Could a 6-second kiss save your relationship?
TikTok users have lately been lauding the “6-second kiss rule,” which is exactly what it sounds like: A ritual of kissing your partner for at least 6 seconds consecutively every day.
“We are always eager to find shortcuts, even in dating and relationships,” says Damona Hoffman, host of The Dates & Mates Podcast. “People are obsessed with the 6-second kiss because it appears to be a hack that can get us around conflicts or lack of enthusiasm in our relationship and give us a magic pill to skyrocket the chemistry with our partner.”
It may sound overly simplistic − and not the most romantic or spontaneous way to express love − but there’s research to suggest it can actually give relationships a boost.
What does a 6-second kiss mean?
The 6-second kiss rule was coined by John Gottman, a marriage and family therapist, author and researcher who co-founded The Gottman Institute with his wife, clinical psychologist Julie Schwartz Gottman. A study of 70,000 people in 24 countries conducted by sociologists for the self-help relationship book “The Normal Bar” determined that small gestures to show love throughout the day have a major impact on couples’ long-term happiness and success.
“People who really enjoy their sex life generally do these small things that have nothing to do with what goes on in the bedroom,” John Gottman, 81, tells USA TODAY.
It all comes down to activities that boost oxytocin in the brain, he says. Kissing for at least 6 seconds or hugging for 20 seconds both trigger the release of oxytocin, which helps couples bond and feel trusting of each other. Plus, experts say, changing routines and creating intimacy rituals can strengthen relationships.
“I’m a big fan of practicing slow love and that includes being intentional and taking time to connect with your partner and the 6-second kiss does both those things,” Hoffman says.
How long should a good kiss be?
Some critics argue that the concept of tracking the exact amount of time a kiss should last has the opposite of the intended effect: making romance feel tense and forced rather than using it as a time to connect.
“You never want to do something with your partner out of obligation and one downside to a 6-second kiss ritual is you can end up in it without feeling the inspiration,” Hoffman says. “If you’re focused on keeping track of the time, you’ll miss the point of the exercise.”
Though 6 seconds is the minimum time Gottman says has an effect, that doesn’t mean you literally need to count to six in your head before stopping. Above all, Gottman says, it’s a way to make sure that people connect in a meaningful way every day. Just “relax and enjoy the kiss.”
The 6-second kiss theory and if it’s right for you
Regardless of if you’ve been dating for a year or been married for 40, the 6-second kiss has the potential to strengthen the bond with your loved one. For those interested in introducing a new way of connecting with their partner, experts recommend implementing the rule during times of “reunion,” such as coming home from work.
“A lot of times, that reunion is a non-event,” Gottman says. “People don’t make a big deal about it, but if they ritualize either a 20-second hug or a 6-second kiss or both, then right away, physiologically everything softens and they feel like they’re home and they feel safe.”
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