Making out. Tonsil hockey. Perhaps the British alternative, snogging. Regardless of what you might call it, kissing plays a pivotal role in relationships, including feeling out (maybe literally!) a potential partner and determining if you’ll stay together.
Researchers at Oxford University surveyed 300 men and nearly 600 women from 18-63 years old to find out more about kissing. Participants were asked about the importance of kissing in both short- and long-term relationships.
According to Robin Dunbar, one of the authors of the study, “kissing plays a role in assessing a potential partner.”
But, what leads us to kissing anyway? In simple terms, evolution. More specifically, a group of genes called the MHC, or the Major Histocompatibility Complex. These genes form part of our immune system and are what compose our natural scent. Because of this, partners with opposite MHC make-ups mate and produce offspring who have stronger immune systems! It’s true what they say: Opposites attract!
While other degrees of chemistry influence a relationship as well, the study found that kissing has these profound effects:
Evaluate your partner’s suitability
This is geared toward those who may wish to conceive soon. Kissing helps to determine the “genetic quality of a mate.” MHC at it again!
Establish feelings of attachment
A chemical cocktail of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin is released when kissing. These three chemicals stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, which can cause feelings of euphoria and addictive behavior.
It’s not all about sex
Although the correlation is there, researchers found that kissing isn’t the primary factor in initiating sex. However, both sex and how often individuals kissed positively affected their relationships. This holds true for those in short-term and long-term relationships.