Read an Excerpt
HOW TO KISS WITH CONFIDENCE (Chapter One)The First Kiss
I am going to die. I am going to die right here on the chaise lounge in your study, right here on this ancient couch that your uncle dusted off yesterday so that it would look good for your birthday party, right here in front of you unless I get to kiss you goodnight. Oh God, I hope I don’t have to die but if I do don’t call me frustrated, don’t call me hopeless, don’t call me romantic to the extreme just call me desperate for this first kiss with you, hoping against hope that it occurs tonight because if it doesn’t my world is likely to crumble like a sand castle and my life will never be the same.
Let’s set the record straight on this important point. Every young lover is a voyager and the first kiss is the safe harbor toward which each captain steers his vessel. Beyond all else it is the first kiss that is the goal to be reached if love is to ignite. Accomplish your first kiss and you are Cortés staking your claim to the Aztec kingdom, you are Livingstone triumphant in the heart of darkness, you are Romeo confessing to Juliet. It waits for you, that first kiss, it waits upon the lips of your beloved—soft, inviting, and chaste as the wings of a dove.
Take for example the most romantic first kiss in history. We are in the home of a brilliant and beautiful sixteen-year-old girl. She lives with her wealthy uncle, and on this particular evening she is in her uncle’s library studying Latin. At her side is her tutor, a handsome young philosopher who has a reputation as a gifted rhetorician. Logs are crackling on the fire and this cozy couple is trying to concentrate on the first declension but the girl’s heart is continually skipping a beat. For some time now she has been wondering whether her tutor regards her as anything more than a mere pupil. The way he holds her gaze, the way his voice becomes soft when they’re sitting together at the table, the way he follows her with his eyes whenever she moves—all this suggests to the impressionable young girl that perhaps he feels something more for her than simple friendliness.
And then her uncle comes into the room and says he must travel to town for a late-night meeting. Before the girl can reply her uncle is gone and she is alone with her tutor. Why does she feel dizzy all of a sudden? Why is her tutor smiling at her? Why doesn’t she have the simple strength to hold the textbook in her hands? Why does her tutor slip into the chaise lounge beside her? Why does the book drop from her fingers? Why does her tutor lean forward? Why does her breath become short? Why does he gaze at her so? Why can’t she speak? Why do his eyes look so alluring? Why is she near to fainting? Why is her tutor so handsome? Why does she suddenly want him to take her in his arms? Why does time seem to stand still? Why does he reach out for her? Why doesn’t she run? Why does he lean closer and closer, so close now that she can feel the heat from his face? Why is her heart racing madly? Why does she part her lips ever so slightly? Why does she feel like she’s on the brink of death? Why do his arms encircle her? Why does she want him to kiss her? Why is his face so near? Why does she lean closer to him as if to help him do what he shouldn’t do? Why do his lips touch hers? Why do they feel so soft? Why are they committing this sin? Why does it feel so good? Why does she feel so happy? Why is she crying with joy? Why! Why! Why! Why! Why! Why! Why!
The first kiss between dashing Peter Abelard, the strikingly handsome and brilliant philosopher, and Héloïse, his student, took place nine hundred years ago and led to the greatest sex scandal of the twelfth century. Yet it has a lot to teach us even today.
Notice first of all that these were not just two people who met on a lazy evening at a school dance. They had a history together that spanned many months. Abelard was a famous teacher and he had sought a position in the uncle’s house for the specific purpose of being near the girl he had fallen in love with—but hadn’t yet kissed. Notice that the two were in a relationship that preceded their love affair. By the time they were ready for that fateful first kiss they had been flirting for months and they literally couldn’t control themselves. Finally notice that they waited for the right time and place for their first kiss. They were discrete and secretive and most of all romantic.
