Why Do We Kiss?

Kissing is a nearly universal human activity, appearing in more than 90% of all cultures. But why do we kiss?

Research carried out by Psychologists at Pennsylvania’s Albright College show that there are three main reasons for kissing and that men and women kiss for quite different reasons.

1. Kissing allows us to evaluate potential mates
When we kiss we are doing more than evaluating how good a kisser our partner is. The physical closeness of the kiss allows us to sample the smell and taste of our partner on a subconscious level. Kissing also allow us to exchange small amounts of saliva which contain hormones and even genetic information that provides further information to our subconscious partner-selection process. It has been shown that women are substantially more attracted to men with key genetic differences to their own. Evolutionary biologists believe that this reaction is an adaptation designed to provide children with the most diverse DNA possible. Overall, it may be that the satisfaction that we get from a good kiss may be our subconscious giving us the green light on the suitability of our kissing mate.

The study found that women are more concerned with the taste and smell of their partners than men, rating fresh breath more important than facial attractiveness.

2. Kissing makes us feel closer to our partners
The researchers found that men and women thought about kissing of long term partners quite differently. The women in the study tended to judge the quality and frequency of kissing with their 918kiss partner as a test of their relationship. The women studied felt affirmed by kissing and wanted to engage in more kissing before, during and after sex especially in order to feel more bonded to their partners. In contrast the men in the study tended to view kissing less as a way of bonding and feeling close to their partners and more as a way of initiating sex, they valued kissing as a method of feeling close to their partner less highly.

3. Kissing as a way of initiating sex
As a precursor to sex men and women view kissing very differently. The study showed that men expected that passionate kissing would lead to sex about 50% of the time while the women studied felt that passionate kissing would lead to sex only about 33% of the time. This is consistent with women’s views of kissing as a bonding activity. But women did consider kissing very closely tied with sex, with only 14% of women stating that they would have sex with someone that they had not kissed while over 50% of men said they would have sex with someone they had not kissed.

Other studies on kissing suggest that kissing serves to transfer hormones such as testosterone between partners and that kissing may serve to stimulate a sexual response in the less aroused partner.

What kissing research means to you
Overall this research on kissing shows that men and women have quite different expectations about and reasons for kissing. While both sexes use kissing in the early stages of a relationship to judge their compatibility, in long term relationships women and men have different reasons for kissing. For the women studied kissing was primarily a way to judge the health of their relationship and its role as a precursor to sex was secondary. For men the reasons to kiss were reversed, men wanted to kiss in order to initiate sex and viewed kissing as a way of bonding as of secondary importance.

For men the message is clear: Engage in more kissing without expectation that it will lead to sex. This will have the effect that your partner will feel more bonded to you and therefore will be more likely to engage in sex. Be aware that women are more finely tuned to taste and smell than men so floss, brush your teeth and avoid foods that your partner hates the smell of.

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