Romantic kissing is not universal

Romantic kissing is not universal

A recent study that examined 168 cultures to better understand where kissing does and does not occur and they found that not everyone kisses someone they love.

The romantic (sexual) kiss was present in fewer than 50 percent of the cultures, and in some cultures kissing was said to be distasteful or even gross, according to the study. It was most prevalent in the Middle East, where all 10 of the cultures studied engaged in kissing, while just 55 percent of North America cultures engaged in the practice along with 70 percent in Europe and 73 percent in Asia.

“We hypothesized that some cultures would either not engage in romantic/sexual kissing or find it to be a strange display of intimacy, but we were surprised to find that it was a majority of cultures that fell into this category,” said study leader Justin Garcia, assistant professor of gender studies at Indiana University, in a news release.

Garcia pointed out that kissing serves as a way to learn more about a partner, “whether one feels there is any ‘chemistry,’ or possibly to assess health via taste and smell, and in some ways to assess compatibility with each other.”

The study also found a relationship between social complexity and kissing: The more socially complex the culture, the more people involved in romantic kissing.

Some mental health experts say romantic kissing is an important part of the process of mutual discovery in a relationship.

“For those of us in cultures where romantic kissing is a norm, we seem to have been socialized to use romantic kissing as a vehicle for communicating our sexual and emotional desires and closeness, both at the beginning and throughout our relationships and encounters with others,” says Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Kissing appears to be like a window to intimacy and sexuality – a ‘gateway’ to furthering a relationship with another person. By kissing, we advance and affirm our relationship with that person.”

Dr. Roberts says that when people kiss it signifies a willingness to be vulnerable with another person, both sexually and emotionally. It has also been suggested that people kiss as a means of maintaining the emotional bond of a relationship.


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About the Author

Sonja Vojcic
Sonja Vojcic

Sonja Vojcic, health enews contributor, is a marketing manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill. She has several years of international public relations and marketing experience with a Master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. In her free time, Sonja enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and keeping up with the latest health news and fashion trends.