Would You Marry a Bad Kisser?
Is there a gender difference?
Posted Apr 02, 2020
“She had kisses sweeter than wine.” The Weavers
“All I know is I love when he kisses me. I live for the moment his lips meet mine, I crave the depth of his kiss that leaves its impression on my soul.” A married woman about her lover
While kissing may seem like minor touching, it is crucial in romance. Hence, many people hesitate before marrying a bad kisser. Are they right to do so?
The overall value of kissing
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” Albert Einstein
A romantic kiss usually involves the lips of two partners touching. Notably, the lips are highly sensitive to touch.
Kory Floyd and colleagues (2009) studied fifty-two healthy adults who were in marital or cohabiting romantic relationships and were instructed to increase the frequency of romantic kissing in their relationships for a 6-week trial. After this period, relative to the control group, those in the experimental group experienced improvements in perceived stress, relationship satisfaction, and total serum cholesterol. Kissing, then, is a communicative behavior that may improve physical, mental, and relational well-being.
The art of kissing
“The first kisses of a man to me are a clear indication of the future of our relations.” A divorcee
“I am married to the best kisser ever. His kisses always melt me. He taught me to open my eyes and look directly into his eyes when he kisses me.” A married woman
As in sexual activities, many factors go into being a good kisser. The physical technique—when, where, and for how long to kiss—can be learnt. Then there is the mental technique—what you say to your partner, and how and when you say it. And the most important factor is your romantic attitude.
Consider the following advice concerning how to master the art of kissing:
1. Make sure your lips aren't dry; moistening them (but not too much) makes it easier for your lips to slide over your partner's.
2. Let your partner take the lead sometimes and get used to his or her style.
3. Close your eyes just before your lips touch.
4. Use your hands!
5. Let them know what they are doing is good.
6. French Kiss. Remember: Don't dive straight for the tonsils. Play with their tongue—think of it as trying to massage the other's tongue.
Although there is value in such techniques, the best technique is often context- and personality-dependent. Take, for example, closing one’s eyes. Against the aforementioned advice, the married woman cited above finds open-eyed kissing a real turn-on.
It seems that regarding kissing, too, open eyes generate initial excitement; then, in increasing excitement, to the point of orgasm, closing the eyes can be helpful.
The essence of the art of kissing stems from your loving attitude. Technique can help in the short term, but technique cannot fake love, at least not in the long term. Romantic kissing is more than a mere action; it expresses a whole romantic attitude that may impact brief sexual desire as well as enduring profound love.
Kissing is a kind of penetration of one’s partner’s body. Like sexual penetration, the tongue does not merely penetrate the partner’s mouth but also the partner’s heart. Think of the movie Pretty Woman: kissing is the red line of a prostitute, who agrees to have sex for money—but kisses only for love.
Most folks, it bears mention, remember their first kiss better than they remember their first sexual encounter. One study found that both men and women have found themselves attracted to someone only to discover, after kissing the person, that they’re no longer interested (Hughes et al., 2007).
Gordon Gallop further claims that “At the moment of a kiss, there’s a very complicated exchange of information involving tactile cues and postural adjustments and odors and even the exchange of saliva. There may be hard-wired, evolved mechanisms operating at an unconscious level that process these cues and make a determination about whether it’s a good match.”
Although both romantic kissing and sexual interactions include penetration, kissing is by far more intimate. Such kissing involves a combination of the dainty and the penetrating, and of the romantic and the sexual. Romantic kissing includes psychological merging between two autonomous partners, through a play that is both fun and very serious.
Would you marry a bad kisser?
Here are random answers of people (mostly women) to this question:
“It depends on how bad, and when it's really bad.”
“Nope. Kissing is important to me.”
“I don't think my SO is a good kisser. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say he's bad. Just mediocre..”
“I'm pretty sure the answer is no. I have come to realize I really enjoy kissing, so it's important.”