You too can kiss like Abelard and Héloïse if you keep a few essential points in mind. First, develop a relationship with the object of your affection. Whether you’re friends, coworkers, or members of the same sports team, your relationship will set the stage for all that follows. Second, engage in romantic flirtation with this sweetheart at every opportunity. If possible, let your flirtation continue for weeks, months, even longer! This flirtation will lay the foundation for the kisses to come and when you finally do kiss all those flirtatious days and nights will swirl around in your mind like a whirlwind of pretty leaves motivating you while your lips are actually touching. Third, find the right time and place for your first kiss, somewhere romantic and memorable, someplace the two of you can be alone together.
The story of Abelard and Héloïse may sound like fiction but it is perfectly true. The girl became pregnant, the boy secretly married her, and in a rage the girl’s uncle hired thugs to attack him. The two were forced to live apart—he going into a monastery and she into a convent. But ever true to one another, they continued writing love letters and scandalizing Europe and the Church to their dying day. And to think, all that Sturm und Drang began with a first kiss that lit fires that could not be quenched.
Practice makes perfect
Should I or shouldn’t I? Doubt, uncertainty, perplexity, confusion! Such are the anxieties that plague a first-time kisser, especially in the days and hours preceding a first kiss. These doubts can reach a feverish pitch until they become nearly unbearable and the poor lovesick initiate is almost willing to attempt that kiss just to be free from the torment of indecision clouding his days like a storm. But my advice will help you overcome your anxiety for I can assure you that preparation will get you through a first kiss—and preparation is 99 percent mental.
Although we’re all born with the ability to pucker and pout, the art of kissing really develops and blossoms with rehearsal. This doesn’t mean rehearsal with a director at your side. Instead, all you really need is mental preparation for the kisses you’d like to be doing with your sweetie. It’s worth remembering that no lover in history ever succeeded at kissing without some rehearsal. Take Romeo for example. Long before his first kiss with Juliet he was rehearsing it in his mind. He was gazing at her and spying on her at a party in the house of the Capulets and he was dreaming about what it would be like to kiss her. Then when he finally got the opportunity he was able to kiss the way he imagined because he had prepared himself mentally. Peter Abelard tells us in his autobiography, The Story of My Misfortunes, that he was “utterly aflame with passion” for Héloïse and in that condition he was thinking of kissing the girl long before he got the opportunity to actually do it. Even Cleopatra was dreaming about her first kiss with Marc Antony, as the historian Plutarch tells us, and was planning his seduction carefully and artfully before their lips actually met. If these who are considered the greatest lovers in history planned and rehearsed their first kisses, shouldn’t you? Make no mistake about it, this step cannot be overemphasized. Even the most fleeting mental rehearsal can do much to prepare you for a first kiss so that when you actually put your arms around your heartthrob your subconscious will take over and your reflexes will allow you to kiss with confidence and poise.
The key to rehearsal is to conjure up a vision of the specific person who is causing you sleepless nights and anxious days. Imagine kissing this paragon of beauty, wit, and charm. Imagine putting your arms around this incomparable model of perfection and moving your lips closer and closer. In your imagination I want you to see this cherub’s eyes sparkling, I want you to feel the heat from her breath and I want you to taste the sweet nectar of her lips—not once, my friend, but many times! I want you to lean in, pucker up and meet lips with this vision of loveliness. Are you starting to get the picture? Are you running it through your mind and envisioning all the delightful details? Kiss and kiss again! Kiss in your mind and in your dreams for all you’re worth! Because each practice kiss will prepare you for real kisses to come.
This is the kind of mental rehearsal that will ensure a successful first kiss. But important as mental rehearsal is, it’s not enough. No, dear reader, to be a truly great kisser it behooves you to study the mistakes and learn from the successes of others who have crossed the divide separating those who have kissed from those who have not. I collected the following firsthand accounts in order to give you a sense of the wide spectrum of first kisses possible—as you’ll see, they cover everything from the ridiculous to the sublime—and from each you will deduce a little lesson in love that you can apply in your own campaign of seduction.
