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Pucker Up Y’all, Today Is National Kissing Day.

What makes or breaks a kiss? Let's start here.

Love & Relationships

I remember when I had my first kiss. Technically, it was when I was in the first grade. A cute and popular—as popular as you can be when you're no older than 7—blonde cutie pie named Michael lined all of the girls along the fence on our playground and smooched us. Hmph. When I think back on that now, it's a little weird. Anyway, that was the first time a little boy put his lips on mine. Now my first kiss with tongue? That was around 12-13. His name was Loren. It was while we were in New Orleans for a church conference. That kiss was so…I guess, "moving" is the appropriate word that we talked off and on until our freshman year in college.

Moral to the story? No matter what age you are, kissing is pretty powerful because, be honest, you can probably recall your first kiss too! And because swapping spit (relatively speaking) is such a profound experience, it makes perfect sense that there would be an entire day that's entirely dedicated to it.

As far as kissing from a scientific standpoint, I already penned a piece on 15 random kissing facts a while ago. Today, I want to approach kissing from an entirely different angle. Where did French kissing come from? I'm about to tell you. What makes or breaks a kiss? We're gonna touch on that as well. Is there an actual kissing etiquette? Let's look and see.

Hopefully, by the time you're done reading—or at least skimming—all of this, you'll have a new appreciation for kissing and, more importantly, who kisses you.

Let’s Look at Some Different Kinds of Kisses

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Is a kiss just a kiss? Not really. I did some research—including a little asking around—and found out that there are at least a dozen different kinds to choose from. Kisses like ones that are planted on the forehead and cheeks, along with the oh-so-cute (at least I think so) Eskimo kiss (you know, rubbing noses) is about expressing heartfelt affection. When a man kisses a woman on her hands or eyelids, supposedly that shows that he is quite smitten. Earlobe and neck kisses are acts of foreplay (by the way, if you wonder where hickeys came from, we got it from animals. You can read more about that here).

Then there's the French kiss. Where did that term originate? From what I've read, the word "galocher", until very recently, was a slang French word that meant "kissing with tongues". But this kind of kissing didn't actually start in France. The original term was the Florentine kiss; it's what American and British soldiers did when they greeted their significant others when they returned home from World War I. But because we naturally associate the French with being passionate, they get the reputation for coming up with this kind of kissing when, in all actuality, it was us. Salute.

What Makes a Kiss Hot?

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Now that we've broken a few kisses down, let's talk about what makes for an amazing kiss. To me, a kiss where a man holds my face, starts off slow and eventually becomes more intense is hot. A little lip and tongue sucking is great too, so long as he's not trying to remove it from my mouth. Oh, and soft moans. Those too are appreciated. But that's just me. From the unofficial polling that I did, with both men and women, the kind of kisses that feel like a conversation (you know, where both people are paying attention to one another) is pretty amazin'. Saliva needs to be kept down to a minimum. Caressing (even if it's just hand holding) needs to be happening simultaneously. Slight nibbling and sucking are appreciated. Oh, and everyone I talked to described the importance of staying in the moment during a kiss.

By the way, no matter how great a kiss may be, some official polling revealed that half of all men would have sex without kissing (I've asked around about this too and, a lot of men find kissing to be a whole lot more intimate than intercourse); men prefer wetter kisses than we do (I'm thinking that has something to do with, umm, our other lips getting/being wet as well); overall, kissing is preferred before sex rather than after and, the average amount of kissing partners between men and women is approximately the same—14. Hmph.

What Makes a Kiss…Not?

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I don't know about y'all, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a bad kisser isn't bad breath (I'm thinking that's a given). It's poor aim. You know, those guys who are either French kissing your nostrils or your chin. Yuck. Some more of my unofficial polling (again, of both men and women) revealed that an overly-eager or lazy tongue (who wants something reminiscent of a dead fish being in their mouth?!), someone who wants to give you as much of their spit as possible, someone who's rhythm is totally off, a hard biter, a tooth-bumper or someone who wants to talk a lot in between kisses are all no-nos.

But out of everything that I heard, what seemed to top the list was a kiss with someone when there was no real connection; that is the epitome of a bad. Like the expected kiss after a date when you're just not that into the person or when you're currently irritated by your partner and they want to "fix things" with a kiss instead of giving you a little time and space to process.

Oh! There was one more thing that a few folks told me makes for a bad kiss. Atmosphere. Kissing in the rain doesn't work if you hate getting your wet. Kissing in public isn't cool if you hate PDA. Kissing on the couch isn't always welcoming if that is constantly a precursor for sex (meaning, don't get into the habit of leaning in for a kiss if it's ONLY so that you can get some). The right setting, the right lighting and the right time can make for a kiss that's very hot—or totally not.

How Long Should You Wait to Kiss Someone?

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Some of y'all probably read this point and was like, "I don't want to think too hard about this because it could ruin the romance." Uh-huh. I hear you. But remember those 15 facts about kissing that I referenced earlier? One of them is that you can get an STD from kissing someone. Plus, kissing exchanges oxytocin between two people; that basically means that it bonds them. What all of this boils down to is, no matter how "casual" kissing may seem on the surface, it actually isn't. That's why you should put some thought into when you should kiss someone new. Oh, and why.

There's no real steadfast rule to this particular point. Just, before locking lips with someone, ask yourself if you want to get closer to them and if they are deserving of being that close to you. One of my high school teachers used to say that kissing is sex with your mouth. I mean, stuff is going into other stuff and there is a chance that you could contract something so, not to ruin the mood or anything but, they kinda have a point there.

You're a big girl and it is your mouth. But just like every other part of you, your mouth is precious. Just make sure to choose wisely, OK?

How to Make Your Lips Unbelievably Soft

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With all of the technical stuff out of the way, I want to end this with just one more point. Personally, I don't care how good of a kisser someone is, I ain't interested if 1) their breath stinks and/or 2) their lips aren't soft. If chapped lips are something that you constantly struggle with, it could be due to too much exposure to the sun (which means you should get a lip balm that has sunscreen in it), constantly licking your lips (the bacteria and saliva combo can dry them out) or being dehydrated.

If you happen to have a handle on these things, but you still want your lips to feel unbelievably soft the next time that you pucker up, start with applying a DIY brown sugar lip scrub (it will gently exfoliate your lips). Then apply some sweet almond oil (you can even add a little honey to it for taste's sake). Or, if you want to give your lips a little extra pampering, apply a mixture of one teaspoon of honey, one teaspoon of mashed-up avocado and one teaspoon of muddled cucumber that's been thoroughly blended. Apply the combo to your damp lips, let it sit for 10 minutes, rinse with cool water and then apply some shea butter onto your kissers for the night.

You'll have the best feeling lips ever. Just in time to thoroughly observe National Kissing Day!

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Article originally published on July 6, 2019

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