What Happens To Your Body When You Kiss

by Eliza Castile

You're probably familiar with the feelings kissing elicits — the goosebumps, the endorphin rush, the uncontrollable urge to dance down the street to Hall & Oates — but what actually happens to your body when you kiss? By the time we reach our 20s, most of us have gotten the act itself down pat: Tilt your head, close your eyes, and start smoochin' to the best of your ability. For many people, kissing is such an everyday gesture that we don't stop to think about why we like it so much — not least because thinking about it too hard kind of kills the magic. Let's be real: Although both descriptions are technically correct, "French kissing" sounds so much more romantic than "sticking your tongue in someone's mouth."

Of course, kissing isn't always viewed as romantic; in fact, it's not the norm in most cultures around the world. Researchers still aren't quite sure what makes makeout sessions erotic in certain societies when it's uncomfortable and gross in others, but the act of kissing has been around for thousands of years. As Psychology Today points out, texts from ancient India and Greece refer to both the platonic and romantic variety, and the Romans had all sorts of intricate customs detailing who to kiss (and how and where and when, because Roman society was just like that).

Whether it serves a social or erotic function, kissing is clearly an integral part of human society — and chances are pretty high you'll be puckering up in the near future. Let's take a look at eight things romantic kissing does to your body below.

1. You Tilt Your Head To The Right

Research has shown that at least two thirds of people tilt their heads to the right when they kiss — which is great for everyone except the other third, whose kisses probably end in bumping noses more often than not.

2. Oxytocin Floods Your Body

You probably know oxytocin by its nickname, the "cuddle hormone." Released during social bonding activities like kissing (or playing with your dog), oxytocin is thought to promote feelings of closeness with other people.

3. Blood Flow Increases

As your brain releases hormones like oxytocin and endorphins, your body responds by increasing blood flow; this may be why some studies have linked kissing to lower blood pressure.

4. Your Pupils Dilate

Along with increased blood flow, the rush of hormones brings about dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and other signs of an activated nervous system.

5. Cortisol Levels Decrease

In a 2007 study, researchers found that levels of cortisol, aka the "stress hormone," dropped in both men and women after kissing.

6. You Close Your Eyes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a recent study found that the vast majority of us really do close our eyes when we kiss. According to researchers, omitting visual stimuli allows us to focus more fully on who we're kissing.

7. You Use Over 100 Muscles

According to researchers in Britain, kissing uses as many as 146 muscles in your neck and face.

8. We Swap Bacteria

Here comes the bit nobody likes to think about: When we kiss, research has shown that we swap saliva, pheromones, and 80 million (harmless) bacteria with our partners. That's the kind of information that takes repeated viewings of The Notebook to overcome.

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Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (8)