There is probably nothing more stress inducing, more nerve-wracking or fear-sweat triggering than the first kiss.
Outside of “How do I meet girls?”, “when should you kiss her” is easily the most common dating question I get.
It’s an area where just about everyone feels some sort of anxiety because there are just so many unknowns oh my godohmygodohmygod. “When do I kiss her? How should I kiss her? Do I ask first or just go for it? When’s the perfect moment? What am I supposed to look out for? Oh God, what if I get the cheek? What if she freaks out and calls me creepy?1 What if she tells all her friends? And they tell all of their friends? Oh Jesus, I’ll never date in this town again, I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO MOVE?!?!?!”
Chill the fuck out, Beavis.
That’s why I’m here. To walk you through all this confusing shit and teach you that when you just need to shut up and kiss the girl.
When Do You Kiss Her?
Well shit, when you both feel like it, really.
HELP MAKE DOCTOR NERDLOVE INTERNET FAMOUS…
That’s Really Not Helpful, Doc.
Fine, fine. You want answers?
I Think I’m Entitled!
Do you want answers?
I Want The Truth!
The truth is, you’re asking the wrong goddamn question.
OK, fine, let’s try this again.
When Do You Kiss Her?
When you both feel like it.
OK, wait up, hear me out.
It’s all dependent on mood and circumstance. If you’re on your first date, the good-night kiss is almost ritualistic; I’m sure you’ve already gamed out in your head the moment you’re standing on her porch (or sitting in the car in front of her apartment building or what-have you), you’re saying your good-byes and how you had a great time and want to do this again and you can feel your palms sweating as you’re not sure whether to go for the kiss or a hug, whether to go for the cheek or the lips or just to just damn the torpedoes and hope that you’re getting a good-night beej instead of a dry peck on the lips.
I can guarantee you, your date has probably spent just about as much time thinking about how the night is going to end as you have.
Now personally, I’m not a fan of all the nervous anticipation that comes with the end of a date, so I’ll usually kiss her long before we’re about to say our good-byes and go. Because, shit, who wants the tension? Get that out of the way early.
Thing is I spent a fair amount of time brushing up on my game. I spent a lot of time making mistakes, moving too fast, moving too slow and getting cheeked, dodged and in one memorable case, getting a drink tossed on me2 to really work up my calibration. So I’ve learned how to recognize when someone is receptive to being kissed and how.
And critically, I’ve learned the most important part about the first kiss.
There Is No Perfect Moment
When you’re asking the question of “When do you kiss her”, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for “the moment,” which is a mistake. Some people think the moment comes at the end of the date and trying for a kiss earlier is a mistake.
These people are wrong.
Sometimes it’s not a case of waiting for the good-night kiss; some girls don’t kiss on the first date, some do, good for them either way. So maybe you’re on your second or third date and you’re busy scanning for signals that maybe she’s expecting you to kiss her. You’re parsing her every word and body movement like it’s the Zapruder film and you’re trying to figure out where Waldo is in it and whether he was the shooter on the grassy knoll. You’re leaning in, pulling back afraid that it’s the wrong moment, trying desperately to set up The Moment. You’re doing everything short of hoping that a singing crab is going to show up and start giving you pointers.
Here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as “the perfect moment”. There is only this moment, and the more you dick around trying to figure out when and where, the more time you’re wasting that could be better spent on sloppy make-outs.
I realize that pop culture has drilled into our collective heads that the first kiss has to be “perfect” and at “the perfect moment”. Funny thing about those “perfect moments”? We make ’em up. It’s a fun quirk of the human brain: we’re really good at retconning events to fit how we want them to be. We will quite cheerfully round up a moment as “the perfect moment” because we want the first kiss with our girlfriend or boyfriends to be a magcial moment. Even if it was in the middle of a crowded bar and some ugly sweaty dude was flirting with your date five minutes before you made your move – it will feel like the perfect moment in her memory. Screw up the kiss and get her nose instead of her lips? She’ll be telling her friends how adorable the mistake was and how sweet the moment ended up being because of your little slip. Quit worrying trying to recreate a scene from a movie and just be in the goddamned moment.
Should You Ask Or Just Go For It?
Well this is a tricky one, i’nit?
I’ve done an informal poll on the Dr. NerdLove Facebook page and Twitter feed and it was almost a 2-to-1 case of “Make the move”, followed by a variation of “It depends/fine either way/I like them both”. This corresponds rather well with other places where I’ve seen the topic come up (Google “Ask for a kiss” and do your own research): a majority of an incredibly unscientific sampling of women seem to prefer that men make the move rather than ask for it.
Now let’s be clear: this is obviously not representative of all women. But it does tie into a topic that I’ve mentioned before: some people actively dislike verbal sexual (or relationship, for that matter) communication.
My thoughts: it’s generally better to know when she’s interested in being kissed and take the initiative. If you’re on the socially awkward side or are bad at reading social cues, it may be better to ask. Of the women who responded to the poll, the ones who preferred to be asked thought it was sweet and romantic.
But I still say you should shut up and kiss her.
How Do You Know She Wants You To Kiss Her?
Now you’re asking the right question. Knowing how to tell when she’s interested in your kissing her is how you make the moment happen.
So what do you look for?
Her Body Language
How does she respond to you physically? Is she leaning in to catch every word? Is she staying close to you, even hugging your arm and snuggled up to you as you’re walking together? Is she making a point to close the gap between “personal space” (approximately 2 to 4 feet) to “intimate space” (around 18 inches or so)?
