Kissing is an integral part of our courting rituals, holiday celebrations, and romantic comedies. Most of us can probably still remember cheering on the characters of our favorite TV shows when their lips touched for the first time. We know that locking lips makes us happy and excited, but there are several aspects of smooching that we don't normally consider.
Try not to think about these 10 facts the next time you're making mouth babies with your significant other. It might kill the mood.
The sensitivity of the skin on the lips varies from person to person, but for most people, the lips are the most sensitive part of your body. Some areas of your body have more touch receptors sending signals to your brain than other parts, making them more sensitive, and the hands and lips are at the top of the list. Lips are often 100 or 200 times more sensitive than fingertips. They can even be more sensitive than a person's genitals, which is hard to believe if you've ever been hit in your jiggly bits.
Almost 280 colonies of bacteria can be swapped during a kiss, which means more than 5 million bacteria could be entering your body during a particularly steamy lip-locking session. Obviously quick pecks aren't as germy as full-on tongue kisses, but you might still want to avoid kissing a sick loved one. Most of the bacteria are harmless (about 80% already reside in your body), but be careful about diseases like mononucleosis and herpes that can be spread through smooches.
Those same bacteria that sound so gross can actually benefit you. The foreign bacteria you're introduced to from making out could boost your immune system. And the extra saliva that you produce when you're enjoying a kiss acts a bit like a teeth cleaning, washing away bacteria and breaking up some plaque on your pearly whites. So when your dentist asks if you've been flossing regularly, just tell him you've been kissing a lot instead.
On average, humans spend about two weeks, or 15 days, playing tonsil hockey in their lifetimes. That's not a bad way to pass the time. If you want to compare it to other activities, we spend about six months of our lives in traffic, five years eating, 24 years and four months sleeping, and have 16 hours of orgasm.
The spit you swap could be doing more for you than you think. Scientists say that subconsciously, humans use a first kiss to assess potential mates. Men test the estrogen levels of a female partner by detecting it in her saliva, which is why men tend to give wetter smooches. Women look for a strong immune system in the guys they kiss.
Kissing isn't reserved for humans alone. Many members of the animal kingdom show affection through some form of kissing. Elephants stick their trunks in each other's mouths. Lots of birds tap their beaks together; puffins for example rub bills at the beginning of their courtship. Primates, like chimps and bonobo monkeys, kiss in a way that looks a lot like how humans do it. Other kinds of animals nuzzle and lick, which might be compared to kissing.
Ever notice how married couples sleep in separate beds in old TV shows? That's because the Motion Picture Production Code, or Hays Code, wouldn't allow them to sleep together from 1930 to 1968. This moral code also put limitations on the length and lustfulness of screen kisses. Because of the clause in the code that reads "Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown," many filmmakers had to work around it. In Notorious, for example, Alfred Hitchcock directed the actors to have several shorter kisses rather than one long one to avoid problems with the code while keeping the scene sexy.
When you go in for a smooch, do you instinctively turn your head to the right? If you do, you're in the majority. Two-thirds of people tilt to the right when they kiss, meaning you should probably try this direction if you're kissing someone for the first time for better odds of not bumping noses. Some scientists believe this preference is determined while still in the womb and cemented during the first six months of life.
While snogging seems to be built into our genetics, it actually isn't a universal human habit. Ninety percent of humans do take part in kissing, but there are a few cultures where it wasn't customary until they learned about it from Western cultures. Somalians in Africa, a group of people in the Indian state of Sikkim, and some in Bolivia didn't know about kissing until they had contact with Westerners. Some native cultures, such as the Inuits and Maori, traditionally kiss with their noses, an "Eskimo Kiss," rather than with their lips.
Even in the good old U.S. of A., there are still old laws on the books regarding kissing. In Iowa and Indiana, men with mustaches can't kiss women in public. In Colorado, men can't kiss a woman who is sleeping or kiss their wives on Sundays. In Florida, you can't kiss your wife's breast. What's the ruling on someone who isn't your wife? These laws are apparently still in effect, but it's doubtful that anyone cares to enforce them or even really knows about them.
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