The Science of Kissing

The Science of Kissing

Did you know that there is a science that studies kissing? It is called Philematology! Scientists study everything from the origins of kissing, to its effect on the brain, to its role in effecting long term attachment. Here are some of the things that they have found:

  • Evidence suggest that kissing most likely began as a way for mothers to feed their children. Due to the lack of food processors millions of years ago, they would chew up food and pass it to their infants, mouth to mouth, so that the children could derive the benefits of nutrition of this pre-chewed food.
  • There are many nerve endings in lips and tongue, which are stimulated by kissing and make it a pleasurable experience.
  • There are 3 sets of muscles that act on the lips, and they are an anchor point for 10 others.
  • Kissing is thought to have been important from an evolutionary perspective because a bad first kiss might have indicated that you would not be compatible with this person as a life-long mate.
  • Passionate kissing releases oxytocin and other “feel-good hormones” into the brain. (Oxytocin is the same hormone which is released during orgasm and breast feeding).
  • Cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases during a session of kissing.
  • Men are often “wet” or “open mouthed” kissers and they have testosterone (linked to sex drive) in their saliva. Some believe that this was so that the sex drive in females would be triggered through kissing.

Helen Fisher, a renowned anthropologist with Rutgers University, has spent years researching and writing about the effects of love on the brain. Ms Fisher found that when subjects looked at pictures of their loved one as they had their brains scanned with a MRI machine, the most active areas of the brain were the regions which govern pleasure, motivation and reward. In fact, these are the very areas which are activated during the use of drugs such as cocaine! Now it makes sense that when we are deeply in love with another, it feels like we are on a “high”!

Furthermore, she believes that there are three regions of the brain which are responsible for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, the passion of being in love, and attachment. According to the results from the MRIs, the chemicals and hormones released during kissing can activate any or all of these three areas of the brain.

This is amazing to me! Want to increase your sense of passionate love? Kiss! Want to deepen your long-term attachment to your spouse? Kiss! Want to end up in the sack? Kiss!

Here are some ideas for you to implement this week:

  1. Experiment with different types of kisses. Vary the type of kiss as well its placement. Try pecks on the cheek, a kiss on the head, a warm kiss on the palm of your lover’s hand, a closed-mouth kiss after a deep gaze into your lover’s eyes, a lingering wet kiss. Try kissing with your eyes open. Kiss with your eyes closed.
  2. Feeling like you are about to fight? Try kissing instead. I know you won’t feel like it, but try it anyways. See what happens to your disagreement. Worst case scenario, you end up fighting after the kiss, but you were well on your way to doing that anyways. Maybe kissing will remind you why you are together and help you come to a more productive resolution to your dispute.
  3. Decide that you will not allow your spouse to walk out or come into the house without a kiss. Perhaps this can become one of your greeting rituals to increase the intimacy in your relationship.

Sometimes, we want to feel the intimacy and love and passion before we take action. However, if you believe the science, it seems that we might have to take the action first. So, give yourself permission to act regardless of your feelings and see where it leads you. You might be surprised when your feelings fall in line!