Making out. Puckering up. Smooching. Snogging. Lip-locking. Tongue-wrestling. Rounding first base. Sucking-face. Whatever you call it, one of our favorite facts about kissing is that it can contribute to falling in love.
We’ve already given you the scoop on what the ladies really think of kissing, dished on the secret health benefits of kisses, and given you invaluable tips on how to kiss and make out. Now, we’re taking it one step further with an impressive list of eyebrow-raising facts about kissing and interesting tidbits about smacking lips.
Consider it your introductory Philematology 101 class (which, you’ll come to find out, is the scholarly study of kissing).
Here are 15 facts about kissing you probably didn’t know.
1. Your kissing style originates in the womb.
See a kiss in any Hollywood movie, painting, or sculpture and more often than not, you’ll see couples leaning to the right. Why is that?
A German researcher observed over 100 couples and noted that two-thirds of them tilted their heads to the right. The scientific community at large theorizes that this instinct originates from the womb when we naturally tilted our heads to the right.
Why do we kiss on the lips? We kiss on the lips because, in plain terms, it feels really good. Our lips have more nerve endings than any part of our body so kissing on the lips is a natural way to experience pleasure and feel-good hormones.
2. Kissing takes serious muscle power.
One kiss requires 146 muscles to coordinate, including 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles. A team of British researchers — Elaine Sassoon, Annabelle Dytham, Robert Scully, and Professor Gus McGrouther from the Rayne Institute in University College, London — studied kissing couples under an MRI scanner and found that a kiss mostly involves the orbicularis oris (the muscle around your mouth).
What are the benefits of kissing? There are lots of beneficial things that you can experience from kissing, but one interesting fact is that kissing can help strengthen your face muscles. “Not only do you use your facial muscles in kissing, but approximately 112 postural muscles as well,” Professor McGrouther said to The Telegraph. Yikes, sounds like a serious facial workout!
3. Our love of kissing comes from rats.
Kazushige Touhara and colleagues at the University of Tokyo believe that our affinity for kisses descends from an ancient rat. Mice and men have a surprisingly similar genetic makeup — sharing a common ancestor that lived sometime between 75 and 125 million years ago.
This ancient rat-like creature went by the name of Eomaia scansoria (Eomaia, Greek for “ancient mother,” and scansoria, Latin for “climber”). The science team theorizes that this creature would rub noses with a mate to sample his or her pheromones and signal desire. So, basically, human kissing is really rodent behavior. Who knew?
4. The history of “X” behind XOXO traces back to the Middle Ages.
We use “XOXO” as an affectionate afterthought to our signature all the time in cards and love letters, but not many people know its origin story.
Historians trace it back to the Middle Ages when most people couldn’t read or write. The peasants used to mark “X” as a stand-in signature and then kissed the document as an added gesture of sincerity.
5. A king once decreed that kissing be outlawed.
On July 16, 1439, King Henry VI banned mouth-to-mouth kissing in England. His reasoning? It was to curtail the spread of disease in the kingdom. Duly note that his mental breakdown around 1453 required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom. (So that’s the level of crazy we were dealing with at this time.)
This went on to spur a lot of other weird smooching bans all over the world. Later in 16th Century Naples, not only was kissing in public banned, but it was punishable by death as well.
6. French kissers caused commuter headaches.
Ever heard of the term french kiss? Apparently, in the early 20th Century, so many French commuters were getting frisky on the train that they had to ban kissing altogether.
So whenever you feel the train slow to a stop and hear the conductor’s drone voice call out over the intercom that the train has stopped “due to a sick passenger aboard the train ahead,” you might have an idea of what’s up.
What are the side effects of kissing? Unfortunately, diseases and infections can be spread through kissing. Diseases like mono, also known as infectious mononucleosis, and infections with side effects like cold sores, glandular fever, tooth decay.
7. The luck of the Irish comes with a kiss.
Call it the (germ-infested) luck o’ the Irish. Over 400,000 tourists gather to kiss the Blarney Stone near Cork, Ireland, every year — dubbing it the most “unhygienic” tourist attraction in the world. According to local legend, those who bend over backward to kiss the stone are “greatly” rewarded with “the gift of the gab,” essentially meaning flattery.
So if you’re looking to obtain the name of a sweet talker, you might want to take a trip to Blarney Castle. But be warned! It’s been said that people have fallen to their deaths attempting the superstitious feat.
8. We almost didn’t have epic movie kisses.
“Titanic.” “Casablanca.” “Gone With The Wind.” Some of the greatest kisses in Hollywood history almost never happened. Why? Back in 1930, a set of censorship regulations called The Hays Code prohibited acting couples from kissing in a horizontal position (as in, lying down). Also, married couples had to sleep in twin beds on screen and, if kissing action did happen on beds, one actor had to have their foot on the ground.
Oh yeah, and they couldn’t kiss for longer than three seconds. Not exactly the picture of romance, right?
Well, directors had a way around this. While filming the 1946 film Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock had Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant repeatedly kiss, briefly disrupted by dialogue and movement. It’s now considered one of the sexiest movie scenes of the time. Luckily, this pain of a ban dropped in the late 1960s.
9. People make careers out of the science of kissing.
Just in case you were so into kissing that you wanted to make a career out of it, the study of kissing is better known as philematology. And someone who studies kissing wears the title of osculologist. (That sounds like a cheesy bro T-shirt.)
10. This couple’s record-breaking kiss is incredible.
According to the Guinness World Records, the record for the longest-lasting kiss goes to Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat of Thailand. These champion smoochers locked lips for 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds. (No word on if they got bathroom breaks, but we’re thinking that would have been a mood-killer.)
11. Kissing saves lives.
If your man isn’t big on PDA, this might convince him otherwise. A famous study from Clorox once determined that men who kiss and get a peck on the cheek from their wives before heading out to work lived five years longer than their kissless counterparts. A kiss increases your immunity can also lower blood pressure, de-stress you, and lessen anxiety as your heart rate increases and dilates your blood vessels.
12. The Italians are expert kissers. Everyone else? Not so much.
C’mon, guys, this is a depressing statistic. According to The Normal Bar, only a little over half of the world’s lovers kiss passionately. Take notes from the Italians. They know their romance.
13. The average person spends two weeks of his or her life kissing.
Experts estimate that the average person will spend 20,160 minutes of his or her lifetime kissing. In other words, that’s your senior spring break in college. So what happens in Cabo becomes a statistic.
14. Looking for The One? Kiss this many guys…
That’s a lot of frogs to find your prince. But that’s the price of true love, right? A British study commissioned by eHarmony to release with The Rose Project tracked the number of dates, breakups, and one-night stands it takes for men and women to find lasting love — and kisses weren’t left out of the equation. It determined that it takes 15 kisses for women and 16 for men.
15. Kissing has amazing health benefits.
Making out with your partner is just what the doctor prescribed. Kissing can burn calories (specifically, about two to three calories per minute), strengthens your immune system, relieves aches and pains, and prevents cavities! I mean, who knew kissing burns calories and that swapping spit could be healthy?
Alexandra Churchill is a digital editor based in New York City. She currently works for Martha Stewart Living. Her work has been featured on numerous sites including The Huffington Post, Her Campus, USA TODAY College, and Northshore and Ocean Home magazine.