Think you're a good kisser? Read this before you answer—we asked women (and a scientist) what works
According to a recent study of kissing, good kissing technique can pave the way to a long-term relationship—and the sex that comes with it—or leave you spending the night alone.
And when you're in a committed relationship, your girlfriend or wife still judges you by your kisses.
Whether it's your first kiss or your fiftieth, "women, more so than men, use kissing as an assessment device," says Susan M. Hughes, Ph.D. "Men, however, would forgo kissing as long as they can have sex."
HOW TO KISS
If she's kissing you slowly, she wants more of a sensual experience. Grow your kiss. Start slowly and sensuously, then gradually introduce more tongue action.
Hughes led the study at the University of Albany, which found that men and women not only kiss for different reasons, they also prefer different types of kissing.
And a good kiss can lead to many more.
"The first kiss is a deal-breaker in terms of determining how the relationship will play out. A woman feels a kiss can predict how good of a lover a guy will be. A bad kiss will deter her from getting involved with him," Hughes says.
Jen, a 27-year-old from New York City, says she'd start a relationship with a guy based on his kissing.
"If a man is conscientious and intuitive enough to kiss me in a way that makes me feel special and cared about, then that tells me he's the kind of man I'd like to be in a relationship with," she says.
What's your best kissing strategy?
First, always carry a mint. According to a recent study in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, women rated the taste of someone's mouth as more important when deciding to continue kissing than men did.
That could be because she evaluates you by the way your breath smells and mouth tastes.
Hughes says kissing provides information about potential health problems; your hygiene is important.
"An immediate turn-off would be bad breath," says Kristina, 22, from San Diego.
HOW TO KISS
If she's kissing you with a closed mouth, she's feeling romantic but probably isn't in the mood for sex. To get her fired up, return her kiss with soft pecks, then take her lips between yours to spice up the smooch.
Lips are important too.
"Kissing requires good breath and moist, non-crusty or chapped lips," says Whitney, 27, of Philadelphia. "These things show a guy takes care of himself, a crucial sign he can care for others. Good breath and moist lips may also indicate that he was considerate enough to freshen up after the garlic-bread appetizer."
And take it easy on your first kiss—the study found that men prefer wetter kisses and more tongue action than women.
"I like when the man initiates the kiss without being forceful or pushy," Jen says. "When I first met my boyfriend, I broke a strict personal rule and kissed him on the middle of a dance floor. It was a really perfect moment. We were both sweaty, wasted, and really digging each other—and he just looked down at me and laid one on. His taking that initiative led to a 2-year relationship that's still going strong."
Kristina says overeager kisses are always bad. "Sometimes it seems like he's eating your face off. A good kiss would be relaxed and natural," she says.
Does that mean no tongue on a first kiss? Not always.
"If it's the first one, a willingness to explore with pressure, tongue, and body positioning is good," Whitney says. "A gentle but firm and controlled touch on my face or back is great; covering my lips and chin with his mouth is not."
"A good kiss combines spontaneity, tongue but not too much force, light nibbling to my lower lip, and using your hands to touch other parts of my body," says Kristy, 24, of New York. "That combo equals euphoria for me."
HOW TO KISS
If her kiss is passionate, she's ready to play. Match her aggressive style by sucking on her lips a little more forcefully. Also, use the tip of your tongue to play with hers.
Don't think that a kiss guarantees you'll go back to her place.
"Men were much more likely to have sex with a bad kisser than women," Hughes says. "As long as males get sexual access, then kissing is rather irrelevant. For females, that's not the case."
"I try to stay away from guys who are sleazy, and if the guy only wants sex, that's super sleazy," Whitney says. "Why consider bringing yourself to his level by kissing him even after realizing that he only wants sex?
"Even if the physical attraction has a greater pull than the world's strongest magnet, at the end of the day, you'll wonder why you laid down your hand so willingly."
If you're in a relationship, you should know there's no sex without kissing.
"Kissing and making out are the ultimate foreplay—how can you get in the mood without testing the waters first?" Jen says.
"Kissing is the starting line for sex," says Whitney. "It heightens my senses and sends me into overdrive. Kissing brings you face to face and forces you to look into the eyes of the person with whom you're about to share this incredible experience."
Women in the study said kissing was important before, during, and after sex—and we're talking about her mouth here.
"Kissing helps get your partner aroused for sex," Hughes says. "And, afterward, women want more kissing because it creates more of a bond."
So if you want to keep her happy, kiss and cuddle after sex.