Kissing is fascinating. If you were anything like me as a tween, you read every magazine article you could get your hands on about the dos and don'ts of kissing — even though you didn't have much of a chance to actually apply this knowledge IRL. Maybe you, too, watched Disney Channel growing up and waited with baited breath for that first kiss between Miley and Jake or Troy and Gabriella. Now that you're older, you've likely gotten the opportunity to put this information to good use. You know things not to do while kissing, based on your experience. But do you know about the science behind these taboos?
In an effort to track the ever-evolving dating habits of U.S. singles, Match conducts their Singles in America Study every year. This is the largest annual survey of over 5,000 single U.S. residents in the entire country. According to their eighth annual report, over three quarters of respondents (76 percent) rank being a good kisser as a top priority. In a separate study at The State University of New York at Albany, evolutionary psychologists found that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women report having ended a developing relationship because of a bad kiss.
It's of the utmost importance to ensure that your lip-lock game is up to par, so consider the following things you should never do while kissing.
Don't drink too much beforehand.
Alcohol might help you loosen up, but you probably shouldn't have too much to drink before a kiss. While having a glass of wine on a first date can calm your nerves and help you to open up, it's best not to get too intoxicated. It turns out that kissing actually stimulates some of the same chemicals in your brain as alcohol does. Dopamine, the feel-good chemical, is released in response to things like kissing, sex, drugs, and alcohol. So if you're drunk on alcohol and infatuation, your judgment can get cloudy. You also probably want to remember this kiss. Having a small amount to drink can make a kiss feel more passionate, but remember to do so in moderation. By limiting your alcohol intake, you can focus on the natural chemicals released during a kiss.
Don't be afraid to rock lipstick.
If you're wary about wearing lipstick during a potential kiss, think again. You might believe that a bright color on your lips can prevent someone from kissing you, because they don't want it to smear on your lips or theirs. The opposite is actually true. Women have more success getting a first kiss when they're wearing lipstick. And red lipstick in particular makes women feel sexier, according to Match and ColourPop's 2017 survey.
Don't tilt your head to the left.
An observational study of kissing couples found that two-thirds of people tilt their heads to the right when going in for a kiss. It may not be an exact science, but there's a good chance that moving your head to the right when making out will lead to a quality kiss, without any awkwardness or accidental forehead banging.
Don't have bad breath.
This may seem like an obvious one, but make sure your breath is fresh before kissing someone. Women actually care more about this than men, so if you're planning on kissing a lady, listen up. In scientific studies, women took breath into account more often than men did as far as a factor of enjoying (or not enjoying) a kiss. Bad breath is a turn-off in general, but this is especially true for women.
Don't keep your mouth closed.
OK, so you don't want to stick your tongue down the person's throat immediately, but it turns out French kissing actually serves a scientific purpose. There is evidence that saliva has testosterone in it, which could be why men prefer sloppier kisses with an open mouth. Helen Fisher, a Biological Anthropologist from Rutgers University at the American Association for the Advancement of Science told Wired, "That suggests to me that they are unconsciously trying to transfer testosterone to trigger the sex drive in women." Obviously this doesn't mean you should slobber all over a guy's face, but maybe don't be afraid to use a little more tongue than you usually would.
Don't do it if you feel pressured.
When you're stressed out, your body releases a chemical called cortisol. Kissing actually leads to decreased cortisol levels, which in turn reduces the feeling of stress. But if you feel uncomfortable or pressured in any way, your cortisol levels will rise, meaning you won't be able to fully enjoy the kiss. And of course, you do not have to engage in any kiss if you don't want to.
Now that you know the science behind these kissing don'ts, you can go out into this crazy world of dating armed with a bit more information than you had before. Oh, and don't forget your breath mints!