Let's be real — there are two ends to the kissing spectrum. You can have an awesome experience with a partner who knows *just* what you like, or you're faced with too much tongue and slobber. No one wants to be known for the latter, which is why it's important to understand all the factors that go into the perfect kissing technique. Whether you're new to this whole kissing thing or you've been a master for years now, there is always something to learn about how to kiss. It not only comes down to attraction for the person you're sharing a smooch with but respecting boundaries, practicing consent, and understanding what you both like. And, just when you think you've seen it all, there are so many different types of kisses to try out with your boo. We know it seems like a lot to master, but keep reading for the best tips and tricks on how to be a good kisser.

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Don't kiss anyone you don't really want to kiss

Before we get into things, there's one point we have to go over. The best way to guarantee you're going to kiss like a pro? Kiss someone you actually want to kiss. If you're locking lips with someone just because you feel like you "should" or because you feel pressure, then step away from the face. You don't owe anyone—I repeat, anyone—a kiss.

Respect consent, always

A well-timed "Can I kiss you?" is a swoon-worthy move every single time. Why? Because it shows that you care about your partner's boundaries and don't want to do anything they're not ready for. You have to make sure that you're on the same page before you get down to a passionate make-out.

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how to be a good kisser

Understand the importance of setting

Like your English teacher says, setting = time + place. Is the right spot for a first kiss at your grandma's house or in the middle of an argument? Probably not. Wait until you can feel the electricity crackling between you to make your move. It'll be way better in the end.

Keep your breath fresh

Another important tip for how to kiss someone is as simple as these two words: fresh breath. You don't want to be up close and personal to someone's face space only to find that their mouth smells, you know, not great. If you're anticipating a trip to Makeout Town, avoid any and all stank-inducing foods like garlic, onions, and processed cheese.

Extra Refreshers Mint Mix Gum, 6 Pack

Extra Refreshers Mint Mix Gum, 6 Pack

Extra Refreshers Mint Mix Gum, 6 Pack

$21 at Amazon

Ask your partner what they want

Good kissers skip to the best parts by taking control and mentioning the things they do like. It can be as simple as saying "So, that tongue move you just did — I like that," as well as providing alternatives for the things they don't like. Play show and tell by performing the move on your partner and then asking them to do it back to you. Teaching can be really fun and spice up your makeout sesh.

Pay attention to what your partner does

As we just mentioned, your current kissing partner might be trying to show you what they want, so pay attention to their moves. Slow down, take note of the things your partner does, and then gently do it back. If they respond with enthusiasm, you'll know you got their message. Remember that the show isn't all about you: you're both in control.

Keep the kisses simple

Thinking too hard about going for a random trick you read about online is a quick way to turn a make-out session into something that feels a lot like a dental cleaning. Want to know how to be a good kisser? Start off small and slow, then try out your moves when it feels natural and you feel most comfortable. You'll know when the time is right.

Avoid the hickey

Question: Who thought it would be sexy to literally be a mouth vacuum and leave bruises on someone's skin? While it may be some people's bread and butter, hickeys aren't for everyone. Instead, opt for small kisses along the neck or even a gentle nibble (not suck) can be a major turn-on. Do that instead, and save you both the embarrassment of a spotted neck.

how to be a good kisser

And, in the event that you do end up with a hickey and are lacking some turtlenecks in your wardrobe, make sure you know how to cover it up properly.

Kiss all over the place

Getting tired of the same pecks on the lips? Go for some more unique spots that will drive your significant other wild. Here are some fun spots to try.

  • The neck
  • Under the jawbone
  • Soft spot behind the earlobe
  • The little dip in the collarbone
  • Tip of the nose
  • Forehead
  • Shoulder

Taking a break to explore will give both of you a second to breathe and enjoy yourselves.

