Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kiss Me, I’m Irish!

Why do we kiss?
Why do we kiss?
Image: Shutterstock
How many times have you heard or seen the phrase, "Kiss me, I'm Irish"? I'm willing to bet it's a fair few times, especially around St. Patrick's Day. I've got a fair amount of Irish heritage, and though I find the phrase cute, I don't particularly want to invite strangers to actually come up and kiss me. That would be weird.

To me, kissing is something special; it's a physical expression of a bond I already feel with another person. It doesn't have to be romantic--I often kiss my family members and pets--but it does have to involve affection.

Kissing is something that most species don’t partake in; humans are among a select few species that “kiss” each other. It’s one of just a handful of cultural practices that you’ll find across the globe, and it’s been around for thousands of years. But what’s so special about kissing, anyway?

Some research suggests it’s about more than just showing affection. According to Live Science, there are a few dominant theories on the importance of kissing.

Some believe that females use(d) kissing as a way to asses potential mates and, well, get rid of all the “duds.” Those who support this theory say it’s possible that pheromones (chemical signals) could be transferred during kissing, passing information on health and immunities. While there is yet to be proof of a human pheromone that would do this, there is some evidence that scent carries information and that women tend to prefer the scent of men whose testosterone levels are high.

This theory is also supported by the fact that women tend to be pickier than men when it comes to choosing a mate. Women take on more biological risk in intimate relationships, which could result in pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood, so it makes sense that there would be built-in biological checkpoints when determining whether or not to take that risk.

Kissing can lead to deeper levels of intimacy, and one theory is that kissing came around for just such a need. There is some evidence that suggests that increased number and quality of kisses leads to higher relationship satisfaction, but not much to suggest that kissing came into existence to push couples to bond intimately and potentially conceive.

What are your feelings on kissing? We’ve all likely experienced the amazing kisses as well as the ones we’d rather not remember. Is a kiss being enjoyable simply a matter of attraction, or is there a biological component to it as well? Let me know what you think in the comments below!