3 Amazing Things A Simple Kiss Teaches Us

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What's your kiss saying?

By: Jen Doll

When you compare a first kiss to that first time in bed…well, awkward sex can improve with time. But a bad kiss? You’re not going to wait around to see what comes after. So it’s worth considering which messages we exchange when we pucker up.

1. It Shows You're Into Someone

Even chimps and elephants kiss. As Sheril Kirshenbaum writes in The Science of Kissing, a kiss increases serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and epinephrine—sparking euphoria and attraction.

Kissing helps us assess potential mates, says University of Albany psychologist Gordon Gallup, in an “intricate exchange of a lot of complicated information”—touch, smell and the chemicals in saliva. In a bad kiss, he says, these signals discourage hooking up.

2. It's Not Always a Means to an End

At first, men and women aren’t necessarily looking for the same thing from a kiss. In a 2007 survey of college students, most women said they wouldn’t have sex without kissing someone first, but men didn’t mind—they kissed to increase the likelihood of sex. (Men also preferred a “greater salivary exchange” to boost their chances—so you can blame that sloppy kiss on evolution.)

For both men and women in the long term, though, frequent kissing is a better gauge of a strong relationship than frequent sex, according to a 2013 University of Oxford study.

3. It's Good for You—and Your Bond

Kory Floyd, a University of Arizona professor of communication, ran an experiment with 52 committed couples in which one group was instructed to increase their kissing for six weeks while the control group kept to the status quo. The kissers saw improvements in perceived stress, relationship satisfaction and total serum cholesterol.

And an amazing German study cited in Kirshenbaum’s book found that men who kissed their wives before work lived an average of five years longer and made 20 to 30 percent more than those who didn’t.

What makes a kiss good? “We think it’s in the biology of the beholder,” Gallup says.

You’ll know it when you feel it.

This article was originally published at Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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