Pucker up, darlings.
Studies have shown that a woman discovers everything she needs to know about a potential lover from his very first kiss, and any guy who has tried to get to first base on a date knows it. Interestingly, it's not just humans who show affection this way. Bonobo chimpanzees kiss on the lips, elephants put their trunks in each other's mouths, and foxes lick each other's faces — all as signs of affection.
But why does our species kiss in the first place, and what's the scientific, emotional and chemical reasoning behind it? Furthermore, is there a way to learn how to kiss that will make sure someone never forgets you or your lips?
Kissing looks different across various cultures, with passionate lip-locks the modus operandi in only some parts of the world. For example, some societies rub noses with each other to show affection, like the Inuit (Eskimo kisses, anyone?), Polynesians and Malaysians.
Although theories on why we kiss abound (one study says that social kissing originated with Medieval knights as a way to find out if their wives had been drinking while they were off fighting), the most widely accepted scientific reason for kissing is that humans do it to find a suitable mate.
When our faces are close together, our pheromones "communicate" primally, exchanging biological information about whether or not two people will make strong offspring. Sound unbelievable? There have been studies to prove there's more than excitement and lust behind the average kiss.
Scientific American, for example, has found that a single kiss triggers a cascade of neural messages and chemicals that transmit tactile sensations, sexual excitement, feelings of closeness, motivation and even euphoria. Their research also shows that kissing may have evolved from the maternal primate practice of chewing food for their young before feeding them mouth-to-mouth, making kissing not just a sign of affection, but an act necessary for survival.
But these days, a simple kiss is often the initial gauge by which one might judge the success of a relationship. Some call is compatibility, some call it chemistry, but whatever the word, one thing's clear: there's a lot to learn in a kiss.
More than half of all people experience their first real kiss by the time they are 14 years old, but it more often than not isn't the experience of our teenage dreams. As adults, it can't hurt to know a little bit more about the mechanics of kissing.
Here are some interesting bits about one of our favorite activities:
- Kissing is exercise. When we kiss, our hearts beat faster and our breathing becomes deeper, mimicking the way our bodies react to exercise. If done with passion, kissing can be a great workout; a 60-second kiss burns more than 50 calories.
- Kissing can mean proper etiquette. In many European countries, it's proper etiquette to greet someone by kissing them on both cheeks.
- Kissing raises self-esteem. Kissing sends signals to our brain to produce hormones that make us feel good. And it’s no surprise that one kiss leads to another.
So, what’s the secret to a romantic kiss that will knock her proverbial socks off? After interviewing over 2,000 women on Facebook, I found out people have some pretty strong opinions about what they’re looking for in a kiss:
- "Sloppy, wet and all over the place."
- "His tongue all the way down my throat."
- "Don't think that a kiss is the precursor to me giving oral sex."
- "Don't lick my mouth."
- "What's up with fast jaw movements? I'm not trying to be chewed on."
- Start gently. Let your mouth wander, but pay attention to your partner's reactions and act accordingly.
- Light strokes on the cheekbones, neck, and back get extra points, as these areas are usually ignored.
- Timing is everything. Start slowly, and stay slow enough to watch for signs that encourage more rapid movement and advances.
Of course, keep in mind that every kiss is different, and what's a definite "don't" for one person might be a "please do!" for another. There's only one way to find out, and luckily, that way is a lot of fun.