciting new surroundings make a kiss interesting. Because your eyes are closed most of the time during a kiss, you'll hear and even feel the things that are happening around you more clearly. You want to stay in the moment, but it's nice to take in what's around you so you can better appreciate this moment. Just be sure you aren't neglecting your kissing partner in the process.
Kissing is all about the back-and-forth exchange, so feel free to loosen up and experiment with different styles of kissing. Try gently, keyword, gently, tugging on his lower lip with your teeth during a kiss. Do the upside-down Spiderman! Try using more tongue or transitioning sides during a kiss or gentle biting, so long as both of you are into it. Don't try to do something that doesn't feel right at the moment.
Follow Each Other's Lead
Good kissers will mirror each other's movements so that they're both on the same page. Take note of what your partner's doing and imitate it. Or, take the lead if you want to try something different. Feel out each other's impulses and kissing styles, and go from there.
Make it a Full Body Experience
A kiss will feel even deeper if you're holding the other person close during a kiss or touching their neck or back. Touch releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Be sure you're making the most of it.
Don't Forget the Erogenous Zones
On that note, don't forget about the grazing potential for the earlobes, nose, collarbone, and the neck, just think of all those nerve endings. You can gently nibble an earlobe or run your tongue along a collar bone, but draw the line at tongue. If someone is covered in spit after kissing you, you’re doing it wrong. And be gentle unless otherwise specified. Hickeys aren't exactly everyone's cup of tea, so don't bite down or latch on unless your partner indicates that they're into it.
Give the Bottom Lip a Little Nibble
While you’re kissing gently, take a second to take your partner’s lower lip in your mouth just for a moment, suck it, maybe nibble it slightly, and then go back to making out. Don't swallow the whole thing like you're trying to eat your partner. Just focus on the very tip. It can be super sexy.
Give Each Other Constructive Feedback
Give the other person positive, constructive feedback via your body language so that your partner feels good after a kiss. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but if they're not the best kisser in the world, gently guide them in another direction by slowing down, pulling back, and demonstrating a different technique. Then, talk about it afterward. Tell them something positive, add in the constructive feedback, and then end with something positive. For instance, you can say: "I love when you kiss my neck. I like it when you use a bit less pressure when we're making out. You're so hot." It works like a charm.
Remember We're All Just Trying to Do Our Best
We’re all a little self-conscious when it comes to kissing someone we're not used to kissing. This doesn't ever really go away, no matter how many people you kiss. Any time you kiss someone new, there is a tiny bit of anxiety.
Just remember that we’re all just doing our very best to be impressive and hot. Most of us don't really know we're doing. We're just trying a bunch of stuff and hoping some of it works. Kissing takes practice and chemistry with the right person. Not every kiss will be noteworthy, and a few of them will probably suck. Don't be too hard on yourself. We're all just here to have a good time.