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Pucker up! Secrets to being a better kisser

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A recent study has found that there may be much more to kissing than meets the lips. Indeed, researchers have found that a first smooch can determine the entire future of a relationship. (As if first kisses weren’t stressful enough!)The kissing study, which was performed by Susan M. Hughes of Albright College, found that 59 percent of males and 66 percent of females confessed they would end a relationship if the first kiss left something to be desired.  Researchers believe this could be due to the exchange of hormones that occurs during kissing. During a make-out session, men and women both transmit chemical cues through their breath and saliva, which may alert their mate to their sexual psychology and reproductive status.Of course, most of us rate a good kiss based on more simple terms, such as: “Was it sloppy? Did he have horrible breath? Did she bite my tongue by accident?” However, what we may not realize is that the hormonal cues in our saliva are actually guiding our mental thought processes. In particular, women seem most in tune to these kissing hormones — researchers found that women use kissing as a bonding mechanism and as a way to gauge the commitment in a relationship. So how can you be sure that your kiss won’t send your date running for the hills? While you can’t actually alter the hormones in your saliva, you can be sure to avoid the most common make-out mistakes:

  • Caution: Slippery when wet!According to the kissing study, men prefer wetter kisses than women do. So it’s no surprise that women often complain that they feel “mauled” by sloppy dates who use too much tongue and saliva. During a first kiss, keep moisture and tongue action to a minimum — if your date has to wipe her face at the end of the kiss, something went wrong!
  • Give kissing the attention it deserves. The survey discovered that men spent more time focusing on a date’s face and body weight, while women were more apt to place importance on a date’s lips and teeth. Women seem to place a much higher importance on kissing than men do — so listen up, men! If you want to sweep your date off her feet, pay a little extra attention to your smooching technique. You will be sure to take her breath away!
  • It is all about timing. Surprisingly, the kissing study also found that more men than women believe kissing is a good way to end an argument. The lesson here? Most women aren’t ready to pucker up after a fight. Delay kissing for a more appropriate time.

While first kisses may determine the future of a relationship, it is the kisses that follow that determine the happiness of a relationship. Many couples in long-term relationships often find that kissing gets tossed by the wayside. However, a little liplock can be a surefire way to spice up your marriage and keep your relationship intimate. I advise my clients to engage in a 10-second-long kiss every day. It is bound to feel unnatural at first, but this is just a tool to get you back in the habit of kissing your partner. Before long, you will find that kissing has become a spontaneous and fun part of your relationship again.Kissing has always been a crucial part of human bonding and foreplay. Indeed, over 90 percent of all cultures on the planet engage in the art of kissing. There are even some species of monkeys that use kissing as form of expressing love — and who hasn’t felt the wet kiss of a dog, or the rough lick of a cat’s tongue? Kissing is truly a universal art form — so get out there and pucker up!Laura Berman, LCSW, Ph.D., is the director of the Berman Center, a specialized health care facility in Chicago that's dedicated to helping women repair their sex lives and find relief from menopausal symptoms. Dr. Berman is also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

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