How is it, you ask, that lovers can remember their first romantic kiss so well that they are able to provide all these details? The answer is that most people can recall their first romantic kiss whether it happened ten or fifty years ago because it left an indelible impression on them. In fact 93 percent can remember their first romantic kiss and only 7 percent say it has unaccountably slipped from memory. Most people remember their first kiss because it was different, it was exciting or…because something went terribly wrong.
Do you remember your first kiss?
“This is one of my favorite stories. I was very attracted to the boy involved, and we had been having shy flirtatious conversations for some time. One day we were sitting together and talking and suddenly he looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘May I give you a kiss?’ After controlling my panic I squeaked, ‘Yes, you may.’ He then got up and got a bag of Hershey’s kisses and gave me one! I blushed a lot, we both laughed, and he said he’d hoped I’d fall for that. Then after a few more shy looks he gave me the other kind of kiss.”
“My first kiss with George was in my room. I was seventeen years old. We were listening to music and the moment was right. We leaned toward each other and I knew we were about to kiss. In anticipation I shut my eyes and puckered up, ready for my lips to meet his. They never did…he had his mouth open instead of puckered, so instead of meeting his lips I met his tonsils! When I suddenly felt this big wet mouth swallowing my face (no joke, he got my nose, my chin…), I burst into hysterical laughter. My first kiss started out so romantically and ended up with me curled up on the floor giggling!”
“Talk about stressful! The boy and I froze in place after discussing the inevitability of the kiss for half an hour. With that kind of buildup it was impossible to enjoy it.”
“My heart exploded. I was one happy rubber-chested gal the next day. A New Year’s party. I was fourteen or fifteen. His name was Gary, a boy my age, a school-mate. My first experience drinking hard liquor (or any kind of liquor). I let him touch my breasts under my shirt. We kissed for hours on a couch in a den of a friend’s house. Then he drove me to a place where we watched planes take off from the airport, soaring, blasting close overhead. More kissing. More thrill to the bone marrow. I still remember his breath and occasionally the scent comes back to me.”
“I was twelve. He was a fourteen-year-old guy who was in a play with me in junior high. We had the two lead parts, and we fell in love. It was opening night of the play and we were waiting backstage. The play was a Western and I was a saloon girl, so I had bright lipstick on. One of the guys who used to flirt with me said, ‘Madam, let me take that lipstick off your face,’ then attempted to kiss me. Instead, Tom (my boyfriend-to-be) stepped in and said, ‘No, let me do it.’ He took me in his arms, leaned me back Hollywood style, and gave me a long, slow French kiss. I was thrilled and excited. The play went great! The next day I felt more mature and definitely happy.”
“It was the last day of high school before Christmas vacation. My boyfriend and I used to walk down a seldom-used stairwell together, and on this particular day I was annoyed at him. While we were walking down the steps he said, ‘What’s wrong?’ Instead of answering I stopped on the step lower than him, looked him dead in the eye, and planted one on him. It seemed to suspend us in time, and although I had never made love before I felt that this was my first time, too, especially since I became so excited I even had an orgasm.”
“I was fourteen years old and I kissed a girl I had a crush on named Karen. It felt great, though she was eight inches taller than I was. I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I was a little embarrassed because she kissed me in front of my whole soccer team.”
“Surprising. Didn’t see it coming. I was on a Ferris wheel at the time and wasn’t sure if the funny feeling in my stomach was attraction or vertigo.”
“My first kiss was incredible. I was fourteen and we were playing truth-or-dare at a party and someone dared me to French-kiss a girl that I and every other guy in my school wanted very badly. She was an extremely attractive girl with a fantastic mouth. I had no emotional connection with her, but the kiss was exciting and she also seemed to be pleased. That thrill will follow me for the rest of my days.”
“Fire, fire, fire! Man it was wonderful! It melted me.”
“A disaster. (What should I do with my tongue?)”
Some people like to savor the shyness they experience during a first kiss. It gives them an all-choked-up-inside feeling and for them the initial shyness is what makes the first kiss so memorable. But excessive shyness can hinder your enjoyment. One way to reduce your first-kiss jitters is to try to have that first kiss in a fun or playful context. About 5 percent of people kissed for the first time during a kissing game. Kissing under mistletoe is a good example of using a nonthreatening situation to get things started.
