What men and women want in a kiss

KISSING is a near universal phenomenon occurring between sexual and/or romantic partners in over 90% of human cultures. While almost everyone kisses there is very little information around on why people kiss or what makes a kiss spectacular.

In an effort to at least get simple descriptive information on why people kiss and what makes some kisses an experience that makes one weak in the knees Susan Hughes, from Albright College in Pennsylvania, evaluated 1,041 college students. She asked then questions about their kissing preferences, styles, attitudes and behaviors. A wealth of information emerged. Here are a few of the most interesting findings.

- Men and women reported having kissed a similar number of people in their lives; 14 was the average number for both men and women
- About 50% of men would have sex without kissing their partner first; only 10% of women would do so.
- Men want to kiss someone based on their perception of facial attraction, women focus more on a man’s teeth in deciding if they would like to kiss him.
- Kissing seems to be more important before sex and much less so after.
- Overall, kissing is more important for women than for men in having a satisfying sexual experience.
- Overall men prefer wetter kisses with more tongue than do women.
- Both sexes preferred more tongue with long-term partners.
- Men are more than twice as likely to have sex with a bad kisser than are women.
- 59% of men and 66% of women have been put off by a potential partner’s kiss at some point in their romantic lives.

The authors conclude that women emphasize kissing as a means of evaluating a potential mate and to monitor the ongoing status of a relationship. Men employ kissing as a way to get sex and to affect conflict resolution. While the evolutionary role of kissing is certainly not settled, these results do bring attention to the fact that kissing plays a critical role both in developing and in maintaining romantic relationships.

Hughes, S.M., Harrison, M.A., and Gallup, G.G. Jr. (2007) Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology 2007. 5(3): 612-631

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