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The Chemistry of Kissing


The truth is, that first kiss can make or break your date. So try these lip-locking tricks to leave your date weak-kneed and wanting more.

By Amy Spencer

ou must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss… hang on a minute. No it isn’t! Because when it comes to dating, a kiss can change everything. Sometimes it’s spine-tinglingly magical and sends shivers from your neck to your toes. And sometimes, well, it feels more like licking a wet fish. While the chemistry you feel on your night out says a lot about how the kiss might go, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of butterflies, chills, fireworks, and other memory-making moments. Try these lip-smacking tips to make this the first of many kisses to come.

Read when the moment is right
Ever found yourself bumbling and mumbling at the end of a date, wondering if your attempt at a good night smack will be the kiss of death? You’re not alone. “This is, without a doubt, one of the most common questions people ask me,” says Sheila Lee, creator of advice site Kissingbooth.com. So how do you tell if
Eye contact ups the intimacy—so lock gazes before and after (even during) your smooch.
someone would welcome a smooch from you? According to Lee, look for these signs: Is your date making tons of eye contact with you, or standing closer than a friend or business colleague would? If so, says Lee, this person probably wants you to go for it.

If you really can’t read your date, make yourself available for your date to make the move. Lee’s suggestions: Stand close to your date, and let your arm rub against his or hers. Face your date with your arms open, not crossed, to show you’re open to a kiss. Tell your date you had a good time, and ask your date how they felt. And most important? “Smile. A lot of people are turned on by a smile, which shows you’re comfortable with the person you’re with and happy. If your date thinks he or she is making you happy,” points out Lee, “then he or she is likely to think a kiss can make you even happier.”

Lock lips in a place where you don’t have to hold back
Yes, it’s romantic to kiss, say, out on a street corner, but if you’re not the PDA type, you might end up holding back during your kiss. And those unsure feelings could hold back a fireworks-worthy performance. The fact is, kissing signals our brains to produce oxytocin, a hormone that gives us that wonderful, weak-kneed feeling. And the chemicals that produced that feeling prompt you to want to kiss more and create more, like a love drug. To make sure nothing stops that chemistry-building chemical process, make sure you’re in a spot where you feel comfortable and safe, and you’re not worried about what you’re doing or who’s watching: Move inside a doorway, behind a column, into a quiet room, or in the front seat of a dark car. That way, you and your date’s bodies will be free to do what they’re — ahhhhh, sigh, melt — supposed to.

Make eye contact before, during, and after your kiss
Eye contact immediately ups the intimacy level of any sexual act, say experts—so if you’re smooching with your peepers shut tight, you could be missing out! Even singer Jessica Simpson is a fan of opening her eyes during a smooch. “I love to kiss with my eyes open,” she’s said. “It’s kind of weird because you might only see one eyeball, but it’s amazing what you can see through someone’s eyes. It sounds clichéd, but the eyes really are the window to the soul.” So, before you go for gold, take a few seconds — one Mississippi, two Mississippi — to look at your partner eye-to-eye and establish this is a special moment between the two of you. After you first kiss, pull back, open your eyes, really look at your date, then kiss again. Then, open your eyes once during the kiss to bring the personal touch home.

Feel free to talk a little
Kissing is such a strong language, it’s easy to wonder:
Kissing signals our brains to produce oxytocin, a hormone that gives us that weak-kneed feeling.
Does yapping in between smooches ruin the moment? Not always. In fact, says Michael Christian, author of The Art of Kissing, sometimes words can help ratchet up the chemistry. According to his research, the absolute number one sentence that kissers most like to hear: “You’re such a good kisser.” Following that, he suggests you also say either, “You’re so beautiful,” “You’re so hot,” or “I never want to stop kissing you.” These kinds of words do two things. “One, they show that you’re serious about the particular person you’re kissing, and that it’s truly personal,” says Christian. “Two, it communicates that you’re in the first stage of what your body wishes was a bigger, closer connection. Your feelings are so huge, you’re having to hold back. This says it’s not just a kiss, it’s the start of something incredible.” Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to know they’re causing that?

Keep your hands to yourself
Sometimes we get so caught up in the human contact of a kiss, we grip our partner’s neck, reach around his or her back, run a hand along a thigh, and do all sorts of a grabby things over and, ahem, under clothing. The only problem? Sometimes all that touching is actually detracting from the kiss, say experts. A kiss, on its own, can sometimes be powerful enough. So, try keeping your hands to yourself for a few minutes, kiss and only kiss, and see how the chemistry takes over.

Don’t forget to use your nose
Some anthropologists believe that kissing evolved from sniffing, as some indigenous cultures rub noses rather than kissing, points out Vaughn Bryant, Jr., professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University. “Turns out that we have very powerful musk glands right underneath our eyes, and each person has a distinct smell,” explains Vaughn. “Kissing got started by people smelling each other and they would rub across the nose. Touching the lips was a natural outgrowth.” Sampling another person’s scent is a primal urge we share with other animals (including moles, dolphins, turtles and dogs), so take a moment to breathe in your date to kick the connection up a notch.

Convince your date to try it your way
You loved the dinner, you laughed the whole way home, and you were living for the good night kiss... until you got it. Turns out your date doesn’t kiss the way you do. Has your chemistry fizzled for good? No way! So what’s the best way to get your styles more in synch? “Don’t ever say, ‘I don’t like the way you kiss,’” says kissing advice expert Lee. “That will be a big blow to the ego, and will make your date self-conscious the next time you kiss.” One option, says Lee, is to make the issue about you, by saying something like, “I like to kiss a little different than most people,” which will make your date feel at ease (kind of like the old-fashioned “It’s not you, it’s me” line). Or, suggest you both branch out and experiment, says Lee, “so that he or she won’t take the change in kissing personally. Say, ‘I want to try something,’ and then initiate a kiss the way you want it.”


Amy Spencer has written for Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Real Simple, and other publications.

Want to find out what kind of person you’ll have great chemistry with? Take our free quiz and get a personalized profile at Chemistry.com.

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