In Western culture, our earliest memories of kissing go back to when our mothers would hold us close and kiss our forehead with affection. At that point we associate kissing with affection and a show of love. As we grow up and enter romantic relationships, our understanding od kissing changes. We start kissing for intimacy.
We know kissing feels good but can't always put into words why. We assume it has something to do with chemistry or attraction. But that's not it. There are actually very specific reasons why a kiss is good or bad and it's all rooted in biology. According to psychology, here's why we kiss.
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It's A Natural Instinct
First of all, kissing is natural and it is an instinctual act that even many animals engage in to show affection. The kissing-like behavior can vary from breed to breed with dogs for example licking their potential mates and elephants putting their trunks in each other's mouths. Still, the intention is the same.
But the apes are the ones who share kisses that most resemble ours. After all, we share one about 98.7 percent of our DNA with them. Just like humans they kiss for comfort, or to make up after a fight. This goes to show kissing might be ingrained deep in our DNA and has a very specific biological purpose.
It Exchanges Information Like A Test
The biggest job of a kiss is the opportunity for very important data to be exchanged between both bodies. This happens on a very subconscious level. But the moment your lips touch, data is transferred that unconsciously assesses whether this partner has the potential to be permanent.
Our lips have the thinnest layers of skin on the human body. It's a highly populated area of nerve endings as well. These nerves allow us to unconsciously pick up on the temperature, taste, and smell of the person we are kissing.
The smell is the most important because it carries pheromones that hold all sorts of information about our kissing partner from their immune system to their fertility.
It Has The Power To Predict A Relationship
It's all in the kiss! Whether you decide to keep pursuing a potential mate can really come down to the kiss. You can be having a great conversation but if you really want to know how you feel about them then you might have to lock lips first
A kiss is so powerful that it can determine whether a relationship begins, ends, or continues. Kissing completely influences our relationship. Scientists and psychologists have started referring to this concept as a deal-breaking kiss "a kiss of death."
In fact, a study found that the majority of both male and female participants were attracted to someone only to realize they were no longer interested after kissing for the first time. That's the difference between attraction and chemistry.
Intell On The Kissing Partner's Immune System
Some studies have also shown that we can assess a person's immune system just by kissing them. Your body basically makes a decision on whether you will be compatible ad make healthy babies based on the scent you pick up when you get close enough to kiss them
The human scent is an indicator of our immune system because of the genes known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. Supposedly people are attracted to partners who have different MHC genes because it means that their baby would have a more diverse immune system that is better able to fight disease.
Basically, a better kiss means better odds of a healthy baby together. It's the biological equivalent of opposites attract!
Bad Kisses Don't Mean Bad Kissers
Let's make an important distinction. When we experience a bad kiss, it's unlikely that either party is to blame. It doesn't necessarily blame your partner was a bad kisser. The reason that people experience deal-breaking kisses is unique to their genetic makeup.
Evolutionary psychologist and professor Gordon Gallup explains that someone who "may be a good kisser for one person may be a bad kisser for another." That means if you do find someone to be a good kisser, that just means that particular person is a good genetic match for you.
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Kissing And Pheromones Go Hand In Hand
Now back to scents. Some findings have shown that kissing may have originally been an extension of smell. Look at the way, animals sniff each other to find a partner for mating. We may not look go around sniffing each other, but instead, we give off pheromones and that's what attracts people to each other. Pheromones are also a predictor of who we fall in love with, and whether we stay in love with them.
The trending joke of women stealing their partner's sweatshirts has a biological origin. It's a primal act. We can actually immediately "yes" or "no" based on their body odor. However, to get a good enough whiff, you have to get quite close, such as when you kiss.
Another important role for phermones and kisses is that they can determine why couples break up. If you lose the desire to smell and kiss your partner, you may be drifting apart.
Kissing is Different For Men And Women
Chemistry is the one component of love you can't fake but because it's so genetically rooted, it's not felt the same for me and women. Men's saliva has testosterone in it, which increases the sex drive for both men and women. That's why kissing is always a great first step in getting in the mood for romance.
Men tend to kiss as a means of gaining favors and achieving reconciliation, explains Gordon. Women on the other hand tend to kiss as a test for establishing and maintaining a romantic relationship.
The First Kiss Feels The Best
They say that you always remember your first kiss with a person for a reason. Imagine the awakening you feel when the millions of nerve endings on your lips are activated with a kiss for the first time. The reason the kiss feels good is because of the signals it sends to your brain.
Gordon says there is evidence that some people remember the details of their first kiss better than they even remember their first intimate encounter. That's because a new kiss gives a boost to the dopamine system in the brain. Dopamine is associated with feelings of intense romantic love. In this context, every kiss with a new person is considered a first kiss.
A Kiss Has Three Purposes
Anthropologist Helen Fisher has found that kissing stimulates these brain hormones: dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones affect three brain systems for mating and reproduction: sex drive, feelings of intense romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment.
As we mentioned saliva contains testosterone which causes arousal. Then there is the release of dopamine that makes us feel happy and in love. Lastly, there is the third brain system, attachment, which is impacted by oxytocin. This chemical is also known as the s "cuddle hormone" and is what makes you feel connected and close to each other. It's what makes people refer to each other as "soulmates"
The more you kiss, the longer your relationship can last! Kissing releases oxytocin. Oxytocin plays an increasingly important role the longer a relationship lasts, and the more immediate effects of dopamine wear off.
So Much Happens In Your brain And Body During A Kiss!
As you can now tell a kiss holds a lot of power and information. "It's a hardwired, evolved, largely unconscious interaction that occurs and subserves a basic reproductive biological function that most people have no insight into whatsoever," says Gordon.
The next time that you have a bad kiss, know that's probably a blessing in disguise! And the next time you have a good kiss, know you'd probably have healthy babies!
In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it's much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on your date of birth.