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Kissing and What It Can Tell You About Your Relationship

Kissing and relationships

You may not be the type of person to kiss and tell, but scientists at Oxford University are talking about kissing and what it can tell you about potential partners and your relationship. If you haven’t thought too much about what your kisses mean—and especially if you have—then it’s time to explore that smooch.

Why do you kiss?

Do you know why you kiss? Naturally, kissing can run the gamut from casual to passionate, from an air kiss between acquaintances to a peck on the cheek for your grandmother to a French kiss between lovers, but the focus of the current study was romantic kissing. On the other hand beware that kissing and sex allergies can spell trouble, but are treatable.

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In the study, more than 900 adults (594 females, 308 males, ages 18 to 63 years) from around the globe were asked about the role kissing played in short-term and long-term relationships. The investigators approached this experiment with three theories about kissing in mind:

  • Kissing helps evaluate the genetic quality of a person’s potential mate
  • Kissing is used to get another person sexually aroused
  • Kissing has a role in helping keep partners together

Is a kiss just a kiss?
Here’s what the researchers found:

  • Kissing does play a role in how an individual evaluates a potential partner
  • Women rate kissing as generally being more important in a romantic relationship than do men
  • Kissing also was deemed to be more important among both men and women who thought themselves attractive or who were more likely to have casual or short-term relationships
  • Women tended to say kissing was more important in long-term rather than short-term relationships, which suggested to the researchers that kissing is a key factor in maintaining affection and bonding within committed partners
  • Among people in short-term relationships, kissing before sex was most important, but it lost some of its importance during and after sex. Kissing at all other times was deemed the least important of all.
  • Among people in long-term relationships, kissing was just as important before sex as it was at other times not related to sex.
  • Engaging in more frequent kissing had an impact on the quality of a relationship, although this was not true for participating in more sexual activity
  • A woman’s attitude about romantic kissing was affected by her menstrual cycle and the stage of her relationship. For example, women placed the most value on kissing at the beginning of a relationship when they were at the most fertile stage of their cycle. According to the researchers, it seems that women who kiss a potential mate during this time period gain information about the genetic quality of the object of their affections.

If all of this sounds too scientific and unromantic for you, then just keep on kissing. However, if you found this information both interesting and helpful, then you may want to think about what’s going on the next time you are kissing your partner.

Wlodarski R, Dunbar RIM. Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior 2013. Doi: 10.1007/s1050-013-0190-1
Wlodarski R, Dunbar RIM. Menstrual cycle effects on attitudes toward romantic kissing. Human Nature 2013. Doi:10.1007/s12110-013-9176-x

Updated 5/9/2014