The Magic Of Kissing

September 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

By Deborah Calla

Do you remember your first kiss?  Mine was on a motorcycle at the top of a mountain.  I was thirteen years old at the time and I had been flirting with a boy who was seventeen.  So one afternoon he asked if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle.  I said yes.  I was so excited.  I knew my first kiss was going to be happening soon.  So I hopped on the back on his bike and off we went.

We rode around until we got up high and could see all the houses below.  We were in the mountains in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where I grew up.

He turned his bike off and we both got off.  He was nervous but managed to ask if I wanted to be his girlfriend.  I too was very nervous but also managed to say yes.  And then it happened.  His lips moist and full touched mine.  Then without being taught anything I just instinctively opened my mouth and my tongue and his touched and then started their dance.  All these amazing feelings started rushing in and at age thirteen I was being baptized into the sensual world of adulthood.

But did you ever wonder how the first kiss happened?  At some point in time in the development of human kind there had to be the first kiss.

I searched high and low for the answer to my question but came up empty.  The truth is that historians don’t know everything about the history of kissing.  What I did find out was that four Vedic Sanskrit texts, written in India around 1500 B.C., appear to describe people kissing but the same historians also say that doesn’t mean that nobody kissed before then, or that Indians were the first to kiss. It simply means that artists and writers may have just considered kissing too private to depict in art or literature.

I also found out that anthropologists who believe that kissing is a learned behavior, theorize that the Greeks learned about it when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B.C. and that  little before BC or after (no one can pinpoint the exact date of the publication) the Kama Sutra had over 250 passages talking about kissing.

At the end of the Greek reign, Alexander’s army and their generals started spreading through the middle-east and Macedonia bringing with them the kiss.

Later it was the Romans who started spreading kissing throughout the world as they expanded their territories.  And by all historic accounts, kissing had to be taught in the new world.

Regardless of where it started the fact is that kissing plays a major part in how we relate to each other romantically and socially.

We give an acquaintance a peck on the cheek (Belgium) or two (Brazil) or three (Netherlands) of four (France) or none in the US – it depends where in the world we are doing the kissing – and a first date usually gets a lingering kiss on the lips, and a partner a passionate French kiss.

What About The Anatomy Of A Kiss?

Kissing is a complex behavior that requires significant muscular coordination; a total of thirty-four facial muscles and 112 postural muscles are used during a kiss. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, which is used to pucker the lips and informally known as the kissing muscle.  In the case of the French kiss, the tongue is also an important part. Lips have many nerve endings so they are sensitive to touch and bite.

Your facial nerve also carries impulses between your brain and the muscles and skin in your face and tongue. While you kiss, it carries messages from your lips, tongue and face to your brain to tell it what’s going on. Your brain responds by ordering your body to produce:

Oxytocin, which helps people develop feelings of attachment, devotion and affection for one another

Dopamine, which plays a role in the brain’s processing of emotions, pleasure and pain

Serotonin, which affects a person’s mood and feelings

Adrenaline, which increases heart rate and plays a role in your body’s fight-or-flight response

When you kiss, these hormones and neurotransmitters rush through your body. Along with natural endorphins, they produce the euphoria most people feel during a good kiss. In addition, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate, so your whole body receives more oxygen than it does when you’re just standing around. You can also smell the person you’re kissing, and researchers have demonstrated a connection between smells and emotions.

Your body may also play a role in who you prefer to kiss. Researchers have proven that women prefer men with immune system proteins that are different from their own. In theory, having a baby with someone with different immune proteins can lead to healthier offspring. Scientists believe that a woman may be able to smell these proteins while kissing, and that what she smells may affect whether she finds her partner attractive.

Kissing Also Promotes Health Benefits

Affection in general has stress-reducing effects. Kissing in particular has been studied in a controlled experiment: increasing the frequency of kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships was found to result in a reduction of perceived stress, an increase in relationship satisfaction, and a lowering of cholesterol levels.

But At The End Of The Day

We all know that a bad kiss can ruin any romantic proposition because a kiss is like an ironing press (yes, the one you use to press your clothes with) – as I have learned from a bumper sticker on the back of a truck in Brazil – you turn it on on top but it heats up on the bottom.

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