Kissing – A Beginner’s Guide
Also known as petting, smooching, a peck on the cheek, snogging, or smack on the lips, kissing is one of the most common methods used to express affection. These days, virtually every culture uses it in a romantic and sexual context – however, a shocking number of people have never been kissed before. In fact, in some countries as many as 5% of the general population or 19% of young adults specifically, have never been kissed. While this may not seem like a lot, that’s over 12 million people who’ve never locked lips with another person.
After a certain age in one’s adult years, not having ever kissed someone and not knowing how can be embarrassing and intimidating when in a relationship. If you’re interested in finding out about the history of kissing and its possible origins, see our article on the topic. In this article, we are going to look at the sensation, mechanics and kissing techniques.
The Benefits of Kissing
Obviously kissing feels really good but why is that?
To begin, human lips are one hundred times more sensitive than fingertips. With all of these nerves clustered in one spot and attached to a series of complex muscles, kissing sends signals to the brain which often leads to a massive dump of hormones throughout the brain and body.
Chemicals released include oxytocin which is also released by the brain during other intimate actions like sexual intercourse and breastfeeding to promote emotional attachment, affection and build a sensation of devotion. Other chemicals include dopamine which is linked to emotional processing as well as pleasure and pain, and serotonin commonly referred to as the feel-good chemical.
This flood of pleasurable sensation can produce myriad physiological and psychological benefits including reduced stress levels, lower cholesterol levels, and improve the strength of a relationship between a couple.
Third, kissing is a form of two partners tasting each other. While this may seem strange to think about by using the sense receptors on the tongue, human beings compensate for their lack of strong olfactory sense. Unlike other animals, humans aren’t particularly adept at being able to detect biochemical odors which indicate potential genetic compatibility between partners or signals which indicate the presence of sickness or disease. However, tasting ala kissing allows individuals to get a sense of their partner’s health.
Further, a short, single kiss burns three whole calories. This is probably because it takes up to 34 facial muscles to do and as many as 112 postural muscles throughout the body to do well. To put that into perceptive, It takes a mere 26 facial muscles to smile and there’s no need to use other bodily muscles. So the more you smooch, the more exercise you’re going to get!
How to Kiss Properly
Like everything else when it comes to intimacy, there isn’t an exact science when it comes to kissing. Each individual’s desires and how comfortable they feel kissing a certain way is going to vary. However, there are a few universal techniques you can apply when kissing which should work, whether it’s your first peck or you consider yourself to be a pro.
First, the majority of people in the world will instinctively tilt their head to the right when kissing regardless of their height, gender, or orientation. This reflex makes kissing easier and is likely due to the fact that most of us tilt our heads to the right in utero before birth.
Second, if you’re in for an extended snogging session, use your lips, but not excessively. Unless your trying to give someone a quick peck on the cheek, leading in with protruding lips is awkward and makes using additional technique difficult. Further, adopting this posture necessitates keeping your faces apart which may also keep your bodies from coming together as well.
Third, kissing is a give and take activity. No matter if you’re kissing a man or woman or who the leader is, learn to respond to your partner. If your partner begins to thrust their tongue a little, that’s likely a good indication that they wish to French kiss. If you want to try gently signal that way to your partner. If your partner starts to nibble a bit, it is likely that they want you to respond in kind. However, that doesn’t mean you should start just chomping away with wild abandon.
Overall, we recommend doing what feels good, starting slowly, but also paying attention to your partner’s unspoken signals.
Is Kissing Dangerous?
Generally speaking: no, it is not. Kissing will not get you pregnant, it isn’t a common method of contracting HIV or most other sexual infections. Since kissing doesn’t involve the exchange of any blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, it’s usually safe.
However, it is possible to contract certain infections, both sexual and non-sexual, if you are not careful. Most obviously, kissing can result in the exchange of myriad bacterial and viral infections as a result of saliva exchange. Examples of common infections include the common cold, nettle rash, scarlet fever, the flu, parotitis, and streptococcus.
The disease most famous for being passed through kissing is the Epstein-Barr virus which causes infectious mononucleosis, commonly called mono or “hot kissing disease.” However, the symptoms of these diseases are usually obvious, though some people may be infected with mono and not know it.
Furthermore, kissing can lead to the transmission of sexually transmitted infection. For instance, the most common disease which can be exchanged is herpes simplex. While some variants of this virus only causes cold sores normally, it can cause genital herpes through mouth-to-genital contact. Along with that, a particularly bad flare up of oral herpes can result in painful fluid-filled sores which often cluster on the lips or corner of the mouth.
Other sexual infections which can be passed through smooching include syphilis if an individual kisses an open syphilitic blister and (rarely) HIV if both partners have open sores in their mouths or exchange blood.
For these reasons, we would recommend caution when choosing who you kiss. That said, so long as you check your partner’s health status, kissing is easily one of the most enjoyable, erotic and romantic activities you can engage and poses minimal risk.