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I once had a kiss that should have been, in theory, the best kiss of my life. The man was strikingly handsome, incredibly charming, and a self-proclaimed amazing kisser. And our chemistry gave me all those Carrie Bradshaw–meets–Aleksandr Petrovsky feels (before he was selfish and left her alone in Paris). But instead of a kiss worthy of an HBO special, all I got was a dump-truck of saliva pouring into my mouth from perhaps the world’s worst kisser ever.

Being a good kisser is a big friggin’ deal. According to Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, kissing is the ultimate litmus test of the success of your relationship. In fact, 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women have called it quits on love because their mate was a bad kisser, she writes.

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So what makes a kiss bad? Turns out, it’s a mix of science, intuition, and a little bit of skill. While you're smooching, your brain is processing things like smell, taste, sound, and tactile signals, it’s simultaneously using those clues to determine if this person is the right match for you. (In fact, five out of 12 of your cranial nerves are even engaged in the act while you’re smooching it up. I’m telling you, it’s a big deal!) Here’s what to know:

1. The Wetter He Kisses, the More He Wants to Get It On. Here’s a great example of when actions speak louder than words. Research now shows that the wetter the kiss, the more likely the male is trying to get it on with you. When a man’s kisses are wet and wild, he is actually transmitting a healthy dose of testosterone inside of your mouth through his saliva. And get this —  with the extra testosterone, you’re more likely to experience a boost in your own sex drive! 

So no matter what he says, his kiss can’t lie. No wonder I was put off from dump-truck guy — homey wanted to get it in on the very first date! Nah, bro!

2. Hit the Dental Floss Before the Lip Gloss. Swipe on the season’s latest matte colors all you want, but if you got a rotten mouth full of plaque and Doritos, girl, you’re not protecting your grill the way you should. Keep your dental game tight if you want to be a great kisser: Every 10 seconds you kiss someone, you’re transferring up to 80 million bacteria between each other, according to scientists. Keeping your mouth healthy and strong helps fight off any unwanted bacteria that can transmit things like colds, flus, or even diseases like mononucleosis, gum disease, herpes, and more

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3. Let Them Lead the Way. This is a small tip from me to you: Sit back and let your boo lead the way next time you share a kiss. After all, part of what makes a great kisser is knowing how your partner wants to lock lips, right? Take the time to just observe what they first put down; how much lip, tongue, and biting they like to work with all there for you to glean within the first few moments. Once you gather enough information to help you strike a balance between what he wants and how to get what you need, then you can finally take over! They’ll totally think they trained you, but know the real deal: that you’re damn good kisser after all.

4. A Kiss Is Your Sexual Business Card. It’s been reported that dopamine levels rise when we lock mouth to mouth with someone new, stimulating the part of the brain that creates craving and desire. And when you’ve been with someone for a while, your kiss releases a chemical called oxytocin, which brings about a sense of calm and raises happiness levels. So even without knowing it, your kiss is creating a chemical impression inside your partner’s body! So do what you can to make sure it’s one that sends their system into pleasure overload.

5. Really, Hold Your Tongue. 
My new friend Mark had a lot to say when it came to how much tongue a woman should use. “I don’t believe we were meant to be tongue-lashing the hell out of each other, so tongues come into play slightly and respectfully,” he says. “Tongues get really aggressive only when it’s super elevated and clothes are coming off.” LV, another good friend of mine, had the same reaction. “Have soft lips and patience! And know when and when not to use your tongue!” 

It’s a real sticking point when it comes to kissing: How much tongue is too much? To practice, hold up your hand on the side of your mouth, with your index finger touching the corner of the left side of your lip. Then stroke your tongue out the way you normally would during a kiss, marking the distance your tongue travels by licking the inside of your hand. Then pull your hand away, and notice how far you’re tongue goes out. If you’re touching your ring finger and beyond, chances are you’re using way too much tongue. So reel it in, boo!

What do you think? A lot of tongue is a damn good thing? The more spit the better? Shout out! I want to know your kissing stories below and any tips you have to share!

Breonna Rodriguez is a Founding Creator and love and relationships blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her at zenfulie.com.