There's nothing more sensual than a deep, passionate kiss -- one that unhinges your knees and takes your breath away. It can easily be more intimate than sex. A bad kiss, however, can have the opposite effect, leaving you with a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.
We put a lot of stock in kissing. A bad kiss can mow down a budding relationship and a good one can seal the deal. Ever wonder why we kiss at all? We think of it as such a magical act, but if you step back and think about it logically, two people putting their lips together in weird ways doesn't on the surface make a whole lot of sense. One study out of Oxford University explains this odd behavior, claiming that the reason we kiss is to evaluate a potential mate.
There are several times in courtship that we assess a candidate for love, and that first kiss is a big one. Not only does it pave the way for pair bonding, it also allows us to evaluate a mate on a genetic level. Though we are completely unaware, when we kiss a new partner, our bodies consider carefully the genetic makeup of the other, including their immune system, all conducted via the olfactory system. On a subconscious level, we determine if the other person's immune system is different enough from ours. If it is, any offspring will have a good chance of survival, and our system gives us the go-ahead.
There are lots of health benefits to kissing. (As if we needed more incentives.)
It reduces blood pressure. The heart speeds up and the blood vessels dilate during a kiss, which increases the body's blood flow and provides an energy boost. Blood vessel dilation can also help alleviate the pain of headaches and cramps (though kissing is often the last thing on our minds when we have these.)
Also, thanks to kissing, brushing and flossing are not the only ways to maintain a healthy mouth. Kissing creates more saliva, helping to remove plaque buildup that can cause cavities.
Have you been feeling a little blue or stressed out lately? A passionate make-out session can put you in better spirits, since it will prompt the release of feel-good biochemicals such as oxytocin (the "calm and cuddle" hormone), serotonin (the happiness neurotransmitter) and dopamine, which gives us a sense of wellbeing.
Your immune system also gets a healthy boost. As gross as it sounds, swapping germs through kissing causes your body to make antibodies against those germs, which can lead to a stronger immune system.
Kissing also boosts our self-esteem. One German study found that husbands who received a passionate kiss from their wives when leaving for work were happier, less stressed, and more productive. Worried about aging? Kissing tightens the muscles of the jaw and neckline.
Have I convinced you yet? Now is the time to start kissing more!
How do you make sure you are a good kisser? Everyone has their own preferences and technique. Some people are heavy into the tongue action, while others are more subtle. Some people are squeamish about the amount of saliva exchanged. There have been plenty of would-be relationships cut short by the phrase, "S/he slobbered all over me."
For a first kiss, start out with a simple smooch on the lips and work slowly into open mouth kissing. Slowly and gently increase pressure and intensity. A gentle in and out motion or a twirling is sexy and a huge turn on. Try to keep it on the drier side, at least at first. Do make sure you haven't eaten a mountain of garlic and onions beforehand.
William Cane is the author of The Art of Kissing, an entire book devoted to this nuanced and important skill. He says
"One of the techniques people love is lip-o-suction. This is kissing and lightly sucking the person's top lip while they go for your bottom one, or vice versa. When tongue kissing, some people love having their lover's tongue slide over their teeth and gums to add more sensation. (I'm not a big fan of that one.). A nice flavored lip balm can add something. If you're the advance planning type, see if you can feed your lover strawberries beforehand -- the taste awakens the taste buds, making your mouth extra sensitive."
Also, never forget that kissing involves much more than your lips! Practice focusing on other physical movements, such as making eye contact during pauses, grabbing the nape of the neck or the head, and pulling your lover in closer. You can even bite their lower lip if you're feeling naughty. Most importantly, take your time and enjoy the experience of kissing. Build slowly from sweet to powerful and passionate.
In our culture, it's so easy to become preoccupied with sex as the ultimate expression of passion and love, but kissing can be just as meaningful if we give it the chance. Enjoy every second of your next kiss, and give the experience your full attention. You'll be amazed by how much feeling and power lie just beneath the surface of a simple little kiss.