Dr. Adam Sheck explores the science and history of the kiss, and how it can help people assess the compatibility of a potential mate.
“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”
A patient of mine asked me the other day if the way someone kisses is an indicator of how good a romantic partner they might be. It’s a very interesting question, and of course, we all have our opinions and experiences in this area.
Fortunately, the University of Albany has performed some extensive research into the matter. In their study with over 1000 participants, it would seem that even the purpose of kissing is different for men and women!
For men, kissing is quite often considered a means to an end, in order to obtain sex. This isn’t too surprising and many of the couples I have treated have complained “he only kisses me when he wants sex.”
Women, on the other hand, often use kissing as a “mate-assessment” technique. They subconsciously evaluate mating potential from the chemicals in their partner’s saliva and breath. It really IS “in his kiss!” Women also use kissing to gauge the status of their relationship. If kissing frequency has changed, something is definitely up!
That’s some of the science, some of the research. For me, the biology is always good to know, yet the psychology is even more compelling. From a biological standpoint, the mouth, lips, and tongue have a tremendous amount of nerve endings and generate an incredible amount of sensation.
And, from an evolutionary standpoint, is critically important for suckling of the infant. This early relationship between baby and breast, baby and mother is critical for physical AND emotional survival. As we suckle we both receive physical AND psychological sustenance. So no wonder that when we kiss our partner, those deep, unconscious memories surface.
It’s extremely powerful. And sometimes it is quite regressive, as we go back to those younger, infantile emotional states with our partners. It’s an amazing bond. The bottom line is that kissing “means” attachment and that both feels good and is instrumental in our survival.
From an interpersonal perspective, the process of kissing communicates a great deal about ourselves to our partner. Think about it. Is your partner relaxed or tense? Is the kiss firm enough or too flaccid and “sloppy” ? Is it open or closed? Are you feeling that your partner is receptive? Can you allow your partner “in” to your life, using the metaphor of the mouth?
Kissing is very much like dancing, in that it communicates where you are in the partnership. Can you lead? Can you follow? Can you alternate as you see fit? Can you find a rhythm together that you enjoy and can sustain?
So, my answer to my patient, and to you is YES, we can learn a great deal about ourselves and our partner through kissing. And, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences on the subject of kissing. Please comment directly on this blog or email me with your ideas.
Originally appeared at The Passion Doctor
Photo: Flickr/Anne Cunningham