The Science of Kissing

The Science of Kissing

Kissing. A sign of attraction or affection of love or lust. Who remembers their first kiss? Who doesn’t? Well if you had a bad experience you probably don’t. Whether it was that day behind the school toilets or at home when your parents were away, kissing is like a lifetime event in a man’s/woman’s life.

image from www.thegrio.com
image from www.thegrio.com

Apart from sex, mouth to mouth Kissing is considered the most intimate behaviour that two people can engage in. You see with sex you could switch off the lights or bend over and not have to look your partner in the eye. But with kissing the eyes meet, it’s always face to face, lips for lips. A sense of close intimacy. Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote an interesting book titled The Science of Kissing and was recently interviewed by the BBC World service, The Why Factor, trying to find out, why do we kiss? From experience, the many books I’ve read, ladies don’t enjoy kisses on the first date, or in unromantic places, that double decker campus cubicle, or behind the DJ booth at your favourite club, they attach kissing with intimacy.
Before THAT intimate kiss, the signs are there, “our breathing can deepen and become irregular, our hearts starts to race, our pupils dilate, which might be one of the reasons many people close their eyes when they kiss” says Sheril. “There could be a rise in the neuro-transmitter called dopamine which is associated with cravings and desire. There could also be a rise in a hormone called serotonin which causes obsessive compulsive thoughts about another person”. With all these reactions happening in our body, it shows there is also a chemical basis to falling in love.

Image from www.viasat1.com
Image from www.viasat1.com

So why did we start kissing in the first place? Anthropologists believe that kissing started way before when mammals chewed up food and pushed it into the mouth of their offspring and so this touching of lips during feeding led to the sensation of wanting to kiss each other. “Humans at some point stood upright and so our sexual signals shifted, and some anthropologists thought that the lips were kind of a genital echo, so they mimic the female genitals in shape composition colour and texture, and that when a woman enters puberty her fuller and rosier and that is an indicator to men that she is available.” Adds Sheril.
A story is told of an explorer who came to Africa, in Cameroon, and fell in love with the chiefs daughter and after days of pursuance he had him in his hut one day and he reached over grabbed her and kissed her on the lips and the woman ran away screaming in horror to the chief and told him that he had tried to suck her soul from her body. And in many African societies kissing is not something that was readily accepted. Even today you will get those piercing looks when you kiss in public. Our parents never kissed in public, you know they kiss but they never do it in front of everyone or anyone for that matter that is not them and it is still the case in our rural areas.
With mass media, social media and westernization, kissing has become an intimate show of love and is gaining prominence in our everyday love lives. Whether a kiss on the cheek, or a French one or a more subtle romantic one, we all kiss and tell at some point when we are asked to remember our very first kiss.
How was your first kiss like please tell us in the comments below we would love to know.

You can listen to the Podcast – The Kiss here 

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The RocKe Scientist is an award winning earth science platform based in Kenya.

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