How to kiss
5. 6. 2017
The kiss has often been referred to as the ‘intimate handshake’ – it’s how lovers greet one another when meeting at the airport, at the station or, more mundanely, on coming home from the office, ‘Hiya, honey,’ KISS, ‘Had a good day?’ The kiss is also performed when greeting long-lost friends or relatives, and usually takes the form of a light peck on the cheek, both cheeks if the friends or relatives are from continental Europe. Then there’s the kiss that takes place when men from Middle Eastern countries meet and greet, again, pecks on the cheeks, but three times – left, right, and then left again. Finally, there’s the all-consuming, passionate, let-me-come-up-for-air type kiss, an amalgam of lips, tongues, teeth, breath, fingers . . . and ice cubes? So, what’s it all about? Why all the mystery behind this basic form of social contact?
Said to date back 3.5 thousand years, kissing is referenced in Sanskrit writings and in the poetry of the Sumerians. It is also described in ancient Egyptian poetry and in the Bible. Signifying varying degrees of affection between humans, the humble kiss is used to express emotions of all kinds, from friendship, greetings and respect, to the sexual undertones of love, passion and excitement. Most often employed within the realms of romance where the lips of both individuals touch or press together, the kiss, when applied to the forehead or the cheek, can also be used to show bonding between and father and son, mother and daughter, and as an informal method of greeting friends and relations. It is also frequently used in religious contexts, such as the kissing of a crucifix, rosary beads, the Bible, or the ring of a bishop. And some of us, having arrived safely after a long journey, like to give thanks to God by kneeling down and kissing the ground. Fans of football or cricket, or other competitive field sports, might tear up a chunk of turf, fervently kissing it to bring luck to their chosen team. As the most intimate of mankind’s methods of social connection, kissing occurs at all ages, in all situations, and at all intensities. From the first shy, tentative kiss between two small children, perhaps to show gratitude for a gift; the full-on, tongue-on-tongue, passionate embrace of two lovers; and when given as a mark of deep respect, for instance at a time of mourning, the kiss is a defining moment of awareness between two people.
Next time you stand in front of the mirror, take a good look at your lips. They form one of the few parts of your body where the inside meets the outside. They are what you smile with, and can be soft and gentle or taut, dry or moist, happy or sad or downright miserable. They help us to form our speech, shaping words and enunciating clearly or, when tired or depressed, cause us to mumble and mutter. So far as the ladies are concerned, lips are one of the major features used to display themselves to the world. One just has to think of the majority of advertising to realise that lips – their shape, texture, allure, etc., – are usually at the centre of every message. There are sexy, come-on type lips that make you want to dive right between them; there are tight, serious lips that make you panic about your car, house or health insurance; there are angry, snarly lips that fill us with fear, make us nervous and cause us to think about storming out of the stupid job; there are the fake ‘mwaah’ kisses, the type designed specifically for high-society, for the kind of people who live above everything and have flotillas of false friends and false egos to match; and there are sweet, demure, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-the-mouth type lips signifying that all is okay in the world. And we mustn’t forget the Mona Lisa type lips, the enigmatic, give nothing away, am I laughing, smiling, crying, or mightily pissed-off, difficult to read sort of lips.
What to do with them?
Here we have the sword of Damocles. There is no easy answer, because there’s a different set of rules for each situation. It’s the sort of thing that depends on the mood of the individual, the mood of the ‘kissee’, the depth of intimacy, emotions, desire, experience, and the whole gamut of social contact. And let’s remember that kissing is something at which men and women can be equally expert. Unlike the sex act, which unites two physically differing bodies, kissing utilises equipment that is the same for men and women. The female’s kiss can be as soft and gentle, or as aggressive, as that of the male. Presuming that most of us are reading this because we want to learn how best to kiss our new-found partner, or how to improve our kissing techniques, let’s start at the beginning.
The first step is the handshake. We don’t leap in and throw caution to wind when we first meet someone, be it your neighbour, your boss, the famous actor who’s pushing his trolley around Tesco, or the family doctor. We introduce ourselves by shaking hands. Unless we happen to be Inuit, when we’re more likely to rub noses. Hand-shaking is the initial form of contact. After this, it’s up to you, the field is open.
Should I kiss at the end of the first date?
There are two ways of looking at this. Firstly, there’s the ‘lean and mean’ approach, which suggests that if you refrain from kissing at the end of the first meeting, your date will become curious as to why you didn’t launch yourself at her and will – maybe, might, possibly – rectify the situation at the next meeting by initiating a kiss herself. Yeah, right! Secondly, there’s the suave, romantic, knight in shining armour gesture, whereby you reach for her hand, lightly brush your lips against the back of it and then part, either with an ‘air kiss’ or by planting the tenderest of kisses to one side of her mouth.
So how do I initiate a kiss?
It’s no good looking all lost, bewildered and pathetic. One of you has to take the bull by the horns and show initiative, but it has to be done in a relaxed, care-free manner. If the first date has been successful and gone really well and you think there’s a second date in the offing, use the above ‘knight in shining armour approach’ to seal the deal. Too tame? Okay, so show your date that you’re interested, really interested, in him/her. You can easily do this by looking at their lips, while keeping your own softly parted in a sort of invitation. It obviously helps if you are both ‘in the mood’, anticipating that first magical tactile embrace of the lips. It’s also obviously a great idea to make sure your breath is fresh. Keep your oral hygiene in tip-top condition by cleaning your teeth at least twice a day, after every meal if possible, and if necessary use a mouth spray or suck a couple of mints before leaning in for the smackeroo!
