Home & Family
Pucker Up: What Happens When We Lock Lips
7/8/2014 12:19:46 PM


We’ll never know when the first kiss happened in the history of man, but at some point in the development of our species, two people locked lips and launched a tradition that has sparked—and killed—billions of relationships since.

Although people have been kissing for endless generations, there is surprisingly little research about why we do it or what makes it critical as a launching pad for future romance. Researchers have found, however, that lip contact involves five of our 12 cranial nerves and engages all of our senses, allowing us to learn more about our partner.

According to Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing and a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, electrical impulses bounce between the brain, lips, tongue and skin, and all those chemical messages trigger a feeling of being on a "natural high.” The lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone, she notes, packed with sensitive nerve endings.

Unfortunately, all those nerve endings may be just as capable as sending negative messages as positive ones. Psychologists at the State University of New York at Albany found that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women have ended a relationship because of a bad kiss.

Here’s more from modern research on the science of puckering up:

· According to the Albany study, females place more importance on kissing as a mate assessment device and as a means of initiating, maintaining and monitoring the status of their relationship with a long-term partner. Men place less importance on kissing and mostly use it to increase the likelihood of sex.

· Research by the British Heart Foundation found that 18 percent of married people go an entire week without kissing. Forty percent kiss for just five seconds or less.

· Marcel Danesi, author of The History of the Kiss, notes that the act of kissing doesn’t appear in ancient paintings; interestingly, it wasn’t until the medieval period that romantic kisses started to show up in contemporary art. That doesn’t mean humans weren’t doing it, of course. According to Kirshenbaum, the earliest literary evidence we have for kissing dates back about 2,000 years to India's Vedic Sanskrit.

· Researchers at Butler University found that people often remember their first kiss much more distinctly than they remember losing their virginity.

· Two-thirds of all people turn their head to the right when kissing, according to psychologist Onur Gntrkn of Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.

· Researchers have also found that men prefer sloppy kisses more than women.

· One reason the frequency of kissing declines as a relationship progresses is because kissing is often viewed as a litmus test to see if the coupling will last. If the long-term commitment already exists, the litmus test is unnecessary; thus, couples (either consciously or subconsciously) don’t see the need to kiss.

That’s not to say that long-term couples shouldn’t kiss, however. Arizona State University researchers found that married or cohabiting couples who kissed frequently experienced less stress and more relationship satisfaction.
Posted by: Erin Kelly | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Relationships

Share and enjoy: Del.icio.us   Digg This   Google Bookmarks   Reddit   Stumble Upon


© Copyright 2020, Thrive Magazine. All rights reserved.