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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Soul Meeting Soul on Lovers' Lips: One Kiss Can Mean So Much

"See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven
If if disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss me not me?"

From Love's Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Only two other species are known to kiss as humans do, chimpanzees and bonobos, previously known as "pygmy chimpanzees." Zoologists say they kiss to communicate attachment and to reduce group social tensions. But only humans and bonobos kiss with their tongues during sex. Talk about animal attraction -- I guess that's what they call going "ape" after a mate.

Not to belabor the monkey business, but the bonobos are also known to give quick feels and rubs known as "bonobo handshakes" to certain parts of their partners' anatomies. You have to hand it to them: it seems these sexy creatures are very romantic. (OK, I quit the stupid puns and references. It's just the way my mind works.)

Like humans, bonobos kiss, hold hands (and feet!) and most anything else at hand, and gaze into one another's eyes while having sex.

It is reported that feeding time in bonobo society is the peak time for sexual interaction. Paoli et al. found that non-reproductive sexual interactions peak during feeding times and reproductive copulations were rare. Evidently sex before eating foods works for great stress reduction as it reduces fighting over table scraps.

Which, in a round-about way, brings me to today's blog entry. Don't all of us homo sapiens love luscious lips? What we wouldn't do to kiss those pulpy objects of our affection. Great writers have written of their charms. Consider Tennyson:

“A man had given all other bliss, and all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss upon her perfect lips…”

--Alfred Lord Tennyson


We interpret the world through our mouths in so many more ways than we consciously know. Even the color red takes on anthropological significance... those "red, red lips" like "ripe fruit" rewards.

Medical doctors contend that the lips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Human lips enjoy the slimmest layer of skin on the human body, and the lips are among the most densely populated with sensory neurons of any body region. Lips are 100 times more sensitive than the tips of the fingers. Not even genitals have as much sensitivity as lips.

 (William Case. The Art of Kissing. 1995)

And so, arguably, lips are the most sensual human body part. Lips are the upper and lower fleshy external margins of the mouth. When people kiss, these neurons, along with those in the tongue and mouth, rocket messages to the brain and body, setting off delightful sensations, intense emotions and physical reactions. Kissing magically ignites these pleasurable processes that often lead to love and happiness.

The English word lips traces its history to the Old English lippa, the Old High German lefs, the Swedish lapp, and Danish laebe, and ultimately to the Proto-Indo-European "to lick; lip" (the source also of) Latin labium. And that explains much of the storied connections between the lips of the mouth and the lips of the inner folds of the vulva -- a "genital echo" (according to Desmond Morris) if you will.

Sorry, but facts are facts, and if I am going to write about the attraction of human lips, I had to get the obvious vaginal reference out of the way before waxing more romantic. Of course, lips are primary tools of kissing, and kissing is perhaps the most stimulating response to sensual desires. In this entry, I'm sticking to mouth to mouth referencing. The reader is free to search for more elsewhere.

The lips are the lovely portals to the art of kissing, and understanding the lips is essential to someone wanting to hone their exotic skills. Kissing is the first physical expression of serious attraction between two people. A person’s first romantic kiss is acknowledged as a huge step towards growing up. Just how important is learning to use the lips? Evidently, extremely important.

 “A kiss,” a wit once said, “can be a comma, period, question mark, or exclamation point.” Yes, one kiss can even terminate ... it can end a budding relationship.

Men and women employ their lips to find compatibility. In a recent survey Gallup and his colleagues found that 59 percent of 58 men and 66 percent of 122 women admitted there had been times when they were attracted to some­one only to find that their interest evaporated after their first kiss. The “bad” kisses had no particular flaws; they simply "did not feel right" -- and they ended the romantic relationship then and there -- a kiss of death for that potential coupling.

"Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again."

From Sweet Peril by George MacDonald

One kiss? If a single kiss is likely to be the key to lifelong happiness, it would seem people should put more effort into acquiring some "kissing proficiency" than just launching into the old trial and error method. And, how could something get more vague about bad technique: it "simply did not feel right"?

Men seem to be the worst "bad kiss" offenders. Maybe a little research might help us, guys. For example, the Kama Sutra lists over 30 types of kisses, such as “fighting of the tongue.”

"She winced at the old sweet term of endearment, 
then with a sharp intake of breath she raised her lips to his." 
From The Fighting Shepherdess by Caroline Lockhart

Numerous researchers have studied the scientific workings of kissing. Oh yeah, everyone knows the theory of "a perfect kiss" -- right head tilts, lips coming softly together -- then, mouths opening and tongues contacting in a never-ending moment of erotic bliss. Yet, how best to work those all-important lips remains clouded in mystery.

Aids for better lips include applying lip balm, doing lip muscle exercises, exfoliating with sugar, smiling and establishing eye contact, and, of course, maintaining proper oral hygiene. Experts say the most excellent and most pleasant method of kissing is the one that makes use of diverse variations such as gentle kissing, going into a French kiss, and ultimately sucking both the upper and lower lip.

