Why Do We Kiss?

Do you and your significant other kiss much?

I recently ran across an article on the evolution of kissing.  Check it out here as well as this one.

The first summarizes a recent study from Oxford University examining people’s motivations for kissing new partners.  It was once thought that kissing simply played a role in sexual arousal, but the participants in this study reported that kissing helped them assess compatibility with potential mates.  Past research has found that when we kiss we exchange physiological information through our saliva involving our immune system.

In other words, we want to mate with someone whose system is different enough from our own and kissing may help us determine if a partner’s bloodline is too similar, reducing a potential offspring’s chance of survival.

What do you guys think?  This article came from Everyday Health and cited the study from Oxford, but I’d love to get my hands on the full study, ’cause I’m kind of a nerd like that.

After nearly fourteen years of marriage and two kids later, Gil and I don’t kiss as often as we once did. Years ago a guest expert on Oprah challenged audience members to kiss their partners for ten seconds daily. I considered making this a goal for 2014, but minus one very long kiss over the weekend, I’m already six days behind.

It did make me think, though. For all of our problems, Gil and I have had a pretty intense attraction to each other from the get-go, and I especially remember being smitten once we shared that coveted first kiss in my parents’ kitchen after our junior homecoming dance.

That sounds so wholesome and pure that I might throw up right here on my keyboard — in case you haven’t guessed, I’m not much for romance. It’s hard to look back accurately on that moment now that I have the luxury of hindsight and know all the bumps, bruises, and sharp edges that our relationship has endured.

Gil and I met in tenth grade at my friend Traci’s sixteenth birthday party. He was in English class with my best friend, Shae, and she had been talking about him so much that I thought she had a crush on him. She kept telling me about this guy in her class who was so cute and charming that she simply couldn’t fathom that I had no idea who he was. When I finally met him, Shae’s build-up had no chance of leaving me with anything but a let-down. I was a fifteen-year-old girl, whose love interests hadn’t deviated much from stereotypical jocks and celebrity teen crushes.

He was nice and cute enough, but nothing developed other than a friendship. We ran in the same circle and often dated each others’ friends. The two of us spent hours on the phone discussing our love lives with others and along the way got to know each other.

He learned that I wasn’t particularly interested in having a serious boyfriend. I played tennis and basketball and had a fairly active social life which kept me busy; plus I was focused on the future. I wanted out of my small town and had no interest in anyone who might trap me there.

Gil was a musician. He played guitar, piano, and sang in our school’s chorus, though he admitted this wasn’t doing much for his social life. I liked that about him — he was quirky and different. He wanted to be a better athlete because those were the guys that all the girls liked. I was intrigued by this individual who did his own thing.

Our friendship continued and once our junior year rolled around and neither of us had a serious love interest, we decided to go to Homecoming together. It wasn’t a huge deal — football game and dance after, but it was one of those times that you DID NOT want to be dateless.

None of our friends understood our friendship, and looking back I suppose it was a rare gift, but at the time it just seemed natural. There’s this idea that girls and guys can’t be just friends, but for Gil and me that’s all it was, and it worked.

I’m not sure what happened but on that date something shifted. We double-dated with his younger sister and her boyfriend. Gil was annoyed because he didn’t like the boyfriend, and he was furious at me for laughing when they started making out heavily in the back of the van (yes, van) that we borrowed from Gil’s parents. Jill was a grade behind us but boys adored her, and she was way more schooled in the ways of love than Gil or me. We had to drop them off at Gil’s house before he took me home because Jill was ALWAYS in some kind of trouble. This time her early curfew was because she had been caught sneaking out with said boyfriend earlier that week.

When we arrived at my house, it was quiet and dark — everyone was sleeping. Gil and I hung out for a bit and watched TV until close to midnight. When he got up to leave, I walked him to the door in the kitchen.  All I remember saying was, “Well, this was really fun…”

I must have reached to hug him and when I did our lips found their way to the other’s. It sounds ridiculously corny, but I remember it feeling electric. I was only sixteen, but I had kissed my share of boys and this was definitely different.

