Body Language - Kissing Part 1

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I inclined my head and went for the kiss. With my eyes closed I could only sense and smell her, it was an entirely another way to communicate through our senses, intense and direct.

Did you ever wondered why do we actually kiss?

Kissing of course is fun, but we'll look deeply behind the motives of such "strange" activity and the theories behind it.

After we finish with the theory, we will look into into some further related issues such as: kiss types, learn what respect and patronage has to do with it and what's the difference between a platonic and a romantic kiss on the cheek.

If you came here because you want some practical tips on how to kiss, don't you worry, we will go through the steps later on.  We will also look at the things that can go wrong, how they can be avoided, and are they really that bad after all?

So without any further ado, let's jump to my first question:

Why do we kiss?

Well apparently I wasn't the only one who was puzzled by this, and there is a whole research field dedicated for the study of kissing and its effects on us (Philematology).

So far, nobody's too sure about the reason behind that strange activity (think about it). You can argue that it's part of the sexual activity of humans, just like sex, so we don't really need to look any further for explanations. But that's not entirely correct because:

1. While kissing is fun, there's no biological necessity for it to exist. We can reproduce without kissing.

2. Yeah, kissing is very popular today, but it wasn't evident much in cultures outside the western civilization a few decades ago. Kissing became much more prominent as a result of the western culture spread around the world.

OK, so what are the theories?

1. It's started as mouth feeding - this is the most probable conclusion, as we can see many other specie utilize this activity.

While it might seem a little gross, it was truly essential. In the days before squashed food was served in tiny cans, we had to soften our babies food manually ,so the infant will get all the nutrients he needs from the food he cannot entirely process by himself.

In later stages, we found out that touching lips together is also very stimulating and fun, so we adopted that habit and transformed it to something way more romantic and sexy than mouth feeding.

Just like birds

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2. It's a biological match-finding test. Suppose you could answer the question "Is s\he right for me?" in one simple test.

Kissing apparently is one such test. Since through it we can actually "taste" our partner, feel and smell him very closely, it's hypothesized that through it we can identify if they're the right match for us (of course as long as they didn't ate garlic).

It's theorized that we can identify the strength of the immune system and it's match for ours through the pheromones we receive while we kiss. If it tastes good then it's probably good for us, no? (If only it was true for sweets..)

Good Chemistry

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Side Note: It's better for us genetically to "mix in" with a person with an immune system different from ours. More variety = stronger and more adaptable system. that's why inbreeding doesn't work well.

While I'm not sure how reliable this test is (I never dumped any girl because I didn't like her kiss), I believe this is one of the things we describe as "good chemistry" - we feel comfortable physically and emotionally with our partner.

3. It's our instinct. I mentioned that other specie kiss too, such as the bonobos (a primate ape who is closely related to us). Other animals lick each other in the face or touch noses. So maybe it's just an integrated biological behavior that we may choose to adopt or suppress culturally.

Whatever the reason behind it, kissing is super fun and healthy. It has all the advantages of being physically intimate like reducing stress hormones (Cortisol), elevating mood (Dopamine, Serotonin), and strengthening the bond with our lover by elevating Oxytocin (AKA the 'love hormone'). Plus, let's not forget Adrenaline, who makes your heart pump faster, dilates your blood vessels and adds a lot excitement to the cocktail.

So even if we're not sure why we started doing it, we still have plenty of reasons to continue to do so, right?

We still have some explanation to do

So yeah, kissing is fun and healthy, and we assume it's universal around the world. right?

Not truly.

Interestingly enough, kissing in public wasn't part of the customs in many cultures until the western occupation starting at the 19th century. The 'White Man', who obviously perceived his culture as superior to this of the natives, believed that part of his job is to educate the locals in the 'right costumes'. Since then, this habit spread out quickly and become the symbol of romance in many parts of the world.

note: I don't mean to say that the kiss was an entirely new concept to all foreign cultures outside of Europe, but it wasn't so popular or was reserved for private occasions only.

Even today, there are many place in the world where kissing is considered an erotic activity, not suitable for public display (Japan, for example). As always. it wouldn't hurt to check the local customs before trying your charms on someone.

And in video...

Before we move on, check out this video of Vsauce on "why do we kiss" - he pretty much sums it up:

Continue to kissing - Part 2 - Kiss Types

or jump straight to kissing - Part 3 - How to Kiss

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