Attached at the Lips: The Influence of Romantic Kissing Motives and Romantic Attachment Styles on Relationship Satisfaction

Danica J. Kulibert, Elle A. Moore, Melinda M. Dertinger, Ashley E. Thompson


Although romantic kissing is an important part of relationship functioning, little research has focused on motives for romantic kissing and how they may relate to other aspects of romantic relationships. To understand how romantic kissing impacts romantic relationship functioning, the current study assessed the relationship between romantic attachment, romantic kissing motives, and relationship satisfaction. Overall, it was hypothesized that (a) those reporting more sexual/explicit kissing motives and fewer goal attainment/insecurity motives would report higher relationship satisfaction, (b) those reporting a more secure attachment style would report higher relationship satisfaction, and (c) the relationship between romantic kissing motives and relationship satisfaction would vary according to one’s romantic attachment styles. Results from a hierarchical linear regression with 286 adults, all of whom were currently in romantic relationships, revealed that sexual/relational (β = 0.25) and goal attainment/insecurity kissing motives (β = -0.35) predicted relationship satisfaction. However, the impact of kissing motives on relationship satisfaction varied according to one’s romantic attachment. Specifically, the influence of sexual/relational motives was only significant for avoidantly attached individuals, whereas the influence of goal attainment/insecurity motives was significant for avoidantly and anxiously attachment individuals. Overall, this suggests that sexual/explicit romantic kissing motives serve to enhance the relationships of insecurely attached individuals, but not securely attached individuals. Furthermore, goal attainment/insecure motives had a negative effect on the relationship satisfaction of insecurely attached individuals, but not securely attached individuals. This study has important implications for both practitioners working with romantic couples and researchers studying romantic relationships.


kissing motives; attachment styles; relationship satisfaction; romantic relationships; romantic kissing

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