Here's How To Stay Safe While Kissing During The Pandemic

Remember the simpler times when you felt free to kiss someone you just met after chatting on a dating app? Or someone you know but hadn't seen in a while? Or even someone you'd had sex with just a few short weeks ago? It's been a long time since making out was not seen as an act of bravery or rebellion, or a sign of bad decision-making.

Now, with COVID-19 a long-term reality, getting to just first base is fraught with confusion, at least for those who are single and dating or not living with a regular sex partner. Tipsy make out sessions with strangers in bars are no longer possible. Neither is ending a first date with a mouth-to-mouth kiss. They've been replaced with — or should be preceded by — a chat and some safety precautions.

Navigating a road lined with both kisses and COVID-19 is tricky, but there are guidelines that lessen your risk of contracting the virus. So before you pucker up, read on for expert advice. 

First, ask questions

COVID-19 spreads through saliva, mucus, and droplets in a person's breath. Kissing someone you don't live with is one of the most risky things you can do sexually, because of the large exchange of saliva, according to Stephanie Cohen, M.D., medical director of San Francisco City Clinic (per KQED). In fact, the New York City Department of Health's released guidelines called "Safer Sex and COVID-19," and the guide says it's best to avoid kissing altogether, unless someone is a close contact or live-in partner. 

Despite that, if you're still intent on making out with your new paramour, assess the risk of kissing by asking questions: Do you have any symptoms? Are you staying home? Do you wear a mask? Have you avoided crowds? Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., recommended to Bustle, if they answer no to any questions, or bristle that you're even asking questions, it could mean they're high-risk. You also need to ask yourself, how badly you want to kiss the person and whether or not you're willing to risk getting COVID-19 for a kiss. Keep in mind that the less you know about the person and what they've been exposed to, the higher the risk.

If you're pretty sure you want to kiss someone you don't know well, or even sit close to them, consider forming an agreement that you both get tested beforehand, and then you can each share your clean bill of health.

You won't miss kissing if you...

The good news is, if you decide not to take a chance with smooching, you've got other, just-as-sexy options. Intercourse is one! Having sex may actually be safer than kissing (per HuffPost), as intercourse is likely not a common way for COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, to spread.

But you still need to be careful while doing it. Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth may prevent heavy breathing and panting from spreading the virus. Could mask-wearing even be worked into a sexy role-play scenario? Possibly.

Try experimenting with different sexual positions, where you're not facing each other and breathing directly onto each other's nose and mouth, including standing doggy style, reverse rider on top, and wheelbarrow (per Healthline).

The New York City Department of Health says to, "Pick larger, more open, and well-ventilated spaces" for, um, close contact. If you interpret that as meaning it's better to get it on in the woods rather than in a bed, we promise we won't tell.

Finally, don't be hard on yourself if you're craving kissing and other forms of intimacy. Kissing actually has mental health benefits. Dr. Bhuyan told Bustle, intimacy is an important part of human connection. Sure, we all need to be cautious when it comes to COVID-19 (and safe sex!), but the important thing is to find a balance between remaining safe and indulging in sexy times.