The Science of Kissing
My best kiss happened the first time my husband kissed me. It was over 30 years ago but I remember it like it happened yesterday. It had such a big impact on me and I remember thinking at the time that he would be my husband some day. Isn’t it strange that the exchange of saliva can feel so pleasant and desirable?
Opinions among scholars differ as to the function and origins of kissing. One hypothesis is that the kiss has evolved as a mechanism for gathering information about potential sexual partners. A kiss brings us into close physical proximity with the other, close enough to smell and taste them. The face area is rich with glands secreting chemicals that carry genetic and immunological information. Our saliva carries hormonal messages. A person’s breath, as well as the taste of their lips and the feel of their teeth, signals things about their health and hygiene, and thus their procreative suitability.
Research also suggests that the kiss serves as other functions such as expressing and reinforcing feelings of trust and intimacy which can lead to intercourse, meaning it’s a prelude to reproduction. It is a universal language and almost every culture in the world does it.
An additional line of thinking has focused on the kiss as a means of seduction and sexual stimulation. Women’s lips resemble the labia. The practice of women around the world of coloring their lips red—a color linked to sexual arousal–suggests the role the lips play in seduction. Research has suggested that men prefer wetter kisses, with more involvement of the tongue than do women.
The tongue, it is difficult to deny, is a phallic organ. The combination of a moist open mouth and a penetrating tongue simulate intercourse quite distinctly, and give easy rise to sexual imagining and, perhaps, sexual excitement. In addition, some researchers speculate that the male preference for wet kisses is related to the fact that male saliva contains testosterone, a hormone linked to sexual arousal in both genders. A wet kiss may deposit testosterone into the woman’s mouth, thereby acting to increase her sexual arousal.
Women rank kissing as being more important in all kinds of romantic relationships than men do. Studies show that women consider the smell, taste and experience of kissing to help them decide if they want the kissing to lead to sex. Men tend to expect sex after kissing, although they are more willing than women to have intercourse without kissing.
The role of kissing in improving the quality of long-term relationships was examined several years ago by the family communications scholar Kory Floyd and his colleagues at Arizona State University. The researchers randomly assigned fifty-two participants (all involved in long-term relationships) into one of two groups and instructed the members of the experimental group to kiss more frequently with their partners for a period of six weeks.
Blood tests and questionnaire data collected before and after showed that members of the experimental group experienced decreased cholesterol, decreased stress, and improved quality of relationship. Similarly, researcher Wendy Hill of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania found a few years ago that kissing for fifteen minutes led to a significant decline in the level of stress hormone cortisol in participants.
In conclusion, kissing appears to have two main uses: in short-term relationship, the kiss is more sexual, and serves as a tool for selecting and seducing suitable sexual partners; in long-term relationships, the kiss is an expression of psychological closeness, and a means of preserving and enhancing feelings of intimacy in the relationship.
Despite the differences in attitudes towards it, kissing, it seems, benefits both genders. Generally, couples that kiss more frequently report improved and more satisfying relationships.
“Kisses are a better fate than wisdom,” wrote the poet e. e. Cummings.
So if you’re feeling stressed, perhaps go find someone to kiss for about 15 minutes…<3
source: Western Journal of Communications 2009