By JENNY PRUITT CLEVELAND
“It’s all in the kiss, Jenny.” That’s what my next-door neighbor Tony told me. His gray hair is buzzed short, his eyes are hazy blue, his smoothly wrinkled hands rest on his knees. His favorite spot is under the old crabapple tree in his front yard at sunset. “A woman can kiss you so that you feel it in your gut. She’s got you. You can’t do nothing but want more.”
Tony’s a soft-spoken man. A listener mostly. When he says something, I pay attention.
“The kiss tells you everything. You can’t fake the kiss, you can’t hide nothing in the kiss.”
Tony’s right. Not only can we subconsciously evaluate chemicals and hormones in our partner’s saliva and breath, we can also gauge the health of our relationship (or whether to pursue a relationship) – all with a simple, powerful, intimate non-verbal bit of communication.
So how’s your kiss? … Here’s a quiz to find out:
Q1: For a first kiss, I:
- a) wait for them to initiate and then take the lead, b) start the kiss and adapt my style to how they’re kissing me, c) start the kiss and set the pace.
Q2: When I initiate a kiss, it is:
- a) a quick peck, b) a gentle kiss on the cheek to tease them until the right time, c) a hot, wet one to get them begging for more next time, d) a gentle, no tongue before looking into their eyes to see if they want more.
Q3: When I kiss, it’s because I want to:
- a) excite the other person, b) get past the kiss and on to other things, c) just enjoy it
Q4: For some variety, I:
- a) nibble gently if they nibble first, b) never nibble (what’s nibbling?), c) forget nibbling, I bite, d) suck their lower lip gently, e) never suck (I’m not a hoover!).
Q5: Kissing with my eyes open is:
- a) exciting, b) embarrassing, c) dishonest, d) funny.
Q6: While kissing I:
- a) breathe through my nose, b) hold my breath, c) breathe through my mouth ‘cause it’s a turn on, d) breathe however feels right.
Q7: While kissing my hands are:
- a) around my partner’s neck or waist, b) caressing somewhere, c) grabbing and holding on tight, d) gently exploring.
Q8: My last kiss took place:
- a) in a public setting, b) in the kitchen or heading out the door, c) in a romantic setting with dim lighting, d) um, I can’t remember.
Q9: At the end of my last kiss, I felt:
- a) excited, b) romantic, c) anxious, d) content, e) nothing much.
Q10: My overall kissing style is:
- a) a steamy, passionate mess, b) adaptive to my partner’s style, c) a mix between soft and nurturing and strong and passionate, d) right to it and somewhat aggressive.
That’s it. … There’s no key, no best answer. Just something to get you thinking, and hopefully kissing. Because that’s the key – keep kissing.
The list of kissing benefits is pretty long (and rather substantiated with science):
- Lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol
- Reduces conflict and stress
- Boosts oxytocin (the cuddle hormone that promotes connection and intimacy)
- Burns calories (anywhere from two to five per minute = 300 calories per hour)
- Boosts the immune system
- Prevents tooth decay and cavities
- Increases heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and causes blood vessels to dilate – all of which deliver an oxygen boost and almost instant state of relaxation
- Increases relationship satisfaction and self-esteem
- Helps ignite and keep the romance alive
Ingrid Bergman said, “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” Or as Tony puts it, “Everything rolls back to that kiss.”
Jenny Pruitt Cleveland is a Content Creator in Nashville, Tenn. She swims, bikes, and runs a lot. In former lives she’s been a middle school teacher, magazine reporter and editor, cycling tour guide, and underwater photographer.