by Taylor Kubota | Men’s Journal
There is an abundance of advice out there about how to become the world’s best kisser. The reality is kissing is extremely variable. People prefer different styles of kissing at different times and, since everyone does so in their own way, our techniques may change depending on our partner. Science has only just touched upon this complicated subject, but one bombshell we’ve found is that kissing may not be as essential to coupling as many of us believe. “Romantic kissing is more erotic and much more part of the developed sensuality than just a simple, everyday expression,” says William Jankowiak, professor of anthropology at the UNLV. This act, which seems so natural, may actually be a recent development in human history.
Why We Kiss
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If you think about kissing as objectively as possible, it becomes weird very fast. In particular, the more intricate forms of kissing (like French kissing) can seem like it does little more than swap germs. So why do we do it? One of the most common theories is that mouth-to-mouth touching helps transfer information about physical health between partners. Our saliva carries all kinds of chemical information, and exchanging this directly might help us subconsciously evaluate each other to see if we are a good match for future mating. Kissing can also release many hormones that help us feel good, bond with our partner, and leave us wanting more.
Kissing is Not Universal
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Jankowiak and his colleagues looked at academic observations of 168 cultures from around the world to assess how common romantic or sexual kissing is among humans. The results surprised them: They found that the romantic-sexual kiss was present in only 46 percent of these cultures. In general, the less complex the culture was (think hunter-gatherers), the less likely they were to engage in intimate kissing. Parent-child kissing was present almost everywhere. This suggests that intimate kissing develops as societies become more complex, perhaps due to increased leisure time. “It’s a nice reminder that the world that we live in, and we think is so natural and so typical of just being human, is often an artifact of a particular historical moment in time,” says Jankowiak.
Warmer Climate, Less Kissing