“I don't think so... I have never gone on more than one date with a bad kisser, so there is that!! Life is too short for bad kissers.”
“Back in the day, I may have had the patience to teach, but at 30? No. Sorry. This may be mean, or make me a b*tch, but I just don't want to teach someone to kiss. I want the sexual attraction there with the first kiss!”
“On my list of turn-offs, a bad kisser is up at the top. Like next to racist or sexist.”
“To me, kissing is foreplay, so if a guy were a bad kisser, I don't know that I'd ever get hot enough to want to have sex with him..”
“Date? Sure. Marry? F*ck no. Just like I wouldn't marry someone who was bad at oral. I'm sure there's a strong correlation.”
“I don't think I would marry a bad kisser. The only exception would be someone who is EXTREMELY rich. I could deal with bad kissing for financial security for the rest of my life.”
“I don't kiss nobody's butt.” Dolly Parton
Kissing is valuable for both women and men; however, women seem to attach more importance than men to kissing. Here is a list of some differences (Hughes & Kruger, 2011):
Women are more likely to initiate kissing after sex than are men. They are also more likely to initiate the act of sleeping next to their romantic partner after intercourse, which may also promote pair-bonding.
Men tend to initiate kissing before sexual intercourse; and women, after intercourse. For men, kissing is more goal motivated.
Females are more likely to engage in postcoital behaviors related to bonding with both short- and long-term partners, whereas males are more likely to engage in ones that are extrinsically rewarding or increase the likelihood of further coital acts.
In long-term relationships, females not only rate kissing as more important than men do but they indicate that kissing is important throughout a relationship.
Women, more than men, use kissing as a way of assessing the recipient as a potential partner, and later as a way of maintaining intimacy and checking the status of a relationship.
Men are less discriminating when it comes to deciding who to kiss or who to have sex with. They are more willing to agree to have sex with someone they consider to be a bad kisser.
The higher value that women place on long-term relations inclines them to give greater weight to kissing, and especially to kissing that is not in the service of achieving sex but for the purpose of enhancing enduring profound love. Kissing acts as both a mechanism to induce bonding and as a mechanism to increase sexual arousal.
Deciding whether to marry a bad kisser
“I wasn't kissing her, I was whispering in her mouth!” Leonard Marx
“A kiss that speaks volumes is seldom a first edition.” Clare Whiting
Some central issues in assessing the negative value of a bad kisser are: (a) how bad the kissing really is, (b) whether the art of kissing can be learned, (c) the role of kissing in romantic love overall, and (d) the quality of your own kissing.
The first two issues are relatively easy to handle. Not everyone can be the best kisser on earth, and not everyone who is not a good kisser is a very bad one. Thus, the decision to marry or not should take into account just how badly this person kisses and whether s/he can improve by learning and practice. The third issue is trickier, as it depends on many factors unrelated to kissing, and on the critical issue of the difference between the short- and long-term (Ben-Ze’ev, The Arc of Love).
The fourth issue, the quality of your own kissing, introduces yet more complexity to our question. Equality and reciprocity are normally important in romantic relations. If the partners share a quality of kissing, settling for a bad, or even mediocre, kisser will be easier. Reciprocity is indeed essential to kissing (and love in general). It is not much fun to kiss cold lips associated with a frozen heart. Kissing is a kind of romantic game in which both partners participate, as we want both to kiss and to be kissed.
To sum up, kissing is probably the physical activity that touches most closely the lover’s heart. Thus, it makes sense that someone might not want to marry a bad kisser. But the decision of whether or not to marry a bad kisser depends on many factors—like looks, personality, and money. All of these and more can make up for being a bad kisser.
Ben-Ze’ev, A. (2019). The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change Over Time. University of Chicago Press,
Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup Jr, G. G. (2007). Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 147470490700500310.
Hughes, S. M., & Kruger, D. J. (2011). Sex differences in post-coital behaviors in long-and short-term mating: An evolutionary perspective. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 496-505.