Red Flag: No Kissing

My partner from my last serious relationship didn’t kiss. Well, with the exception of a peck on the lips to say goodbye, good night, or welcome home. But, REAL kissing, NO. When we first started dating there was kissing but he soon informed me that he’s “not really a kisser” and the kissing stopped. I mean, I didn’t want him to do something he wasn’t comfortable with—so I stopped trying to REALLY kiss him. This was probably a relief fore him; but for me, it was a red flag. However, I chose to ignore it because I really, really liked him and there were other aspects of our developing relationship that I liked very much.

As our relationship became more established and it was clear that we were going to be a “couple”, the issue of not kissing began to creep back into my thoughts. I felt as if there was something wrong with me because he didn’t want to show me the ultimate sign of affection and love—kissing. It bothered me because I felt that it was the most intimate show of affection, attraction, and sort of all-around fondness—the type of fondness that one only has for someone they love in an intimate way.  Did this mean he didn’t truly love me, wasn’t really attracted to me, or wasn’t really attached/committed to me? Well, maybe.

Researches have found that kissing is way more complicated and meaningful than most people realize. Studies have shown that not only is kissing used, instinctively, as a mate assessment “tool”, but that “kissing might also signal commitment because of the intimacy of the act. It necessarily requires breaching personal boundaries (Wlodarski and Dunbar)”.  Of course, with the associated closeness of the act, there is also a biological aspect of it. Not only is it a “highly intimate and arousing activity, [it] release[es] various neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the brain thought to be responsible for increased feelings of attachment”. Interestingly, it has also been found that kissing is erotically more important to women than to men.

Scientific studies reveal that “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. As a result, kissing reduces anxiety and blood pressure (Castleman 2013).  Furthermore, research on the physiological effects of kissing “show that men are more likely than women to initiate kissing with tongue contact. The reason is unclear, but saliva contains trace amounts of testosterone, the hormone responsible for sexual desire in both men and women. Researchers speculate that unconsciously men may open their mouths to deliver this hormone and perhaps increase women’s sexual receptivity (Castleman)”.

Why We Kiss The Lips

Further research indicates that

“kissing [is] also generally seen as more important in long-term relationship contexts (but particularly so by women), and kissing frequency [is] found to be related to relationship satisfaction”.  Most participants in this research indicated that kissing is even more important than sex.  Additionally, Wlodarski and Dunbar found that “having a partner who [is] a ‘good’ kisser, greater frequency of kissing in the relationship, greater satisfaction with the amount of kissing, [are] all positively associated with relationship quality, while the frequency sex in the relationship, [is] not significantly related to relationship quality”.

What is the Psychology of Kissing?

This means that the quality of a relationship is often correlated to the activities involving kissing in a relationship–and not so much correlated to sex, as many assume.

So, if your partner is unwilling to kiss or dislikes kissing, could it mean that they have intimacy or attachment issues? Possibly. Because kissing is such an intimate act, they could be unable to genuinely connect on an intimate level with you (or someone, in general, if not you). Personally, I find the inability to connect on such a level a huge red flag. Perhaps they’re really just not into kissing and it’s truly a non-issue; or maybe they’re merely a self-conscious kisser. There IS a possibility that it means nothing having to do with intimacy issues at all; but chances are that there ARE issues you need to be aware of and consider. Experience has taught me that you must pay attention to red flags.

What is the Psychology of Kissing?

Why We Kiss The Lips

For more references (I didn’t include all of them) Google some phrases with “Kissing” and “Psychology” or “Biology”. For best results, use Google Scholar.

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