Is Kissing More Important Than Sex? New Study Says, Maybe

Who'd have thought it? A new study says kissing, not sex, helps romantic partners feel more connected.

According to The New York Times' Jan Hoffman, while sex might be an outcome of kissing,"Researchers did not find sexual arousal to be the primary driver for kissing."

Hoffman reports that participants in the survey were asked about their attitudes toward kissing in different phases of romantic relationships -- before sex, during sex and after sex.  They were also asked whether they were more inclined to have many casual sexual relationships, or more committed ones.

Experts earlier thought kissing had something to do with finding mates.  The kiss could help people decide whether the "kissee" was mating material.

But the truly interesting part (to me, at least) was the stage of a relationship at which kissing was felt to be the most important.  Past research has shown that women, those who rate themselves as highly attractive, and those who favor casual sex, are choosier in picking mates.  In this study, these people said that kissing was important mostly at the start of a relationship, Hoffman notes.

The theory is that these women find kissing to be a quick way to determine whether a man is someone they really want to be with.  "If it’s not in his kiss, forget about him," Hoffman writes.

But men who rate themselves as less sexually attractive and people looking for a more committed relationship tended to rate kissing as not that important at the beginning of a relationship.

For both men and women looking for a committed relationship, kissing was equally important to them before sex and at “other times not related to sex.” For these participants, kissing was least important during sex.

Among the study’s participants who said they were in exclusive relationships, frequency of kissing, rather than of sexual intercourse, was best correlated with relationship happiness, Hoffman says.

“You would think that intercourse would be even more bonding, more intimate, but that’s not necessarily so,” Rafael Wlodarski, a doctoral candidate and lead author of the study, told Hoffman.  “Maybe you have a happy relationship and you don’t need more intercourse.” For contented couples, he said, kissing continued to be a way to show emotion.


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