In our society, the kiss is something common and natural. It is a sign of romantic relations and love. Everyone remembers their first kiss. Still, there is something that is puzzling the minds of many – Why do we kiss?
There are as many names for kissing, as there are ways to do it. Whether we’re giving a friendly one on the cheek as a hello, or shoving our tongue deep down in somebody’s throat as a romantic gesture. There is a deep-rooted instinct to kiss … but why?
Philematology is the scientific study of kissing. “Philos” in ancient Greek stands for “Earthy Love”. Philematologists, these scientists who actually get to study kissing for their life, they aren’t really sure why we kiss.
They theorize that it stems from the early parts of nature when a mother would literally chew up her food and mouth feed it to her baby. Thus, forming a bond and making sure the food isn’t poisoned.
This lip to lip contact may not only have evolved as a form of survival but also bonding and expressions of love.
When we kiss there is A LOT going on. A whole bunch of stuff is getting exchanged. For example, one kiss can transmit as many as 10 million to 21 billion bacteria, representing 278 different species. With this act, we also trade off an average of nine milliliters of water, 0.7 milligrams of protein, 0.18 milligrams of organic compounds, 0.71 milligrams of fats and 0.5 milligrams of sodium chloride. ( And depending on what kind of a party you have been to, maybe 2-3 grams of cocaine. )
It turns out kissing is also a kind of a workout.
The act of kissing consumes from 5 to 25 calories per minute. Studies have also shown that the exercise of the face during kissing could prevent wrinkles.
In 2007 there was a big research at the University of Albany. They determined that kissing is a little bit more important to women, than it is to men, although, both genders take kissing really seriously.
Mate selection plays a huge role in that process.
Remember when we talked about how things get exchanged?
Well, there are a lot of hormones and other decisive signs, on a molecular level, in your saliva. If you think about it, kissing allows you to get that proximity to be able to sense and exchange a lot of that micro information, to help you figure out whether or not that person is someone you want to mate with.
Some scientific research has even shown that we can tell some very deep immunity factors about that person, from that kiss. When a man and a woman get together and reproduce, they have genes that don’t mirror each other but mix in a sense that they offer protection that they don’t have.
There are studies that show that, when it comes to scent and saliva, we can actually sense whether that person has that right match of genetic immunity.
It isn’t all about the mating practice, the kiss also feels really good!
Our lips are 100 to 200 times more sensitive than our fingertips. During the kiss, our brain literally goes into sensory overdrive. We are flooded chemicals that feel like an explosion. This chemical cocktail consists of 3 specific chemicals, created to make us feel good and crave more:
The dopamine, alone, that is released during a kiss gives us the same feeling as being on heroin or cocaine. As a result, we will experience a feeling of euphoria and addictive behavior, craving more and more. With all this dopamine comes oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone, promoting feelings of love and affection. Finally, the levels of serotonin present while kissing resemble that of a person with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
So, we feel good, we want more, we are addicted, we think we are falling in love, feeling attached and slightly obsessed. ( Sounds great! )
Kisses also lower the levels of cortisol. ( A major stress hormone. )