What would life be without the occasional (or frequent, for that matter) passionate kiss? And passionate kisses often lead to even more intimate activities. In fact, in a recent study of 1,041 college students by Susan Hughes from Albright College in Pennsylvania, she learned that only 10% of women would have sex without kissing their partner first. Not surprisingly, about 50% of men would do so. She also learned that there is definitely an art to kissing. First, you might be interested to know how kissing got started. Then I’ll give you the poop on kissing (ooh, that one even made me cringe…)

As with many things that began before recorded history, we can only theorize about the genesis of the kiss. One popular belief holds that the act of kissing began with prehistoric mothers chewing up food, and then pushing it into their babies’ mouths with their tongues. (Get that image out of your mind the next time you lock lips with someone.) Others think kissing evolved from the smelling of a companion’s face as an act of greeting, perhaps to determine the mood, disposition, and recent adventures of the newcomer (think cats and dogs.) Then foreheads, noses and lips started touching, and I guess they liked the lip thing so much, they took it to the next level.

Now that you know how it all started, we’ll check in on those kissing stats:

* Fifty-nine percent of males and 66 percent of females confessed they would end a relationship if the first kiss left something to be desired, possibly due to the exchange of hormones that occurs during kissing. The chemical cues you transmit through breath and saliva may alert your mate to your sexual psychology and reproductive status. We might see it as “Was it sloppy? Did he have horrible breath? Did she bite my tongue by accident?” What we may not realize is that the hormonal cues in our saliva are actually guiding our mental thought processes.
* Men want to kiss someone based on their perception of facial attraction while women focus more on a man’s teeth before puckering up.
* Kissing is more important for women than for men in having a satisfying sexual experience.
* Men prefer wetter kisses with more tongue than do women.
* Everyone likes more tongue with long-term partners.
* Men are more than twice as likely to have sex with a bad kisser than are women.
* 59% of men and 66% of women have been turned off by a potential partner’s kiss at some point in their romantic lives.

I don’t think there were any shocking revelations here. One thing Susan Hughes didn’t cover is the effect of lipstick on a kiss. After a very unscientific search on the Internet, I’ve learned that guys don’t seem particularly fond of kissing lipstick-coated lips. The words “greasy” and “slimy” were used a few times, as was “bitter-tasting.” Their other complaint was having the red stuff all over their faces, often without knowing it and walking around for hours wondering why they were being stared at and laughed at. Guys didn’t seem to have any problem with flavored Chapstick or lip balm. I guess it feels less slimy than lipstick. So, ladies, get yourself a sweet-tasting lip balm (which, incidently, make great bridal shower favors for obvious reasons), load–and lock! But don’t forget–like beauty and the beholder, good kissing is in the lips of the lover.