Ask Jono: My Boyfriend Is a Horrible Kisser!
Thanks to your advice, me and said extremely-awkward-but-cute-boy have been dating for a couple months now... but we have encountered an unexpected and severely embarrassing problem: my boyfriend is a horrible kisser, to the extent of making my lip bleed.
I think it might be because I'm his first girlfriend, but he honestly has no idea how to kiss—as in he unintentionally bites my lip throughout the entire time his lips are on mine. Though I didn't think this would be a major problem, once, after our first intense makeout session, I looked in the mirror and not only was my lip was swollen to three times its usual size, but it was also bleeding as well. I know I need to talk to him about it, because this is starting to become a problem, but I don't know how to address it without hurting his feelings.
There are other problems as well—he is pretty much bad at almost everything remotely pertaining to the HND (to the extent that it is painful)—but again, I don't want to hurt his feelings by telling him this.
I really really like this guy and don't want to mess things up, but then again I don't want to worry about my lip bleeding every time we kiss. How should I handle this without completely crushing his ego?
Thanks so much!!
On one hand, I'm glad my advice led to you dating your crush; on the other hand, I'm sorry that your crush thinks you are food. I've previously said that I don't even get how someone can be a bad kisser, since it pretty much just involves putting a mouth on a mouth and remembering to breathe periodically, but I guess this letter proves me wrong. So to anyone who's NBK and concerned about kissing technique, here's a tip: don't gnaw on your crush until you draw blood.
Anyway, from your phrasing, I gather he's just sort of using his teeth accidentally, not trying to be playful or whatever (playful biting is a whole different minefield). If so, you're right; you do need to address this, or he's just going to keep doing it forever, because he's too inexperienced to realize he's doing anything wrong ("Wow, my kissing is making her wince in what I can only assume is passion! I am super good at this!"). But you don't have to broach the subject directly, at least not yet; there are other, more subtle ways to try to correct him first.
1.) Lead by example
If your guy is really awkward, this is the least likely of these methods to work, but it's also the least likely to hurt his feelings. The idea is that you keep making a point to be be really gentle, kissing him slowly, and not at all like a Dracula, at which point he puts two and two together and realizes, "Hey, she seems to like more reserved kissing; maybe I should try that." Of course, he may just put two and two together and get twodey-two, by which I mean he's too dense to understand your example and he just sits there going "CHOMP CHOMP NOM NOM" and treating your face like a sandwich. If you try this a few times and his behavior doesn't change, you'll have to be more overt.
2.) Offer positive reinforcement
Another delicate way to change someone's behavior is to reward positive habits; it's like how you give your dog a treat when rolls over, and you don't give him a treat when he eats an extension cord. If you try to demonstrate that you want this guy to be more gentle, and he does so, grab his cheeks and g,o "Who's a good boy?? You are!!" and take him for a ride in the car. Alternatively, just tell him that you like what he's doing whenever he's not gnawing on you. Everyone likes being told he's a good kisser. In your current situation, though, I doubt you could make if halfway through the sentence "You're a good kisser" without bursting out laughing/bleeding, which is why you have to show or tell him how you want to be kissed in the first place.
3.) Be nice but straightforward
If those suggestions don't work, you're going to have to be direct, but you can still do so without hurting his feelings (see the graphic for an example of what not to do). You have assumed—correctly, I think—that your guy is going to be really sensitive about this subject, so be as nice as you can when you bring up this subject. Hide your criticism in a flood of positive comments, e.g. "I love kissing you and you are so cute and the Dow Jones industrial average is up nine points (please be a bit more gentle when kissing me) and I like your haircut!" When I was new at this, I was also really sensitive about it, but even I wouldn't have minded a delicate correction like "I like it more when you (do this thing) instead of (this other thing)." Just don't phrase it as a direct criticism ("Everything you do is wrong," "You are an astonishingly terrible kisser.") and you should be fine.
Your boyfriend is obviously inexperienced, and he knows it, so a polite correction shouldn't make him feel too hurt. On top of that, you vaguely referenced other HND stuff, which brings up another point: your guy needs to get less awkward, and more sensitive to how you're reacting, before this relationship goes much further. Young guys are often clueless to how you're feeling when it comes to physical stuff (not because they're insensitive, but because they're too busy going "omg omg yesss" to think about it), and the sooner he learns how to be considerate, the better. The ideal scenario is that you guys are both so comfortable with each other that you can talk about these things freely (in a sense, being able to laugh off a romantic failure is even better than not failing in the first place). For now, though, it's enough for your guy to realize he should take your comfort into account and stop kissing you like Pac Man.