Dating Etiquette for Kissing

A playful kiss on the cheek can express appreciation and affection.
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No hard and fast rules exist for when you should first kiss a date or how to kiss. You have the right to decide when it feels right to kiss a person and the kind of kiss you bestow, such as an air kiss, a kiss on the cheek or a mouth kiss. Don’t kiss your date if you don’t feel affectionate -- it isn't required.

1 First Dates

First dates can be awkward, and if you don’t feel a connection, forgo a kiss for a hug, suggests “Cosmopolitan” editor Payal Puri in “The New Dating Rules.” Don’t force the issue if you don’t see the relationship going anywhere. However, if you feel a spark and want to tell your date that you had a good time and are open to another date, a kiss can communicate the message. A first date kiss can also explore the connection to see if your date measures up.

2 Kissing Body Language

If you're up for kissing your date, touching can communicate an openness to intimacy. Touch hands and arms during the date or hold hands when walking. Lean in slightly toward your date when you are ready to kiss and see if your date responds. Be sure you’re prepared for a kiss with a mint or gum to freshen your breath. Keep the first kisses light and short, with a closed mouth until your relationship is further along.

3 A Relationship Is Born

When you and your sweetie are officially an item, a kiss can help you stay connected and loved. You still want good oral hygiene, but your kisses might be more varied, including a a quick peck in greeting or leaving and a kiss dropped on the top of the head. Spontaneous kisses show appreciation for a helping hand or genuine affection. Avoid freaking your parents out with long public displays of affection or make-out sessions. Be considerate and conscious of who is watching you and how they might react to your affectionate behavior.

4 Special Occasion Kisses

Some holidays come with kissing traditions, such as mistletoe at Christmas, the ball drop on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day; as always, you can refuse a kiss if you don’t feel like it. For New Year’s Eve, you can agree to trade hugs instead of kisses with friends, suggests etiquette consultant Diane Gottsman in “A New Year’s Eve Kissing Conundrum.” Air kisses with hands firmly planted on the shoulders can maintain a comfortable distance between you and someone who is not your sweetheart. Make mistletoe kisses short and sweet, perhaps preferring a peck on the cheek to avoid an uncomfortable public display of affection.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.