20 things you never knew about kissing
Why do we kiss?
Is kissing a matter of nature or nurture, instinct or instruction? No one knows for sure. Some scientists have theorized that kissing is purely instinctual, a natural act that springs from our innate desire for intimacy. Others believe that kissing developed as an outgrowth of early human mothers’ breastfeeding their infants or chewing food and then pushing it into their young children’s mouths with a nourishing kiss. What is known for sure is that 90-some percent of all human cultures throughout history have engaged in some form of kissing behavior, but anthropologists and missionaries discovered many other cultures during the past 500 years—from Africa to South America—that either knew nothing of kissing until they were shown or rejected kissing as disgusting behavior.
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-- By Larry West
It’s in his kiss
When couples kiss, they exchange a lot of information on a subconscious level, information that may affect the course of their lives. Researchers have found that a woman who kisses a man can detect information about his immune system and genetic makeup that can help her decide whether he would be a good mate, would be likely to father healthy children, and would be around long enough to help bring them up. Men and women also tend to prefer different types of kisses. Men like wet, sloppy kiss; women often prefer less tongue and more tenderness. One reason is that a man’s saliva contains testosterone, a male sex hormone that can stimulate a woman’s libido.
Kissing is not exclusive to human beings. Other species also kiss or engage in some form of kiss-like behavior. Bonobos, a type of chimpanzee that is closely related to humans, kiss often and passionately. Other apes also kiss, elephants insert their trunks in each other’s mouths, and wolves and other canines lick faces. Some form of facial contact is common even among birds and reptiles.
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The history of kissing
The first literary evidence of kissing appeared about 3,500 years ago, in the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts of India. Kissing is also mentioned prominently in the Bible, particularly in the Song of Songs, which was written around 900 B.C. But given how much humans enjoy kissing, and how many other species exhibit similar types of behavior, it’s likely that people have been kissing for millions of years.
Why we kiss at weddings
If you think that kiss the bride and groom share after exchanging their wedding vows is pure romance, think again. When ancient Romans reached an agreement, they would to kiss to legally seal the contract. The practice extended to the marriage contract as well, and it has continued to be a common practice in modern times—even though most couples are unaware of its significance.
Can a bad kiss end a good relationship?
Have you ever wondered how important a first kiss really is to the future of a relationship? Very, according to Gordon Gallup, Jr., a professor and evolutionary psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany. In a study that Gallup conducted, 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women say they have ended a budding relationship because of a bad kiss.
If you want to be supremely kissable at all times, there are a few things you should avoid. According to a 2012 online poll by the dating site MutualAttraction.co.uk, 400 respondents ranked smoker’s breath as the top kissing turnoff, with 20 percent giving it the thumbs down. That was followed by cold sores (15 percent), body odor (13 percent), dry lips (12 percent) and bad teeth (11 percent). Other kissing negatives such as dental braces, nasal hair and chewing gum ranked much farther down the list.
Kissing is good for you
Is kissing good for your health? Researchers at Arizona State University found that frequent kissing reduces stress, improves our bodies’ response to and recovery from the stress we do experience, and lowers our levels of bad cholesterol for better heart health.
Kiss away calories
When you’re in the middle of a tender kiss, you probably aren’t thinking about your waistline. Nevertheless, your kisses are still burning calories. How many depends on the length and passion of each kiss, but a generally accepted rule of thumb is 2 to 6 calories for every minute of kissing. One source—“The Art of Kissing,” by William Case—claims that one minute of passionate kissing burns 6.4 calories.
Why does X mean “kiss?”
The modern custom of using an X as the symbol for a kiss in a text message, email or letter dates back to the Middle Ages. People would draw a Christian cross at the bottom of a document or letter to indicate their sincerity and honesty—the letter X also represented the Greek word for Christ—and then place a kiss on the cross. Since most of the common people could neither read nor write, the X followed by the kiss became widely used to seal contracts and make a sacred oath. Gradually, the X came to symbolize the kiss itself, and the rest of the meaning was lost.