In my article Casanova or Caveman – What His Kissing Style Says, I listed 8 things you can tell about a man just by how he kisses. The list was based on some chats I have had with friends and from personal experience. As it so happens, I wasn’t alone interested in kissing as an indicator of potential partners selection. A study by Oxford University researchers also suggests that kissing helps us size up potential partners and, once in a relationship, may be a way of getting a partner to stick around.
The researchers report their findings in two papers, one in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior and the second in the journal Human Nature, both published by Springer. They were funded by the European Research Council.
The survey responses showed that women rated kissing as generally more important in relationships than men. Furthermore, men and women who rated themselves as being attractive, or who tended to have more short-term relationships and casual encounters, also rated kissing as being more important.
While high levels of arousal might be a consequence of kissing (particularly as a prelude to sex), the researchers say it does not appear to be a driving factor that explains why we kiss in romantic relationships.
Other findings included:
* In short relationships, survey participants said kissing was most important before sex, less so during sex, was less important again after sex and was least important at other times. In committed relationships, where forming and maintain a lasting bond is an important goal, kissing was equally important before sex and at times not-related to sex.
* More frequent kissing in a relationship was linked to the quality of a relationship, while this wasn’t the case for having more sex. However, people’s satisfaction with the amount of both kissing and sex did tally with the quality of that relationship.
* In a companion paper in the journal Human Nature, the researchers report that women’s attitudes to romantic kissing also depend on where in their menstrual cycle and their relationship they are. Women valued kissing most at initial stages of a relationship when they were in the part of their cycle when they are most likely to conceive.
Previous studies have shown that hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle can change a woman’s preferences for a potential mate. When chances of conceiving are highest, women seem to prefer men who display supposed signals of underlying genetic fitness, such as masculinized faces, facial symmetry, social dominance, and genetic compatibility.
It appears that kissing a romantic potential partner at this time helps women assess the genetic quality of a potential mate, the researchers say.