some of you might remember that over the last few month I mentioned the new paradigm of sexuality and romantic relationships, that is now arising in the world. The one thing that I found funny on this article, is that the author is mentioning the Egyptian tradition and how ancient Egyptian art portraits rather breathing than kissing. And that is one of the most beautiful tools of connection between the sexes, an exchange of conscious breathing. I hope you are having a good time with this lovely read!!
Love and Big Kiss!!
A new study finds that half of human cultures don’t practice romantic lip-on-lip kissing. Animals don’t tend to bother either. So how did it evolve? When you think about it, kissing is strange and a bit icky. You share saliva with someone, sometimes for a prolonged period of time. One kiss could pass on 80 million bacteria, not all of them good. Yet everyone surely remembers their first kiss, in all its embarrassing or delightful detail, and kissing continues to play a big role in new romances. At least, it does in some societies. People in western societies may assume that romantic kissing is a universal human behavior, but a new analysis suggests that less than half of all cultures actually do it. Kissing is also extremely rare in the animal kingdom. So what’s really behind this odd behavior? If it is useful, why don’t all animals do it – and all humans too? It turns out that the very fact that most animals don’t kiss helps explain why some do. Kissing could be quite a recent invention.
According to a new study of kissing preferences, which looked at 168 cultures from around the world, only 46% of cultures kiss in the romantic sense. The study overturns the belief that romantic kissing is a near-universal human behavior. Previous estimates had put the figure at 90%. The new study excluded parents kissing their children, and focused solely on romantic lip-on-lip action between couples. Many hunter-gatherer groups showed no evidence of kissing or desire to do so. Some even considered it revolting. The Mehinaku tribe in Brazil reportedly said it was “gross”. Humans lived in hunter-gatherer groups for most of our existence, until the invention of farming around 10,000 years ago. If modern hunter-gatherer groups do not practice romantic kissing, it is possible that our ancestors did not do so either. However we cannot be certain of this, as modern hunter-gatherer groups do not live in the same ways as the ancestral hunter-gatherers, because their societies have changed and adapted in the meantime.Regardless, the study overturns the belief that romantic kissing is a near-universal human behavior, says lead author William Jankowiak of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Instead it seems to be a product of western societies, passed on from one generation to the next, he says. There is some to back that up. Kissing as we do it today seems to be a fairly recent invention, says Rafael Wlodarski of the University of Oxford in the UK. He has trawled through records to find evidence of how kissing has changed. Is kissing something we do naturally? The oldest evidence of a kissing-type behavior comes from Hindu Vedic Sanskrit texts from over 3,500 years ago. Kissing was described as inhaling each others soul. In contrast, Egyptian hieroglyphics picture people close to each other rather than pressing their lips together.
So what is going on? Is kissing something we do naturally, but that some cultures have suppressed? Or is it something modern humans have invented? We can find some insight by looking at animals. Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, do kiss. Primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has seen many instances of chimps kissing and hugging after conflict. As far as we know, other animals do not kiss at all. For chimpanzees, kissing is a form of reconciliation. It is more common among males than females. In other words, it is not a romantic behavior. Their cousins the bonobos kiss more often, and they often use tongues while doing so. That’s perhaps not surprising, because bonobos are highly sexual beings. When two humans meet, we might shake hands. Bonobos have sex: the so-called bonobo handshake. They also use sex for many other kinds of bonding. So their kisses are not particularly romantic, either. These two apes are exceptions. As far as we know, other animals do not kiss at all. They may nuzzle or touch their faces together, but even those that have lips don’t share saliva or purse and smack their lips together. They don’t need to.Take wild boars. Males produce a pungent smell that females find extremely attractive. The key chemical is a pheromone called androstenone that triggers the females’ desire to mate. Animals often release these pheromones in their urine. From a female’s point of view this is a good thing, because males with the most androstonene are also the most fertile. Her sense of smell is so acute, she doesn’t need to get close enough to kiss the male. The same is true of many other mammals. For example, female hamsters emit a pheromone that gets males very excited. Mice follow similar chemical traces to help them find partners that are genetically different, minimizing the risk of accidental incest. “If there’s urine present in the environment they can assess compatibility through that.” The point is, animals do not need to get close to each other to smell out a good potential mate.
On the other hand, humans have an atrocious sense of smell, so we benefit from getting close. Smell isn’t the only cue we use to assess each others fitness, but studies have shown that it plays an important role in mate choice. Men also make a version of the pheromone that female boars find attractive. A study published in 1995 showed that women, just like mice, prefer the smell of men who are genetically different from them. This makes sense, as mating with someone with different genes is likely to produce healthy offspring. Kissing is a great way to get close enough to sniff out your partner’s genes. In 2013, Wlodarski examined kissing preferences in detail. He asked several hundred people what was most important when kissing someone. How they smelled featured highly, and the importance of smell increased when women were most fertile. It turns out that men also make a version of the pheromone that female boars find attractive. It is present in male sweat, and when women are exposed to it their arousal levels increase slightly. Pheromones are a big part of how mammals chose a mate, says Wlodarski, and we share some of them. “We’ve inherited all of our biology from mammals, we’ve just added extra things through evolutionary time.” You could let go of kissing and start smelling people instead. On that view, kissing is just a culturally acceptable way to get close enough to another person to detect their pheromones. In some cultures, this sniffing behavior turned into physical lip contact. It’s hard to pinpoint when this happened, but both serve the same purpose, says Wlodarski. You’ll find just as good a partner when you smell them, and you won’t get half as many germs. Be prepared for some funny looks, though.
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