How much touching is she doing? It’s one thing if it’s an occasional touch on the arm. It’s another if, say, she’s pressing her thigh up against yours while you’re sitting together, or if she’s touching you and letting her hand stay. Where is she touching you? A touch on the upper arm is considerably less intimate than one on the forearm, and which is less than touching your hand.
If you hug her, are you getting the A-Frame hug – all upper body leaning in – or the full body? Is she lingering on the hug or not?
If she’s interested in being kissed, she’s going to be calling attention to her mouth. She may bite her lip or lick them, especially if you’re moving into close proximity.
The Triangle Gaze
This is one of the best, surest signs out there for when someone’s interested in being kissed. She will perform what’s known as the triangle gaze – looking from one eye to the other, then down to your lips, then back up to your eyes. Just as someone who is interested in being kissed will call attention to her own lips, she will also be paying attention to yours.
So What Do You Do?
Generally, I’m a fan of just closing the distance and kissing her. Sometimes there’s a one-finger stroke of the cheek, sometimes touching the chin. A general, all-purpose method that I endorse is the hug-to-kiss: at an appropriate emotional high-point – she’s made a joke, one of you just bowled a strike, you just finished dancing to an awesome song, something – pull her in for a hug. Pause, look her in the eyes for a second – watch for the triangle gaze! – and move in slowly for the kiss.
By the by: I always advocate moving slowly for the first kiss. First, there are few things sexier than anticipation and the build-up to a first kiss is positively delicious. Secondly, it gives her plenty of time to respond; if she doesn’t want you to kiss her she’s got ample time to give you the cheek or to wave you off.
Now, having said that, there are a number of ways of working up to the kiss if you’re not necessarily comfortable with making a move – yet still don’t want to flat-out ask. One technique I’ve had success with is the “I’m trying not to kiss you right now.” Again, at an appropriate emotional high-point – and you want to make the move for that first kiss at a high-point -move in close (in a manner congruent to the situation; you don’t just want to do the Pepe Le Pew pounce or the creeper sidle) pause, look her in the eye and say “You know, I’m trying so hard not to kiss you right now,” and gauge her response. If you get a negative reaction: she flinches, turns her head or tells you flat out “try harder” (all of which I’ve had happen), smile, pull back, change the subject, move on to something else.
Others I know have had success in pointing to their own cheek, essentially asking for a kiss from her. Asking for a kiss on the cheek can be playful and is generally fairly low-investment for her, which means a) she’s more likely to actually kiss you and b) if she doesn’t want to kiss you, she’s far less likely to be offended and it’s much easier for her to say “no” without worrying about your reaction. When she does kiss you, you can use it to gauge how to proceed by the kiss. If it’s a quick, friendly kiss, odds are she’s not quite ready – better to wait a bit longer. If it’s friendly but she leaves her face close – or it’s a decidedly more-than-friendly kiss… well, you’ve got your invitation right there, don’t you?
Pro Tip: If you use the cheek-kiss technique do not pull the “swivel your head and get a kiss on the lips”. It takes a very specific, very well socially calibrated personality type to pull that off and in all likelyhood that ain’t you. Everybody else just looks like a dipshit for trying.
End the kiss first but not too quickly. You want to let the tension build, not stay in to the point that she’s getting uncomfortable, but you also don’t want your first kiss to be a quick dry peck on the lips. Let it linger for just a moment, then pull back. Trust me, if she’s into it, she’ll be kissing you back.
Also: as a general rule, unless she’s been giving you unmistakable signs of sexual interest – that is, to the level of running her hands down the front of your pants – no tongue on the first kiss. Let the excitement build rather than going for the gold on the first try.
What If It All Goes Wrong?
Now a number of you will be busy war-gaming every single way things could go horribly horribly wrong, from garlic breath to getting cheeked to getting slapped and culminating with being arrested by the cops as your house catches on fire.
Calm down. Take a deep breath. And chill the fuck out.
First of all: always carry a pack of gum with you on a date. A little gum – offer her a piece too – helps mitigate any “oh god, what about my breath?” moments. Yes, it will probably signal to her that you’re thinking of kissing her in the near future. That’s ok, I’m fairly certain that she figured that part out when you asked her out on a date in the first place.
Second: Unless you try to actually maul her, the worst that you can expect is to get cheeked or the wave-off. This is not a big deal. It doesn’t mean that the date is ruined or that she hates you. You can recover from this: step back, give a genuine smile, apologize and move on. Don’t treat it like a big deal; just say “Sorry, guess I saw the wrong signals,” and then change the subject. Acting like a grown-up – not making a fuss, arguing about what you thought she was interested in or dwelling on the fact that she didn’t want you to kiss her – can make all the difference between “not yet” and “not ever”.
Kiss The Girl
Look, this isn’t rocket science and trying to read a woman’s signals isn’t the Voynich Manuscript. She’s made a point of dressing up to look nice for you and has been spending most of her evening with you. She’s been laughing at your jokes, enjoying your company and hasn’t been checking her phone for the “emergency” text or eyeing the clock. She’s having a good time. She’s really starting to like you.
So get over there and kiss her already!
- Side note: this almost never happens. I say almost because if I say “it never happens” inevitably somebody is going to show up in the comments with a story about how it happened to them. Regardless: it’s about as likely as it is for me to hit the Texas Mega-Millions tonight. [↩]
- amaretto sour, in case you’re wondering and yes, I’d paid for it [↩]