Their tongue is flopping around your mouth like a writhing slug in salt.
Or their lips are tense and rigid, and you’re getting visions of smooching a skeleton.
Or perhaps their mouth is open so wide you feel like the botton half of your face is being devoured by someone who hasn’t eaten in so long that they’ve developed a taste for human flesh, a la Davide’s kiss with Danica on Love Island.
In short: you’re dealing with a bad kisser. What can you do about it, besides running far, far away?
Can you ever actually tell someone that their kissing is up to scratch? And can someone actually shape up their canoodling skills?
We asked the experts how to navigate this tricky, sloppy, saliva-y mess.
How to tell someone they’re a bad kisser
We know it’s tempting to close your eyes, pretend the terrible kissing isn’t happening, or to ditch your date and never look back – just to avoid the prospect of awkwardness.
But Annie Bennett, a psychotherapist and author, reckons it’s well worth bringing up the issue… in a nice way.
‘It only takes a conversation to work it out together,’ Annie tells Metro.co.uk.
Annie suggests having a think about why the kissing might be going wrong, and sexpert Ness Cooper agrees.
Ness says: ‘When we feel someone is a bad kisser, there are some things to consider that may be influencing their kissing style:
- They have learned kissing skills that worked in a past relationship
and even desired by the previous person
- They’re nervous about kissing.
- They’ve learnt how to kiss through watching movies, other media, and
even porn! Many of these forms of kissing will have to be done in a
certain way depending on filming requirements. Many don’t realise that
there is more to kissing than what we see on the screen.
- You’re judging kissing on your past experiences and found that in past
relationships you had that special kiss that sent you head over heels,
and you’re craving it again.’
Bear all this in mind so you can reframe your perspective before diving into the conversation. It’s a far kinder approach to ponder why someone’s kissing style might not match up with your preferences than to just dismiss them as awful.
Then, your approach to the conversation might depend on the ways in which your smooching is going wrong.
If it’s about hygiene issues (bad breath, super dry lips), for example, you’ll want to focus in on gentle suggestions on teeth brushing, chewing gum, lip balm – barging in and saying someone stinks is only going to bruise their ego.
If it’s down to technique, you’ll be better off framing the chat as what you really enjoy; what turns you on – rather than what’s not so great.
‘They may just need directing in how you like kissing,’ says Ness. ‘Telling them how you enjoy being kissed can help, from tongues or no tongues, to gentle pecks versus full-pressure snogs.’
If the subtle, super gentle approach isn’t making a change, though, it might be time to get a bit more honest.
That doesn’t mean tearing someone’s techniques to shreds, but simply acknowledging that there are certain things your date is doing that don’t feel so good.
‘Kissing is a way of connecting,’ says Remy Le Fèvre, global head of communications at Badoo.
‘So if everything else is going great, bar this one element, it’s important to be honest about it.
‘The most important thing is to not put any pressure on the situation – for you and the person you’re dating (and kissing). That means being honest with yourself and with them.
‘If all else fails, you might just need to be upfront and say it. If it gets to this, just be light-hearted, and focus on the positives, without putting the pressure on them – for example, say you really like how things are going but you don’t feel like you have the same kissing style, and ask if you can work together on that.
‘It certainly doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker – if you get along and there’s something between you, this might even be a fun way of getting to know each other more.
‘Sure, it might be a bit awkward initially, but it’s something you can work on together, and at the end of the day, it’ll likely bring you closer together!’
Remember kissing is supposed to be fun, so you could try adding a good spin to bad situation by suggesting a proper snogging session to figure out what you both like.
‘Make it into a fun game,’ suggests dating coach Kate Mansfield. ‘You can do this in general to communicate what you like and don’t like in your sex life. Suggest taking it in turns to show each other how you like to be kissed, touched…’
How to be a better kisser – top tips
Okay, so what if you’re worried that you’re the bad kisser?
Fear not, we’ve got some top tips to up your game.
Try things out! ‘You could ask to experiment with different kissing styles and give each other feedback on the parts you enjoyed,’ suggests Ness. ‘You may learn new ways on how to kiss that you enjoy and didn’t know about before.’
Make sure your oral hygiene is on point
‘No-one wants to be kissed by someone with a mouthful of rotting teeth or bad breath,’ says dentist Dr Kailesh Solanki. ‘For health reasons as well as to ensure you’re perfectly kissable, it’s vital that you maintain good oral hygiene – brushing twice daily, flossing and attending dental checkups twice each year.
‘Don’t forget to scrape any residue off your tongue as well as cleaning your teeth.’
And watch out for bad breath
‘If you know you have a date that evening or even next day, it’s best to avoid strong smelling food such as curry, garlic or excessive amounts of beer,’ Dr Kailesh continues.
‘Brush your teeth a few hours before your date and after you’ve eaten.
‘Check them in the mirror to ensure there’s no trapped food in there and finally, just before you leave, have a swill around with some mouthwash to ensure your breath smells fresh and slightly minty without being overpowering.’
Ask your partner what they like
There’s no harm in asking your partner what turns them on, or how they want to feel when they kiss.
Remember it’s not all about your lips
Ness says: ‘Be mindful of other sensations going through your body as you kiss, as there’s so much more happening than just lips on lips.’
What are your hands doing? What about the rest of your body – are you leaning in, getting closer?
Close your eyes
Few things are more awkward than someone going in for a kiss while staring you down.
Close your eyes for the actual kiss, but, suggests Ness ‘stare into each other’s eyes before and after to add an extra boost of feel-good and bonding hormones’.
Take your time
It’s not a race, and no one likes to feel rushed.
Try varying pressure and technique
Don’t let’s things get boring – mix up between softer pecks and deeper snogs. Focus more on the bottom lip, then the top. Bring in the tongue, then pull back.
Don’t be aggressive
‘Slow down and don’t shove your tongue down their throat,’ says Kate.
Ness says: ‘When kissing for a long period of time, check in on each other and
give each other words of affirmation and gratitude.
‘Something like: “I like it when I feel your lips on me” or “when we kiss I feel so close to you”.’
Tune in to your partner
What are they signalling with their body language? How are they responding to your kissing technique?
If they seem to be pulling back or trying to slow down, listen to that. If they’re bringing in more tongue action, that can be a signal that they want you to do the same.
If it’s feeling flat, ponder the emotions
‘For kissing to feel good there has to be natural chemistry and a good emotional connection as well,’ says Kate.
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