Whether we were 15 or 25, we all remember our first kiss. And a first kiss with anyone new is always – or at least it should be – exciting, with sparks flying and a feeling of fizzy potential.
But as relationships progress and the honeymoon period passes, it’s all too common for couples to kiss less than they used to.
Kissing, however, whether a snog or a peck, actually has lots of benefits both for your personal health and the health of your relationship.
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“Kissing is an intimate gesture and helps deepen the love and connection between two people,” dating coach and relationship expert Madeleine Mason tells The Independent.
“This is because the hormones dopamine and oxytocin get released when we kiss, especially kissing in a sensual way – think French kiss (some research suggests for at least 15 minutes at a time).
“Together these hormones make us feel good, as they decrease stress levels and increase relationship satisfaction. Collectively it makes kissing a pretty healthy thing to do.”
On this International Kissing Day, here are seven reasons why kissing is good for you:
1. It boosts your immune system
Although you may think the sharing of saliva through kissing may be unsanitary – we share about 80 million bacteria during a passionate 10 second kiss – we’re actually more likely to become ill by shaking hands than kissing.
One study suggested it was an evolutionary mechanism of spreading bacteria and building up human immunity.
2. It reduces anxiety
Kissing can be effective at calming you down, reducing anxiety and making you feel less stressed because it decreases cortisol and increases serotonin levels in the brain.
In fact, some people even claim kissing has similar benefits to meditation, helping us feel calmer.
3. It lowers blood pressure
Our lips contain blood vessels which dilate when we kiss, and according to Ryan Neinstein, M.D., a plastic surgeon in New York City, “the blood is then directed toward the face and away from the rest of the body, so the demand on the heart goes down, resulting in lower blood pressure.”
What’s more, as your heart races from the excitement of a passionate kiss, our blood flow increases which also contributes to reducing high blood pressure.
4. It’s a workout for the face muscles
We use up to 30 muscles while kissing which tones the facial muscles. So while you may hit the gym to build your biceps, all you may need is some passionate snogging to tone up your face.
5. It’s good for your dental hygiene
Swapping saliva with someone else increases the flow of your own saliva, which helps keep the mouth, teeth and gums healthy.
What’s more, having more saliva in your mouth helps you get rid of bits of food in your teeth.
6. It helps you find the right partner
Kissing with tongues comes from an evolutionary urge to find a genetically compatible mate. “Kissing – like touching and smelling – is an emotion-driven act that allows us to identify the most compatible and ‘evolutionary advantageous’ partner,” says Fulvio D’Acquisto, professor of immunology at Roehampton University.
“Humans don’t have strong olfactory skills and kissing allows you to smell and taste a person and see if you have different immune responses as we tend to feel more attracted to someone with a different immune response,” adds Dr Sarah Johns, an expert in human reproduction and evolutionary psychology at the University of Kent.
There’s also the fact that kissing will allow you to tell whether the spark is there in the early stages of seeing someone.
7. It strengthens your relationship
A good kiss releases the hormone oxytocin – AKA the “love hormone” – which studies have shown keeps monogamous people faithful and makes them more trusting towards one another.
Kissing also releases dopamine, which strengthens feelings of romantic attachment: “Kissing is very important for the relationship, it keeps the intimacy and romance going, dating expert Jo Barnet tells The Independent.
“If physical contact is one of someone’s main love languages it will make them feel loved and valued.”