Your whole body reacts when you kiss. Your blood vessels dilate, and your heart rate increases, making your body open to more oxygen than it normally receives. You smell your kissing partner, which has been shown to affect a person's emotions. And when you kiss, the nerves in your face carry impulses to your brain, causing your body to produce several hormones that all contribute to a feeling of euphoria, such as:
- Oxytocin, which is involved in feelings of attachment and affection between people.
- Dopamine, which helps the brain process pleasure, pain and emotions.
- Serotonin, which plays a big role in determining a person's mood.
- Adrenaline, which is what gives you a rush when you kiss. It increases your heart rate and feeds your "fight-or-flight" response.
Interestingly enough, scientists are split as to exactly why humans kiss. One theory is that it is a learned behavior that is passed from one generation to another. These researchers theorize that kissing began when primitive human mothers fed their children by chewing food and then passing it to the child's mouth. Other scientists believe that kissing is instinctive. These researchers point to a close human cousin, the bonobo ape, as an example. These primates frequently kiss each other for many different reasons, as well as for no reason at all. They also point out that many other species engage in kissing-like behavior to support that idea that the practice is an instinctive one.
While it's unlikely you'll find many people who dislike kissing, regardless of why they do it, the activity often gets a bad rap for the spread of infectious mononucleosis, otherwise known as "the kissing disease." While it's true you can get mono from kissing (it spreads via saliva), you can get it just as easily by exposure to someone's coughing or sneezing, or even sharing food handling items, such as a straw or spoon, with someone who has mono [source: Mayo Clinic].
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