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Megan Tatem

Map out your kisses

Consider this a Google Maps for your make-out:

  1. Start at the lips, kissing without tongue gently down towards the chin, then all along the jawbone, towards the ear. From here, give their earlobe a little nip or whisper something sweet (or sexy) in their ear.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

2. Sneak up on your partner from behind and kiss from the top of their shoulder, along the curve towards their ear.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

3. Gently kiss down the forehead, starting on the forehead, along the slope of the nose, and ending at the lips. Your partner will be so ready for the makeout by the time you get there.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Opt for more low-key public displays of affection

Even the best kisser may want to keep their skills under wraps in public. A hot-and-heavy public make-out in the school hallway may not be considered cute by every passerby. Instead of recreating that Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes video, opt for tiny pecks in these low-key places.

  • Facing each other on the bus? Go for the tip-of-the-nose.
  • Approaching them while they're sitting? Go for the forehead.
  • Strolling along, holding hands? Go for the knuckle-peck.
  • Netflix with the fam? Go for the inside-of-the-wrist lip-graze.

Keep your tongue in check

Using too much tongue is a major kissing mistake. Start off by lightly finding their tongue with the tip of yours, then pull back. Then, try grazing past the tip of their tongue and pull back. Circle the tip of their tongue, then pull back. The pullback gives you time to breathe and keeps from an overflow of saliva.

When you're feeling up for it, you can try running your tongue just along the inside of their upper lip, or pull a quick lick under their top lip in a sort of come-here maneuver.

Don't nibble—tug

Good teeth action starts with taking your partner's bottom lip between your front teeth, giving a gentle tug, and letting go. When you think about it, it's not so bad.

how to be a good kisser

Build up to the big moment

Before kissing, lean in and swipe your lips past theirs, slowly and lightly, then pull back. Take a one-two pause to bask in your partner's "I need your face" reaction before going in for the kill. And for those feeling sassy: If you've taken a break and are getting ready to lean back in, build up some anticipation by pulling back a half-inch and smiling. A little tantalization goes a long way.

Keep your hands on the good spots

When you first start in on the monumental kiss you've been waiting all these months for, you might wonder, what am I supposed to do with my hands? Stick to the good spots, my friend. Here are all the best options:

Place both of your hands on either side of their head, then slide them back into their hair.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Put one on their lower back and one behind the neck (can also venture into Hair Land).

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Try both hands lightly resting on their chest.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Or, opt for both hands on their hips, which you can then sneak around their lower back for a squeeze.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Pull on the neck of their shirt a little bit.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

Lastly, try running a few fingers up and down their spine, down the nape of their neck, or hovering around their cheeks and jaw.

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Megan Tatem/Crystal Law

You can actually help a bad kisser

Pause an aggressive kisser by leaning back, putting a hand gently on their collarbone, and approaching very slowly — almost like saying, "Chill. Take it down four notches. Like this." Reroute an overly acrobatic kisser by pulling back, just enough so you can whisper, and say, "I like this." Proceed with what you'd want done to you. (Pray that they've read this article and know how to mirror.)

Mix it up

Just because you kiss your partner one way doesn't mean you can't mix things up. Surprise can be such an exciting element of kissing. Maybe you change it up by adding in a little tongue or working with your hands a bit more. Feel out the mood to see what kind of kiss would be best.

Always carry lip balm

Yes, a thick coat of shiny gloss will make your lips look deliciously kissable, but when it comes time for actually kissing, you might want to wipe it off beforehand.

Your partner likely wants to taste your actual lips, not your latest Sephora purchase. Stick to a trusty lip balm to keep your pout supple, hydrated, and perfect for kissing.

Laneige Lip Glowy Balm

Lip Glowy Balm

Laneige Lip Glowy Balm

Keep your eyes closed

There's no reason to have your eyes open while you're making out — it can make things awkward and kill the mood.

Show affection in other ways

Kissing is amazing, but there are so many other ways to show affection. Hold your S/O's hand and kiss it. Say something unexpected and sweet in your crush's ear. Get them a little surprise gift for no reason at all. Kissing helps to build romance, but there are so many things that keep that fire alive.

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