You may have heard a “six second kiss is a kiss worth coming home to.” So says Dr John Gottman award winning researcher, author and expert on relationships. What does he really mean by that?
Gottman suggests a six second kiss is “long enough to feel romantic yet it doesn’t make the kids late for school”. Kissing releases a cascade of feel-good chemicals throughout our bodies that helps us feel rather wonderful and also bond with our kissing partner. Kissing exchanges around 80 million bacteria increasing our immunity. And a six second kiss creates a ritual of connection letting our partner know they are important to us.
How does it work?
The bonding chemical oxytocin is released with nursing and kissing, explaining how our emotional bonds are created. Starting from nursing as a baby, our nerve-ending rich lips send information to the brain and lay down neural pathways. These let us know we are safe and create a bond with our carer that can continue through life. Oxytocin helps us feel close and connected when we kiss.
Kissing also releases dopamine, which triggers the same part of your brain that is stimulated by cocaine and links to craving and desire. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are released and help increase your heart rate. This is what creates butterflies in your tummy and sends oxygenated blood to your brain. Cortisol, the stress hormone is also reduced with kissing to help you relax.
How do you go about it?
It’s important to let your six-second kiss be a stand alone ritual. Our partings and reunions are important moments in a relationship. Marking them with a kiss is a way of letting your partner know “you matter to me”. The kiss marks a deliberate break between home and work. It’s an opportunity to re-establish connection with our partners when we return after a busy day and keeps our bond strong. If it leads to sex, that can be great but don’t make it mean sex is guaranteed.
If you’ve gotten into the habit of a peck on the cheek as you rush out the door, can you experiment with the six-second kiss for a couple of weeks? Gottman likes to say, “A six-second kiss is a kiss with potential.”