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Why Do We Kiss?

In honour of International Kissing Day, we take a look at our lip-locking ways

You have your peck, your French kiss, your Hollywood kiss (made famous by Burger and Carrie in Sex and the City), your polite kiss, your passionate kiss, your still-getting-to-know-you kiss¦but what do they all mean? Do we kiss simply because we love someone, find someone attractive, and want to press our faces on theirs? Romans were big kissers, the Greeks kissed to give social recognition, and in Biblical times kissing someone’s feet was a gesture of respect. Humans have been kissing, in one way or another, for a long time. But, where exactly did this popular tradition come from?

Sheril Kirshenbaum, a biologist and author of The Science of Kissing said there are many evolutionary reasons to explain why we kiss. One theory is that during the time when humans were hunter-gathers, the colour red was considered a symbol of reward. From that, the idea of red and endearing lips emerged. Another theory comes from Freud, who believed that the act of kissing is rooted in us from birth. The pressing of one’s lips to someone else’s lips can provide the same calmness and sense of comfort that babies feel when they are in they are nursed by their mothers.

Your lips do more than just tell someone how you feel when you kiss them. They have millions of receptors that take in all kinds of sensory data like taste, smell and texture. All of this data, especially for women, subconsciously affects whether a woman thinks a man is a good mate for her or not¦aka, whether he is a good kisser! Passionate kissing can also trigger a string of hormones to shoot off the scale in our bodies. If you feel fireworks when you kiss your guy, scientists say that could be due to a rise in oxytocin, the hormone that controls our feelings of attachment and comfort. Making-out can also cause your dopamine and serotonin levels to skyrocket, which are linked to your sexual appetite and desire.

As for the difference between men and women when it comes to kissing, you guessed it, women place more meaning on it. For women, a lot of weight is placed on that magical first kiss. As we all know, it can sometimes be a deal breaker. To men, kissing is often just the precursor to sex. According to Kirshenbaum, men transfer small amounts of testosterone to their female counterparts during the act of kissing, getting them more geared up for sex.

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