Let’s kiss: swap spit, suck face, lock lips, pour some sugar on it, smooch, or just plain make out. There are many wonderful descriptions of kissing, but why do it at all? It turns out the reasons are myriad and amazing.
Many animals share this gesture of affection, or ones very much like it. It has been proposed for example, that in those species where pre-digested food is given to their infants, the beak to beak, or lip to lip, touching of certain animals approximates a kiss and displays a form of nurturing and care. In primates, they often purse lips, brush cheeks and engage in a number of primate grooming behaviors that show submission, playfulness or affection. . As a means to exchange nourishment of both body and psyche this is certainly one explanation that sounds credible.
Also from our animal physiology is the idea of how to “sniff-ereniate” the best mate out there. Pheromones are still very much alive in the human species, even when we are largely unconscious of these intense, chemically attractive alertness signals. Kissing is a full on use of smell, taste and touch, all of which explore the other’s pheromones, tenderness, talent and flavor. One theory says that a woman can detect (unconsciously) the scent of whether her kissing mate is in possession of a certain mixture of immune system support proteins. Nature, is all about diversity supporting life, new genes and traits are sought out constantly. In such ways, sweet evolution programmed kissing organisms to exchange many talents to exchange vital biological information.
Because kissing also evolved to be quite pleasurable, people are able to overlook the garlic breath, icky germ factor and fumbling awkwardness when people first lean into the sensual wonderland of another person’s lips.
Kissing feels delectable. Lips are jam packed with sensory nerve endings under thin skin. These light up and spill over in a cascade effect triggering hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins and more that signal excitations of reward, sexual stimulation and euphoria. This invites bonding. In sharing the pleasure, trust and confidence are built. Perhaps when people most feel lost about falling out of love, they should visit kissing coaches before visiting divorce attorneys. It c couldn’t hurt.
There is one more component of kissing that has not much been explored. The mouth carries the breath and the breath is the life force. In most creation myths, God, or gods breathed life into beings with a kiss. The wind moving across the waters is one interpretation of the breath of creation. Here in Hawaii, the very word, “HA” (as in HA waii, or aloHA) means spirit, word, or breath. Exchanging breath with another being must surely carry some of the intense life force of wind, spirit or soul, word and breath and be quite important.
It is also worth considering that for most of the last one million years the human animal lived and survived on the data to be stored, and messages to be conveyed, solely in the spoken word. Then, suddenly, the written word allowed a kind of computer stored memory (books, tapes, discs etc.) that greatly changed human relations in the world, and not always in sensually beneficial ways.
Yet, the simple kiss, a near silent gesture, employs the lips to communicate volumes of information. In a quite uplifting and spiritual way humans use the same word speaking device they incidentally used to create all of civilization.
Perhaps the kiss was created to help us remember how all of earth was created and how life creates life in an ongoing process. It all begins with a kiss.