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Loose lips may sink (relation)ships

A kiss isn't just a kiss. Do it right, and it can be the key to her heart.

January 05, 2006|Samantha Bonar | Times Staff Writer

FOR 99.9% of women, bad kissing is a deal-breaker. A very fast deal-breaker.

A woman will give you one pass for nervousness. If the second kissing experience is poor, that's it. You're done.

A woman who lets you proceed past Strike 2 is either a virgin, mentally impaired or 85 years old, usually all three.

Luckily, poor kissers are rare. From my poll of friends, I'd say that about one in five kissers ranks as abysmal. The majority are passable. Another 20% make your knees buckle and your mind turn to mush.

My first boyfriend was an awful kisser. I didn't know; I thought I just didn't like kissing. One of my female friends at the time asked me: "Have you ever been kissed where you feel like you're going to faint?" I looked at her like she was speaking Tagalog. Slightly nauseous, yes. Faint, no.

I was not immediately attracted to my next boyfriend. But when he kissed me, I felt like I was going to melt onto the floor. He turned out to be a supreme jerk in a lot of ways, but his kissing always made me forget all his selfish behavior and kept me dizzily hooked -- for years.

Guys need to understand the power of a kiss. A bad kiss will preempt a relationship. A good kiss can make a relationship last much longer than it should.

Here are some common kissing abominations.

* The Washing Machine (Spin Cycle): This is the guy who moves his tongue around and around in a circle in your mouth. What the purpose of this is, I have no idea. Maybe they think your mouth needs cleaning.

* The Engulfer: When a man opens his mouth so wide he engulfs the entire lower half of your face. Your mouth is lost somewhere in the chasm like Tom Sawyer in the cave.

* The Slobberer: I have a dog, OK?

* The Masher: This is the guy who thinks, "The harder I press my mouth against hers, the more passionate I seem! I mean, that's what it looks like in the movies, right?" Meanwhile, your lips have gone numb.

* The Deep-Sea Fisher: Yes, indeed, my gag reflex does work!

* The No-Kissing-Foreplay: This guy doesn't start with some gentle closed-mouth kisses. He immediately thrusts his tongue into your mouth like a wet rag. See the Dead Cod.

* The Dentist: Likes to lick individual teeth, not unlike an oral exam but without the paper bib, which would be useful because this guy tends to morph into the Drooler.

* The (Hard) Biter: Most of us learned in preschool that it is not nice to bite other people. See also: the Hair Puller.

* The Dead Cod: This guy sticks his tongue in your mouth and just leaves it there, motionless.

* The Timid Tongue: This fellow opens his mouth, but holds his tongue back behind his teeth like an eel hiding in the rocks. The result is a lot of empty air with a distinctly awkward flavor. A close relative of the Baby Bird. No, Mama's not going to drop something into your mouth.

* The Reptile: Tongue-flicking belongs in the wild on slithering, hissing creatures.

* The Vacuum: It's like making out with an anteater.

What all of these bad kissers have in common is that they are detached from the experience. Because if they were engaged with the person plastered against them, they would be able to read the subtle feedback cues about what the woman is responding to and what she is not. In fact, that is exactly what makes a good kisser. They are sensitive to the physical feedback they are receiving and adjust their moves accordingly.

It's like having a conversation. Ideally, it is two-way. But sometimes, people just talk at you.

The bad kissers I've been with have invariably exclaimed: "Wow! That was amazing!" after we've kissed, proving just how unaware they were of my experience of the smooching.

Poor kissers are hung up on technique. It is like they are saying to themselves, "Let me try this move, then that one, then this one," going through a mental list. That mind-set is akin to: If I press the buttons in the right order, I'll get a prize. But women aren't something you do something to. They are beings you interact with. Be emotionally and physically present with her, and you'll seal the deal instead of breaking it.

Because, men, this is an iron-clad guarantee: If the woman doesn't like the kiss, you will never, ever find out what's below her neck. Another thing every woman knows is that if a guy is a bad kisser, it bodes poorly for more intimate forms of contact.

Kissing is a form of communication. Sometimes all a woman can reply is: "Ewww!" ... I mean, "No thanks."


Samantha Bonar can be reached at

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