Incidentally, men, if you think the time is right for the first big "lip lock" but you are petrified at doing it wrong, why not try some reverse psychology? Let her teach you by example.

Seductively whisper in your date's ear, "Kiss me like you like it." Let your partner lead and then reciprocate in the like manner. If the first time everything doesn't go quite right, simply repeat the process all over again. Once source says chances are that your partner will feel that this is a fun, sexy, new game that the both of you are playing together.

But, amorous kissing is not just boisterous, hormonal exercise. Dexterous kissing is defined as a skillful "dance" that involves constant interplay of lips, tongues, and moist warm breath. Brushing lips, nibbling lips, running the tongue over lips -- the lips excite sensual ecstasy. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley defined kissing as “soul meeting soul on lovers’ lips.” Aficionados of kissing definitely put considerable soul into lip mastery.

“The moment eternal – just that and no more
- When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet!”

 --Robert Browning


Naturally, like everything else, there is a science of kissing called philematology. It examines kissing from a biological perspective and studies, among other things, pheromones and the chemicals released in the brain while kissing.
we kiss exactly the same way. Both are heads tilt to the right, are lips come softly together, our mouths open and, wait for it, our tongues come into contact and swirl around each other in a never ending moment of erotic bliss. - See more at:

Susan M. Hughes of Albright College, performed a study on kissing -- why people do it, and how members of either gender react to it differently. She found that in general, women judge their partners as potential mates through their kiss. They found that taste and smell were more important to women in a kiss, and that “Women were much more likely to say they would refuse to have sex with a bad kisser.”

It seems the twain does never meet because, according to one study, many men are more particular about which women they kissed than with whom they had sex. So men, it seems you want to kiss the keepers more than the bumpers? You better do some serious work on those lips, Romeo.

But, wouldn't you know it, fellows, reading the minds of women is almost impossible. The research also suggested that women were more likely to kiss just for the sake of kissing, while men were more likely to assume that kissing would lead to sex.

As a confused male, I think this means if you are a bad kisser, then, buddy, you will either strike out or stay glued to first base with that object of your desire, so quit dreaming of "rounding third and heading home" with your dream girl unless you learn how to "loose those hot lips." We know what we want but we don't know how best to get it. Maybe working out the muscles of the lips is more important that benching 300 pounds when it comes to sensual attraction.

(Emmaline Keddy-Hector. "The Importance of a Kiss." February 13, 2008)

Studies show that men are more likely than women to initiate kissing with tongue contact and for a good reason. Helen Fisher (2009) proposed that men's saliva contains testosterone, which they unconsciously transfer to women to increase the latter's sex drive.

On the basis of brain imaging, Fisher proposes that there are three distinct brain systems involved in mating and reproduction: sex drive, romantic love, and attachment. Sex drive compels us to seek partners, romantic love tells us to commit to one, and attachment helps us "tolerate this person at least long enough" to have a child, she said. Kissing evolved to stimulate all three of these systems, she said.

(Elizabeth Landau. "Pucker Up: Scientists Study Kissing." CNN. February 13, 2009)

Likewise, men use the woman's saliva to learn about the woman's fertility. Colin Hendrie and Gayle Brewer (2009) outline various benefits, at a viral level, that can be gained through kissing.

And, the good news is that kissing has many health benefits. It burns calories (Passionate kissing burns 6.4 calories a minute.), stimulates the cardiovascular system, relieves stress, improves facial muscles (Up to 34 are involved in a kiss with the most important muscle in kissing, the orbicularis oris, which allows the lips to pucker.), helps teeth (The anticipation of a kiss increases the flow of saliva to the mouth, giving the teeth a plaque-dispersing bath.), and even reduces hay fever.

 (William Case. The Art of Kissing. 1995)

The mouth is full of bacteria. When two people kiss, they exchange between 10 million and 1 billion bacteria. Yet, in fact, you don't even have to worry much about passing bad germs when kissing: doctors say kissing is even healthier than shaking hands if you suffer a cold. It rarely happens that viruses are transmitted through a kiss but more will be transmitted if you shake hands.

Medical studies found kissing boosts levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and the endorphins. Dopamine regulates sexual desire while serotonin and endorphins elevate mood. Kissing also increases blood levels of the hormone oxytocin, which mediates interpersonal attachment, and decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Researchers were surprised to find that oxytocin levels rose only in the males, whereas it decreased in the females, after either kissing or talking while holding hands. They concluded that females must require more than a kiss to feel emotionally connected or sexually excited during physical contact, as if we men didn't already know about a woman's need to "get into the mood." Lips play a major role both relaxation and in stimulation.

 (Maryanne Fisher, Ph.D. "You Must Kiss More Than The Lips."  
Psychology Today. April 30, 2010) 

Kissing has other primal effects as well. Visceral marching orders boost pulse and blood pressure. The pupils dilate, breathing deepens and rational thought retreats, as desire suppresses both prudence and self-consciousness.

