Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Our Lips Are Telling Us

1. Is it in his kiss?
Oh, yes. Osculation, the scientific term for kissing, in many ways says everything about your compatibility with your mate and the health of your relationship. What Our Lips Are Telling Us,We asked an expert, to tackle some of your top questions when it comes to smooching. Curious to know what happens inside our brains and bodies when we do it? Wondering whether a kiss means more to you than to your guy, or whether you can make your make-out session even better?

2. Kissing isn’t just about chemistry
While two strangers might serendipitously find themselves chemically compatible, more often the best kisses grow out of an emotional connection and ambience, Expert says. “So much of a great kiss is understanding the needs and desires of another person -- there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to it,” she says. How-to guides “focus on where to put your hand or how to set the mood, when so much of it is intuitive that you make the person comfortable, secure and safe. It’s an ultimate expression of how you feel about them.”

3. Kissing is universal
Kissing seems “almost completely universal” among humans today, the Expert says. But it wasn’t always so; she cites the work of anthropologist Helen Fisher, who’s noted that certain South African tribes once “found kissing disgusting” and that it was previously “unknown” among people in parts of East Africa and South America. Still, non-kissing cultures did kissy things like lick, suck or blow on a lover’s face before intercourse, the Expert writes. “Now kissing is exported and we’re using mouthwash and toothpaste, so in some ways the experience is so much better than before it became a common custom,” she says.

4. We always remember our first kiss
If you’re like most people, you remember your first kiss much better than losing your virginity, according to Butler University research. It’s not clear why, but the Expert says it may relate to a kiss being our introduction to sexual behavior -- and to all the important decisions that come with it. “I would expect it has to do with novelty and how much we engage all our senses in the behavior,” she says. “A kiss really works as nature’s litmus test. It tells us whether we decide to pursue a relationship.”

5. Kissing comes naturally but our techniques can evolve
We’re kissed from birth (more on that later) and other social animals seem to kiss, too. Bonobos -- a type of Chimpanzee -- have been known to smooch for up to 12 minutes straight, while giraffes like to entwine necks, and even fish touch lips, the Expert says. So while all of us seem to be programmed to know what to do, we pick up culture-specific techniques from movies and TV. Still, the Expert says, “There are definitely things people can learn to make it a better experience.” Lay off the pressure -- it produces the stress hormone cortisol, a real buzz kill. “Getting to know someone fosters a bond and makes the likelihood of a kiss going well higher,” she says.

6. It’s all about first impressions
A bad first kiss can kill a would-be romance faster than you can reapply your lipstick. In a S.U.N.Y. Albany survey, 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women reported ending a relationship because the first kiss was off. The finding points to the way we unconsciously assess reproductive compatibility through a kiss, so a good kiss may signal a sizzling future under the sheets, the Expert says. Kissing releases chemicals associated with romantic and emotional bonding (oxytocin) and pleasure (dopamine). “A lot of people, especially men, judge how someone might perform later based on kissing,” she says. “If you have that boost in oxytocin, those dopamine spikes, you can’t wait to be with that person.”

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Related Story:Types of Kisses

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