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Kissing Satisfies Many Human Needs

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Kissing Satisfies Many Human Needs

Kissing has no direct reproductive function, but almost every culture in the world does it. Why?

Isn’t it strange that the exchange of saliva is considered a desirable event, a ritual of passion? What, exactly, is the point? One hypothesis is that the kiss is a mechanism for gathering information about potential sexual partners. A kiss brings you in close—close enough to smell and taste chemicals that carry genetic and immunological information. Our saliva carries hormonal messages: Close contact with a person’s breath, lips, and teeth informs us about his or her health and hygiene—and thus potential as a mate. Research also suggests a range of other functions, such as expressing and reinforcing feelings of trust and intimacy and facilitating sexual intercourse. The meaning of a kiss depends on who’s doing the kissing. —Noam Shpancer

Would you have sex with someone without kissing that person first?

53% of Men answered YES.

14% of Women answered YES

For women, the smell and taste of their kissing partner weighs heavily in their decision to pursue closer contact. Men routinely expect that kissing will lead to intercourse and tend to characterize “a good kiss” as one leading to sex.

Source: Evolutionary Psychology, 2007

How important is kissing in romantic interactions on a scale of 1-5?

Males: 3.8/5

Females: 4.2/5

Women rank kissing as more important in all kinds of romantic relationships than men do; men tend to consider it less important as relationships go on.

Source: Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013

Six weeks of increased kissing time lowers stress in couples

Image: Graph of stress levels of couples after 6 wks of kissing

Kissing your partner more frequently can lower cholesterol and stress and improve relationship quality, research suggests. Just 15 minutes worth of kissing, one study showed, can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Source: Western Journal of Communication, 2009

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Noam Shpancer was born and raised on an Israeli kibbutz. Currently he is a professor of psychology at Otterbein University and a practicing clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders. He is also a blogger at psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy and an op-ed columnist for the Jewish bimonthly The New Standard. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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