According to philematology (or the science of kissing), a variety of biological responses is unleashed the moment our lips meet someone else’s. Our brain translates these neural reactions and chemicals into meaningful emotional connection and feelings of euphoria and may even help us determine our long-term compatibility with our partner.

They say kissing is the building block of romantic intimacy, but many of us have never thought seriously about the basics of a good kiss. In part, this is because kissing – just like love – seems as if it should be more gut instinct and in-the-moment than something we practice with a checklist. But a better way to think about kissing is to compare it to a meaningful conversation. A kiss with your partner communicates in ways that words can’t. And we can always use more tips on how to communicate better!

Tip #1: Make Sure Your Mouth Is Fresh and Clean

Getting ready for a kiss starts with good oral hygiene. You don’t want garlic or onion breath to distract from the experience. Be sure to brush your teeth beforehand or bring breath mints or gum.

A kiss is a conversation using three primary elements: breath, lips, and tongue. Getting each of them ready is a crucial component of pre-kissing etiquette.

Tip #2: Breathe Through Your Nose

You may think of racing hearts and gasping for air when you think about an intense make-out session, but the goal is to build up to this level of intensity – not begin that way. A quick tip to help you go slow: breathe through your nose. This will help you pace yourself, take deeper breaths, and connect more with your partner as you build up to more passion.

Tip #3: Soften Your Lips and Relax Your Mouth

The key to a good kiss comes from the power of your intention. There are thousands of nerve endings on our lips; depending on the way you hold your lips, they can either communicate a firm, quick peck or an invitation to a slower, longer kiss.

Experiment with softening your lips even for a short kiss and see how that changes the dialogue.

  • Hard kisses with tight lips can be overwhelming even in the midst of serious passion.
  • Soft, open-mouth kisses invite your partner into a dialogue and allow you to feel for their response.

Tip #4: Use Your Tongue with Intention

Nothing can kill the mood faster than a sloppy tongue during a tentative open-mouth kissing conversation.

While novice kissers may think of the “French kiss” as simply putting your tongue into the mouth of your partner, taking a more thoughtful approach can convey interest, curiosity, and intrigue. A light tongue tracing the lips or quick darting tongues are incredibly exciting and can elevate the conversation to new levels.

Tip #5: Be Patient

It takes time to master the art of kissing. Rushing in and trying to take control of the kiss screams “amateur” and pushes people away more often than pulling them in. On the other hand, a patient kisser will try to experiment and demonstrate their sensitivity.

Developing the artistic capacity to communicate without words will not only enhance the physical intimacy that you share, but you will be surprised at how much safer and more open your verbal conversations become.