Relationships

10 Things You Can Try With Your Partner If They Don't Like Kissing

“Kissing in itself isn’t important to a relationship.”

Don't like kissing? Try exploring other ways to be touched, like hugging.
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Kissing is one of the easiest ways to show someone love and affection. It’s also a good way to test sexual chemistry with a partner you just started dating. It’s such a common act that it’s just something we automatically assume all couples do. But that’s not necessarily the case — in fact, some people don’t like kissing.

Hearing your partner say, “I don’t like kissing” for the first time may shock you — especially if you love to make out. It may even make you wonder whether it’s just their way of saying they’re not attracted to you. After all, a 2020 study published the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy, found that kissing frequency is a strong indicator of relationship connectivity. The more you kiss, the happier you tend to be in your relationship. You’re also much more likely to develop a stronger bond with your partner, and have a better sex life.

But even if kissing seems like the one of the most natural things a couple can do, some cultures don't recognize it. In fact, a 2015 study published by the American Anthropological Association found that 45% of North American cultures don't kiss, not even in a romantic or sexual way. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some people may be a little more hesitant to kiss.

Gigi Engle, certified sex coach, tells Bustle that the reason someone might not like kissing can vary. "For some people, they just find it 'gross' or weird. For others, it just doesn't have the same 'pair bonding' or nurturing effect that is has for most people.”

But as long as you and your partner communicate about it, there are plenty of kissing alternatives you can explore.

1

Caress Their Face

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If the part of kissing your partner doesn’t like is the mouth-to-mouth, close facial contact may be OK. As Carol Queen PhD, Good Vibrations staff sexologist and author, tells Bustle, you can try exploring each other's faces using your hands first, and then go from there. "Get into the eroticism and intimacy of this without the pressure of getting into each others' mouths," Queen says. "Cheek to cheek movement, focusing on how it feels to breathe against each others' faces, also soft nibbling if they're cool with it, can be wonderful kissing substitutes."

2

Explore Other Areas Of Their Body Where They Do Like To Be Kissed

When your partner says, “I don’t like kiss,” it’s important to discuss what that actually means. If your partner says they're fine with kissing if it's not on their mouth, then you can discover other places on their body where they do like to be smooched. For instance, Queen says the throat and neck area are especially erotic for many people. "Palms to elbow crooks, are also quite sensitive places to kiss, stroke, and nibble," she says. "They don't have the face-to-face overwhelm that some non-kissers find to be too much."

According to couples therapist Jacob Brown, they might even like kissing, but feel uncomfortable being kissed. “They might like kissing someone on the cheek or forehead, but not on the mouth. It’s helpful to look at the different types of kisses to see is there are some types of kisses that they feel comfortable with.”

3

Make A Game Out Of Figuring Out What They Like

Talking about your likes and dislikes can help you figure out kissing alternatives — and you can have some fun with it, too. As Dr. Rose Schlaff, DPT, women's sexual health coach who specializes in helping women reclaim intimacy, tells Bustle, "Write body parts on a piece of paper, and draw them out of the hat. Touch, massage, or kiss those body parts and see where that takes you. Focus on creating a space that is comfortable for the both of you, and leave kissing off the table for now."

4

Touch Them Often When They Give You The Go Ahead

One of the biggest benefits to kissing is how it can enhance you and your partner's bond. "When we kiss, our brains are flooded with oxytocin, the body's 'love' or 'cuddle' hormone that makes you feel close to your partner," Engle says. It not only makes you feel good, but it can also make your partner feel safe and close to you.

The good news is, kissing isn't the only act that has this effect — there are other forms of affection, like tender touching, and sexual play can help you feel close. "When directed to a romantic partner, they stand apart from acts you would share with platonic friend, resulting in feelings of love," she says.

5

Make Meaningful Eye Contact

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Sometimes just a stare can do the trick. According to Dr. Carly Claney, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in holistic healing and couples therapy, sharing brief eye contact while you're going about your day can create a moment of intimacy. "There can be so much communicated and felt when you look deeply into the eyes of your partner.” Some couples might set aside a few minutes each night to do it as part of their nightly routine.

6

Spend At Least 5 Minutes Each Night Touching & Staying Close Together

Amy K. Bucciere, LCSW, sex and relationship therapist, tells Bustle she recommends extended physical contact to couples. While there are different approaches to this, what they all have in common is “continuous minutes of undistracted non-sexual physical contact.” For instance, Bucciere says David Schnarch, a licensed clinical psychologist and co-director of the Marriage and Family Health Center has a "hugging until relaxed" technique. In this technique, couples stand in front of each other and hug until they're fully relaxed in each other's arms. If done regularly, it can increase passion in the relationship. Couples who do this regularly typically feel relaxed, recharged, and closer together.

7

Practice Gratitude

Finding other ways to physically connect aren't the only things you can do as alternatives to kissing. Sometimes words can be just as effective. In fact, practicing gratitude in your relationship can help you build intimacy and connection. "Hearing about what your partner is grateful for (about the relationship or in general) may foster connection as you learn about one another and share in a moment of appreciation," Claney says.

8

Do At Least 1 Thoughtful Thing For Each Other Every Day

Many people use kissing to show affection, but if that’s off the table you can show it by doing small thoughtful things for each other. According to Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and relationship expert, acts of service such as making dinner for your partner is a great way to show your partner how much you love them. If they’re on their feet all day and they come exhausted, offering to rub their back or feet is a good physical alternative to kissing. If they look like they need a hug, give them a hug. It’s all about being observant and in tune to what your partner may need. “Touching in general sets your relationship apart, and physical touch such as hugs are important in relationships,” Trombetti says.

9

Hold Hands Often

Holding hands is another way to show affection — it’s simple, and you can do it anywhere. You can hold hands when you’re out walking around together, or while you’re sitting at home watching movies. “Kissing in itself isn’t important to a relationship,” Brown says. “What’s important is finding a way to express affection that you feel comfortable with and that your partner experiences as affection. It’s different for every couple. But the manner in which you show affection is not nearly as important as finding a way in which both you and your partner can feel loved and appreciated.”

10

Work On Building Emotional Intimacy

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If your partner doesn’t like kissing, you can form a strong bond by working on the emotional intimacy in your relationship. As Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist, previously told Bustle, “Emotional intimacy is a sense of closeness developed with another person over time. Usually it involves a feeling of safety and having your inner thoughts and feelings known and accepted.” You can build emotional intimacy by being open and vulnerable. Not sure where to start? Try asking them these intimate questions to strengthen your connection.

Studies referenced:

Busby, D.M., Hanna-Walker, V., & Leavitt, C.M. (2020) A kiss is not just a kiss: kissing frequency, sexual quality, attachment, and sexual and relationship satisfaction, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681994.2020.1717460

Jankowiak, W.R., Volsche, S.L., & Garcia, J.R. (2015) Is the Romantic–Sexual Kiss a Near Human Universal?, https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aman.12286

Experts:

Gigi Engle, certified sex coach and author

Dr. Rose Schlaff, DPT, women's sexual health coach

Carol Queen PhD, Good Vibrations staff sexologist and author

Dr. Carly Claney, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist

Amy K. Bucciere, LCSW, sex and relationship therapist

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking

Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist