You’ve had a magical first date, and now you and your brand new beau are in your car, bonding over your favorite Netflix show. Your date is super cute, and you totally feel enough chemistry to want to touch lips—and maybe even tongues… So, now what?
The number one rule of kissing? Ask first! From all the television and movie portrayals of making out, it’s easy to think that kissing doesn’t require consent. But kissing involves consent just as much as any other sexy-time activity.
When you feel that magic pull to make a move and plant a first kiss, make sure to ask—out loud!
“Can I kiss you?” or “I’d really like to kiss you. Would that be okay?” are great ways to go about asking. Letting someone know that you desire them can be very sexy.
Pay Attention To Body Language
Pay attention to body language. You may not ask verbal consent for every single kiss but you should think about implicit consent, and how your partner is feeling. Does your kissing partner seem excited or involved in the kiss? If the answer is no, take a break and check in.
It’s also important to note that consent to kiss does not equal consent for anything else. Ask for consent when you want to change things up and/or become more intimate. So, for example, you might ask “Is it okay if I kiss your neck?” or “Can I touch you beneath your shirt?”
How Do I Deal With Rejection?
Your date looks at you, you look at them, and you just know the moment is right: You go in for the kiss! You’re so into it that it totally throws you when your date gently pulls away and explains that they’re not actually into it!!! What do you do??
Misreading a sign and getting a “no,” can feel awkward and embarrassing for sure. But it’s also going to be okay. O.school Pleasure Professional Dr. Yoni Alkan suggests saying something along the lines of: “Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought that’s where you wanted to go. I’m not going to go there again. If you would like to, please approach me.”
New day, new date. This time you’ve asked for verbal consent, and your date says “Yes!” Okay, so now that it’s been established that you can kiss this cutie—whatcha gonna do??
Professional Kissing Coach Alexis and Dr. Yoni Alkan offer advice:
Do start soft, neutral and slooooow. Spending lots of time moving into that first kiss builds anticipation—which is hot as hell! Plus, starting slow allows you to learn what your partner likes, and keep tabs on how into the situation your partner actually is. Don’t pucker or strain your lips.
“The biggest mistake that people make isn’t that they don’t use the exact amount of tongue that I like, or that they nibbled on my lip when I didn’t want them to. It’s that . . . they never relinquished any control over that kiss to figure out how I might respond to them without them being in the driver’s seat. And that is the key moment. When you relinquish control, that’s how you find out what that other person actually wants.” —Dr. Yoni Alkan
Pay Attention To Your Partner
Do imitate your partner. Dr. Yoni explains that some people will project what they desire in a kiss onto their kissing style. In other words, if someone wants their neck kissed, they might kiss their partner’s neck. Of course, if your partner starts kissing your neck, you don’t have to immediately start kissing theirs—enjoy it first. Eventually you can reciprocate; pay attention to how your partner responds.
Don’t kiss, suck, or bite your partner so hard that you leave a mark. Unwanted hickeys are not a classy move. Likewise, watch out for stubble, piercings, or anything else that might irritate skin!
Not Too Much Tongue!
Do keep tabs on your tongue. According to one study, men, on average, like tongue and saliva far more than women. Unsurprisingly, then, straight men’s number one complaint about kissing is that their partners don’t use enough tongue, and straight women’s number one complaint is that their partners use too much! (Does that resonate with your experience? It does for the O.team!)
That being said, pay attention to how much saliva you are exchanging! If you have too much in your mouth, pull away for a second, swallow, and then resume the kiss. If your mouth feels dry, pause for a drink of water!
“Listen to what the other person is saying with their kisses… It’s a conversation, just like dancing, just like sex.” —Dr. Yoni Alkan
Where Do I Put My Hands During A Kiss?
You go in for that first kiss, and… sparks are officially flying! Yahoo! You go in for the second kiss, and suddenly you become uncomfortably aware that your hands are just chilling in your lap. Eeek! What do you do with them!?
Three things to do with your hands:
1. Hold Their Body
Put your hands on their shoulders, torso, or whatever else feels right and comfortable in the moment. Holding your honey can feel super nice!
2. Touch Their Head And Hair
Gently hold your partner’s head or play with their hair. This can feel really sexy and affirming. Dr. Yoni reminds us, however, that folks with trauma histories could potentially experience this as a trigger, sobe sure never to grip too hard on someone’s neck or head. Be careful, pay attention, and always ask for clarity if you feel uncertain about someone’s comfort level.
3. Stroke Their Face
Softly caress your partner’s face with your fingers.
How Do I Tell My Partner They Have Bad Breath?
The makeout sesh is heating up: Mouths are loosening, tongues are touching… and then all of a sudden you get a whiff and a taste of your date’s lunchtime curry. You’ve never been a big fan of leftovers, and you’re suddenly feeling a whole lot less into this kiss.
It can feel really awkward to bring up bad breath with a partner. But, at the end of the day, you deserve to feel comfortable and happy when you’re locking lips, and sometimes that requires a breath freshener. Dr. Yoni and Alexis offer a couple of ways to navigate this conversation:
“I need a piece of gum, do you need a piece of gum?”
“I really enjoy kissing you, but there’s something that’s bothering me a bit—would you mind brushing your teeth or using mouthwash? I really want to continue kissing you, and that would make things just perfect.”
Best Kissing Tip!
If you take away just one tip from Dr. Yoni, let it be this: “Listen to what the other person is saying with their kisses… It’s a conversation, just like dancing, just like sex.”
What Else Is There To Know?
Hughes, Susan M., et al. “Sex Differences in Romantic Kissing among College Students: An Evolutionary Perspective.” Evolutionary Psychology, July 2007, doi:10.1177/147470490700500310.
Myths and facts
Setting the record straight.
At O.school, we know that few things are one-size-fits-all. Read on for insights from Pleasure Professionals and other experts:
Check out what the O.school Community is buzzing about and send your questions and stories to email@example.com.
Sex Ed Videos
Previously recorded streams we love.