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    How to kiss someone for the first time: All your questions answered

    Updated 23 March 2023 |
    Published 24 March 2023
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Andrea Maduro, Flo medical advisor, Netherlands
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    A quick hint: There’s no such thing as the perfect time or place, only what feels right for you. 


    It’s something you’ve seen thousands of times in the movies and on TV. But while your favorite show may make it look like having your first kiss is the easiest thing in the world, it’s natural to feel a little daunted about you giving it a go — after all, you’ve never done it before. Between popping a mint and assessing if your crush actually wants to kiss you, it can feel like there’s a lot to think about. 

    “Figuring out whether you want to kiss someone can be exciting but also confusing,” says Ellen Friedrichs, health and sexuality educator at City University of New York, US. “A lot of people want to kiss someone they are attracted to or have a crush on, and you might find yourself daydreaming about what it might feel like to kiss them.” 

    Your friends may be your greatest advisors when it comes to matters of the heart, but if you’d like a bit of expert advice instead (and who wouldn’t?), a Flo expert shares some tips and tricks to think about before your first kiss.

    What’s the average age to have your first kiss?

    In your teenage years, it can be hard not to feel the pressure to move at the same pace as your friends and peers. But trust us when we say there is no “correct” age to have your first kiss. “There is absolutely no such thing as average or normal when it comes to kissing someone for the first time,” Friedrichs says. 

    We get it — it’s nice to know you’re doing what your pals are doing, but remember that there will be a right time for you and a right time for them. It just might not be at the same time. “Some people start kissing in middle school, but others do it in high school, college, or later. There are also people who are never into kissing, and that’s OK, too,” Friedrichs says. “Really, the most important thing is making sure that you and the person you want to kiss are both on the same page and feel ready and excited about what you are doing.”

    While it might feel like the first step to a world of intimacy, remember that kissing isn’t something you have to do if you don’t want to. You don’t have to do it just to fit in with the rest of your pals, and you will know when the time is right for you.

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    The science behind hormones and your first kiss

    While books and TV shows make it sound like kissing comes straight from the heart, it’s actually the brain and your hormones that make you want to lean in for that first smooch with your crush. 

    At puberty, most bodies start to release more sex hormones. Those can make you grow physically, but they can also make you more likely to have crushes, and they can increase your interest in sex,” says Friedrichs. “For a lot of people, kissing is one of the first ways to explore your sexuality with another person.” 

    Let’s dig into what’s going on at this time. When you’re as young as 9 or 10, the hormone center of your brain, known as the hypothalamus, releases hormones to instruct different parts of your body to set off new processes. This is why you might notice hair in new places, your body starting to change shape, and you might feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster

    Around this time your ovaries are triggered to produce estrogen and progesterone for the first time. These are sometimes called your sex hormones, and it’s these that are responsible for increasing your desire and interest in those you fancy. So next time you find your mind drifting to your crush in class, you can blame it on biology. There’s a lot of change happening inside and out around puberty, so to learn all about the amazing things your hormones are doing during your teen years, you can download an app like Flo

    Why do we kiss?

    Kissing is a universal way we show each other affection. But why do humans kiss? The answer to that is a little bit complicated. 

    When you do something you enjoy, like kissing or spending time with a person you like, you get a release of dopamine. This is often called the happy hormone, as it’s your brain’s way of rewarding you for doing something you like so that you’ll do it again. 

    “Kissing can make people feel connected and close to another person, so it’s a way to communicate and feel intimacy without using language,” says Friedrichs. Science backs this idea up, with one study having found that couples who kissed often were happier in their relationships. The bottom line? Generally, we kiss in order to feel closer to the person we fancy. 

    There might be a physical reason why we kiss, too. “There are nerve endings in the mouth and tongue that are really sensitive, and for a lot of people, kissing just feels good,” she says. “Plus, it releases hormones that cause pleasurable feelings throughout our bodies.” Now it makes sense why some people love kissing so much. 

    First kiss tips

    Your first kiss might feel like a high-pressure situation — a moment you’ll think a lot about before it happens. But that doesn’t mean it should be something you need to worry about. The most important thing is to make sure that both you and the person you’re kissing are happy and comfortable. If you’re still looking for a first kiss tick list, Friedrichs says there are a few things to keep in mind. 


    First and foremost, both you and the person you’re kissing need to want to do it. You might be curious as to how you’re supposed to know if they’re as into the idea of kissing as you are since reading signs can be tough. “Having consent for any kind of intimate touching — including kissing — is really important. So one of the best ways to make a first kiss feel good is to make sure you are both on the same page by saying something like, ‘May I kiss you?’ or ‘Do you want to kiss?’” advises Friedrichs. “Although we sometimes get the message that asking to kiss someone kills the mood, that certainly isn’t true — it often feels romantic or sweet.” 

    “Not everyone is great at reading body language — so it’s always best to use your words.”

    If asking someone if they want to kiss you feels like a daunting task, then why not practice it? Run through scenarios in your head and think about how you’d want to ask in a way that suits you. After all, it’s really important that both you and your partner understand each other’s boundaries and what you’re comfortable with. 

    “A lot of people also use body language to figure out if their crush wants to kiss, and they do this by leaning in and paying close attention to how they respond. If their potential partner also leans in and starts kissing, it’s usually a good sign they are into it, too,” says Friedrichs. “But if they pull away or freeze up, hold off on what you are doing or check in. Not everyone is great at reading body language — so it’s always best to use your words.” 


