Kiss - Expression of Affection and Love

Expression of Affection and Love

Kissing on another person's lips has become a common expression of affection among many cultures worldwide. Yet in certain cultures, kissing was introduced only through European settlement; prior to this, kissing was not a routine occurrence. Examples of this include certain indigenous peoples of Australia, the Tahitians, and many tribes in Africa.

Kissing on the lips is a physical expression of affection or love between two people, in which the sensations of touch, taste, and smell are involved. According to psychologist Menachem Brayer, although many "mammals, birds, and insects exchange caresses" which appear to be kisses of affection (e.g. lovebirds), they are not kisses as humans consider them. Psychologist William Cane notes that kissing in Western society is most often a romantic act and describes a few of its attributes:

It's not hard to tell when two people are in love. Maybe they're trying to hide it from the world, still they cannot conceal their inner excitement. Men will give themselves away by a certain excited trembling in the muscles of the lower jaw upon seeing their beloved. Women will often turn pale immediately of seeing their lover and then get slightly red in the face as their sweetheart draws near. ... This is the effect of physical closeness upon two people who are in love.

Kissing in Western cultures is a fairly recent development and is rarely mentioned even in Greek literature. In the Middle Ages it became a social gesture and was considered a sign of refinement of the upper classes. Other cultures have different definitions and uses of kissing, notes Brayer. In China, for example, a similar expression of affection consists of rubbing one's nose against the cheek of another person. In other Eastern cultures kissing is not commonly done. In South East Asian countries the "sniff kiss" is the most common form of affection and Western mouth to mouth kissing is often for sexual foreplay. In some tribal cultures the "equivalent for our 'kiss me' is 'smell me.'"

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