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To Be a Better Lover, Put Oomph in Your Smooch

Kissing is one element of sex that can improve with age

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Women in particular use the quality and frequency of kissing before, during and after sex to gauge relationship satisfaction.
Tim Macpherson/Getty Images

It's been a long time since most older adults experienced their first romantic kisses. But while some elements of eroticism fade with age, kissing can remain just as vibrant and sensually satisfying at 96 as it felt at 16. And when couples take kissing more seriously, they can introduce new pleasure into even the longest-term relationships.

Kissing is an often overlooked element of sex. (Sexuality guides, for example, rarely mention it.) But the few scientific studies that have been done suggest that both men and women place a surprisingly high premium on smooching:

  • Oxford University researchers surveyed 308 men and 594 women ages 18 to 63. Many — but especially the women — considered the quality of first kisses a key sign of a partner's attractiveness and relationship potential.
  • University of Texas researcher Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, reports that two-thirds of women and more than half of men recall terminating budding relationships because they disliked the way their partner kissed. Talk about kiss-offs!
  • In long-term relationships, many people, particularly women, continue to use the quality and frequency of kissing before, during and after sex as a gauge of relationship satisfaction.
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Simple secrets for super snogging

Remember "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)," the 1964 hit by soul singer Betty Everett? Many popular songs extol the virtues of kissing, but precious few tell you how to do it like a pro. Fortunately, results are just in on that front, too: In a recent survey of 1,041 young adults, the vast majority cited fresh breath, clean teeth and good grooming as vital to a successful kiss.

Likewise, the majority prized soft, moist lips; deep breathing; mutual caresses; and assertiveness. That last item should liberate you to lean in and really put your heart into it, rather than remaining passive and simply receiving the other person's kisses.

Percy Bysshe Shelley defined kissing as "soul meets soul on lovers' lips." (No wonder they called him a Romantic poet!) I suppose it's possible to express deep love with lips-only kissing, but for soul to truly meet soul, most couples prefer open-mouth kissing with tongue contact. Most people consider the dance of tongues quite intimate; indeed, for some it's almost as personal as genital sex. Respondents to the survey mentioned above said that the best kissing begins with mouths closed and that the lips should part only as the two people become aroused.

So who cares whether you met last year or last century? You may be able to "say it with flowers," but, clearly, the best way to seal the deal is with a kiss. Mmmwah!

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