You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince. That’s the message my mom and grandma instilled in me from a young age. Thanks to this great piece of advice, I kissed frogs of all different types. Some of the first kisses were magic and some were miserable. But I knew after the first time I kissed my now husband that our relationship would be special. How? I guess you could say it was just a feeling. But scientists got people to kiss and tell and now we know what makes that first time amazing… or not. Let’s look into the science.

What’s with the human obsession with lips?

The lips are a huge erogenous zone. When you think erogenous zones, you usually go for the obvious, like the clitoris, vagina, or penis. But your lips are full of nerve endings and they’re more exposed than other erogenous zones. Kissing also releases feel-good hormones, like the love hormone oxytocin. In fact, a behavioral anthropologist determined a great kiss can release enough dopamine that’s comparable to the feeling of being high on heroin or cocaine.

What makes a great kiss?

Yes, scientists have studied what makes a kiss good vs. bad. They also found that the average first kiss happens around 15 (I did an office poll, and they agree) and the average person kisses 18-19 people. Almost half the respondents in the study say they lost interest in their partner after a bad lip lock.

When asked what makes it great, people usually said it was with someone they knew, they shared a spark, and it caused an emotional response, like arousal or love. If you’re worried about enhancing the moment, a tingling balm is a great addition to a first date. Most of them also associated the kiss with a powerful memory, like getting engaged or during a night of passion. So, when asking “what” makes a great kiss, all that matters is the who, when, where, and how.

What makes a bad kiss?

While a good kiss is all about feeling, a bad one is all about the physical. In this case, things like too much tongue, bad breath, and excess saliva were mentioned. Also, it was more likely that people would describe it as bad if it was with a stranger or if alcohol was involved. That first impression is extremely important, especially for females. Two-thirds of women say they’ve ended a potential relationship because of a bad first smooch.

Why does all this matter?

Kissing is an important factor in finding your possible mate (as my grandmother and mom liked to remind me). One study says this allows you to pick up on biological compatibility cues and health through taste or smell. This is especially important for women than men, which is why pheromone sex attractants are a popular must-have for first dates.

It’s not only the first peck that matters. People who kiss more often in relationships have more positive sexual experiences and are more satisfied. It’s not just a precursor to sex. It’s important to maintaining the relationship for both people in the long-term.

More Benefits of Kissing

It feels nice to get a kiss, but there’s even more to it than that warm, fuzzy feeling. Scientists know about what else you can get after a good kiss. People who kiss their partners before leaving for work live about five years longer than those who don’t. It can reduce stress. It can also increase blood flow to your face, helping your skin.

So, when leaning in, make sure the mood is set, smell nice, and feel a spark with your partner. That’s the recipe of a great first kiss! Don’t let it be your last.

Tori Tromblay

Tori Tromblay

Special Projects Producer
Tori Tromblay (she/her/hers) is a book enthuisiast, cat lover, and Cincinnati native. She graduated from Ohio University with a degree in journalism. After traveling to New York, D.C., London, and Tulsa, she settled back home, where she lives with her husband and two cats. She has worked for Pure Romance for two years and loves to learn and teach about sex education.