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A full guide to great smooching.

It’s safe to say being a truly amazing kisser is not easy. Some people (and a few urban legends) will say that you either have it or you don’t. Like sex, you’re supposed to know what you’re doing automatically and kissing “should” come naturally. But this is dead wrong. (It’s especially wrong about sex; No one is good at sex without learning how to do it first. Get real.)

With the right chemistry, the right person, and a willingness to learn great kissing skills can be learned.

Of course, not everyone knows what they’re doing or where to look. If you aren’t sure whether you’re any good at kissing or you think a partner needs some assistance, where do you turn? How can you give a kissing partner feedback if you don’t even know how to communicate your needs?

Kissing is a lost art-form, so for those of you looking to improve your kissing skills, here is what you need to know.

Always brush your teeth before a date.

Even if you’ve been married for 10 years, always brush your teeth before you take your spouse to dinner or the movies. It shows you’ve put in some effort, which will be appreciated. No one wants to kiss someone whose breath smells like a mix of your morning coffee and your lunch.

If you tend to forget details like this, just remember to carry to breath mints or Listerine strips in your purse. You’ll feel a lot better about a hot-and-heavy make out session if you know your breath is on point.

Start without tongue.

Don’t try too many things at once. When you go in for a kiss, start without tongue. Don’t smash your lips against your partners, gently touch them together. As you get a little more into the moment, increase pressure. When it comes to tongue, lightly touch your partner’s tongue with your own.

You DON’T want to be slobbering all over them like a dog—no one is into that. (Well, some people are, maybe, but for the most part this is not sexy.) Keep your tongue game on the safe side.

And don’t go wild with passionate tongue dancing unless you truly know what you’re doing.

Passion is always a must.

You must have passion inside of every one of your kisses. Even the simplest of pecs in the morning should be an expression of love. Kissing makes you partner feel cherished; Go into kissing with that kind of positive mindset. Tell your partner how beautiful, gorgeous, handsome, or sexy they are. Boost their ego a little bit and make them feel wanted and better kissing will follow.

Not to mention, while kissing should really be a mandatory activity before any sexual activity, it doesn’t always need to lead to sex. An expectation of sexual activity can actually stress out a partner who isn’t “in the mood” leading to decreased intimacy in your relationship overall. You don’t want to miss kissing because your partner thinks you’ll want sex as a result. Sound scary? It is. We never talk about these things with our significant others, but we should.

Lips aren’t the only thing worth kissing.

You don’t need to kiss someone’s lips the entire time you’re “kissing.” Take breaks to kiss your partner’s cheeks, eyelids, forehead, and neck. Pepper them with kisses all over their face, if they’re into it. Again, don’t go licking their face. Tongues are, put simply, not great, but you can gently nipple an earlobe or run your tongue along a collar bone—but draw the line there.

See more: 8 Women on How They Get What They Want During Sex

Close you darn eyes.

Last but not least: Do not be the person who kisses with their eyes open. There is nothing more unsettling than briefly opening your eyes during a kiss to see your partner staring at you. Ick.

Of course, we all occasionally open our eyes when kissing, but don’t make that a habit. Instead, pull away occasionally to look into your partner’s eyes. Establishing a connection this way can be very romantic. (Do this sparingly—it can be sexy, but if you’re taking kissing breaks every fifteen seconds to maintain eye contact, it will get weird.)

Now go forth and get your make out on, friends!

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago.

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