Could it be just as the article says? Our immune systems were different enough to be a good match?

Over the years, Gil and I were together and then not together. This went on for a LONG time, but whenever we’d find our way back to each other, there was always something about that first kiss.

It just worked. It also skewed the hell out of my judgement from time to time.

Or did it? Maybe that’s exactly the way it was supposed to happen.

I can be entirely too practical for my own good. I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in “the one.”  I believe there are many potential mates out there, and whoever we end up with, there will be challenges and both partners have to work to make the relationship thrive.

However I can’t deny the element of magic with Gil and me. So many factors about the two of us winding up together make absolutely no practical sense. This snippet is only the beginning.

When it comes to Gil, the rational side of my brain goes completely out the window. I don’t like this because it makes me feel out of control.

Why is this? Maybe it’s not magic at all. Maybe it’s science.

So where does this leave us? We’ve reproduced, and I have NO interest in reproducing further.

Perhaps we should try to kiss more in the new year — rekindle those feelings from the past.

I know for certain that sometimes a kiss is just a kiss. I’ve kissed plenty of people with whom I had no intention of reproducing, including a few women. I’ve had amazing kisses and a few wretched ones. I do find it interesting that by and large my most life-altering kiss just happened to occur with the person who years later became the father of my children.

As ill-matched as Gil and I are in some of the most standard ways, there is something strong between us that keeps us both engaged in this relationship. Yes, we have children together, but it’s more than that.

Please, readers, share your thoughts on kissing. Tell me about a kiss that has left you weak in the knees or utterly repulsed.

And check out these links.  Maybe they’ll inspire you to make kissing part of your everyday routine in 2014.  Apparently there are plenty of reasons to pucker up.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/dr-laura-berman-on-love-and-sex/why-couples-dont-kiss/?pos=1&xid=nl_EverydayHealthEmotionalHealth_20131226

http://www.drlauraberman.com/relationships/dating/kiss-can-be-bliss

http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health-pictures/dr-laura-berman-reasons-kissing-is-good-for-you.aspx

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6 thoughts on “Why Do We Kiss?

  1. My husband and I have been together for 18 years and we still kiss the hell out of each other. I love kissing. Always have. Most of my boyfriends enjoyed it too. Funny though, my husband is not fond of the activity. In the beginning, he was reticent and sometimes got tired of my kisses but never told me to stop. I would just feel it. I’d leave his lips and kiss his face. I finally asked him once if he ever got tired of my eternal kisses and he said “Yes, but I know you like them so kiss away”. He was basically tolerating them because he knew I liked them. Now, he’s the one who’ll steal a kiss in the corner of the kitchen when we have company over. It’s fun. I still like to kiss him and we kiss everyday. I could probably count on one hand the days we haven’t kissed in 18 years and I don’t remember any.

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    • Wow! Good to hear. Eighteen years is nothing to sneeze at — you guys are doing something right. I’m guessing the kissing hasn’t hurt anything even if he’s not completely sold. I’m flopping with this resolution, but you’ve inspired me to try again. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. What a great story! Even though I write romances, I myself, am very “unromantic.” But your story is soooo romantic. I love hearing about Friends to Lovers, because I can’t wrap my mind around how you can be friends with someone and feel zero attraction, and then all of a sudden, BAM! Whenever I meet a guy, right away they fall into either the friends zone or attraction zone. I’ve had some amazing male friends who I could never go further with simply because I just wasn’t attracted to them. And consequently, have been so attracted to men who’ve turned out to be shitty human beings. Everyone says to marry your best friend and I think that’s the reason I haven’t been married. Can’t seem to find the two in one package.

    To me, kissing is more intimate than having sex. Which I suppose is why hookers don’t do it.

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    • Thanks. You know it’s interesting — out of the three long-term relationships I’ve been in, I was friends with all of them before. But I also grew up around mostly boys so I’ve always had an easier time making friends with guys. Maybe that has something to do with the way I go about things in relationships. Hmm..maybe I’ll write more about this. It’s certainly an interesting concept that’s worth exploring.

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