Friday, June 2, 2023

A moment on the lips: the dos and don’ts of kissing

Your first kiss can be a daunting experience – mine was also my worst, so bad in fact that I broke it off and pretended I needed the plot of Terminator II, which was playing in the background, explaining. A bad first kiss is not unusual, of course. So what are some common mistakes made by rookie kissers, and can veteran snoggers improve?

Somatic sexologist Stella Anna Sonnenbaum points to moments “when it’s expected but we don’t really feel like it; that ‘oh my god they’re kind of leaning in, I should do something’” feeling.

But Sonnenbaum’s wisdom isn’t just for those early encounters – what she can teach all of us forms the dos and don’ts of kissing well.

Don’t …

… use your tongue on first contact
On the occasion of a first kiss, “see if the other person’s open to it,” says Sonnenbaum diplomatically. This might be a question of verbal communication but more likely will be about tentatively trying it and waiting for the other person’s signals. “Go with the feeling – if it feels good then do it,” within the other person’s boundaries.

… get too hung up on how much tongue is too much tongue
In the field of kissing there are no – or very few – objective truths, although “sticking the tongue fast and straight in” is unlikely to be a good idea. But in general one person’s pleasurable amount of tongue will be another’s too much – or too little – so just work out what style you enjoy.

… bypass the ‘almost’
There is an erotically charged in-between moment that often gets neglected, particularly during a nervous first encounter. “People bypass the hovering, the almost. That can be so sexy. So I advise not to bypass that,” says Sonnenbaum. With a regular partner this might look like a bit of teasing by playing with proximity: “You can go in then hover, then look into their eyes and go in again. It’s kind of like ‘come on’,” she says, but in a good way.

… forget about the rest of the body
All of this focus on the tongue and eyes might leave you wondering what to do with the rest of yourself. “A good area [to touch on the other person] is underneath the ear and the nape of the neck, that can be very romantic,” says Sonnenbaum. “You can go through the hair a little bit, that’s really nice. It’s about exploring sensually, slowly.”

… use too much saliva
This one is almost unequivocal: limit the amount of saliva involved in any kiss. Even here, though, there is a “but”, as “some people can’t help it”.

Do …

… play with position
The classic first kiss might be sitting or standing opposite the other person. But, says Sonnenbaum, “a nice way to go in for a first kiss is to sit next to each other.” When you are opposite someone and they go in for a kiss, “that might trigger fear”. After all we’re still mammals “and that’s how mammals attack each other”. Sitting beside the other person means “the closeness is already established”.

… take a middle ground with your mouth
When kissing, “don’t swallow your partner’s mouth with your mouth, that can be a bit ‘ugh!’” Instead, “find a way that the lips themselves can kiss rather than putting your mouth around the other person’s mouth.”

… feel your way with the pressure of your kiss
Again this is very individual. Although most people will kiss with more pressure in situations leading to or during sex – “in a heated, passionate, sexual moment” – how much pressure feels pleasurable depends on the person. “Some people will say ‘it’s too hard’, ‘it’s too soft’; maybe that is the wrong partner for you.”

… be inventive with your tongue
With all the caveats around subjectivity and boundaries here, Sonnenbaum recommends using “your tongue to explore your partner’s mouth,” in, for example the area “in front of the teeth, so putting the tip of the tongue between the lip and the teeth.” Think about “what feels good for me, what feels good for my tongue.”

… and try it alone
“You have a tongue in your mouth so explore what feels good,” she advises. Sonnenbaum has an exercise with clients where she gets people to slowly trace the teeth from the inside “and then put the tongue up into the upper palette, and see how that feels. That alone can be quite a turn-on, just for ourselves.”

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