Studies have shown that a woman discovers everything she needs to know about a potential lover from his very first kiss, and any guy who has tried to get to first base on a date knows it. Interestingly, it’s not just humans who show affection this way. Bonobo chimpanzees kiss on the lips, elephants put their trunks in each other’s mouths, and foxes lick each other’s faces — all as signs of affection.
But why does our species kiss in the first place, and what’s the scientific, emotional and chemical reasoning behind it?
Kissing looks different across various cultures, with passionate lip-locks the modus operandi in only some parts of the world. For example, some societies rub noses with each other to show affection, like the Inuit (Eskimo kisses, anyone?), Polynesians and Malaysians.
Although theories on why we kiss abound (one study says that social kissing originated with Medieval knights as a way to find out if their wives had been drinking while they were off fighting), the most widely accepted scientific reason for kissing is that humans do it to find a suitable mate. When our faces are close together, our pheromones “communicate” primally, exchanging biological information about whether or not two people will make strong offspring. Sound unbelievable? There have been studies to prove there’s more than excitement and lust behind the average kiss. Scientific American, for example, has found that a single kiss triggers a cascade of neural messages and chemicals that transmit tactile sensations, sexual excitement, feelings of closeness, motivation and even euphoria. Their research also shows that kissing may have evolved from the maternal primate practice of chewing food for their young before feeding them mouth-to-mouth, making kissing not just a sign of affection, but an act necessary for survival!
But these days, a simple kiss is often the initial gauge by which one might judge the success of a relationship. Some call is compatibility, some call it chemistry, but whatever the word, one thing’s clear: there’s a lot to learn in a kiss!
This post originally appeared on YourTango.com: How to Kiss Like You Mean It
More from YourTango: