Most cultures of today recognize kissing as an acceptable behavior that can convey many ideas, feelings or messages.
Kissing is not relegated to only humans.
Animals and insects also participate in “kissing” activities, though some believe these actions to be smelling.
In ancient times, kissing was not always the intimate gesture that it often is now.
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans would kiss each other on the mouth or the cheek depending on rank or social standings.
It was also used to make agreements or contracts binding.
In early Christianity, kissing was a sign of submission, respect, and religious piety.
Today, while most contracts do not require a kiss, a kiss can mean anything from a simple greeting to showing affection to displaying lust.
Regardless of why you do it, here are 14 amazing benefits of kissing, according to science. (1)
1. Kissing Lowers Blood Pressure
In order for your body to get the nutrients and oxygen it needs, the heart must pump the blood through your veins and arteries.
The speed and amount of pressure that is placed on your arteries and veins is called blood pressure.
High blood pressure can have serious health consequences such as heart attack or stroke.
By keeping your blood pressure at a lower level, you can avoid these problems.
Kissing can help lower blood pressure in two ways: it makes the heart beat faster and constricts blood vessels. (3)
Kissing can lower blood pressure by also helping your burn calories and reducing stress. (4)
Take away: Kissing can help lower blood pressure in more ways than one.
2. Kissing Releases “Happy” Chemicals
Oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin are all chemicals that, when released into your body, make you feel happy. (5)
Oxytocin is a very important very powerful neurotransmitter responsible for a number of different things like empathy, reproduction, and bonding.
It is referred to as the “love hormone” as it is released when important emotional connections are made during hugging, kissing and breast feeding.
Oxytocin is also credited with helping to alleviate depressive feelings and symptoms. (6)
Dopamine can be found throughout the body.
It impacts everything from impulse control, to breast milk production, kidney and heart function and nausea.
But dopamine also controls love and lust.
Often, dopamine is responsible for not being able to tell the two ideas apart...or not caring that there is a difference. (7)
Serotonin is also a busy neurotransmitter that has many jobs.
Serotonin is found in the blood, bowels and also in the brain.
It is responsible for muscle constriction, maintaining body cycles and being happy.
Those with low serotonin levels will typically suffer from depression. (8)
All three of these neurotransmitters have so many huge roles in making the human body function.
Not enough of any one of them could cause minor to significant issues.
Kissing helps encourage production of all three so that your body can get the right amount.
Take away: Kissing, better than antidepressants.
3. Kissing Is Beneficial for Oral Health
Yes, it is true that kissing can spread not so good bacteria and germs.
This can include, but is not limited to, meningococcal disease, herpes, respiratory illness, hepatitis B, and tooth disease.
The good news is, generally speaking, if someone has one of these issues, they will know about it and they should also know that they should not be kissing until their condition is deemed safe.
The really good news is that there are many other benefits of kissing than there are risks.
Kissing increases saliva flow. This helps clean the mouth of many bad bacteria and viruses and can even combat fungus.
This leads to an overall healthier mouth, teeth and gums.
For the most part, everyone has the same microbial make up as everyone else. Except for about 20% which is specific to each individual person.
Being exposed to someone else’s saliva helps your immune system to create antibodies to germs that it is not familiar with.
By having been exposed to new bacteria, the immune system is now ready to protect from even more exposure possibilities which in turn keeps you healthier. (9)
Take away: While kissing does have it’s pros and cons, it is always important to maintain your own oral hygiene and make regular visits to the dentist.
4. Kissing Gives a Boost to the Immune System
For many people, it would be counterintuitive to think that kissing would make the immune system stronger and more adaptable.
These people would think that an exchange of germs would simply encourage illnesses to spread from person to person.
But these people would be wrong.
The immune system is made up of many parts of the body including the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, leukocytes, and the thymus.
Each of these components have very different jobs, but each of them have the primary function of protecting the body from dangers and/or foreign bodies.
The immune system is fascinating because it is able to tell the difference between the bad things that are not supposed to be in the body and the parts that are healthy and supposed to be there.
When the immune system detects something is awry somewhere in the body, it destroys whatever the bad thing is.
Of course this is only if the immune system is working how it should. If not, then there is a good chance that this is not happening.
However, a properly functioning immune system, is always working towards making sure the body stays healthy. (10)
Science is even able to manipulate the immune system. The most common example is the flu shot.
Every year, the medical community decide on which flu strains are going to be most prevalent. Then through the flu shot, everyone is exposed to those strains.
Once the body is “infected”, the immune system gets to work creating an antibody so that if the same flu strain is encountered again, the body can quickly and easily take care of it.
The same principle can be applied to kissing.
By being exposed to another person's specific bacterial make up through saliva, your immune system is able to familiarize itself with new foreign bodies.
Take away: To boost your immune system, you can increase your vitamin C or just pucker up!
5. Kissing Burns Calories
It seems like everyone these days a weightloss guru, crazy diet plan or insane workout program.
And that is all well and good.
But the reality of the situation is that if you want to lose weight, all you need to do is cut a mere 500 calories from your body a day to lose one pound a week.
This can be a combination of watching your diet so that calories do not enter your new temple of health, or it can be in the form of deleting calories that are already in your body. (13)
Will kissing replace the results of your marathon training? Or your aquarobics class? Or taking the stairs instead of the elevator?
But kissing does boost your metabolism to a measurable degree.
Generally speaking, a human being will burn 1 calorie a minute while at rest.
Kissing ups that to almost 3 calories per minute of kissing.
Plus, kissing often leads to other physical activities which can burn many more calories. (14)
It should be noted that a chaste peck on the cheek will not achieve this increase in calorie burning. It needs to be a passionate, all encompassing kiss. (3)
Take away: Kissing may not be the most effective form of calorie burning, but a few extra smooches a week might just justify that extra dessert you have your eye on.
6. Kissing Relieves Pain
There are many different ways to classify pain and just as many different kinds of pain.
Pain can be genetic, chronic, acute or any combination of these and other factors.
However, most will say that pain is uncomfortable. (15)
Thanks to science and the medical community, there are a plethora of pills and medications to help us relieve some of this pain, no matter the cause.
In addition to these oral pain relievers, Western medicine is beginning to accept less conventional pain management methods.
Depending on who you speak to and which area you live in, you will get pain management recommendations ranging from yoga to meditation to marijuana to essential oils to music therapy to sex to acupuncture.
Each idea is very different from the others.
What they all have in common is that they are generally accepted as pain killers.
The success of these methods of pain relief will depend on the type of pain, the cause of the pain, location of pain and the severity of the pain. (16)
One of the more recent, yet still effective, pain relievers is sex.
Sex, and every aspect of it including kissing, releases oxytocin.
Oxytocin is one of the “happy” hormones that is released which intensifies the feeling of pleasure.
While oxytocin might not take away pain, it does keep you from noticing the pain. (17)
A recent study showed that dopamine, which is also released during a smooch session, has a strong correlation with chronic pain relief.
Why dopamine impacts chronic pain but not acute pain still needs to be investigated, but this is promising for those who have chronic pain. (18)
Take away: Skip the pain pills and opt for a make out session.
7. Kissing Tones Facial Muscles
Depending on the type of kiss, it takes between 2 and 34 facial muscles to achieve a kiss.
And 112 postural muscles.
You can add an additional 8 muscles to that count if there is some tongue action in involved.
By giving these often overlooked muscles some exercise, the face can look and feel younger. (21)
Now, this isn’t to say that I haven’t seen infomercials featuring exotic and frankly bizarre gadgets that you can buy to work out these underused facial muscles.
But let’s be honest. Kissing is a way more fun way to obtain a toned face.
Take away: You won't find machines at the gym to work out these facial muscles.
8. Kissing Can Help Find a Suitable Mate
It seems like the second we leave the womb and enter this world, we are pressured to find the one.
I blame movies and TV for this.
Gone are the days where if you aren't married by 25, you are considered a spinster and unloveable.
Thank goodness for that right?
As a human who has not found the one, I don’t even know what my first step would be to find the elusive one.
The good news is that thanks to kissing, I don't have to know.
In a recent study, researchers found that one of the primary reasons for kissing is to see if another human is a suitable mate.
A lot can be expressed with a kiss; assertiveness, confidence, hygiene, how playful (or not) your potential partner is.
A kiss is a way to connect on a level that is beyond superficiality.
It allows us to assess someone behind the clothes, opinions, and the car they drive.
It is a purely chemical assessment to determine the compatibility two people.
The study found that women tend to use this particular test more than men. (22)
Take away: Better than a psychic, kissing can help you determine if a person is the right one for you.
9. Kissing Increases Bonding
And once a suitable mate has been found via “testing their kiss”, kissing can help you bond with this mate.
There are minute differences between the types of kissing.
Generally speaking, the only difference is the intent.
To put it otherwise, you kiss a certain way when you are testing your mate, and you kiss another way if you are attempting to bond with them, and you kiss a totally different way if you are seducing them. (22)
No matter the kiss, kissing releases the hormones into you the body.
The specific hormone that is released that inspires bonding is actually dubbed “the cuddle hormone”.
Oxytocin is released when you are happy. It could be released because of cuddling with your lover, playing with your dog or bonding with your newborn.
Oxytocin is different in women.
In women, it is paramount in the birthing process. It is also a key element when feeding the baby and overall bonding.
But in both men and women, oxytocin is released during kissing or other snuggle times when the couple is happy and encourages bonding.
Oxytocin causes the body to remember these good times and crave more of them.
However, oxytocin also remembers the bad times and can impact a person from that aspect too.
Take away: Good or bad, oxytocin is the bonding agent.
10. Kissing Can Help You Feel Better About Yourself
Overall, kissing has so many benefits.
Lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and pain, increasing your connection to your mate and releasing “happy hormones” into your body.
When you feel better physically, you feel better mentally.
When you feel loved, it is easier to love yourself. I know, I wish this wasn't the deal, but we all care very much about how other people feel about us.
When our loved one kisses us, or if we kiss our loved one, not matter how big or small the kiss, the gesture makes us feel happy and loved.
And when we are happy and feel safe and feel loved, we just feel better about ourselves.
Another way to feel better about ourselves is to be physically active.
Again, I’m not saying to tie up your self esteem into how you look. That is definitely not the point I am making here.
But kissing leads to feeling better overall, which can lead to enjoying being more active.
Being active releases similar hormones as kissing which means if you are kissing and getting some exercise in, it's a double win! (24)
Take away: Give your self esteem a boost by giving a smooch!
11. Kissing Relieves Allergies
No, you read that right.
Allergies are the body’s response to something that it believes is a danger.
However, instead of just dealing with it and moving, the body overreacts causing sneezing, watery eyes, and inflammation.
The overreaction results in the body producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E which is the culprit for the body’s reaction.
There are many things that a body might find offensive enough to make antibodies for.
The most common are food and seasonal allergies, but can also include drug, insect and animal allergies.
Allergies affect over 1/4 of all adults and almost 1/2 of all children.
While the best way to avoid having an allergic reaction is to avoid the trigger, a study in Japan showed that people who kiss produce less immunoglobulin E.
Take away: Kissing should not replace the medical treatment prescribed by a doctor to treat allergies but it doesn't hurt to add some kissing to your routine.
12. Kissing Can Increase Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular health can be affected by genetics, physical activity, and diet.
Cardiovascular disease is something that affects millions of people and causes damage to the heart and blood vessels of the body.
When the blood vessels are damaged, they cannot send nutrient rich blood to the rest of the body.
Without oxygen and nutrients, the body will not be 100% functional.
Things that make cardiovascular disease worse is high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the speed and force at which your blood travels through your body.
The higher the force, the more pressure there is on your blood vessels.
Blood pressure should remain at a certain level to avoid damaging blood vessels. (27) ;
Because of it’s blood pressure lowering abilities, kissing is great for keeping the heart and the circulatory system stress free and functioning well.
Kissing also makes the heart beat faster, yet more consistently by releasing adrenaline.
This allows for the blood going through the blood vessels to be sent through an even pressure which means that all of the body is getting blood evenly and quickly. (29)
Take away: To keep your heart healthy, kiss the one who has your heart.
13. Kissing Increases Longevity
Sorry, ladies. Men only for this one.
That’s right. A study shows that men who kiss their wife in the morning before they head off to work can add 5 years to the husband’s life.
This study used married men and women (married to each other) to see if kissing a wife goodbye in the morning added to the longevity of a man.
The results certainly speak for themselves. But why?
Part of these results can be attributed to many of the benefits of kissing.
Lowering blood pressure, increasing heart health, lowering stress, increasing self esteem, and increasing immune response are all things that will contribute to a long and healthy life.
But why does this study show that women do not benefit is such tangible ways?
A question for another study at another time. (30) ; (29)
Take away: Ladies, add some life to your man by kissing him goodbye in the morning.
14. Kissing Reduces Stress
Kissing has a way of pulling us out of ourselves for a while.
Allowing us to let go of everything and be all consumed by our partner and the simple act of touching lips.
Many people describe a “spinning” or “reeling” sensation when they kiss the one the love.
And the the entire world melts away.
The silly insecurities that we feel in spite of ourselves are gone because we feel safe and loved.
Any pain we may have been feeling is no longer pressing on our mind.
We are bonding with someone we really enjoy being around.
And they are kind enough to participate in kissing so that all of those happy hormones get released.
The stresses of the day suddenly aren't important anymore. Everything else can wait.
We just feel better.
Kissing brings us to the present. Into the moment.
We don't care about bills that have to be paid, or the boss that sucks.
Kissing dulls the constant murmur of our brains.
Kissing brings us peace in this otherwise crazy world.
And sometimes kissing leads to sex which brings about its own very of stress relief. (31)
Take away: Better than yoga, get your kiss on to relieve stress.
11 Kissing Tips
Many people think that kissing is purely the connection of lips to the partner’s lips.
A physical action only.
But kissing can be so much more.
Kissing can comfort, arouse, show love, show lust, be friendly, be playful and show many other emotions or convey many messages.
Most cultures have done away with signing contracts with a kiss, but kissing is still a very important cultural aspect.
Here are 11 kissing tips to make your next kissing session out of this world!
1. Start With Your Eyes
MarieClair.com recommends starting your next kissing encounter with your eyes.
The eyes are the window to the soul and what is more intimate than locking eyes before locking lips?
A simple glance can happen from across the room or across the couch and can say so much more than words ever could.
This is also beneficial if you come across a language barrier with a potential partner. The language of love is transcultural.
By speaking to your partner with your eyes you can leave your mouth available for more important things, like kissing!
There is a warning associated with this tip though: Make sure that you tone down the open eyes during the actual act of kissing.
There is something unnerving about being fully entranced in a kiss only to open your eyes and see your partner's eyes wide open.
We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t be that guy. Or girl.
2. Kiss Someone You Actually Want to Kiss
This sound advice can be found all over.
From the internet to BFF, everyone will tell you this.
And it is a solid tip for so many reasons.
While it seems like common sense, it is often overlooked.
First, being comfortable in the situation is imperative.
By being comfortable you will get to enjoy the benefits and actually appreciate the time with your partner.
Second, remember those chemicals that get released when you kiss? You want your happy hormones to be triggered when you are actually happy.
This will help you associate being happy with good, fun activities.
Finally, kissing should be enjoyable and fun.
If you aren't enjoying it or having fun, don't do it.
IMHO, this can be said about any activity!
3. Consider Your Partner
Seventeen.com has a few suggestions for how to make your make out session the best.
A recurring theme is: treat your partner as you would want to be treated.
What does this mean?
For starters, keep your mouth fresh and clean.
There are so many breath mints, gums, mouth fresheners, travel toothbrushes with the toothpaste already on there, etc...on the market that there is pretty much no excuse for anything but a fresh mouth.
In fact, a pro tip would be to carry a few extra mints just incase your partner fails to follow this tip.
Next up, lip moisturizers. I adore my lipgloss just as much (probably more) than the next gal.
But that does not always mean that your partner wants their share of your lipgloss or lipstick on their lips.
So when you think the moment might be right to lock lips, opt for a more conservative lip balm.
This will give your lips the moisturizer that they need, while not drowning your partner in tell tale gloss and color.
4. NO HICKIES
This should definitely be in the “rules” section of kissing.
It matters not how old you are or who your partner is or what your occupation is, there is no hickey that looks cute or is appropriate in any professional capacity.
Unless your partner can do hickies in the shape of little kitty cats or your partner’s corporate logo.
No? I didn’t think so.
Not only do they look awful, but there are so many other productive things to be doing with your mouth than causing visible bruising to your partner.
Some people even suggest that “nibbling” is a no-no.
The truth is, if you and your partner dig the hickies and the nibbling, then go for it.
But make sure everyone is on the same page. Otherwise, just assume it’s a NO and use your mouth for bigger, better things.
“Like what?” you might ask.
Read on for more tips!
5. Kisses Are Not Just For Lips
There are literally endless possibilities when kissing.
And where you kiss your partner will depend on your end game.
There are different places to be kissed depending what actions or activities you hope to trigger.
MensHealth.com recommends 7 places to kiss that are NOT the lips.
On the list are the fairly obvious places leading to or engaging in sex like the clitorus and nipples.
But as many people will tell you, “it’s not all about sex”.
Less is more and there are plenty more options to show affection without the intimacy.
MensHealth.com also suggest the lower back, nape of the neck, fingers, forehead and ears.
From personal experience, other great options are the palm of the hand, behind the knee and the jaw line.
You are limited only by your imagination.
And sometimes your imagination is just what you need to use as your guide when you are kissing your partner.
6. Take Your Time
Kissing is a marathon. Not a sprint.
Whether you are just giving your partner a quick kiss hello or goodbye, or in it for a weekend of kissable fun, take your time.
Think about it. Appreciate it. Enjoy it.
“Be in the moment”, as my yoga instructor would say.
One the great things about kissing is that it promotes connection and bonding between a couple.
By being present and appreciating your partner and enjoying even the most fleeting kiss can be special and make you and your partner feel loved and important.
Bustle.com recommends going slow to really take advantage of the stress lowering and anti anxiety properties of kissing.
The same can be said for...longer...engagements.
Your partner should feel like they are the only human in your world and that you would rather be nowhere else but with them.
And vice versa.
Slow and steady wins the race!
No matter what race you are running.
7. There Is Such A Thing As Too Hard...and Too Soft
There is a time and a place for rough, fast and hard.
But for most people, this is reserved for special occasions.
The rest of the time, less is more.
Cosmopolitan.com explains that the lips have thousands more nerve endings than your fingertips.
This means that you can be way more gentle but get way more of a response.
Bustle.com likens kissing to a handshake.
Too forceful of a handshake and you can come off aggressive or out of control.
Too soft and you are seen as timid or uninterested.
A happy medium in this case is critical!
8. Use Your Tongue
It’s right there anyway, you might as well use it, right?
But again, it can be so much more than merely playing tongue hockey with your partner. In fact many people classify a “bad kisser” as someone who uses too much tongue.
This is where you can start throwing out the pro moves and combining tips as you go along.
So, get your partner with a one-two combo of “less is more” and “kiss other places than the mouth” and trace their ear with your tongue.
Tell me that won't get a response.
How about some collarbone tongue work?
Why not try the back of the knee?
Kiss and lick the back of the neck?
“Balance” covers a few different aspects of kissing.
I don't mean “make sure you don't fall over”. Though that is a solid piece of advice for sure.
First, it is important to be assertive and confident, but not over the top and rude.
If you can find this sweet spot, your partner will be far more receptive and into the whole idea of kissing.
Second, find the balance between too much open mouth tongue dancing and too little.
“Sloppy” is not attractive and a turnoff for many.
Finally, compliment the kiss by using your whole body.
Again, I don’t mean smother your partner with your body, but rather move closers so that your thighs touch.
Hold your partner and use your hands to explore, respectfully, of course.
Remember, less is more. But not enough is just as noticeable. (32)
10. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Or, more specifically watch your intent so that it matches the scenario.
Almost every movie has one. “THE Perfect Kiss”.
Have you ever noticed just how outlandish and unreplicatable these situations are?
The upside down Spider Man kiss leaps immediately to mind.
But what about us mere mortals?
We may not have the ability to set up for kisses in the rain with our beloved, but we can make good decisions about when and where we kiss so we can at least not embarrass ourselves and our partners.
For example, at your Uncle’s funeral, a comforting chaste kiss to the top of your partner’s head is probably very appropriate and will be received and perceived well.
The same could not be said for a first kiss, with the intent to have sex...at your Uncle’s funeral.
While both kisses are technically appropriate, the surroundings play a huge role in the appropriateness of a kiss. (33)
11. Good Vibrations
DailyMail.co.uk suggests, making “mmmm” sounds.
This will cause the vocal cords to vibrate, which will cause the mouth the vibrate, which will cause the lips to vibrate.
Vibration will bring more blood flow to the lips which in turn makes lips more sensitive.
Plus many people enjoying hearing noises like that when they are kissing and are encouraged by it. So, extra bonus!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.