- New research finds that kissing was an ordinary part of everyday life in many parts of the ancient world.
- A good kiss can boost emotional connection, desire, and partner satisfaction, according to scientific studies.
- Effective ways to improve kissing include good hygiene, confidence, and being emotionally present.
In romantic relationships, a kiss is often seen as the gateway to intimacy. It's a sensual gesture that can ignite sparks, communicate affection, and deepen the connection between two people.
Of the thousands of song title words used in No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, the word "kiss" ranks in the top 99. It's right up there with you, baby, love, and heart. So it seems that songwriters and music fans, at least, think there is something special about touching lips.
But is being a good kisser important, or is it just a musical and cinematic cliché? To answer this question, we need to lay bare all the genuine facts about passionate kissing. New research on the ancient history of smooching reveals that humans have been kissing romantically for at least 4,500 years. Not bad a run, but why do we do it?
Here are 14 things to know about one of humanity's favorite nonverbal romantic behaviors: kissing.
The Science of Kissing
Studies on kissing, or philematology as it's scientifically known, point to numerous benefits, both physiological and psychological.
1. Stress Reduction. Kissing prompts the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone." This neuropeptide helps reduce stress and promote feelings of bonding and attachment. A passionate kiss after a long day can effectively melt away tension and anxiety.
2. Immune System Boost. Believe it or not, kissing can boost your immune system. When you exchange saliva with your partner, you're exposed to various germs and pathogens. This exposure can help your body build up antibodies, making you more resilient to illness.
3. Mood Enhancement. Kissing stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It can improve your mood and leave you feeling happier and more content.
4. Communication. Beyond the physiological benefits, kissing serves as a powerful form of non-verbal communication. It conveys desire, affection, and emotional connection. A well-timed kiss can speak volumes when words fall short.
The Value of a Great Kiss
Given these benefits, it's clear that kissing is more than just a prelude to more intimate activities. It plays a significant role in maintaining emotional and physical well-being within a romantic relationship. Here are some reasons why kissing is so powerful.
5. Enhanced Emotional Connection. Good kissers are often perceived as more emotionally connected and attentive partners. When a kiss is well-executed, it can intensify the emotional connection between two people. This can lead to a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.
6. Increased Attraction. Kissing is one of the first physical intimacies shared between partners. A good kiss can spark and enhance physical attraction. It sets the stage for further exploration of intimacy and desire within the relationship.
7. Synchronicity. Being a good kisser is not just about technique; it's also about being attuned to your partner's desires and responses. A skilled kisser is more likely to be in sync with their partner's needs, leading to better overall communication in the relationship.
8. Heightened Intimacy. Kissing is a form of physical intimacy that doesn't necessarily lead to sex. It allows couples to connect on a deep, emotional level without the pressure of more advanced sexual activities. For many, this can be an essential component of a fulfilling relationship.
9. Long-Term Relationship Satisfaction. Research has shown that couples who continue to kiss passionately throughout their long-term relationships report higher levels of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. Being a good kisser can help keep the romantic flame burning bright.
Kissing Tips: Ways to Improve
Becoming a good kisser is a lot like the answer to the old question about how to get to Carnegie Hall: “Practice, practice, practice.” Looking for ways to boost your kissing IQ? Here are some recommendations for caressing your partner's lips more amorously than before.
10. Hygiene. Good oral hygiene is crucial. Fresh breath and clean teeth are the foundation of a memorable kiss. Good advice even if you're not planning an immediate intimate encounter.
11. Emotional Connection. Kissing is not just a physical act; it's also an emotional one. Being present in the moment and connecting with your partner on an emotional level can elevate the kiss to a whole new level.
12. Variety. Don't be afraid to mix things up. Experiment with different types of kisses—soft and tender, passionate and fiery, or playful and teasing. Variety keeps the experience exciting.
13. Responsive to Feedback. Being attuned to your partner's cues and responding to their desires is key. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to kissing, so adaptability is essential.
14. Confidence. Confidence can be incredibly attractive. Believe in your abilities as a kisser, and your partner is likely to feel the same way.
The prevalence of kissing in music and film is an indirect indication of how much we love it. But a good kiss is not just a Hollywood trope; it's a real and meaningful aspect of intimacy.
Kissing has both psychological and physiological benefits, and being skilled in the art of the perfect kiss can enhance emotional connection, attraction, and overall relationship satisfaction.
So, is being a good kisser important? Absolutely. It's an intimate act that can ignite passion, foster emotional bonds, and keep the flames of love burning brightly. In the intricate dance of love, the kiss is a powerful step that should not be underestimated.
© Kevin Bennett, PhD, 2023
Facebook image: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Arbøll, T.P., & Rasmussen, S. L. (2023). The ancient history of kissing.Science380,688-690. DOI:10.1126/science.adf0512
Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1971). Love and hate: The natural history of behavior patterns. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Floyd, K. (2006). Communicating affection in intergenerational relationships. Communication Studies, 57(3), 283-300.
Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup Jr, G. G. (2007). Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 5(3), 612-631.
Jarczok, M. N., Guendel, H., & Jarczok, M. (2013). Kissing reduces allergen-specific IgE production and allergen-induced skin wheal responses and improves symptoms in hay fever patients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(28), 11641-11646.
Kirshenbaum, S. B., & Braun-Harvey, D. (2014). The kissing solution: 10 secrets to a more passionate, connected, and satisfying life. New Harbinger Publications.