Happiness in Love

Your Kissing Chemistry May Be The Real Test Of True Compatibility

By Laura Schreffler

I didn’t wake up this morning and think ‘God, I want to be kissed’ (though to be honest, a lip-lock is something I crave most mornings, noons and nights) but the subject of smooching has repeatedly presented itself to me today. I heard Sixpence None the Richer‘s incredibly annoying song, ‘Kiss Me.’ Donna Sozio, author of The Man Whisperer, asked me to describe my idea of the perfect kiss for a book she’s writing. Finally, I read a study published in USA Today stating that the neurotransmitters and hormones stimulated by kissing give us a false sense of being in love; we mistake chemical reaction for emotion.

All day, I felt like John Cusack in Better Off Dead when he’s dumped by his hot girlfriend and then has to break his car radio in order to avoid hearing an endless amount of breakup songs. Except, unlike dear John (a.k.a. Lloyd Dobler a.k.a. Lane Meyer), I could hear songs about kissing all darn day and be happy. Blame my neurotransmitters, why don’t you?

Well, scientist Sheril Kirshenbaum does blame our heads and hearts from reacting along with our bodies. “There’s a chemical basis for what happens when our bodies meet at the lips,” she said, adding that when a perfect chemical reaction occurs, it can set the bar for long-term relationship compatibility. “A first kiss is nature’s ultimate litmus test,” she noted.

The idea inspired her to research and write The Science of Kissing. Her investigations have found that “there really is a chemical basis for falling in love” although she does believe that “trying to understand it [doesn’t take] any of the romance out of the equation.”

When we kiss, there is a rise in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for craving and desire. Simultaneously, our serotonin spikes to stimulate obsessive thoughts. Oxytocin, also called the ‘love hormone’, is involved in the bonding process, forcing us to form attachments. These chemical reactions, says Kirshenbaum, are responsible for many of the “symptoms” we associate with falling in love.

Biologist Claus Wedekind found that women are most attracted to guys who have a completely different genetic code immune system than their own in a region known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Meaning: this is often why opposites attract or you’re into a man you know you shouldn’t want.

Meanwhile, Helen Fisher, a research professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., found that there are four biological traits associated with different chemical systems in the brain and that these systems do make a difference in partner choice. “It now appears we are drawn to people who have fit particular biological profiles,” she has said.

She continues to say that there’s even a scientific explanation behind how a man likes to be kissed. “There’s evidence that men like sloppier kisses with a more open mouth,” Fisher claims. “That suggests to me that they are unconsciously attempting to transfer testosterone to trigger the sex drive to woman.”

She adds, “Kissing is just the tip of the iceberg. I think we’re going to find all kinds of other chemical systems are in play in courtship that we are unaware of.”

These scientists are definitely on to something. How else can I explain why I prefer Ryan Gosling over, say, Ryan Reynolds? Why else would we try to explain our attraction to a guy our friends might think is totally weird, apologetically stating, “I know he’s not conventionally cute, but I’m really into him.”?

I’m not saying that we can’t be into people if we don’t like their kissing styles, but here’s some food for thought: have you really and truly be into someone who didn’t set off some kind of spark in you, someone you can honestly say you had ‘chemistry’ with? I haven’t.

If you don’t trust science and you’re sick of logical ruling your heart, then at least listen to the sage words of wisdom from some true masters. Listen to Prince, who says, “You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on” or take a page out of Cher’s book when she croons, “If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss – that’s where it is.”

Go with whatever works for you. Whether you think there’s a rational explanation for attraction or believe in the more esoteric pull of a soulmate is your personal choice, so go with what makes you happy.

I’m content to think about kissing until the cows come home. It’s one of my very favorite things in the world to do. But the universe is trying to tell me something, whether it be about the perfect kiss or the perfect man. I just better not see a giant pair of Rocky Horror Picture Show lips in my dreams tonight, because if that’s somebody up there’s idea of a funny joke, I will not be amused. Just saying.






Filed Under: Blogs


About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of LoveTrekker.com — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out http://lovetrekker.com & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.

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