A kiss is one of the most potent symbols of intimacy. It is used to convey everything from parental affection to passionate love (and occasionally hate – remember the Judas Kiss). Kissing is a fundamental human action that has been with us since the beginning of our species.
Or has it?
Kissing is actually a Western phenomenon and there are plenty of cultures that simply don’t kiss. The open-mouthed, or tactile kiss, that we see in movies (and in the street) is a new thing, and has only been around for a few hundred years. Traditionally, the Japanese don’t use kissing to signal affection. Nor do almost any of the indigenous African races. None of the Celtic languages even have a word for ‘kiss’ and neither do the Native American languages or Malay.
So why do we kiss?
American scientists are pretty sure that kissing came from the (kind of gross) habit of a mother chewing food for her baby and transferring it into the Little One’s mouth. That theory is fine to account for parental affection, but it doesn’t really explain the Lover’s Kiss, the Kiss of Greeting, or the Kiss of Death.
A better idea is that kissing is really about smell, not taste. While very few cultures have a tradition of kissing, almost all have something involving nuzzling, nose-pressing, or some other way to get a good whiff of someone else’s skin. This type of kiss is almost universal, which makes sense when you know that the mouth can only process four basic flavours – every other subtlety of taste happens through the sense of smell.
What happens in our bodies when we kiss?
There are two basic kinds of kissing: Platonic and passionate. The best example of a Platonic kiss is between a mother and baby, and here a kiss is part of a powerful biological bonding. Called ‘Claiming Behaviour,’ all mammals (including humans) nuzzle, touch and occasionally lick their newborns. Without this, there’s a strong chance they’ll never really bond. There is also a health reason: By pressing her mouth to a new baby’s skin, a mother ingests the germs and other pathogens that the baby is about to swallow. Her immune system builds antibodies against these pathogens that are then transferred to Bubs via breast-milk. Kissing, plus breast-feeding is equal to life-saving.
Get to the good stuff: The Passionate Kiss
Again, this is all about smell. You know the way that some people simply smell sexier to you? These are usually the ones you have amazing chemistry with. You can call it magic, but it just means their immune system is a good match for you – for breeding. Mother Nature doesn’t really care if you are emotionally fulfilled, or have a lot in common… She just wants you to get down to the business of making healthy babies. So she invented this cool trick: Within the first two seconds of an open-mouthed kiss between a man and a woman, there are enzymes in a woman’s mouth that analyses a man’s DNA and decides if he is a good physical specimen to breed with.
Maybe this is why almost 70% of women will refuse to go out with a man again after a bad first kiss.
All good kisses need a little privacy, and the best place is in the City of Love: Renting apartments in Paris is easy, and will give you plenty of time to develop your technique.