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Published:July 28th, 2006 04:09 EST
Pucker Up:  The Science of Kissing

Pucker Up: The Science of Kissing

By Kirwin Watson

Thursday night I was finally able to land a date with a very attractive woman I met a few weeks before.  All went well -dinner, club, dancing, light nightcaps- then came the pivotal moment of every first date.  Go for the kiss or hug?

It`s an age old decision that every person must wrestle with at some point in life.  For me, I decided to be conservative and go with the quintessential hug-peck.

While this scenario plays out in front of many homes, likely millions across the world, we hardly ever take time to ask why do we kiss.  Is it all in the lips (

Study of Kissing

The study of kissing is called philematology.  While it is not an extensively covered field, there are some important things to take into consideration from it.  Kissing involves very sensual parts of the body, namely the lips and tongue.  These parts of the body are packed with nerves and are very sensitive to stimulation.  There is a good reason it hurts when you bite your tongue or bust the inner lip area.  In the same sense, stimulation in these areas can cause great pleasurable sensations within the nervous system.

From a learned response over time (likely from seeing others kiss and oral stimulation) people have created a habit of stimulating pleasure and thrill " centers of the brain from what humanity has made a sensual act.  Many scientists feel that kissing is more sociological in origin, though physically the pleasures it can cause are very biologically based.  This could explain why people may, on average, spend more than two weeks of their lives kissing.

Given the nature of the nerve receptors in the area, people deemed as good kissers are likely ones who habitually alternate pressure upon the lips and tongue.

History of Smooches

As far as anyone can tell, kissing may be as old as humanity itself.  There are theories that kissing may have developed in ancient times when mothers chewed for their young and would pass, by mouth, the food to babies, establishing the societal norm for affection.   Others have theorized that it may take root in religious rituals, societal signs of peace, or other cultural customs related to symbolism. 

Some have even conjectured that kissing developed as signs of communication between early humans and early primate cousins " during, yeah...gross.

Whatever the origins may be, from pheromones to communication, it is clear that kissing plays many developed roles in human society.  From kids mimicking actions seen in adults, to signs of affection between family, to pleasurable stimulation within teens and adults, kissing plays a major role in human culture. 

Tips to Effective Canoodling

Philematophobe.  This is the word you are going to use if you ever get shut down again when going for a kiss.  It`s not that the person didn`t like you, it`s just they were scared of kissing.  Remember it and use it wisely.

Dr. Onur Güntürkün of Ruhr-Universität-Bochum (say that ten times fast) did a study on kissing preference.  In it, he found that most people opt to tilt the head to the right when kissing.  This may be due to handiness and preferences established early in fetal and infant development.  So what`s the take home message?  Tilt your head to the right when going in for that first kiss.  It may seem a little more natural.

As mentioned before, the key to effective sensual kissing is of course, first, mutual attraction but then remembering the science behind kissing.  You are stimulating nerve sites.  Make sure not to rush in like a fist on the mouth.  There`s nothing worse than a girl or guy who shoves the tongue in or bop-pecks.  Not good.  Stimulate.  Tease.  Excite.  These are the things that go through the good kissers mind.  Besos.

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