My first real kiss took place in the foreign language aisle of Barnes & Noble. I was 16, had no idea what I was doing, and — as my then-boyfriend would soon tell all of our friends — he could tell. So, as a former bad kisser myself (I'm a pro now, gents! Don't worry!), I've always been of the opinion that a bad first kiss can easily be remedied.
Fast-forward to last summer: I was out at a crazy, tiki-themed bar and bet my (very cute) date that he couldn't finish an entire flaming cocktail.
"If I do it, can I get a kiss?" he asked. And boy, could he ever. But when we finally kissed? Welp, there weren't exactly fireworks. Maybe it was because he'd just downed a drink that tasted like gasoline? Or the fact that we'd both had our fair share of rum and couldn't totally remember what to do with our own tongues? Either way, it was disappointing.
But I didn't let it keep me from a seeing him again, and our second kiss was a million and one times better.
Basically, if I judged every fellow's kissing skills on one less-than-sober make-out session, I think I'd quickly run out of men to kiss at all. Then again, I've also had guys wrap their mouths around my chin and told myself, "never again."
If you're in need of exact guidelines for deciding whether a bad kiss is a deal-breaker or not, you've come to the right place. I chatted with 10 women to find out what makes or breaks a bad first kiss. So, let's play a quick game of Deal or No Deal: Second Kiss Edition, shall we?
If you can train them to improve? Second chance.
My first boyfriend was bad at kissing — he was way too into tongue. I used to bite his lip to make him stop! It was like training an old dog new tricks, but it worked!
— Amber, 24
If they lick your teeth? Deal-breaker.
I had a guy literally lick my teeth once. It was so off-putting and intrusive, I totally ghosted him after that... Also, if a man is a really bad kisser, I'm going to assume he's bad in bed, too.
I'm pretty sure that if a guy thinks a girl is a bad kisser, he'll totally ditch her. We just have lady guilt, so we feel bad or shallow or b*tchy for not giving people multiple chances. But like, I'm not here to teach boys how to kiss.
— Alice, 24
If they devour your face? Deal-breaker.
Picture this: Long walk on the beach, hopeless romantic high school girl with a boy from ~a different school~. Ice cream, the stars, the waves, and then... he literally devours my face. There's only so much a romantic setting can do when your face is dripping wet.
— Francis, 23
If you've still got an emotional connection? Second chance.
My first kiss ever was like making out with a whale. So wet. So much spit. So much tongue. Yikes. But no, a bad first kiss isn't a deal-breaker as long as there's emotional chemistry up until then. You can always teach someone to kiss the way you like it, but you can't teach a spark, ya know?
— Carson, 24
If they're not even trying to kiss your mouth? Deal-breaker.
I was out dancing with my friends, and a kid asked if he could lick my ear. Totally seriously. We hadn't even kissed yet (and we never did), he just... wanted to lick my ear? No.
— Ashni, 25
If they shove their tongue down your throat? Deal-breaker.
If you make out with someone who shoves his tongue down your throat at a basement bar, he's probably the type of guy who will never text you back, anyway.
— Danielle, 23
If it's just a different style? Second chance.
A bad first kiss definitely isn't a great sign, but I'd give them a second shot. Maybe you just don't know each other's styles and rhythms yet, so you need to do it one more time to see?
— Kristina, 24
If the kiss makes you sick? Deal-breaker.
I made out with a girl in college, and the kissing itself was fine, but a couple weeks later, I came down with mono and found out she was the cause. Definitely not worth a second kiss.
— Mary, 26
If they've got horrendous breath? Deal-breaker.
I don't think it's a deal-breaker unless someone has a really gross mouth. Like, they've got horrendous breath or chew tobacco or something... Then it's more of a hygiene issue.
— Kathleen, 25
If it's their first kiss ever? Second chance.
My first kiss with my high school boyfriend was pretty bad, but that was his first kiss ever, so I let it go. And it got way better with time.
— Carrie, 24
Like everything in life, there's no "one-size-fits-all" approach to kissing — it takes time and practice to get to know a person's style and preferences. Just, be sure to pop a few mints and control your saliva, OK?
Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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