Valentine’s Day. There’s one thing on everyone’s mind – kissing, of course. And it’s not just for us boy crazy girls or girl crazy boys, it’s for science. That’s right, because in a new book called “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us,” researchers explore the origins of kissing and how the practice of smooching has evolved over the centuries.
The origins of kissing aren’t exactly known, but some scientists believe the practice began with moms chewing up their food and passing it to their kids by mouth. As gross as this sounds, it was the original sign of love and affection that evolved into romantic love.
The book’s author, Sheril Kirshenbaum, cites anthropologist Helen Fish who says kissing fills three essential needs: sex drive, romantic love, and attachment.
Romantic kissing helps us “find partners, commit to one person and keep couples together long enough to have a child.”
And it’s all science. No, really!
When kissing, neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin go crazy and trigger oxytocin – aka the “love hormone” – to spark an overall nice sensation.
“What I found so fascinating is that the chemicals in our bodies are responsible for the so-called symptoms we associate with falling in love,” Kirshenbaum says.
“I don’t think it takes the romance out of the equation, but it gives us a better scientific understanding of how our bodies are behaving.”
At the same time, men and women use kissing to weed out incompatible mates.
Women put a lot of weight into the act of kissing itself,” explains Kirshenbaum. For them, it’s “nature’s ultimate litmus test.”