The importance of kissing in relationships is well-documented. In fact, research shows that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women have found themselves less attracted to a potential partner after a bad first kiss.
Further, Butler University’s John Bohannon surveyed 500 people and found that most people can remember up to 90 percent of the details of a first romantic kiss. That’s a lot of pressure during the early days of courtship, no?
Your kissing style develops before you’re even born
Two-thirds of people tilt their heads to the right when they kiss. Weirdly, this is a habit you might pick up before you’re even born, according to Women’s Health. Most fetuses tilt their head to the right while in the womb as well. So it looks like you start practicing pretty early.
Kissing might determine the fate of your relationship
Couples that are really good at making out together tend to have healthier relationships, according to Sheril Kirshenbaum’s The Science of Kissing. So if you can’t make out without having an argument, well … that should tell you something.
Kissing releases endorphins and oxytocin
Making out is going to get you feeling happy and positive and less stressed.
Kissing can boost your immune system
According to a study from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, a 10-second kiss transfers as many as 80 million bacteria between you and your partner. If the idea makes you want to run to the bathroom to brush your teeth, hold on a moment.
As it turns out, germ exposure can provide a healthy boost to your immune system. “Swapping spit means swapping germs, and that is nature’s natural form of vaccination,” Dr. Yael Varnado, founder of Get Checked 4 Life (a nonprofit organization that provides access to health services for at-risk communities) told Match.com. “Being exposed to others’ germs causes your body to make antibodies against those germs, which can, in turn, lead to immunity and prevent illness.“
One caveat: Make sure your partner isn’t already sick before you pucker up.
The Guinness World Record for kissing
Guinness World Record for the longest continuous kiss, set during a 2013 competition in Thailand.
After 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds, Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat were the last couples standing, winning more than $9,000 in cash and prizes.
We don’t know about you, but we have all sorts of questions for the Tiranarats: How much lip balm did they use? Were they allowed to take bathroom breaks? What about naps, not to mention food or even breath mints? Regardless, their achievement is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The longest on-screen kiss ever
Slightly less time-consuming was the record for longest movie kiss ever recorded, the 3-minute-and-24-second liplock between two ladies in the 2010 movie Elena Undone. They broke the record previously set in 1941 in the film You’re in the Army Now, which lasted 3 minutes and 6 seconds.
“The actors’ lips were glued together, so some people felt it shouldn’t count,” said filmmaker Nicole Conn. By the looks of the kiss, it’s clear that there was no glue needed.
Kissing can improve your dental health
Dr. Sivan Finkel, who specializes in aesthetic and general dentistry at the Dental Parlour in New York City, told me that increased saliva production generated by kissing can be a boon to your oral health. “Kissing stimulates our salivary glands, and saliva helps buffer the acidity of the oral environment,” Finkel said. “Dental decay is caused by acidic by-products formed when oral bacteria break down carbohydrates. Saliva is relatively basic, so an increase in saliva helps our teeth resist this acidic attack and re-mineralize.“
However, Finkel cautioned against locking lips with anyone who doesn’t brush or floss their teeth as often as they should.
“The double-edged sword [is that] harmful, cavity-causing bacteria are also transferred via kissing, as are some of the bacteria responsible for gum disease,” he said. “So if the person you are kissing has poor oral hygiene — bad breath should be a warning sign! — beware.“
Kissing is healthy for you … it can even make you live longer. A variety of studies show that couples that kiss regularly tend to live longer. Even a good-bye kiss before work has huge benefits.
Kissing floods your brain with feel-good chemicals
The main benefit of kissing to your physical health and wellness is the release of oxytocin and dopamine, said Kaity Rodriguez, a licensed clinical social worker based in New Jersey. “Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that is also released when mothers nurse their babies, during sex, and even cuddling,” Rodriguez told me. “It makes you feel closer [and] more intimately attached to the individual.“
Dopamine, on the other hand, is the “feel-good hormone,” which helps you experience pleasure and makes you want more, Rodriguez said. Dopamine is responsible for regulating mood, behavior, sleep, and cognition, while also helping with decision-making and creativity.
Kissing can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
AndrÃ©a Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, told CNN that “kissing passionately gets your heartbeat revved in a healthy way that helps lower your blood pressure.”
