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Women vs. Men: What You Want From a Kiss

It may come as no surprise that women and men often want different things from a kiss. A survey of 1,041 college students put science behind this assumption. Women described kissing as a way to start a relationship and keep it going strong. Men were more likely to see kissing as a prelude to sex.

This difference plays out around the globe. Arpita Anand, MSc, a counseling psychologist in Goa, India, has seen a sharp rise in couples seeking relationship advice in the past decade. As women in that country have become more independent and vocal in their relationships, kissing has risen in status.

"Traditionally, physical tenderness between couples was an alien concept," Anand tells WebMD. "But women crave tenderness. They want their husbands to kiss and cuddle with them to show they care about more than just having sex."

Plan for a Lifetime of Kisses

Attitudes toward kissing can change with time. Today, men and women both value cuddling. A survey of men between 40 and 70 years old found that those who kissed and cuddled with their wives or girlfriends were happier in their relationships. Likewise, women who said they kissed and cuddled with their partners reported being more sexually satisfied than women who kept their hands to themselves.

Are you missing out? Nicholson suggests couples make time for a variety of kisses -- kissing for closeness and kissing for sex. This means a lot of kissing, and that's a good thing. Kissing reduces stress hormones and strengthens relationships. "When I evaluate couples, the happier couples spend a lot more time kissing and cuddling," Anand says.

If you are in a long-term relationship, you may need to remind yourself to stop and kiss your partner.

"People talk about mindfulness. Kissing is mindfulness in a relationship," Ellin says. She suggests couples take at least two minutes a day to stop everything and kiss each other. If you focus on the moment, on your partner, and on getting grounded in your body, kissing can be like a meditation.

Don't Let Bad Breath Dampen Your Romance

Ask a woman how well you kiss, and it's likely your breath will play a large part in her answer. Bad breath, unhealthy looking teeth, or a foul-tasting mouth reduces your kiss-ability.

The state of your mouth shows your partner how well you take care of yourself. Bad breath can signal sloppy hygiene, bad health, and poor long-term prospects. And while men and women both consider a clean mouth important, women seem more sensitive to the taste and smell of their partner's mouth.  

And Don't Forget to Have Fun

Most important, have fun when you kiss. "Kissing is too important to be taken seriously," says Ellin. Whether you're in a long-term relationship or meeting someone new, your lips can take you to new places when you make time for a good kiss.