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In dating and relationships, your lips can be put to persuasive use beyond speaking and smiling. Kissing is a key to love. Kissing well, you may help find yourself with a partner for life (or at least for the evening). Failing to do so, you might not get a second chance.
The research is pretty clear: Kissing counts. It influences the course of a romantic interaction. At times, it makes or breaks potential relationships. As always, we'll review what the research has to say and then share some tips on when and how to kiss persuasively. Keep your lip gloss handy:
Research on Osculation (a.k.a. Kissing)
One of my favorite, most detailed studies of kissing behavior was conducted in 2007 by Hughes, Harrison, and Gallup. The group surveyed a total of 1,041 undergraduate students (both male and female) on numerous aspects of kissing behavior. Here are the highlights of what they found:
Kissing is Persuasive:
Elements of a Good Kiss:
When and How to Kiss
Given the research, there would appear to be three main times one should kiss a partner for persuasive effect:
1. To prove yourself and test a partner
A first kiss can be anxiety-provoking—but that doesn't mean one should put it off for too long. Remember: Assertiveness is attractive in a kisser. Besides, you want to see how your partner kisses back. One would be advised to pucker up when he or she detects some interest. (For tips on reading body language, click here).
Beyond being assertive and committed to the kiss, "good" first kisses have some standard features: The first is hygiene—brush your teeth, avoid smelly food, or use breath mints, but the smell and taste of your mouth are keys to success. Soft lips are helpful, as well, so don't skimp on the lip balm.
From there, it's all about the mechanics: Wet your lips slightly, as nicely lubricated lips are more welcome. When you lean in to begin a (closed-mouth) kiss, be sure to touch as well. Hold your partner's cheek, brush their hair away from their face, and embrace or cuddle as you kiss. Also, let your partner "lead" the kiss a bit. (You're judging them and their "style" as much as they are yours.)
A first kiss isn't the time for a heavy "make-out" session. It may be heartfelt and passionate, perhaps with a bit of playful flirting. Only kiss for a few moments (be sure to leave them wanting more) but, continue to touch, cuddle, and look in your partner's eyes afterward, too.
2. To connect and bond
Kissing can make a partner feel noticed, loved, and connected. This is especially true in long-term relationships, in which kissing can often be forgotten. When you want your partner to feel good and "like" you, remember to give them a smooch.
The mechanics of a "bonding" kiss are similar to that of the "testing" kiss (hygiene, soft lips, a loving caress, etc.). Bonding kisses can be lengthy and include a cuddly make-out session, but they can be equally persuasive if they are very short, even just a peck or a caring kiss on the forehead. In this case, it is literally the thought that counts, because this is about "bonding"—building a feeling of comfort and attachment here, and not necessarily sexual arousal. These kisses are ideal during "spontaneous" moments, as part of a larger effort to build connection and rapport (for more, see here). This type of bonding kissing is also important after sex to make sure a partner feels loved and attended to.
3. To arouse and seduce
Kissing, of course, often leads to passionate feelings and sexual activity, especially more "intimate" open-mouth, tongue-involved kisses. If you are "in the mood," you'll likely seek to persuade your partner's libido with a kiss. Passionate kissing is essentially a progression of the other two types. All of the hygiene and touching rules apply. The intensity gets turned up a bit with greater assertiveness. Slowly, the touching and embracing gets a bit more intense, as open mouths and tongues get involved.
Arousal kissing also lasts longer; we escalate the intensity when we feel our partner reciprocate. As they become more assertive, we may proceed to kissing other areas (like the neck) and to foreplay. If they slow it down, we may go back to another type of kissing until they are on the same page. (For more on reading a partner's sexual motivation, click here.)
In the search for love, sex, and relationships, kissing is a powerful tool. Use it to assess your partner, prove your worth, bond, and turn them on. Just make sure to brush your teeth, moisten your lips—and be assertive.
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Until next time...happy dating and relating!
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© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.