Do It Better

Rediscover the Pleasure of Kissing

| 11/03/2020

kissing guide Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

This holiday season, our theme is Simple Pleasures: small wins, solid foundations, appreciation of comfort. Let’s acknowledge our nostalgia for pre-pandemic times and calm our anxieties as we venture (again) into the great indoors. It’s time to focus on making our body home wherever we are.

Giving sex advice and helping you hone your skills and learn more about you gorgeous anatomy is undoubtedly my most notable skill as a certified sex educator and sexologist. But when we focus so much on sex, we often forget to look at the building blocks of arousal. An essential one that we often neglect? The art of kissing.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably been years (longer, even) since you’ve given any thought to your kissing skills, but experimenting with—and reveling in—this simple pleasure is a vital component to having satisfying sexual experiences. Now, I’m not saying kissing is for every single person. We all know some people cannot stand it. But while I’m not for making generalizations, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people enjoy a good makeout session. “Arousal starts in the brain before it reaches other parts of your body. There’s something so naturally erotic and arousing about kissing. You’re breathing in the other person,” says Zachary Zane, sex expert and sex and relationship columnist at Men’s Health. Additionally, you’re physically very close to your partner and facing them, which builds intimacy. 

With all of this being said, we at Swell have decided it was time we took your kissing game to the next level. Here’s hoping for a hot kissing session in your near future.

Kissing and Sexual Currency

We don’t give kissing the credit it deserves. It can make your sex hotter and even heighten the small, everyday interactions with your partner, a thing we sexologists call “sexual currency.” A study from The Archive of Sexual Behavior shows that kissing helps to increase pair bonding and feelings of intimacy between partners. 

It’s these small moments of slightly lusty affection that establishes you and your partner as sexual beings who relate to each other on an erotic level. The study also showed that couples who engaged in regular romantic kissing were more likely to see these smooch-fests turn into further sexual engagement. Another study from Sexual and Relationship Therapy provides evidence that kissing frequency is a positive indicator of overall sexual and relationship satisfaction between couples. 

Seriously, science has spoken, pals. Kissing is a real unsung hero.

It’s small moments of slightly lusty affection that establishes you and your partner as sexual beings who relate to each other on an erotic level.

Kissing produces a chemical reaction in the brain, especially oxytocin, which is the bonding and love chemical,” explains Lucy Rowett, a certified intimacy coach and clinical sexologist. “Many women use kissing as a way to determine if a partner will be good in bed, so if your partner is a good kisser, it’s more likely you will have better sex, too.” Science has an interesting explanation for why kissing plays such a fundamental role in our attraction to a mate. According to researchers at Oxford University, kissing may help a woman (or vulva-owning person) determine if a partner is a good genetic match. When you swap spit with someone, your body is subtly decoding if that person’s immune system is complementary to yours and would produce strong offspring. That might not be the most romantic thing in the world, but it’s pretty cool, nonetheless.

How to Take Your Kissing to the Next Level

  • Make kissing a relationship priority.

Kissing is not the most important thing in the entire world of relationships, but it IS important. “Kissing is a type of touch that takes minimal effort, lighting up the reward center in the brain, releasing a cocktail of feel-good chemicals called oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin,” says Kristine D’Angelo, a certified sex coach and educator. “This cocktail gives you a natural high and [leaves you] longing for more.” 

By making kissing a priority (kissing every single day), you’re sure to see an increase in feelings of bonding and attachment to your partner. We’re basically biologically designed to kiss. Get on it!

  • Slow it down, babe.

Kissing is not a race. It doesn’t need to be this hurried thing. Sure, a quick peck before leaving for work (remember when we used to GO to work?) might be all you have time for in the morning, but before bed, take five minutes to just really kiss. “Feel each other’s energy, snuggle in and enjoy each other,” Rowett says. “Slowing down gives you a chance to savor the moment and all of the sensations.”

If you’ve found that kissing has fallen to the wayside (trust me, I see it all the time), you may benefit from literally putting time aside for intimacy on your calendar. I know that doesn’t sound like the hottest thing ever, but it really works. Make sure you set aside 30 to 40 minutes that are just for you and your partner to reconnect, kiss, cuddle, and even have sex, if you’re in the mood for it. Intimacy is how we keep that spark alive. It takes mutual effort from both partners.

  • Not all kissing means sex.

It’s important to note that kissing doesn’t need to lead to sex. One common theme I find with my clients is when women think that if they engage in physical intimacy at all with their partner, they’ll feel pressured to do more. If you want to just kiss, say so. Tell your partner that you just want to feel close to them and would enjoy some good old fashioned knacking, but that you’re not feeling super-sexual right now. They’ll understand. And of course, extend the same courtesy to your partner if they don’t want to take it further.

To make your sex-free kissing session even more lovely, try to “combine kissing your partner with a head/scalp massage and watch their eyes roll back into their head from sheer delight,” D’Angelo says.

  • Get WEIRD with it.

Now, don’t misunderstand here. I don’t mean slobbering all over your partner’s face as a way to “change things up.” (Unless they’re into that. I don’t know your life, nor do I judge you.) The thing about kissing is that there are so many fun and new things to try. The important thing is to take the pressure off and have a little fun. “Our lips are the most sensitive part of the body, having over 1 million nerve endings, so use a blindfold and create a sensory adventure for your partner using fruit, hot/cold, sweet and soft or placing different body parts on your partners lips and have them kiss you all over,” D’Angelo says.

If your intimate kissing starts to get you in the mood for more sexual activity, Zane suggests bringing in mutual masturbation to your makeout sessions. “You can manually stimulate your partner’s penis/vulva, while they stimulate yours. All the while you’re making out and swapping fluids,” he says. “I’d recommend adding that to your regular sexual repertoire.” 

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