Another way to avoid nervousness is not to ask for the kiss, which may lead into a protracted discussion. Remember the girl who said that she and her boyfriend spent half an hour talking all the fun out of the kiss? Asking may spoil the surprise and the wordlessness of the experience. On the other hand, many girls complain that guys are so attracted to them that they get kissed when they don’t want it. To avoid this problem ask her quickly without getting into a long drawn-out discussion of the issue, or better yet tell her you’d like to kiss her, saying something as direct and to the point as “I want to kiss you.” Then don’t wait for a reply, just move in and kiss her unless she backs away or looks like she doesn’t want it. Remember Shakespeare’s line from The Taming of the Shrew: “Kiss me, Kate!” You can start the ball rolling with the same line. Said one young woman, “One time I told a boy I was dating that if he didn’t kiss me soon—we would stop dating.”
Don’t let inexperience stop you from having your first kiss. Remember that everyone has a first time. And they’ll never know it’s a first unless you tell. Try a gentle lip kiss if you’re a guy. If you’re a gal, do the same but keep your lips closed. If you open up you’re inviting a tongue kiss, also known as a French kiss.
Try not to think about what can go wrong during a first kiss. For example some people worry about banging teeth! If something like that happens, laugh it off. Tell your partner you’re so very keen to kiss him or her that you’re getting dizzy just standing so close. Dizzy with excitement! They’ll believe you. Then get back to kissing…and get dizzy for real.
What advice can you give a shy person?
“Shyness can be good in kissing, but you also have to know when to ask if you’re doing something right. I’m a former shy person and I know this is difficult but if you’re kissing the right person it should be okay. Not to mention every one should have some degree of faith in their natural ability.”
“Well, it’s a pretty intimate thing to be doing. If you don’t feel comfortable, start slowly. You don’t have to initiate kisses if you’re really shy about it, but if you get used to giving pecks hello and goodbye with your friends ‘real’ kissing seems to come more naturally.”
“Try holding hands and nuzzling for a while, the kiss will come on eventually. Get physically comfortable with the other person first.”
“Relax and enjoy. There’s no correct way to kiss so don’t worry about doing anything wrong.”
“Let loose and don’t worry about what you look like up close because usually the other person’s eyes are closed.”
How to begin
Do you realize that 90 percent of boys do not know when a girl wants to be kissed? They really don’t have a clue. So it’s a big help if you assist him in getting things started. Here’s how—
The way to accomplish your first few kisses is to wait for a romantic time. Go out together and be sure to make a lot of eye contact. If your sweetheart is gazing into your eyes and smiling, this is a signal that the time is right. Move close and fix his collar or brush his hair. If he seems to like this contact, give a short lip kiss to test the waters. Another good first kiss is a goodnight kiss. If accepted it can lead to more.
Most people feel they’re putting their hearts on the line by making the first move. If you lean forward to kiss him and he leans back in shock, you may fear that you’ll appear foolish. A first kiss is always a foray into romantic danger but you can minimize the risk by flirting with your date and getting a sense of how he’s feeling. You can usually tell if a boy will be receptive to a kiss by the way he’s acting. Is he smiling, looking into your eyes for a prolonged time, getting close and acting a little silly? These are signs that he’s ready for a kiss.
How to get a boy to kiss you
If you want the boy to make the first move and kiss you, give him some hints. The best hints you can give a boy are simple flirting and getting close physically. Use any excuse at your disposal to get close. For example, if you have a portable radio you could tell him you want his opinion of a certain song and then put the headphones on the boy yourself. You should of course be wearing perfume, which will get his heart racing. How could any guy resist? Another trick is to touch the boy in some flirtatious way when you’re close. Try brushing the hair out of his eyes, straightening his eyeglasses, adjusting the necklace he’s wearing, or touching his arm when making a joke. Any method you use to get close and touch him will usually work. If you’re both ready for the kiss and you get close enough it happens automatically. If the boy is not taking the hints, grab hold of his shirt and pull him right up to you and ask him what he thinks of your eyes or your perfume, drawing him closer and closer until your lips are within kissing distance. This is a surefire way to get even the shyest boy to make the first move but you’ve got to actually touch him by pulling him close for it to work.
