If aliens landed in Hyde Park on a summer day they’d doubtless have one question about the human race: what’s with all the kissing?
On the face of it (pardon the pun), kissing – due to be commemorated on National Kissing Day, 19th June 2015 - is a strange business indeed. There’s the germ factor; during a ten second pash we swap around 80 million bacteria with our partners (thanks for that helpful fact, Dutch scientists). But fear not, you’re more likely to catch something nasty by shaking hands at the office or nestling under a stranger’s armpit on the Tube.
And then there’s the romance of it all. But why is locking lips with someone such a pleasurable experience? Well scientists say it goes back to our childhoods, in which actions like nursing and bottle feeding lay down neural pathways which forever more associate the action of pursing our lips with positive emotions of being nurtured and cared for.
Unlike almost every other species, humans’ lips purse outwards, meaning that all those nerve endings are continually on high alert, making for a powerful erogenous zone and one that literally goes into overdrive when we lock lips. Countless neural impulses bounce between the brain and the tongue, lips, facial muscles and skin; dopamine sends desire soaring; oxytocin emotionally bonds us to our kissing partner; adrenaline raises the heart rate and makes us sweat; stress hormones dissipate; blood vessels dilate; breathing deepens; pulse skyrockets; cheeks flush; bosoms heave. All that from a kiss!
But kissing isn’t just about feeling good; scientists say that there might be a more biological reason which draws us to pucker up. While kissing can help us establish whether a fledging relationship has enough chemisty to maintain it, the face to face contact and smell factors can even help us unconsciously determine whether someone is a good enough match for future procreation to take place. A kiss also has the power to alert us to the fact that something shouldn’t go further. So much so that six in ten men and two thirds of women have ended a relationship following a bad kiss!
As the delightful Ingrid Bergman once said: “A kiss is a secret told to the mouth instead of the ear; kisses are the messengers of love and tenderness.”
If all this science is taking the romance out of snogging, cosy up with these video compilations of best movie kisses – one each for fans of classic Hollywood and twenty first century blockbusters alike. Or just go grab your partner for a smooch…