Not as Many People Like to Kiss as You’d Think

August 12, 2015
How women around the world feel about smooching.

You might assume that sexy mouth-to-mouth action is a staple in the love lives of people around the world—but it's not. At least, that's what a new study published by the American Anthropological Association suggests.

For the study, researchers investigated whether 168 different cultures engage in romantic lip locks—and they found that only 46 percent of those groups actually kiss. Seriously, that's it. Interestingly, the geographic location of the each culture didn't impact whether or not the people in that group got their smooch on. In fact, 45 percent of the North American cultures investigated didn't kiss at all. But researchers did find that the more socially "complex" a society (groups like Americans and Chinese are considered socially complex), the more likely they were to partake in romantic lip locking. Some of the non-kissing cultures, even some small, egalitarian groups, said they see mouth play as unclean or just really freaking unpleasant, the study authors write.

RELATED: 9 Everyday Habits Preventing You from Having Great Sex

So how are these anti-smooching folks seducing each other? Apparently it could involve a lot of sniffing or sharing breath, says study author and anthropology P.h.D. student Shelly Volsche. "There is also something called the oceanic kiss in which two people pass their open mouths near each other but do not make contact," she says. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just us? Compared to the mating habits of other primates and mammals, these pre-sexy time habits aren't super surprising, says Volsche.

Though the researchers still aren't certain how kissing became a popular way to show affection in some cultures, they think it could have been a result of oral hygiene becoming a thing—which makes someone else's mouth way more inhabitable for yours. Or they say elite social classes might have frowned upon sniffing your lover in front of your friends but still wanted to share their romantic feelings.

The research got us wondering about how other people around the world get mushy with each other, so we asked our international Women's Health editors what's normal in their cultures. Here are some fun facts!

"Kissing is common in Indonesia, but since the majority of our population is Muslim, kissing remains mostly private between couples. The only exception would be in big cities like Jakarta or Bali, as young couples there like to occasionally kiss in public." —Pangesti (ChiChi) Bernardus, Women's Health Indonesia, editor in chief

"We love kisses in Spain! It’s part of our culture, and it’s probably a good way to relax the atmosphere. If I have dinner with my boyfriend in a restaurant, I’ll kiss him on the mouth. There is always a good excuse to kiss and be kissed, but we're not exhibitionist people. I mean, if we are in the middle of the park where a lot of kids are playing, we know it’s not the best place…" —Maria Gijon Moreno, Women's Health Spain, staff writer

RELATED: Are Couples Who Get Mushy on Facebook Actually More in Love?

"In Russia, it's okay to kiss your partner in public, just not too deep. Most people prefer to hug each other or hold hands in front of others."  —Julia Nalintseva, Women's Health Russia, editor

"Romantic kissing, as a form of intimacy and way of expressing love and attraction, is viewed as a normal and desirable part of life in British culture. Though most people try to avoid excessive PDA, kissing in the street or in a restaurant is completely normal. If a couple started going at it on the train in full view, it would probably raise a few eyebrows or elicit a few comments." —Katie Mulloy, Women's Health U.K., deputy editor

"Because of religious and morality reasons, we don’t generally kiss in public. In Turkey, we don’t kiss our partners in front of our older family members. Even at wedding ceremonies, the groom kisses the bride on her forehead or cheeks—not the lips." —Sibel Yeşilçay, Women's Health Turkey, editor in chief

RELATED: 7 Fun Ways to Cool Off During Hot (Literally) Sex

"Kissing at home and in public all comes down to how much PDA you prefer, in South Africa. But in general, romantic kissing is completely accepted. More sexualized kissing isn’t as common on the street as it would be in, say, a club, but it's accepted by most people. We have many different religions and cultures here in South Africa, so what you find appropriate depends on which culture you come from." —Kristy Carpenter, Women's Health South Africa, features editor

Gifs courtesy of giphy.com

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