- Kissing is a common practice in many sexual and romantic relationships, yet little research has explored how kissing affects relationships.
- A new study finds that kissing during one's last sexual encounter is associated with consistent orgasms and higher sexual frequency for women.
- Higher frequency of kissing in a relationship, in general, is associated with sexual and relationship satisfaction for both men and women.
How often do you kiss your partner? Every day? Once a week? Almost never?
Did you and your partner kiss the last time you had sex? Not at all? Just a little bit? Or, perhaps, a lot?
According to new research, your answer to these questions may be a bellwether for how satisfied you are sexually and in your relationship in general.
In a new study, recently published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, researchers were interested in whether two types of kissing 1) specific kissing (i.e., kissing that occurred during the most recent sexual encounter) and 2) global kissing (i.e., kissing over time in a relationship) might predict a couples' level of sexual and relationship satisfaction.
Their sample consisted of 878 participants (433 men and 445 women) who were over the age of 18 and in relationships of at least 2 years. The vast majority of participants (75%) were married, 16% were exclusively dating someone, and 9% were engaged. The majority (78%) identified as White. A slight majority (52.6%) of women identified as exclusively heterosexual and the majority (62.5%) of men identified as exclusively heterosexual.
The authors asked participants to respond to the following question: “During your last sexual experience with your partner, how much did you kiss your partner on the lips?” with answers given on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = “none” to 5 = “a great deal”). Global frequency of kissing was measured with the question: “Over the past year, how often have you kissed your partner?” with responses being given on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = “never” to 7 = “more than once a day”).
The authors also asked participants questions about a) orgasm consistency, b) sexual frequency, c) sexual satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and d) relationship satisfaction and dissatisfaction. They controlled for relationship status, race, sexual orientation, relationship length, and income.
The majority of respondents reported that they kissed their partner on the lips during their last sexual encounter between a 3.5 and 4.0 on a 5-point Likert scale (where 5 indicated kissing a great deal of kissing during that sexual experience). In terms of global kissing, the average response was about a 6 on a 7-point Likert scale (where 7 represented “kissing more than once a day”). In other words, the participants reported kissing fairly often in general, and a fair bit during their last sexual encounter.
For women, frequency of specific kissing (i.e., amount of kissing reported during their last sexual encounter) was found to have a significant and direct effect on orgasm consistency, sexual frequency, and sexual satisfaction. Women’s reported global frequency of kissing (i.e., the amount of kissing reported in general in their relationship) had a significant direct effect on orgasm consistency, sexual frequency, sexual dissatisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and relationship dissatisfaction.
For men, frequency of specific kissing had a significant direct effect on sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction. Men’s reported global frequency of kissing had a significant direct effect on orgasm consistency, sexual frequency, sexual satisfaction, sexual dissatisfaction, and relationship dissatisfaction.
With regards to gender differences, women’s orgasm consistency and sexual satisfaction were more strongly influenced by specific kissing (i.e., kissing during their last sexual encounter). However, for men, the global kissing measure (i.e., how often they reported kissing their partner in general) was more strongly associated with sexual and relationship (dis)satisfaction than the specific kissing measure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings from this study suggest that kissing is an important predictor of sexual and relationship satisfaction for men and women in longer-term relationships.
The authors note that the global measure of kissing had a larger influence on sexual and relationship dissatisfaction than the specific measure of kissing for both sexes, as well as a substantially larger influence on the sexual dissatisfaction measures (versus the sexual satisfaction measures). These findings suggest that not kissing in one's relationship may be a bellwether of men's and women’s relationship dissatisfaction. However, it may also mean that those who are more dissatisfied in their relationships may kiss their partners less often.
While there is a myriad of factors that are known to influence our sexual and relationship satisfaction (e.g., communication, stress, mental health, physical illness, social and cultural messages, etc.) this study suggests that we should also be considering the frequency of kissing in our intimate relationships.
While more research is needed to see if these findings are replicated in other samples, the authors suggest that encouraging kissing in relationships may be a helpful intervention for women who are looking to experience more consistent orgasms and increase their sexual frequency. The findings from this study also suggest that encouraging more kissing in a relationship may help enhance relationship and satisfaction and reduce feelings of dissatisfaction for both men and women.
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Busby, D. M., Hanna-Walker V., & Leavitt, C. (2021). Is kissing a bellwether of sexual and relationship satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2021.1977747