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Oct 11, 2013 12:32 PM EDT

Kissing Helps Predict Future Relationships, Study Says

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Kissing is a major factor in choosing potential partners, a new study reported. How important is determined by gender, relationship length, and attractiveness.

Based on 900 participants, the study, which appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior and Human Nature on Oct. 11, found that women on average view kissing as more important in relationships than men. Women, according to previous studies, are more likely than men to look for "relationship strengthening behaviors" - such as kissing - in potential long term partners. To support his theory, the study found that women in shorter relationships rated kissing as less important than women in longer relationships.

Expanding on this, the study found that in short-term relationships kissing was rated more important before sex, while in long-term relationships, kissing was deemed equally important at all times.

Men and women who rated themselves as attractive and/or those who've had more casual relationships rated kissing as more important. Men and women in this category have shown to be more selective in their relationship choices, reported usnews.com. Combining the two traits means that kissing is an important factor in choosing a partner - at least for attractive people.

Kissing, according to the study, gives partners clues into physical compatibility through smell or taste. On a more primal level, the study hinted that kissing can provide insight into genetic fitness and general health.

"Kissing in human sexual relationships is incredibly prevalent in various forms across just about every society and culture. Kissing is seen in our closest primate relatives -- chimps and bonobos -- but it is much less intense and less commonly used," study author Rafael Wlodarski said in a news release.

The study also found kissing more frequently was linked to higher quality relationships. As is the case in many studies, Wlodarski sees room for more exploration.

"So here's a human courtship behavior which is incredibly widespread and common and, in extent, is quite unique," Wlodarski said. "And we are still not exactly sure why it is so widespread or what purpose it serves."

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