We all have our own signature kissing style and - let’s face it - we all like to assume that it’s pretty amazing. But are we deluding ourselves and if so, how much does it matter?
According to new research by scientists at Oxford University, kissing is a critical ritual when it comes to helping us find a potential mate and keeping them.
Researchers Rafael Wlodarski and Professor Robin Dunbar claim we kiss to “assess the genetic quality of mates; increase arousal, and then keep a relationship together.” No pressure then.
But how do you evaluate your own kissing techniques short of handing out feedback forms afterwards?
In fact it’s probably only humans who place such priority on the ritual of kissing.
Other animals do pucker up and touch lips or even smack them together, but much as we like to romanticise this behaviour, zoologists usually come to the conclusion that it’s about sharing or checking for food.
Apes might gain emotional pleasure out of what can look like kissing but it’s more likely to be triggering the memory of taking food from their mother’s mouth as a baby than anything to do with sexual overtures.
This could explain part of the intrinsic, relic pleasures from the kind of kissing in humans where the couple over-pucker their lips rather than opening their mouths, as this could secretly be stimulating the pleasure and feelings of security felt while breast-feeding as a baby.
So what are your kisses telling a potential mate? Do you linger around the lips or go straight for the tonsils? Are you a noisy or a silent snogger? Do you open your mouth wide or tend to keep your lips closed or even clamped? And what about your eyes? Are they tight shut or staring as you move in for your moment of passion?
TYPES OF KISSES
WHAT IT IS: The guppy entails straight, nose-to-nose heads rather than a more submissive head-tilt, plus a part-opened mouth with over-extended lips that only meet on their extremities. (Like fish, really!) This technique is hugely popular with celebrities performing their PDAs for the cameras; especially longer-term celeb couples who want to register strong bonds of affection but without performing anything overtly sexual.
WHAT IT SAYS: This is the kiss that most mimics breast-feeding or food sharing, suggesting a light-hearted rather than passionate form of attraction. It’s the sexually ambiguous version of kissing, and on a good day you could kiss your auntie like this and get away with it because it is more about pseudo-infantile fun than anything saucier. But if you’re guppy-kissing a new date you’re implying you’re more into friendship than full-on lust.
WHAT IT IS: You’re a lip-pecker, the kind of kisser who likes to plant tiny kisses around your date’s mouth, drawing back after each one to gauge their reaction before you move in for the full snog.
WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT YOU: This technique suggests playful teasing; signalling a delayed gratification personality blended with what might be high levels of empathy, i.e. a desire to check levels of mutual attraction and desire before moving to the next stage in the seduction.
WHAT IT IS: The Lizard mouth shape can resemble the Guppy, although the lips will be held wider apart and your tongue is putting in the earliest of appearances, popping out like a lizard’s as you move in for the kiss, rather than waiting until your lips are locked.
WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT YOU: This is the Dr Who of the kiss world, slightly scary for any partner who has his/her eyes open on the approach, although you could argue you’re the open, honest type of lover who likes to be up front with their intentions at all times. This sexual-mimicry kiss style suggests leadership tendencies plus a desire to get to the point of any kind of challenge and even get it over with as quickly as possible. You’re seen as the eager-beaver type at work and the same might apply to your bedroom techniques although it has to be said not all your dates hang around long enough to find out!
WHAT IT IS: You move in with your mouth open wide and stretched horizontally and with your head tilted to make docking easier, looking for all the world as though you intend to eat your partner whole.
WHAT IT SAYS: This wide-apart lips technique suggests a dominant, instant-gratification approach to sex, meaning for you it’s all about throwing off your clothes and making love in the hallway rather than doing coffee and small-talk in the lounge first. You’re possibly demanding and you don’t suffer fools gladly. For you passion is all about the moment, so why wait when you know you have a connection?
WHAT IT IS: You cup your partner’s face in one or both of your hands before you kiss and gaze into their eyes.
WHAT IT SAYS: This is one of the most romantic techniques that also puts you in charge of steering, showing gentle dominance. By gazing into your partner’s eyes first you suggest you’re trying to connect with their personality first rather than just zooming in for all the sexual stuff. Gentle but also passionate
THE NOISY KISSER
WHAT IT IS: There are two types of noisy kisser: the voluntary and the involuntary noise- maker. The first approaches kissing like a eating a great meal, making odd groans and sounds of pleasure while they kiss, but the involuntary noise-maker creates something altogether more physical, with a squelching and sucking soundtrack to their snogs.
WHAT IT SAYS: The voluntary noise adds aural stimulation to the list of pleasurable experiences triggered by a kiss and nearly always suggests you’re moving this snog onto something more intense. The involuntary noise is more about you showing your lack of technique though, especially if they you are also a bit of a dribbler.
WHAT IT IS: You do your snogs with eyes wide open throughout, staring at your partner’s face at the same time as locking lips.
WHAT IT SAYS: We close our eyes to intensify the pleasure of a kiss by losing ourselves in the moment, plus we do it to be polite, as a close-up stare can be scary. By using eye contact throughout you could be showing some levels of detachment, as though you’re going through the motions of kissing to please your partner rather than yourself, but you could also be revealing your anxious side, checking his/her face to ensure they’re genuine.
THE DISTRACTED KISSER
WHAT IT IS: You kiss with your mouth but your eyes tend to be scanning the world around you at the same time.
WHAT IT MEANS: You’re the ultimate multi-tasker, combining sexual techniques with a totally different form of intellectual arousal. If you’re looking at people around you while you kiss you’re a display kisser, showing off your ability to attract a mate to your audience. If you find you’re just looking away though you’re probably embarrassed or bored or both.