While the reason human beings first started to make out as a way of expressing affection is still hotly debated, there’s no question that people have been doing it for centuries. References to romantic kissing go all the way back to 1500 B.C.E., in Sanskrit texts that described it as inhaling one another’s souls.
And while swapping saliva, and the tens of millions of bacteria that come with it, sounds kinda gross, there’s tons of evidence to show that it has enormous health benefits, including boosting your immunity, cleaning your teeth, giving you a huge endorphin rush, and extending your lifespan. Plus, studies show that long-term couples who continue to kiss, particularly for the purpose of intimacy rather than strictly as a prelude to sex, lead happier and healthier lives.
To a large extent, being a “good kisser” is more chemical than technical, and therefore out of your control. From a biological perspective, the whole point of making out is to enable people to swap the information encoded in each other’s saliva to see whether or not the two of you are a genetic match. That’s why studies show that women place much more importance on kissing than men, since they’re the ones that have to bear children, and therefore have more to lose. That’s also why you might enjoy the taste of someone’s saliva more than that of someone else, since everyone’s genetic makeup is different, and women tend to be more attracted to men whose immune systems are very different from their own.
But biology aside, there’s plenty of technique you can employ to elevate your kissing game and make the experience way better for both you and your partner. And, as much as I hate to say it, chances are you could probably use the advice. According to a 2007 study of 1,041 college students at the University of Albany, men and women aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to locking lips. In fact, men reporting liking kisses that are 33 percent wetter and include 11 percent more tongue than women like. And women, on the other hand, often complain about guys who attack their mouths with their tongues and slobber all over them like wild dogs.
Yikes. So if you’re a man, the first obvious thing to do is to ease up—stay passionate but not aggressive, and make sure to stay within the borders of your partner’s mouth. And once you’ve done that, experts will tell you it’s not wise to linger in a kiss for too long. Instead, you should drift south… To the neck. According to research by William Cane, the author of The Art of Kissing, an overwhelming 96 percent of women enjoy getting kissed on the neck. (Fun fact: only 10 percent of guys do.)
If you’re a woman, there’s some next-level technique you can use, as well, courtesy of Sadie Allison, a leading member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Start by wrapping your arm around the nape of a guy’s neck, and slowly but methodically pull him in, getting more aggressive as you go. This creates a building, cascading passion. (For bonus points, throw in some eye contact, which has been shown to create feelings of intimacy and boost feelings of bonding.)
Finally, if you really want to make your kiss amazing—and both men and women can pull this move—bring in reinforcements: strawberries. According to Krista Bloom, the author of The Ultimate Compatibility Quiz, strawberries contain compounds that kick your sweet-identifying taste buds into overdrive, so whomever you’re kissing will think of your kiss like it’s a dessert.
Oh, and finally, don’t forget the mint. But you knew that one already, right? And for more on making out, check out 20 Science-Backed Facts for Why We Kiss.
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