Because women need to invest more energy in producing children and have a shorter biological window in which to reproduce, they need to be pickier about whom they choose for a partner—and they cannot afford to get it wrong. So, at least for women, a passionate kiss may help them choose a  good father committed enough to stick around and raise children.

(Chip Walter. "Affairs of the Lips: Why We Kiss." Scientific American. January 31, 2008)

Some suggest that kissing is genetic, that humans are hard-wired to do it, but others say it's learned.  
Most experts believe kissing is probably not strictly necessary from an evolutionary point of view. Most other animals do not neck and still manage to produce plenty of offspring. Not even all humans kiss.

Author in Residence at the Mellon Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (Last Ape Standing), Chip Walter found...

"At the turn of the 20th century Danish scientist Kristoffer Nyrop described Finnish tribes whose members bathed together but considered kissing indecent. In 1897 French anthropologist Paul d’Enjoy reported that the Chinese regard mouth-to-mouth kissing to be as horrifying as many people deem cannibalism to be. In Mongolia some fathers do not kiss their sons. (They smell their heads instead.)

"In fact, up to 10 percent of humanity does not touch lips, according to human ethology pioneer Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, now head of the Max-Planck-Society Film Archive of Human Ethology in Andechs, Germany, writing in his 1970 book, Love and Hate: The Natural History of Behavior Patterns. Fisher published a similar figure in 1992. Their findings suggest that some 650 million members of the human species have not mastered the art of osculation, the scientific term for kissing; that is more than the population of any nation on earth except for China and India."

The Four Vedic Sanskrit texts (1500 B.C.) contain the first mention of a kiss in writing. Ancient Europeans kissed, but references in ancient Greek literature suggests that the practice was less frequent 2,000 years ago than it is among Europeans today.

Most world cultures kiss, but not all. Europeans introduced the practice to the indigenous peoples of Australia, Tahiti, and several locales in Africa. In some Asian cultures, lovers kiss only in private. Doing so in public is considered indecent.

"In this world the lips touch but lightly,
And no taste of sweetness remains;
I dream of a kiss that will last

--Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme

Those Remarkable Lips

The lips are remarkable, sophisticated structures. They are extremely erogenous when used in kissing and in other acts of intimacy. It has been shown that the more oestrogen a woman has, the larger her eyes and the fuller her lips, characteristics which are perceived as more feminine. Surveys performed by sexual psychologists have also found that universally, men find a woman's full lips to be more sexually attractive than lips that are less so.

A woman's lipstick (or collagen lip enhancement) attempts to take advantage of this fact by creating the illusion that a woman has more oestrogen than she actually has, and thus that she is more fertile and attractive.

In general, the researchers found that a small nose, big eyes and voluptuous lips are sexually attractive both in men and women.

I Love You

"I love your lips when they’re wet with wine 
And red with a wild desire; 
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
Lit with a passionate fire. 
I love your arms when the warm white flesh 
Touches mine in a fond embrace; 
I love your hair when the strands enmesh 
Your kisses against my face. 

Not for me the cold, calm kiss 
Of a virgin’s bloodless love; 
Not for me the saint’s white bliss, 
Nor the heart of a spotless dove. 
But give me the love that so freely gives 
And laughs at the whole world’s blame, 
With your body so young and warm in my arms, 
It sets my poor heart aflame.

So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth, 
Still fragrant with ruby wine, 
And say with a fervor born of the South 
That your body and soul are mine. 
Clasp me close in your warm young arms, 
While the pale stars shine above, 
And we’ll live our whole young lives away 
In the joys of a living love."

 --Ella Wheeler Wilcox 

Whatever the attraction, lips are little body parts with tremendous potential. Researchers, for all they know, say men they need to be more creative with their lips. They are too machine-like and repetitive when kissing.

On the other hand, many men say women need to hold back less, initiate kissing more, and use more tongue.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing, says there are probably two reasons why research into kissing is so limited.

* “Perhaps kissing seems so commonplace that few of us have paused to reflect on its deeper significance,” she writes.

* “Or it’s possible the subject has been intentionally avoided under the microscope given the challenges of interpreting what a kiss really means.”

"Men and women view kissing very differently. Men see kissing as a means to an end, so maybe they're swapping saliva to swap other bodily fluids later. Whereas, women try to extracate the significance of their relationship based on a single kiss. 
And often this leads to a lot of miscommunication" 

Sheril Kirshenbaum: Science of the Kiss
: Click
The Science of Kissing -- Science Study Break: Click  

Extra added stimulus: Some words that have been used to describe those sensual and sexy lips:

  • beautiful swollen
  • full and throbbing
  • parted pulsing with the inflow of warm, sensual blood
  • sipped them
  • suckled them
  • soft and pink
  • trembling, swollen
  • two swollen, ripe plums
  • captured them
  • suckled them
  • wet 
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