Ah, February… that very special time of year for celebrating the one we love (or bemoaning the greeting card industry). While flipping through the month’s Scientific American, I came upon this article about ‘Why We Kiss‘ and immediately found myself intrigued.
Now I expect most of us hope to experience the ‘ever-elusive, out-of-the-ballpark-home-run, earth-shattering, perfect kiss,’ but what exactly is it? How does it happen? Wait a sec, this is ScienceBlogs for goodness sake, so let’s dissect this one carefully and get down to exploring the science of kissing…
And sure, kissing feels completely natural, but is it instinctive? Given up to ten percent of humanity doesn’t even touch lips, should we accept it’s actually a cultural phenomenon? I’m not convinced. You see, kissing undoubtedly allows us to find out all sorts of information about our partner. We’re exchanging pheromones. In fact, when we’re engaged, our bodies release a cocktail of chemicals related to social bonding, stress level, motivation, and sexual stimulation. We become, in effect, ‘under the influence.’ It’s powerful.
The right kiss boosts feelings of euphoria stimulating pleasure centers in the brain leading me to suspect there’s something to kissing that goes beyond social mores. While it may have evolved from primates feeding their babies mouth-to-mouth (I know, how terribly unromantic!), other scientists suggest it’s crucial to the evolutionary process of mate selection.
Ever notice the way a bad first kiss can stop a relationship cold? It may very well be a subconscious cue that a pair is not well suited to produce offspring.
Still, for anyone who’s experienced the right chemistry… well… you know. That special and rare kind of kiss makes you weak in the knees and sends your heart racing. And once in a while, if you’re very lucky, there’s that magical kiss that makes the rest of the world fade away…
So as the science goes, I don’t think we’ll ever quite figure out the rationale behind the perfect kiss. And thing is, we don’t need to. Call me a romantic, but I have to admit I like that when you experience one such ephemeral moment, the feeling defies explanation.