Sensuality & Arousal
June 5, 2020

7 Unexpected Facts About Kissing That'll Make You Say ‘Mwah!’

Who knew locking lips was so interesting?
Written by
Emily A. Klein
Published on
June 5, 2020
Updated on
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Kissing can be a sexy way to connect to your partner, a prelude to something more, or a fun activity in its own right. Cultures around the world practice kissing, albeit in different ways. Here are some fun facts about kissing that may surprise you!

1. Kissing was an important part of the early Christian church.

Although Christianity has long had a reputation of prudishness and judgment around physical affection, in the early days of the Christian church, kissing between members was an important ritual. The “kiss of peace,” as it was known, was exchanged between believers of all genders, and signified unity, mutual affection, and group membership. Although kissing in this context was supposed to be completely chaste, enthusiastic-bordering-on-passionate religious smooching wasn’t unheard of, according to Michael Phillip Penn, author of Kissing Christians: Ritual and Community in the Late Ancient Church.

2. Kissing isn’t universal.

According to a 2015 study published by AnthroSource, only 46 percent of the 168 cultures surveyed practice kissing between romantic partners. While 90 percent of cultures in the study practice kissing of some type (most commonly, parents kissing their children), many groups — particularly hunter-gatherer societies— don’t lock lips in a sexual context.

3. Kissing in art goes way back.

The erotic kiss is a powerful image and has long been a favorite subject for artists. The first depiction of kissing in art, a sculpture of an intertwined couple known as the Ain Sakhri lovers figurine, dates to roughly 10,000 BC! Depictions of kissing in art can be humorous or satirical (see Australian artist Scott Marsh’s mural of Kanye West kissing Kanye West), tenderly sexy. as in Toulouse-Lautrec’s depiction of two women kissing in bed, or political, as in South African artist and LGBTQ activist Zanele Muholi’s photograph of women kissing.

4. Some people don’t like to kiss.

While kissing is indisputably popular, some people don’t enjoy kissing their partners. If you’re one of those people, it’s ok! Your preferences are valid and do not mean you are weird, wrong, or defective. There is no intimate act (and kissing, for many people, feels even more intimate than sex) that you are obligated to like or take part in. If you’re turned off by the idea of swapping spit with someone, let them know: clearly stated boundaries are the foundation of any healthy relationship.

5. Some animals kiss too!

Humans aren’t the only mammals that kiss. While it’s a rarity in the animal kingdom, our close relatives chimpanzees also kiss each other, though not in a sexual context. But bonobos — which are similar — kiss during sex.

6. Kissing may help you find the right partner.

In a 2013 study, it was found kissing can play an important role in mate selection; getting so close to someone that you can literally taste them lets you sample their pheromones, which could help to determine genetic compatibility. Not to mention the fact that, if you’re going to pair up long-term, it’s important to like the way someone kisses! Kissing also promotes bonding and closeness, as the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”) is often elevated during and after kissing (not to mention the fact that it feels great!).

7. You can learn to be a great kisser.

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect, and you can learn to be a better kisser. And, as with any kind of intimate touch, it can take time to figure out your unique style, the preferences of your partner, what turns you on, and more. Though kissing is often portrayed in media as effortless and smooth, kissing (particularly the first few times around) can be awkward, as you and your partner try to find your own unique rhythm. If things don’t “click” immediately, don’t be afraid to ask your partner how they want to be touched and kissed. In addition to being a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t, robust communication can be hot: asking “Do you like this?” “Would you like it better if I used more tongue?” “How do you like to be kissed?” can not only give you important info to improve your make outs — it can be a prelude to super-sexy dirty talk!

Now that you’ve learned a little more about osculation (the scientific term for kissing), go forth and pucker up!

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Emily A. Klein is a freelance writer with deep interests in science, culture, and health. As a student of cultural anthropology, she researched and wrote about kink, reproductive rights, cross-cultural medicine, and humans’ relationship with technology. She has designed and implemented a sexual health curriculum for adolescent girls, worked with foster youth and people experiencing housing insecurity, and volunteered as an emergency first responder. Her writing has appeared in The Establishment, Edible magazine, The Seattle Lesbian, Slog, and elsewhere.

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