Kissing — whether it is with your significant other or a relative stranger, the thought of it is a little bit gross but in actuality it feels like one of the most natural physical ways to show someone affection. And you might be reaping more benefits from getting up close and personal with someone than you first thought. So, is snogging good for you? Experts suggest that sharing a kiss and a cuddle could benefit you both mentally and physically. There is definitely a feel good factor when it comes to getting intimate with someone but there may be more you can tell about someone from a single kiss than when the last time they had garlic was and how overactive their tongue is.
While kissing might make you feel good some experts have suggested it also benefits you physically and mentally. I spoke to Dr Sarah. E. Johns who's a Senior Lecturer of Evolutionary Anthropology in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent meaning she knows a thing or two about kissing. She tells me, “[kissing] is good for developing intimate, close relationships but also it might allow people to discover other information about each other. For example, some kind of compatibility in terms of similar or indeed, dissimilar immune systems which may increase the diversity of the immune system in any offspring.”
You might assume that that kissing is just something people learn to do. But Dr Johns explains that it might be a product of nature rather than nurture, “this close face to face contact is really common even if kissing isn’t used, cross culturally.” So, is kissing just a natural human urge to be near those that we are attracted to? Dr Johns says it may be more complex than that.
“The way people kiss or the idea of romantic kissing and the circumstances where that occurs [have] a certain social construct. But wanting to be close and find out information about somebody that you are potentially going to reproduce with seems to be something we see across a range of different species.”
So, you may be learning more and more about your partner every time you lock lips. Tell that to your friends the next time they ask you to quit the PDAs.
Dr Johns also adds that kissing can boost certain hormones that make you and your partner feel more bonded. “You are essentially enhancing feelings of wellbeing, you are getting a release of oxytocin, it is a way of essentially being very close to somebody.”
William Cane, author of The Art of Kissing agrees that kissing can have a number of mental and physical benefits. He tells me, “Kissing is good for you! Kissing can help people have fun, bond emotionally, and communicate their affection. It also lowers blood pressure, although it might temporarily raise blood pressure and heart rate during the kiss itself.”
According to Professor Kory Floyd's theory of affection exchange, showing affection can actually lower your stress levels. Floyd's 2002 study found that these acts "buffer the individual against the physiological effects of stress.”
Meanwhile, a study by Mattress Online released earlier this year revealed that, while Brits may be stereotyped as reserved, many of us are partial to a cuddle and that these displays of affection can lower stress. The ‘seated snuggle’ was voted as the UK’s favourite cuddle proving ‘Netflix and Chill’ is not a thing of the past and might be doing more for your wellbeing than simply fuelling your Friends obsession.
The research found that sharing a cuddle with someone you are close to can increase intimacy and sexual satisfaction, help you communicate your emotions, and lower anxiety and stress. Similarly to kissing, the study suggested cuddling has some pretty major physical benefits too including boosting your immune system, providing pain relief, even lowering blood pressure, and improving memory.
Kissing and cuddling feels pretty great most of the time, so the fact that it may be benefiting your overall wellbeing is an excellent added bonus. And when it comes to sidestepping the idea of how gross the physical act of kissing actually is, Dr Johns says there is a way we get past it. While you probably wouldn’t share your partners tooth brush (I know I have once or twice) Dr Johns says “the fact that you are sexually aroused may help you get past the feelings of disgust. There have been a number of studies that have suggested that sexual arousal makes you more open to experiences that would normally be considered disgusting.”