Seven Things You Might Not Know About...Kissing

Health Writer

Kissing is a way to show someone you care. Your mother might have given you a kiss good-night or kissed away boo-boos. Kissing your partner signals that you love him or her and passionate kissing might signal that you are wanting something else…

The following are five things you probably don’t know about kissing.

1) Romantic kissing isn’t as popular as you think. According to a recent study, it turns out only about 46 percent of cultures around the world engage in romantic kissling. Some places that do enjoy kissing as part of romance include the Middle East, a little more than half of North America and almost three-fourths of Europe and Asia. But cultures in Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, New Guinea or the Amazon don’t seem to use kissing as a romantic gesture. Some cultures find kissing repugnant.

2) Kissing might have evolved from “kiss-feeding.”  One of the theories on how kissing started comes from many years ago, when mothers would chew food for their babies and then transfer the food to the baby’s mouth. Mothers would also place their lips on a child’s cheek as a calming gesture. Some researchers believe this is the origin of modern day kissing.

3) The ** Kama Sutra**, an ancient Indian Hindu text, dating back to the second century, is probably the earliest written record of kissing. The text discusses, among other topics human sexuality and practical advice on sexual intercourse. One chapter is devoted to kissing. Some anthropologists believe that other civilizations, such as the Greeks, learned about erotic kissing from the Indians after India was invaded in the fourth century.

4) An X to represent a kiss dates back to the Roman empire. Because most people were illiterate, agreements were “sealed with a kiss.” The person “signing their name” would put an X on the agreement and then kiss the X.

5) Romans also used kissing as a social greeting. Where you kissed someone was determined by both people’s social status. If you both had the same social status, you could kiss someone on the lips. The further you were from the other person’s social status, the further your kiss was from the mouth, for example, a person on the lower side of the social scale might kiss someone higher up on the hand, foot or even on the ground in front of the person.

6) Scientists still debate on whether kissing is a learned or instinctual behavior. Some point out that some mammals engage in kissing-like behaviors which would point to instinctual while others point out that because not all cultures use kissing it indicates it is a learned behavior.

7) Kissing was discouraged in much of Europe during the mid to late 1600’s. During this time, bowing, curtsying and tipping your hat became a more standard greeting. Although some believe this was because of morality issues, it was probably a way to discourage personal contact to help prevent the spread of the plague.

Many people kiss simply because it feels good. The lips and tongues are full of nerve endings and when pressed against someone else’s mouth, we get a feeling of pleasure. You probably don’t give much thought to when we first started kissing or why you kiss, you probably just like it.

_For more information on relationships: _

_Closeness and Commitment in Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t _

_The Relationship Workout _

_How to Nurture Relationships _

_How Positive Strokes Strengthen Relationships _

_Relationships: Arguing vs. Solving Problems _


“Kissing’s Long History: A Timeline,” 2013, Feb. 13, Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

“The Science of Kissing,” 2011, Feb. 11, Host: Ira Flatow,