If your date seems hesitant or uninterested, you could perhaps come with some sort of compliment, a sincere one, such as, ‘You’re looking fantastic, I can’t wait to see you again.’ If you hit the right note, this type of comment might lead to your partner giving you a gentle affirmative kiss, either on the cheek or on the lips, a sort of indication that things are on the right track, that it might be permissible to kiss him or her in return.
Of course, it’s always possible to be more direct, especially if you are sitting or standing in close proximity to your date. You could hold their hand, lightly touch their shoulder, smile and say, ‘It’s been such a great evening, I feel so close to you and I’d really love to kiss you.’
This sort of approach is going to lead in one of two ways: you’ll get your kiss, or you’ll be told, usually politely, to wait until the next meeting.
Everything’s looking rosy – your date is smiling, leaning in towards you, lips are parted, breath is sweet, eyes are shiny bright and happy – it’s time to get real close. The first kiss should always be light and gentle, very light and very gentle, think of a butterfly landing on a marshmallow. After the initial contact, back away slightly so that you can see your date’s reaction. If he/she has their eyes closed and their lips still slightly parted, it’s a definite sign of acceptance, and even if he or she is wide-eyed and smiling, everything is okay and you should get back in with a slightly stronger, more prolonged kiss. But keep it soft and gentle. Romance is a tender type of thing and, unless you’re both hot to trot and straining at the leash, is best taken a step at a time. After gently kissing for a minute or two, try brushing your lips against your partner’s cheeks or eyebrows, or nuzzle a little at the side of the neck. A little exploration harms no one, and if you sense that your partner is enjoying the sensations, you can return to their mouth and enclose the lower or upper lip between both of yours.
At this stage it’s a good idea to remember that we’re setting out on uncharted territory. It may be that one of you, or perhaps both, have not been quite so adventurous in previous connections of the amorous kind. So take time to experiment and find out what your partner wants, expects and desires. It could be that the soft, gentle approach is enough for the present, at least until you are both aware of one another’s needs. If there’s fire and passion and clear signals of excitement, then the kissing techniques will usually advance up the intensity scale on their own accord. Of course, it’s not just our lips that we should be using to announce our love, it’s our body language as a whole. It’s natural to use your hands and arms to embrace your lover, while continuing to kiss and caress with the lips. You can run your fingers through his or her hair, caress their cheeks, neck and face, and pull your bodies closer together. But remember at all times to be considerate of your partner’s needs, and if he or she pulls away from you, it’s a clear indication that you should stop what you’re doing. Take the opportunity to regain your breath and bring your natural urges under control.
What is French kissing?
French kissing is no more than an escalation of what has gone before. To pave the way, you can try running your tongue over the surface of your partner’s lips. Again, as above, if he or she pulls away from you, then it’s best to desist from progressing any further at this moment.
However, if you get a positive response, such as your partner’s tongue coming to meet yours, or you feel your body being held tighter, then it’s okay to explore a little further. Insert the tip of your tongue into your lover’s mouth and run it along the inside of their lips, upper and lower. At this stage you can also try to gently nibble your partner’s lips, by taking them between your teeth and biting very softly. Tenderness is the rule here, the technique is soft and gentle – chewing and biting, hard enough to draw blood, is not a good idea and will result in your being dismissed.
When you feel your partner reciprocating, and their tongue protruding forward to investigate, you can insert yours a little further into their mouth, maybe running it along the surface of their tongue or exploring the area behind their teeth. You can use fingers as well, either at the same time as your tongue has penetrated your partner’s mouth, or while your lips are engaged on another part of his or her body. Some people find it quite arousing to feel their mouth being explored by their lover’s fingers, especially if their lips, cheeks and eyes are being kissed simultaneously.
And what about the ice?
Kissing is all about intensity and the excitement that comes from different techniques. The lightest of kisses can be just as sensuous as the harder, more passionate variety. It all depends on the application. Remember, it takes two to tango, and the discovery of all the actions that are a turn-on for your partner are a turn-on for you also. It can be intoxicating to hold an ice cube in your mouth and gently press it through your lips into your lover’s mouth. The feeling of togetherness is intensified as the cube is passed to and from.
What do I do if my partner doesn’t want to kiss me?
There are many reasons for not wanting to kiss someone. It could simply be a matter of not being ready for this intimate type of contact. It could be a problem with hygiene, of not wanting to take things further than holding hands, and it could be a basic problem of not fancying the person proposing the kiss. Whatever the problem, try to be respectful at all times. If your partner is hesitant and pulls back at your approach, give him or her a little space and a chunk of understanding. Maybe he or she is thinking that the relationship has not advanced far enough into the romantic arena, or maybe even thinking about calling the whole thing off. Get over it and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day. If there’s a problem with oral hygiene, there’s a bunch of remedies – pharmaceutical, mouth-sprays, tablets, etc., and natural, chewing parsley or mint – that can freshen your breath. Don’t stuff yourself with Indian food or anything that’s heavy on onions or garlic, and remember that cigarettes and processed goodies, such as potato chips and pretzels, cause unpleasant odours and bring about that don’t-even-want-to-think-about-kissing-you situation. Meanwhile, you can always maintain close body contact through cuddling.