10 Surprising Things You Never Knew About Kissing

From love pecks on the cheek to full blown make-out sessions, kissing is one of the most intimate things two people can do. It’s a universal sign of love most people can actually agree on. And while you may be a seasoned pro, there’s more to the art of kissing than meets the eye. Turns out, the benefits of smooching all depend on your personal style and frequency. Want to learn more? Here are 10 surprising things you never knew about kissing.

1. The French didn’t coin the term French kiss

eiffel tower

The French didn’t actually coin the term. | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

All good romances start with a kiss. After all, you’re so attracted to someone that you just can’t seem to keep your hands, or mouth, off of them. And while the act itself may be universally known, its origin is not.

In the case of the French kiss, the name doesn’t say it all. According to TIME, after British and American soldiers returned home from WWI, they were eager to show their significant others the style of kissing they’d learned from the sexually adventurous French. However, it wasn’t until just recently that the French actually adopted the term.

2. You developed your style of kissing in the womb

Pregnant woman holding belly

Your kissing style could depend on your position in the womb. | iStock.com/tamaravidmar

Which way do you lean when you go in for a kiss? We’re willing to bet this question made you stop and think for a second. You’ve probably never paid much attention to which direction you lean. Kissing, after all, shouldn’t require all that much thinking or planning.

Interestingly, National Geographic reports most people kiss with their heads tilting to the right. The research, which was conducted by German neuroscientist Onur Güntürkün, credited this commonality to how most babies are positioned in the womb. So it seems the fetal position has a lot of influence on one’s kissing habits.

3. Men transfer testosterone when they kiss

man and woman in a passionate kiss

Swapping saliva also means transferring testosterone. | iStock.com

If you’re a woman and your kissing partner is a man, you may be experiencing more than just butterflies when you lock lips. In fact, swapping saliva means transferring hormones, too. In an article published on Live Science, world-renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher said, “There is evidence that saliva has testosterone in it.” This hormone, as we know, increases a person’s sex drive.

Furthermore, Fisher goes on to explain men prefer sloppier kisses. “That suggests they are unconsciously trying to transfer testosterone to stimulate sex drive in women,” Fisher said. So, the sloppier the kiss, the more likely it will lead to intercourse? Maybe, maybe not. The idea, nonetheless, is an interesting one.

4. It helps boost your immune system

man breathing in fresh air

Kissing can keep you healthy. | iStock.com

The sloppier the kiss, the more saliva you transfer. Simple science. But you may be surprised to learn just what, and how much, you’re actually sharing with each partner you’ve ever smooched. Research shows 80 million bacteria are transferred for every 10 seconds spent kissing. It may sound gross, but swapping so much bacteria can actually serve you well, as it helps bolster your immune system so you can fight off more diseases in the future.

5. Kissing helps a person pick a mate

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A kiss can tell you a lot about a potential partner. | iStock.com

There are a lot of factors that can help you weed out prospective partners. Personality, career goals, and sense of humor are just a few examples of qualifying traits you may be looking for in a significant other. Still, kissing comes in pretty handy. As reported by TIME, kissing may serve as a way to assess a mate. Therefore, it can spark an interest in bonding, or adversely, send a person running in the other direction. Either way, you can learn a lot about your feelings for a person just by swapping spit.

6. Scent plays a big role in a good (or bad) kiss

woman holding her nose toward man with bad odor

Your sense of smell plays a huge role in how good a kiss is. | iStock.com

Kissing employs all your senses, so it’s no surprise smell has a huge part in the success of a good smooch. More specifically, kissing someone can help you sniff out his or her health, and maybe even DNA.

The Washington Post reports, “Biologist Claus Wedekind has found, for instance, that women are most attracted to the scents of men with a different set of genetic coding for immunity than their own. This is probably because when there is greater genetic diversity between parents in this area, their children will have more versatile immune systems.” So, even if you don’t want kids, your biological intuition could be swaying your love life toward a person who just might be good parent material.

7. You use 146 muscles

Portrait of a happy young couple enjoying outdoors

Kissing employs lots of facial muscles. | iStock.com/Ridofranz

Kissing your partner hardly qualifies as a workout, but a full-blown make-out session does take a little muscle. Professor Gus McGrouther, one of the researchers who examined the physical nature of a kiss, told The Telegraph, “Not only do you use your facial muscles in kissing, but approximately 112 postural muscles as well.” So, there you have it: Kissing employs a total of 146 muscles. Planting one on your partner just may require a little more strength than you’d expect.

8. Couples who kiss frequently are satisfied with their relationship

Senior Couple Walking Through Sand

Long-term couples say kissing is very important. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

That’s right: Kissing frequency is linked to relationship satisfaction. Seeing as kissing is a passionate act of affection, it stands to reason that couples who lock lips more often than not tend to be happy with their partner. One study found couples in long-term relationships said kissing often was important and related to their overall satisfaction in the relationship. You can go ahead and give yourself, and your partner, a pat on the back if smooching is a top priority.

9. Kissing lowers stress levels

Couple man and woman lay cuddling on the bed

Kissing can help reduce stress. | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

If there’s any reason to lay one on your partner, this is it. According to a press release, kissing can ease stress and encourage bonding. Wendy Hill, professor of neuroscience, explains both men and women showed a decline in cortisol after smooching for 15 minutes, helping to prove the case for a decline in stress levels.

Even if you don’t have 15 minutes to lock lips, there’s merit in taking a few minutes out of your stress-filled day to connect with your loved one. It’s bound to put a smile on your face, if only temporarily.

10. Kissing can be a high, making you crave more of it

couple kissing and touching in bed

Kissing makes you want more, more, more! | iStock.com/Ondine32

There’s a reason most sexual experiences start with a kiss. Just think about the rush of feelings you get as soon as you and your partner touch lips. The act can spark all kinds of feel-good emotions. And it all comes down to science.

BuzzFeed says kissing propels you into a state of euphoria, thanks to endorphins released during the act. Additionally, you get a spike in dopamine, which controls the brain’s pleasure and reward center. So, when you kiss, you want more of it. More, more, more!