Is Kissing As Addictive As Drugs?

Ever been in a new relationship and you actually feel yourself craving to be around that person and when you’re not you feel like you’re going through some kind of withdrawl? Well, you just might be.  According to this CNN article, by Sheril Kirshenbaum, you brain produces the hormone dopamine and excretes it during a passionate kiss.  Dopamine is the same hormone that is directly linked to narcotic use and to your brains reward system causing you to feel full of happiness and like you are on cloud nine when secreted.  Aside from the actual secretion of hormones produced by kissing, their are electrical signals that are sent throughout your body when engaged in a kiss with someone you find attractive.  For instance according to Kirshenbaum, the lips are one of the most sensitive organs on your body with more than a handful of nerve endings much like how the tips of your fingers contain a bushel of nerve endings which is why they are so sensitive.  Since the lips are so sensitive, they send off a lot of signals when touched or in this case kissed which throws your body into a whirlwind of electrical impulses and emotions that in turn create a feeling of a natural high as stated in the article, much like the feeling you obtain after a rigorous exercise.

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Why is this relevant do you ask? Well, because if a kiss reeks that much havoc on your body alone it must have some kind of significance in how you portray people or your amount of attraction to someone else.  Kissing is like our own little defense mechanism against deciding if someone is predator or a friend.  Okay, maybe that is a little extreme, but according to the article, a passionate kiss, no matter the outcomes, proves as an indicator of if we as a human being are attracted to the other person and view them in a romantic sense worth pursing or if we simply are entirely turned off and need to run while we can.  Most of the studies in this particular article are based upon the attractive of one person to another based off of scents and pheromones which could be the foundation for why you would want to engage in a passionate kiss with someone in the first place.  With that being said, I do not think there is enough evidence to say undoubtedly that kissing is addictive but the evidence is consistent with this theory.  I think an effective experiment would be to test the dopamine measurements of someone normally, and then when they are being rewarded with some kind of stimuli other than a kiss, and finally when they are being rewarded with a passionate kiss.  There are some confounding third variables such as amount of attraction, emotional and mental connection, mood, etc that can all lead to disrupting the study therefore there is always a possibility that this may all be due to chance.

Logically if there is a chance kissing leads to excessive dopamine secretion which can cause a feeling of elation, then kiss on Penn State!

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5 thoughts on “Is Kissing As Addictive As Drugs?

  1. Nicole Trachman

    This post stood out to me because it is something I have definitely thought about before! In my experience, one kiss is never enough, I always find myself wanting more and more. I think it would be really cool to see more experiments on this and truly get to the bottom of this. I think a possible third variable that may have an effect on this would be a persons personality type. For example, I might prefer 20 kisses to one because I have a more clingy/ dependent personality. That could be an interesting thing to factor into this study. Thanks for sharing that adorable picture by the way!

    1. Melanie Dawn Weltner Post author

      Thanks Nicole! I actually never even thought of that variable of personality type. That is definitely a really vital part that could really throw a wrench in things. I as kind of a more clingy/affectionate person myself would probably have the same reaction as you state whereas someone who is less affectionate would maybe prefer a simple peck and a hug. That brought another thought to my mind that the setting of where a kiss takes place could have an affect on how much dopamine is released during the kiss because some people enjoy being showed off by their significant other so maybe a kiss in public would make them feel like their partner is proud to be with them thus more dopamine would be excreted rather than if the kiss were to happen in private. Thank you for your brilliant thought, it brought out some other thoughts of my own!

  2. Margaret Eppinger

    I think this is a super intriguing post. It seems like love and attraction really do a number on our brain, chemically speaking, and the conclusions drawn in this post seem in line with that conclusion. I thought you presented some solid research to answer the question you posed, but I would liked to have hear more about the science of attraction in general to set up a foundation. I also think your theoretical study is interesting and has a really good start to it, but I think for it to be truly effective, it should be created so that participants don’t know each other beforehand. That could help to eliminate some of the confounding variables, like previous attraction or relationships. However, in order to really eliminate some of those third variables, everyone would have to be on the same level of attraction to the person they kiss in the experiment. This would be pretty difficult, since I don’t believe we have any way to “measure” attractiveness yet, although I could be wrong about that!

    1. Melanie Dawn Weltner Post author

      Thank you for the feedback Margaret! I think you pose a really good point that the level of attraction between the two people would be a very important factor that would need to be controlled somehow. That in itself raises another question of, can we measure the amount of attraction between two people like you said. I do not think in this day and age we can effectively do that yet simply because there are just so many variables that would go into it but also I wonder what exactly you would measure. For example, would you measure someone’s change in heart rate when around someone they find attractive? Or would you measure the dilation of their pupils? Figuring out the best way to measure attraction between two humans might be an answer hiding in plain sight but it is definitely a question I will keep myself updated on because it is really intriguing. Thank you for bringing that question up!

  3. Dana Corinne Pirrotta

    This post is really cute, especially with the added cartoon drawing at the end! It was interesting to read, who would have thought that kissing could be addictive? I mean, the science makes sense; kissing releases dopamine and we get hooked on the feeling! I’m glad you included the part about how there could be confounding variables and that this correlation really could be based off of chance. The experiment you set up sounds really solid, and because you can effectively plan a theoretical experiment I think it means you understand your blog post really well.


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