“It dilates your blood vessels,” Demirjian said. “Blood is flowing in a good, solid fashion and getting to all your vital organs.“
Research has also shown that kissing reduces cortisol, a hormone linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Though diet and exercise are touted as the best means of combating such conditions, it certainly doesn’t hurt to add a bit of kissing to your health regimen.
Open-mouth kissing transfers testosterone. Guys move toward open-mouth kissing faster. It can actually “share” their testosterone, which can increase their partner’s libido, according to a study conducted at the University of Albany.
Women have cleaner kisses
Here are some interesting facts about kissing:
- Women are more likely than their male counterparts to initiate an early morning kiss in bed, possibly because they floss more often, so they’re less worried about bad breath, according to this infographic from DentalPlans.
- Women also have men outnumbered when it comes to brushing their teeth twice a day, but the odds of a woman telling her partner whether he or she has bad breath are just about even regardless of gender.
- Women are also more forthcoming when it comes to telling their partner if they have something stuck in their teeth.
Guess the guys are erring on the side of caution–or perhaps they just don’t notice?
Fear of kissing is real
Fear of kissing is a legitimate phobia known as philemaphobia (Philema is the Greek word for kissing). It’s most common among young or inexperienced kissers, but even in people of all ages, it may not get better with time and experience without the help of a therapist.
But here’s the thing: Those whose fears are tied to the 80 million bacteria exchanged during kissing should know that it actually helps boost your immune system to swap that bacteria with others–it’s good for your teeth, too.
The origin of the French kiss
French kissing uses 34 face muscles. While a quick kiss only uses two face muscles, a deep, passionate kiss uses all 34 of the muscles in your face.
The French have always been notorious for being adventurous and passionate in all matters of love and its expression.
The French didn’t have a term for “French kiss” until 2013.
According to the Associated Press, France just added the term Galocher to their dictionaries a few years ago, although French kissing was popularized after British soldiers saw how passionately the French kissed while visiting during World War I. It was also once known as the “Florentine kiss.”
Kissing uses a surprising number of muscles
In addition to burning up to 26 calories per minute — a rate reserved for the most passionate of smooching — kissing can involve upwards of 30 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles, according to the American Journal of Medicine blog. Further, kissing can help smooth lines and wrinkles, tighten muscles in your neck and jaw, and boost circulation to your face, which can help you achieve that sought-after glow.
It’s certainly a good excuse to engage in regular make-out sessions, even as we age. And it can burn up to five calories in a few seconds. So if you make out for 10 hours, you can skip the gym.
Kissing can relieve stress
According to the American Institute of Stress, roughly three-quarters of Americans experience physical and psychological symptoms caused by stress. One-third even feel like they’re living with “extreme stress.” Jeannie Assimos, Chief of Advice at eHarmony, said such chronic stress can increase your cortisol levels.
“To this end, researchers have been interested in whether interpersonal behaviors, such as kissing, may have benefits to help alleviate problems of stress that many of us face,” Assimos told me. She referenced a 2009 study in which half of 52 participants — all of whom were married or living with partners — were instructed to “kiss each other more often and for longer periods of time than you typically do right now.” The other participants weren’t given any special instructions.
“After six weeks, the results showed that those who kissed their partners more had lower stress, a decrease in cholesterol, and higher relationship satisfaction,” Assimos said. “[The] researchers explained that exchanging affectionate communication with your partner can help produce a calm and reassuring feeling. Combined with other research, this literature shows that touch and physical affection, in general, can help decrease responses to stressful situations. So the next time you are feeling stressed out, try kissing your partner … it may help to improve your health as well as your relationship.“
Passionate, deep kisses do a better job of getting you in the mood.
It’s because they elevate your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster, according to Dr. Ava Cadell. It sends blood through your body, which makes it easier for you to get excited.
Not all cultures kiss.
A lot of cultures didn’t kiss each other on the lips until European explorers introduced them to it. Inuits famously rubbed noses and smelled each other’s cheeks. Some cultures in the Middle East and Asia still look down on kissing in public.
There’s a reason the bride and groom kiss at weddings.
According to Kissing Christians by Michael Philip Penn, kissing used to be a means to sign a contract.
Humans aren’t the only animals that kiss.
Cows, puffins, squirrels, and even snails also kiss, although chimpanzees are the only animals whose kisses resemble a human kiss. All the other ones look like awkward face-touching.