I’ve been dating a really nice guy for about a month now. He’s funny, nice, sweet, and sexy as hell, but there’s one problem: he’s a horrible kisser. He leaves his mouth wide open and his tongue just goes crazy—I have spit all over my face when we’re done. I’ve tried to gently “coach” him, saying things like, “I love to feel your lips on mine” and for the brief time we actually kiss like normal people, I tell him how sexy I think it is. But he always reverts back to his old ways the next time we kiss. I like this guy, but kissing is the first level of physical intimacy; if we can’t get this right, I’m not sure I can keep seeing him. Any advice?—KB, San Diego, California
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Oddly enough, your description conjures up an image of Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask. I had a friend tell me once that he made out with this guy in a bar we’d both met at the same time. Each of us had commented on how it would be nice to “get to know” this chap better, so I was eager to hear the details. To my shock and relief, my friend told me that he was unable to get past first base with this young buck simply because he kissed like a Labrador.
It sounds like you have a similar situation on your hands, or more correctly, on your face. But here’s the deal—as opposed to my friend who met someone one night and made out with him in a bar, you’ve formed a relationship with this person and it sounds like you’d be interested in pursuing it further. Since you’ve been dating him for a bit now, you can easily discuss your likes and dislikes and let him know that you love slow, gentle kisses, but have a hard time with an aggressive tonguester. This way, you’re not necessarily calling him out on his technique, just making him keenly aware of your preferences. As you’re kissing the next time, if he starts licking you like a kitten on a bowl of milk, pull away, smile, grab his chin, and say, “gentle” and then lead the way. If he has a clue, he’ll remember what you talked about and get turned on as hell.
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Sexy as hell? Really? Are you sure about that, KB? I’m skeptical that someone could lick your whole face like an all-day lollipop and you’d still find him sexy. I get how you could find somebody sexy when you’ve never kissed him yet … there’s sexiness in the unknown. But once you kiss someone, my theory is that you either still think they’re sexy as hell—even more so because you’ve just uncovered a new layer in their overall hotness—or you won’t. A bad kiss may not necessarily end things (or no relationship would ever get off the ground), but you might decide that the jury is still out on sexy. Kissing is the gateway drug; it either gets you revved up for the next stage, you decide it’s not good enough and move on, or, in your case, you start administering tutorials on wandering tongues, which is about as sexy as making out with James Lipton from Inside the Actor’s Studio.
I’m wondering if that “sexy as hell” business might be a front for your own benefit, to talk yourself into what a fabulous guy he is. As Flannery O’Connor said, a good man is hard to find, and when everything else seems so right, why let a little slobbery kissing get in the way?
The good news is that sometimes it takes a few tries to get your kissing compatibility in synch. But “a few tries” doesn’t mean a full month, especially when it sounds like you’ve done quite a bit to try and steer he and his tongue in the right direction. Everybody thinks they’re funny, a good driver, and a good kisser, and I’m sure your guy is no different, KB. He’s either in denial, or what you’ve said hasn’t gotten through to him, so the time to be subtle has passed. Try this, “Hey, I really like you, but I prefer less tongue when we kiss. I like it like this …” You can be nice about it, but be very clear. You’ve been dating him for a month and if kissing were the only problem, that wouldn’t be so bad. But if you’ve truly tried to talk to him about this, his inability to hear your needs is troubling. That coupled with him treating you like chocolate chip mint on a sugar cone may ultimately mean he’s not your guy. You don’t have 501(c)(3) status, after all, so if he doesn’t get it right soon, stop the charity and move on.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
You’re on the right track here, KB. Gently coaching and complimenting him when he doesn’t tongue-whack your face like a 99¢ car wash is the way to go. The fact that you’ve written to us is an indication that you might be growing tired of guiding him and taming his loose tongue. Fair enough. But I still think your best bet is to keep working with him on this.
In a dating world full of disasters (see our 4-Way archives) filled with diaper fetishes, coworker hookups, and an overall inability to get dates, there are bigger problems you could have than this. This perspective check notwithstanding, kissing compatibility with your mate is important. It’s the foundation for your physical relationship. But if I were with a girl who was “funny, nice, sweet, and sexy as hell,” I would consider making her a better kisser time well-spent.
Bottom line: this is not a deal breaker for you right now. Since your gentle coaxing doesn’t seem to be working, getting a little harder on him about it—anything up to slapping him across the face and saying, “Stop licking me like you’re a thirsty St. Bernard!”—is worth a shot. If he’s as funny and smart as you say, he’ll catch on that he needs to improve his smooch. That’s a win for him and a win for you. Tell him it’s time to pucker up and leave the tongue-wagging to the dogs.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
KB, I’m not sure you can keep on seeing sloppy kisser-guy, either. Ick. You have options though:
a) Dump him
b) Learn to love the slobber (Not a real option, is it?)
c) Talk to him when you’re not in an intimate situation
d) See below
If he lacks that much self-awareness, my guess is that his unconsciousness dribbles over into other areas in his life, perhaps in the bedroom, but even a general awareness about how other people react to things. How in touch is he with things outside of himself? Does he realize his impact on others? What about him is sweet, KB? Is he attentive to your moods and needs? If we’re basing this answer on his kissing abilities, I’d say that the answer is no. What about him is funny? Is his humor based on putting others down? How is his sense of timing when telling a joke? All these things will give you clues into how he moves through life.
Perhaps you can look at this as an opportunity. He’s not using his lips right, but you have an opportunity to use your words correctly and start a conversation. If you can’t do that, then you’re right, and you two don’t stand a chance. In addition to that there is an option “D.” Kiss him the way he’s kissing you. See how he likes it. It’s a gutsy move, but there’s nothing like having a taste of your own medicine.