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What’s In a Kiss: Their Impact on Our Bodies and Why We Remember Them


Magical first kisses have made film history, who could forget Jack and Rose in Titanic, and the moment their forbidden love ignited? Kissing is a universal symbol of love and affection, but it’s also strange and bizarre if you think too hard about it. What compels us to press our lips against another’s, and even exchange saliva with them?

Mouth-to-mouth kissing with a partner is considered one of life’s most sensuous, and romantic activities. According to the Guardian, 90% of people can recall the details of their first kiss, a landmark event in most people’s lives. First kisses are our first introduction to affection, intimacy, and sexuality – making them monumental moments that are imprinted in our memories forever. 


Studies and Books about Kissing

Sheril Kirshenbaum, an academic specialist at Michigan State University and author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, “Locking lips is “nature’s ultimate litmus test. Our lips are packed with sensitive nerve endings that stimulate a relatively large part of our brain associated with taste, touch, and scent.”

As we progress in our relationships, kissing becomes an integral part of maintaining the connection between partners – and the overall health of a relationship. Kissing increases the amount of oxytocin released in the brain (via Healthline). According to Harvard Medical School, oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Oxytocin is released during childbirth and assists in mother and baby bonding, but it was also found to solidify partner bonding in men.

In a 2013 study, high levels of oxytocin in men led to an increased desire for their partner, similar to a drug addict’s craving for drug consumption.”Our earliest experiences as infants often involve lip stimulation through being nursed and kissed by our parents. Later, we associate these sensations with feelings of love, comfort, and security when we want to express how we feel to someone else.”

According to a study published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy, “Kissing frequency was a strong indicator of both specific sexual quality and relationship connectivity and may be a promising variable to utilize as a barometer of both the more immediate quality of sexual relationships as well as overall relationship quality.”

Kissing and Intimacy Intertwine

The frequency of kissing increases partner bonding increases attraction and relieves stress levels within a couple’s relationship. Kissing is particularly beneficial in maintaining partner bonds in long-term relationships, where spontaneous acts of love and affection keep the flames of romance and intimacy burning.

How does kissing contribute to partner bonding, and what are the characteristics of a bonding kiss? According to Attraction Doctor Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D., “Bonding kisses can be lengthy and include a cuddly make-out session, but they can be equally persuasive if they are very short, even just a peck or a caring kiss on the forehead. In this case, it is literally the thought that counts, because this is about “bonding”—building a feeling of comfort and attachment here—and not necessarily sexual arousal. These kisses are ideal during “spontaneous” moments, as part of a larger effort to build connection and rapport.

Additionally, an article published in 2013 in the Archive of Sexual Behavior stated that “Romantic kissing may actually be one of the most effective bond-mediating courtship behaviors, with both males and females rating it as the type of physical affection “most expressive of love”.

Recent neurological evidence suggests that romantic physical contact may function to mediate romantic pair bonds by elevating levels of arousal, activating the brain’s reward and motivational systems, or by initiating the release of neurotransmitters, opioids, and other neurohormones.

It has also been shown that couples who kiss frequently experience the benefits of increased touch, eye contact, and intimacy (via Katia Loisel). Kissing lowers blood pressure, alleviates headache pain, and even reduces hives and other signs of an allergic reaction. What’s more, one study found that couples who have regular and romantic kissing sessions both showed improved cholesterol. As if all this weren’t enough, kissing can even tone up to 34 facial muscles and burn calories (via FloHealth).

Kissing every day is shown to provide the most benefits for individual and relationship health. How many times a day should you kiss your partner a day to maintain a strong, and passionate bond? A minimum of five kisses a day is ideal, but three of those kisses should be sensual and extended kisses – lasting at least seven seconds (via Body+Soul). 

Now go ahead and take an extra moment to pucker up with your partner, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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