10 Tips to Improve Your French Kiss

French kissing is arguably the most intimate part of the courting ritual: You’re eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart, touching each other with a part of the body that’s filled with a million ultra-sensitive nerve endings. It’s an aphrodisiac as much for the mind and heart as it is for your other bits. Getting it right makes everything else—if the both of you agree there will be anything else—go much better. French kissing doesn’t have to lead to sex, of course; a good makeout session can be an exciting, intensely romantic experience all on its own. Here are a few tips to pucker up and get it right.

The best time for a first kiss is when you’re alone, there’s a pause in the conversation, and you’re both looking into each other’s eyes. Help make this moment happen by getting away from the crowd to a place you both feel comfortable. Stand or sit close to your partner, make eye contact, and let the conversation come to a natural breaking point. You’ll both know when the moment is right.

Don’t Obsess About Your Breath

Your breath doesn’t need to be any more minty-fresh than your kissing partner’s. (For instance, if you both just had dinner together and ate equally garlicky meals, you’ll be fine.) Bring some mints or some gum with you, but don’t pop them obsessively. It’s not necessary, and it’ll make you look over-eager.

Start With Your Lips

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about French kissing is probably your tongue, but that shouldn’t come into play right away. You should ease into it and follow your partner’s cues. Start just by lightly kissing the surface of the lips (either the top lip, the bottom lip, or both).

Don’t Make Your Tongue the Star of the Show

A kiss without any tongue at all is perfectly fine. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, open your mouth just a little wider and gently touch your tongue against your partner’s. Let the tips of your tongues “play around” together. Don’t do much more than that, though. One common rookie mistake is trying to stick your whole tongue down someone’s throat. At the very least, you’ll create an awkward moment; at the worst, you’ll become an embarrassing story your partner tells for years. When it comes to tongue, a little goes a long way, and teasing can be very arousing.

Use Your Hands Wisely

The best spots to place your hands are along ​your partner’s neck, jaw, or waist, or on the back of your partner’s head. If you want to be extra-romantic, softly cup your partner’s face. Using your hands while you kiss helps make things far more romantic, sensual, and tender. Never just leave them by your side; that’s just awkward, and you’re missing an opportunity to make your partner feel more than just your tongue.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Take regular breaks to pull away and look into your partner’s eyes. It’ll give you a chance to catch your breath, share a smile, and savor the moment. It’ll also help slow things down a bit, and slower—as any good lover will attest—is sexier.

Mix It Up

Don’t leave your lips or your tongue in the same spot for more than a couple of seconds. The initial excitement of a first kiss is thrilling, but things can get boring awfully quickly if you don’t vary your style a little. Use your tongue to gently explore all the soft, sensuous places in your partner’s mouth, but remember: Don’t be overbearing, and don’t open your mouth too widely.

When in Doubt, Follow Your Partner’s Lead

You don’t need to be an expert on kissing to share a great kiss. If you’re not sure what to do, just go with the flow and let your partner take over. As long as the two of you like each other and are concentrating on the magic of the moment, it’ll go great.

It’s OK to Laugh

You might be tempted to laugh or make a little joke to ease the tension or hide some of your nervousness. Go for it! Your partner is probably just as nervous as you are, and it’ll ease the tension all the way around. On a purely physical level, kissing israther funny, and sometimes, it’s just best to acknowledge it.

Know When to End It

If this is your first time kissing this person, keep things brief. If you get this one right, there will be plenty more chances to kiss. You want to leave your partner dying to lock lips with you the next time.