It looks chivalrous and tender in the movies – the gentleman bowing to kiss the lady’s hand. However, because it is uncommon practice in contemporary society, this gesture can leave you wondering what he means by it. Learning the possible motivations behind such a formal expression can clue you in on what the hand-kisser has in mind and help you decide how to respond.

The Element of Surprise

When Oretha D. Swartz, a foremost expert on etiquette for military personnel, published the book, “Service Etiquette” in 1988, hand-kissing was not in widespread use in the United States, even though it was -- and still is -- common in continental Europe. A guy who kisses your hand likely chose this gesture for its unexpected quality that evokes an earlier, chivalrous era. A sweet gesture like this surprises the recipient and not only keeps romance cookin’ but also makes an ordinary day special, according to psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, as cited in Margarita Tartakovsky's Psych Central article, “15 Ideas for Keeping Romance Alive Year-Round.” If the guy directed this romantic gesture toward you and doesn't make a habit of displaying this courtesy to every female he meets, he probably wants to show you that he cares for you, while also brightening up your day.