Never Been Kissed: Correlates of Lifetime Kissing Status in U.S. University Students

Arch Sex Behav. 2018 May;47(4):1283-1293. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1166-y. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Kissing a partner occurs relatively early during adolescence. Thus, young adults who have never kissed are off-time from their peers. Substantial exploration in the areas of identity and intimacy occur during this period, and kissing may fulfill both of these functions, addressing autonomy and relatedness motives for sexual behaviors. We examined the prevalence and personal, contextual, and adjustment/health predictors of delayed onset of kissing. An ethnically and racially diverse sample of traditionally aged first year university students (N = 738; 50.7% female) completed online surveys. Only 14.2% of young adults had never kissed a partner on the lips. Compared to their peers who had kissed partners, young adults who had never kissed were more likely to be Asian-American, less likely to be in a romantic relationship, were less extraverted, were more likely to be in the Honors College, and drank alcohol less frequently. In bivariate models but not the multivariate model, young adults who had never kissed were more neurotic, had mothers who were less facilitating of independence, and had lower self-esteem. Findings inform understanding of normative sexuality development, and inform future research on normative and off-time sexual behaviors in young adulthood.

Keywords: Kissing; Sexual behavior; Sexual health; University students; Young adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Extraversion, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Neuroticism
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult