Anatomy of a Kiss

Did you know that in Middle Eastern countries, kissing was not seen as a sexual expression and was only considered proper between two women, two men, or parents kissing their children – until recently? And that two men kissing on the lips in Eastern European countries was as normal as a handshake until Western influences took over? The jury’s still out among scientists as to whether or not kissing is an instinct or a learned behavior; some think it comes from mothers premasticating food for their little ones and others think it may be related to grooming behavior seen also in other animal species.

On a cerebral level, those common sentiments, “we had chemistry”, or “the chemistry just wasn’t there” actually have a scientific basis. When we kiss, we taste and smell each others’ pheromones for biological compatibility, and women are more subconsciously attracted to men’s different immune system proteins than their own. This allows the offspring to have a greater resistance in fighting disease, allowing for better survival. There are also several chemicals released when we kiss; Dopamine (involved in the processing of the brain’s emotions), Oxytocin (helps create attachment and affection towards people), Adrenalin (increases the heart rate and plays a role in your “fight or flight” response), and Serotonin (affects peoples’ feelings and moods). The combination of these chemicals give us that rush we feel during a great first kiss.

So beyond chemical and instinctual responses, are there factors we control that determine what makes a good or bad kiss? All you have to do is think
back to the best or worst kisses in your past to answer that.

**Tips for a Great First Kiss**

1. Timing is everything! If the first kiss comes too soon or too late, it can really put a damper on the progress you’ve made in getting to know each other. Being aware of the other person’s body language will help you determine when they’re ready for that kiss, and if there have been no signs of affection (touches on the arm, eye contact that lasts a bit longer than normal etc.), it’s probably too soon. You can test the waters by touching their hair or face, and seeing how they respond. If they respond positively, that’s a good sign that they’re ready for the first kiss. Every situation and person is different, so it’s important to be hyper-aware of what your potential kissing partner is giving off in terms of signals. Waiting too long can also be confusing; you can cause someone to wonder if you really have feelings for them, or if there’s some “issue” they’re unaware of.

2. Location Location Location! Kissing is intimate, and the first kiss is really the first instance of intimacy in a budding relationship. It’s probably best to have that first kiss while you’re alone so you can both feel comfortable and not distracted.

3. Proper hygiene. This should be a given, but bad breath can be the ultimate turn-off in what could have been a great kiss. Carry gum and mints so you’re ready should the opportunity come up; this shows your partner you take care of yourself and you are thinking of them.

4. Look for signals during the kiss. Once you’ve made the first move and it’s being accepted, pay attention to what your partner is doing. If they are backing away, it’s time to stop. Don’t use the tongue on the first kiss unless your partner uses it first. Don’t use too much saliva. Be gentle! Remember there will be other kisses and other opportunities to get closer in the future, so don’t rush it.

5. Don’t ask for the first kiss! Some may disagree, but it really takes the fun and spontaneity out of the first kiss if you’re asking for permission.

6. After the kiss, which doesn’t have to last very long, give your partner a hug and tell them how much you enjoyed it. This will help smooth out the awkwardness that sometimes happens after the first kiss.

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