    After you’ve established that your crush wants to kiss you (yay!), you might worry about the prep you should do. Like how many mints you should pop before taking the plunge, for example. The first thing to remember is it’s normal not to have toothpaste-fresh breath at all times, and you don’t need to develop a new, special dental routine before your first kiss. Just make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, talk to an adult about using floss, and have regular checkups with your dentist. To learn more about self-care during your teen years, check out an app like Flo. 

    If you’re feeling self-conscious about your breath, then having a mint on hand may give you a confidence boost. “Being on top of your oral hygiene is a good way to make kissing nice for everyone,” says Friedrichs. “We can’t expect partners to always smell fresh as a daisy, but basic hygiene and even just popping a mint before you smooch can go a long way toward making kissing more enjoyable.” 

    Make eye contact 

    If you’re feeling shy or nervous, the easiest thing to do is to look away from the person you’re talking to. But despite this natural instinct, some science suggests that eye contact could be linked to having a good first kiss. 

    “Scientists have found that many people understand eye contact as a sign that someone is safe and trustworthy. So a lot of people feel like doing this with a partner can help them figure out if they want to kiss each other,” says Friedrichs. This might be where the idea of that famous “look of love” comes from. 

    “People usually close their eyes once the kissing actually starts. Closing your eyes can feel safer, helping you to focus on the kiss and not the world around you,” explains Friedrichs. Whether you prefer keeping your eyes open or closed once the kissing begins is a personal preference, so try not to dwell on it too much and just do what feels right for you in the moment.

    How long should it last? 

    You might have the image of the perfect first kiss, but Friedrichs explains that there’s no such thing. “There’s no right answer here — some people like to kiss for a few seconds, and others can spend hours making out,” she says. “Most people kiss for different lengths of time depending on the situation.”

    “Remind yourself that the person you are kissing wants to be there, and there’s no one right way to kiss.”

    Don’t overthink it

    Being told not to overthink something isn’t always a quick fix, and if you’ve found yourself dwelling on the worst-case scenarios surrounding your first kiss, then you’re not the only one. But try, if you can, not to fret too much while it’s happening. 

    “Worrying about how you kiss while in the middle of a make-out session can really kill the mood,” says Friedrichs. “Remind yourself that the person you are kissing wants to be there, that there is no one right way to kiss, and that everyone is new to kissing at some point. [That should] help you relax enough to enjoy what you are doing.” 

    Spot if the moment’s right 

    The reality is that there may be times when you want to go in for a kiss, but the other person isn’t feeling it. “That’s why asking something like, ‘May I kiss you?’ is a much more foolproof method than crossing your fingers and hoping you guessed right,” advises Friedrichs. “And even if the answer is no, asking is a lot less awkward than kissing someone and then finding out they weren’t into it!”

    The setting 

    Your first date, in the cinema, or a party — you might have created the perfect scene in your mind for your first kiss. We’ve all been there, but don’t get hung up on waiting for a certain scenario or setting. 

    There is one thing in relation to the setting of your first kiss that you might want to think about beforehand, however. “Some people feel comfortable kissing in public, while others are more private,” she says. “If you are new to kissing, thinking about a time and place where you won’t be disturbed and where you feel the safest is a good bet.”

    Kissing on the first date

    When it comes to dating, there’s no shortage of “rules.” While some of your friends might tell you that you shouldn’t share a smooch with your crush until date three, others will tell you to do it when it feels right. It can be easy to think you should be following what your pals are doing, but Friedrichs says, “The decision to kiss on a first date or to wait is a super personal one. There is no universally right answer. You just need to go with what feels right for you.”

    If kissing on the first date is something you both want to do, then kiss away. On the other hand, if it feels like things are moving too fast with the person you like, it’s absolutely fine not to want to kiss them on your first date — and they should respect that. Kissing certainly isn’t the only way to tell someone you had a good time. Friedrichs suggests you could give them a call or text after you meet up, for example, to tell them you had fun and would like to hang out again instead. 

    Remember: You never have to explain yourself to anyone for not wanting to be physically intimate. Just go at your own pace. 

    When should you have your first kiss in a relationship? 

    Just like kissing on the first date, there’s no right or wrong time to have your first kiss when you find a partner. However, there are conversations you can have to set your boundaries, so they know what you’re comfortable with before making a move. “Dating can be confusing, and you may not be sure what the status of your hang out is,” says Friedrichs. “Even if it feels a little weird, saying something like, ‘Are we hanging out as friends, or is this more like a date?’ can go a long way and can help you decide if you want to bring kissing into the mix.” 

    Kissing someone for the first time: The takeaway 

    Thinking about kissing someone for the first time can give you butterflies (of both excitement and nerves), but it’s important to relax and remember that everyone was a newbie once. No one expects you to be an expert right away — after all, you wouldn’t get on a bike for the first time and know how to ride it. It can be helpful to let the person you are kissing know that it is your first time. And regularly checking in with them by saying things like, “Does this feel OK?” or, “Do you like this?” will open the door to conversation, which definitely makes any intimate experience better. 

    There’s no right or wrong time to kiss someone — whether you want to do it on the first date or establish a great relationship. Both are completely fine and normal. Also, don’t get bogged down with worrying that your friends may have had their first kisses and you’re being “left behind” or if you don’t want to kiss anyone yet. Everyone moves at their own pace, and you will know deep down when the time feels right. 


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    History of updates

    Current version (23 March 2023)

    Medically reviewed by Andrea Maduro, Flo medical advisor, Netherlands

    Published (24 March 2023)

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