If kissing can cause so much damage, why are we evolutionarily hard-wired for the activity? Our lips are extroverted; puckered out. They’re loaded with nerve endings that send all kinds of confusing signals to other body parts. Smooching brings into play five of our 12 cranial nerves; firing off electric impulses that make us drunk with warm and fuzzy feelings. There’s only one other animal on earth kissing like humans do: the bonobo ape, which seems comical until you realize bonobos and people are about 99% similar.
Some scientists think kissing evolved from mouth-to-mouth food transference, which is how we used to feed each other -- giving new meaning to the phrase, “You eat like a bird.” Others believe kissing is a way for our DNA to seek out desirable genes; evidenced by certain scents and tastes. By design, our major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes push us to pursue people with genes different from our own.
And kissing has health benefits: stress reduction, metabolism booster... sucking face even improves saliva flow which can help to keep a healthy mouth. In face, locking lips can actually help build immunity to non-life-threatening viruses and bacteria which, in the long run, might help you stave off disease.
No bets placed, though, on what you’ll catch in the process.
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Nicole Caldwell is Thrillist’s Sex and Dating editor who kisses -- and tells.