How to Be a Good Kisser: 9 Tips for Better Makeouts

To give yourself the best odds of hitting just the right amount of tongue, Erin also suggests following the other person’s lead (as long as it feels good to you). “Note how far they’re putting their tongue in your mouth, and match it,” she says. Then you can experiment with a little more, and see how they respond.

5. If you’re into sloppy kisses, practice some restraint.

Big, wet approaches to locking lips can feel very intimate for some people, but it’s best to build your way up slowly. Melissa is in the less-is-more camp. “Too much gets wet and gross,” she says. “No one wants to feel like they’re being slobbered on like a dog.”

April, 32, from the British Virgin Islands, is in a similar boat. “I hate sloppy kisses—hate them,” she tells SELF. “I love gentle, full smooches with lips and a slight caress of our tongues.”

It can be a fine line to walk. Annie, 30, from California, notes that using too much or too little saliva can be less than pleasant. She’s all about that happy medium. Of course, “slobber,” “sloppy,” and “happy saliva medium” are relative terms when it comes to spit-swapping. You won’t know how your kissing partner feels about it unless you ask. Even something as simple as, “Is this okay?” or, “Do you like that?” does the trick.

6. Pay attention to other body parts and erogenous zones.

What you do with your hands often dictates how passionate a kiss can be, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Bailey, 33, from Texas, thinks hand placement is about balance, as is the kind of touch a person uses. “I don’t want someone to be too grabby and rough, or too soft and timid,” she tells SELF, noting that she’s turned off by both. Jillian, on the other hand, says more is more. “Running his hand down my back? Holding the back of my head? Even a nice butt grab? All about it. Hands are half of kissing.”

To ensure you get your hands on the action you’re looking for, don’t be shy about asking for what you want, Ajjan says. Again, it’s always good to ask if you’re even remotely unsure about how your partner feels about you touching their body too. Jillian says verbal direction works in her marriage. “If one of us wants to do something else, we just say it. Don’t be afraid to vocalize what you want. It’s effective and can be sexy.”

Amy, 47, from California, uses more subtle cues when she wants a change. “I’ve learned to redirect my husband with action,” she tells SELF. “I’ll show him what I want by holding my lips open or pulling back.”

Don’t underestimate the hotness potential of kissing somewhere other than their lips, provided consent is there. A related tip from Amy: Trace a part of their earlobe or collarbone with your finger before gently kissing the same spot. She says these non-mouth kisses can electrify a makeout session. “For some people it’s the ear, for others it’s the neck. I just think kisses that land somewhere other than the lips are largely underrated,” she says.

7. If you’re going to bite, be gentle.

Some people think the best kisses are ones that come with a little bite. If that sounds a lot like you, Ajjan recommends pacing yourself and watching for physical cues and body language about whether your partner likes it as you go too, even if you’ve already talked through it. “You don’t want to go from zero to 60 and risk hurting someone,” she says. “Tune into your partner, and then play around with biting, just not hard.”

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