According to a new study a kiss is more than just a kiss – it acts as a screening tools to help us find the right partner.
Oxford University scientists believe that when two people kiss it allows each individual to assess the other based on taste and smell.
Researchers investigated the smooching truth by conducting an online survey in which more than 900 adults answered questions about the role of kissing in short and long-term relationships.
Study leader Rafael Wlodarski said: “Kissing in human sexual relationships is incredibly prevalent in various forms across just about every society and culture.
“So here’s a human courtship behaviour which is incredibly widespread and common and, in extent, is quite unique. And we are still not exactly sure why it is so widespread or what purpose it serves.”
The survey responses, reported in the journals Archives of Sexual Behaviour and Human Nature, showed that women rated kissing as generally more important in relationships than men.
Previous studies have shown women tend to be more selective than men when initially choosing a partner, but both groups place a high value on kissing, suggesting it may help in assessing a potential mate.
More attractive people, or those who have many casual partners, are supposedly extra picky when looking for a potential mate.
Co-author Professor Robin Dunbar said: “Mate choice and courtship in humans is complex. It involves a series of periods of assessments where people ask themselves ‘shall I carry on deeper into this relationship?’
“In choosing partners, we have to deal with the ‘Jane Austen problem’: How long do you wait for Mr Darcy to come along when you can’t wait forever and there may be lots of you waiting just for him? At what point do you have to compromise for the curate?
“People are extremely good at assessing where they are in the ‘mating market’ and pitch their demands accordingly. It depends what kind of poker hand you’ve been dealt. If you have a strong bidding hand, you can afford to be much more demanding and choosy when it comes to prospective mates.”
Women rated kissing as especially important in long-term relationships, suggesting that kissing also plays a key role in maintaining attachment between couples.
While high levels of arousal might result from kissing, the researchers say sex does not appear to be the driving factor that explains why we kiss in romantic relationships.
Among the other findings:
- In short relationships, participants said kissing was most important before sex and was least important at other times.
- In committed relationships, kissing was equally important before sex and at times not-related to sex.
- More frequent kissing was linked to the quality of a relationship.
- Women’s attitudes to romantic kissing were affected by the stages of both their relationship and menstrual cycle. Women valued kissing most at early stages of a relationship, and during the part of their cycle when they are most likely to conceive.
- Previous studies have shown that hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle can change a woman’s preferences for a potential mate.
Read more: Mirror News