If he pulls away and doesn’t seem to like being so close then you’re moving too fast and should back off and wait for another time—or another boy.
How to tell if a boy wants to kiss you
There are some signs you can use to determine whether a particular boy wants to kiss you. The most telling signal is how close he gets. If he can touch you with his elbow that’s close! If you can feel the heat from his face on yours, that’s close! Here’s an off beat example, sent in by a fifteen-year-old girl, which proves that simply getting close is often enough to lead to a first kiss. “The best kiss I ever had was with my friend Sean. We were on the floor next to his sister’s bed at a slumber party while everyone was asleep. He hugged me and our faces were close and then he did something silly—he blew on my face like I was hot soup, and I laughed and blew back on him. Then he kissed me. I blew on him again and he kissed me again, and we played that little game for a while. In between me blowing on him and kissing he said, ‘You just want another kiss don’t you?’” The key to this girl’s successful first kiss was getting close enough to allow the boy to do something silly and flirtatious like blowing on her face. Have you been getting close enough to the boy you’re dying to kiss? You’ve got to get very close to him, physically close, or nothing will happen!
Another sure sign that a boy wants to kiss is when he gets romantic with you. Some boys get romantic in funny ways. They may just start saying silly things like “Gee, I’m feeling a trifle dizzy.” You can bet that a boy who talks to you for a long time and looks at your lips and hair and face—a boy who’s so fascinated with you that he can’t keep his eyes off you—a boy like this usually wants to kiss you. And you can be certain that a boy who calls you a lot wants to kiss you because it shows he’s interested. Ironically, boys who avoid calling you because they’re shy may also be signaling that they’re interested in you. Boys who try to make you laugh all the time are probably keen to kiss you because a boy will not keep telling jokes to a girl he doesn’t like. Another sign that a boy wants to kiss you is when he acts nervous every time he’s with you. When he’s actually with you in person his nervous system is wracked by doubts and uncertainty and he can’t help acting nervous. Take it as a compliment. And speaking of compliments, if a boy says nice things about you more than twice each time you see him that’s another sign that he’d probably like to kiss you. The same goes for a boy who teases you because this indicates a playful friendly attitude.
Everything we’ve said about boys also applies to girls, with one important exception. Although girls may signal that they’re in a romantic frame of mind, most of them prefer the boy to initiate the first kiss. Nearly 80 percent of girls like it when the boy makes the first move. After that, however, watch out! Once you’re in a relationship, girls are just as likely to initiate a kiss.
How to get a girl interested
You’ve seen a girl that you like and you want to get to know her better. How do you begin? Smiling is the easiest way to break the ice. If you go to school together talk with her after class. Talking with a girl is the best way to flirt with her. Girls might even like talking more than guys do. You can sometimes attract a girl’s interest just by talking with her for five or ten minutes. The best way to make a girl fall in love with you is to listen to her—the more you listen the more she’ll like you. Girls have a lot to say and if you start to listen she’ll like that and you’ll become special to her. To get her to talk, simply ask her questions. Ask about anything she might be interested in. Asking girls for advice is a good way to begin. Once she sees that you’re interested in the same things, you can take it from there.
The first kiss is a milestone for any young lover just as it was for Abelard and Héloïse. The best way to accomplish it is to develop a romantic relationship, find a nice location, and then get close and flirtatious and move in for the kiss. But even if you’re an experienced lover whose first kiss took place many years ago, remember that there’s always a first romantic kiss with…someone new.
HOW TO KISS WITH CONFIDENCE Copyright © 2005 by William Cane