Addressing kissing mismatch

Hi Dating Goddess,

I’m dating someone I’m very attracted to, and we have lots of good chemistry on a variety of levels. The only issue I feel the need to question is the way she kisses.

When I move in close to kiss her, she appears to retreat within herself and becomes passively accepting. She barely moves a muscle to kiss me back, so I feel like I’m kissing someone who is asleep. I’ve tried kissing her all kinds of ways — soft & hard, lips & tongue, dry & wet, shallow & deep, high & low, short & long, and yet she just doesn’t reciprocate. She’s otherwise a very sensitive and sensual person, and she says that connection and intimacy are important to her. She says she quite likes me and that she’s turned on when we kiss.

I had a therapist once who said this kind of behavior could be indicative of some kind of previous sexual abuse, so I wonder if that could be something. We haven’t been dating long, so it’s entirely possible she hasn’t told me of some traumatic experience in her past. Or maybe she’s just shy or just doesn’t like the way I kiss.

Equal participation and reciprocation is important to me in all areas of a relationship, and I feel that passive kissing is generally a bad sign that a person is not assertive enough to handle their side of the equation. It may be too early to have that discussion with her, but it’s the backdrop of why this is important to me.

I want to address this passive kissing before we go much further. I’m able to bring up “difficult” topics, I just don’t know how to approach this one. My first guess says be straight-forward and positive, “I enjoy kissing you, and I would love it if you kissed me back.” But that sounds kinda blunt.

Another approach is potentially invasive, “I notice that when I kiss you, you seem to freeze up. I’m wondering where you go when that happens and what your thoughts are.”

Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks!


Hi William:

How about starting just a tad softer with something like, “I love the sensuality of kissing and get quite turned on when my woman also seems to enjoy it. What’s your perspective on kissing?” Then you’re inviting her to share. You can even say, “What kind of kissing do you like?”

I’ve dated men who’s kisses didn’t turn me on or that actually turned me off. I said to one man overtly, “Let me show you how I like to be kissed.” That lasted a little while, but then we stopped seeing each other, but it wasn’t only about kissing.

So if you like her and feel it’s worth the effort, open the conversation!


Readers, what advice do you have for William?


For more info on dealing with challenging difficult dating situations, get your copy of Ironing Out Dating Wrinkles: Work Through Challenges Without Getting Steamed.


9 responses to “Addressing kissing mismatch”

  1. Mark Avatar

    I guess I have no real advice. This may be an incompatibility issue. Normally I think two people sort of learn a way of kissing that works for them. It’s been like that with me. Different women kiss differently. I’m sure I kiss differently than the men they’ve dated too. They see what I seem to like and I see what they seem to like and it works out.

    If this woman holds back and is passive when kissing, it may not be easy for her to change. Maybe try to find a way to enjoy that? You’re strong and masculine. Maybe she enjoys feeling a bit helpless, a bit swept away. I’d play up that angle. My experience is that women enjoy a man taking control, being physical and powerful, being inflamed with desire, pulling their hair a bit to get their lips right where he wants them, etc.

  2. Karen Avatar

    It sounds to me like you’re basically incompatible. It’s not like there’s just one little thing that’s wrong and could possibly be “fixed”–it sounds like her whole attitude towards physical affection is a turn off for you. This is very much not a good sign. I think you should heed the red flag and look elsewhere for romance.

  3. Lori Avatar

    I’m experiencing a similar problem.

    The man I’m involved with is a very wet kisser, sometimes opens his mouth so wide that all I’m touching with my lips are his teeth (like a baby bird waiting to be fed) and he also seems to be reluctant to “play” tongue on tongue with me. I’ve never really considered that he’s just likes a different kind of kissing – just always have thought he’s a bad kisser.

    We’ve been seeing each other off and on for about a year, and I’ve tried the “let me show you how I like to be kissed” route, with no avail. I happen to think that kissing is one of the most important parts of foreplay and sexuallity, and because we seem not to be able to kiss well together I get too distracted when we make love to fully be present in the moment.

    I enjoy his company very, very much, and have many great conversations with him, some of them about our intimacy issues, but we’re just not meshing physically. That’s why I describe our relationship as on-again, off-again. Sometimes our sexuallity just doesn’t seem to be on the same level. I let him know what I like him to do to me (how I caress me, etc.), but he seems to forget what I’ve asked him to do the next time we are intimate. I really don’t think we’re totally compatible on a sexual level.

    I agree with the Dating Goddess, that William should try talking gently with his lady friend about how she feels about kissing and see what she says. If William cares very much for her, he should explore the issue more with her.

  4. Veronica Avatar

    I don’t believe you are incompatible. You have an “issue” that can be resolved with patience and perseverance. The best article that I read on how to kiss is The article takes you step by step on how to help a bad kisser become a great kisser.

    I was married for close to 20 years. I did not kiss my ex husband for many years because I had it in my head that I was a bad kisser. I began to date again within a year of us splitting up. I was determined to read as many articles as I could so that I would become a confident and competent kisser. I don’t mean to make kissing sound like a chore, but I wanted to understand why I did not enjoy kissing, and yet my best friend and others stated that this is one of the most sensual and intimate acts that a couple can share.

    Guess what? They’re right….not only do I now enjoy kissing, but I have been told that I am a great kisser by two men….not bad for someone that didn’t get the significance or pleasure of the “kiss”.

  5. Wendy Avatar

    Sorry William, but I have to say this is an incompatibility issue. I’ve dated men I’ve been very interested in and who even aroused me by their conversations. However, some of these came to a screeching halt when our kissing styles didn’t mesh. I’m a firm believer that by the time we are in our ’40’s our kissing styles are pretty well set in stone and although there might be some improvement in technique, I never saw enough to merit ever taking the relationships any further than a couple of dates. Telling anyone “Let me show you how I like to be kissed” will just end the date sooner. Which in this case, isn’t a bad thing. Best of luck.

  6. miss bunny Avatar
    miss bunny

    honesty is always the best….keep trying if she responds great otherwise your faced with a choice….good luck

  7. Richard Avatar

    If you were teenagers just learning about sexuality, learning to kiss is part of that process. However, I presume that you are 40+, and you should both have established techniques. While you could discuss it with her, I agree with Mark and Karen that it may not be easy for her to change, and thus is a major incompatibility.

    A variation on DG’s suggestion is to make kissing a game. Mention that you enjoy kissing, and would like to explore various ways to kiss. Ask her how she likes to kiss and be kissed. Try a few different ways with her, and ask her to use her imagination to try different ways on you.

    I agree with Karen that it would be a major red flag for me. Been there with everything is great but the sex. Not something I want to repeat.

  8. Julie Avatar

    If she doesnt know him well, and doesn’t like the way he kisses, she might act like that. Everything else could be great in her mind. A friend of mine is crazy about her boyfriend, but told me she does not care for the way he kisses. He either really likes kissing, or thinks he is supposed to kiss her for a long time… she said she starts thinking ‘ok, lets move on to something else’…

  9. Two Becomes One Avatar
    Two Becomes One

    I like Richard’s idea of making a kissing game, trying new things, and having her kiss him however she likes. Kissing is so important in a relationship, it’s better to address this sooner rather than later. Good luck.