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How to Know if You Should Kiss on a First Date

A couple standing in front of a sunset, sharing a kiss on a first date.

So many dating rules are antiquated nowadays—the prototypical dinner and a movie, waiting two days to call, even the concept of a man coming to the door when he picks a woman up is considered a rare occurrence these days. That, plus trends in sexual liberation have blurred the lines of what’s considered common, prudent, or acceptable, making the “Never kiss on the first date” rule seem altogether silly. So how can you tell if you should move in for the kiss without misreading the signs or crossing a line?

Here’s what you should consider when deciding if you should kiss on a first date:

1. Interest
Much of what used to be considered the purpose of a first date has migrated to pre-date communication—especially in the realm of online dating. The “get to know ya” phase that would normally span a few dates happens via text or other messaging apps. We do recon. We scroll Facebook or Instagram pages. By the time we meet someone we’ve been talking to, we’ve got a pretty good idea of our interest level. If you’re still attracted to a person after having a face-to-face conversation with them, you could argue that you’ve already jumped to date two or three from an emotional point of view.

2. Comfort
An extremely important and telling thing to consider is whether or not you’re comfortable with the idea of kissing on the first date. If the date went awesome and you’re really into the person across from you, but for whatever reason, you’re just not ready for that level of intimate contact, that’s totally okay. This factor is largely personal and can change from date to date, so if you’re not able to say definitively whether or not you’re a first-date-kisser, that’s fine. 

3. Intention
We exist in a relatively open hookup culture, and if you and the person you’re talking to have established that you’re both just looking to have some fun, it’s likely that a first date kiss won’t ruffle any feathers. But when it comes to playing this card, make your intention clear and make sure you know their intention as well. Respecting personal space and boundaries is important above all else.

How to navigate around that awkward moment of truth:
There are situations in which the moment comes naturally and a first date kiss can happen before the date even comes to a close. These situations are typically easier to read, as they ride off of the momentum of the date. If you’re taking a romantic stroll hand-in-hand or cozying up in a dark bar, it’s much easier to tell if your date is interested. The difficulty often comes when a date has aired on the side of politeness, and you make it to the end unsure of how to leave things.

If you’ve made it to the doorstep (or uh, the Uber curb?), the last thing you want to do is dive in and have your date respond with a Matrix-style deflection. The key here is to both read their body language, and be assertive with yours. Men: if you’re not sure how to read the situation, assume the first date kiss is a no go, just to be safe. If the date went well and her body language has been engaging and receptive, go in for a hug, and a peck on the cheek. Iterate that you’d love to see her again. If she lingers or initiates the kiss, you’ll know you’re on the right track. Women: If you aren’t interested in a kiss, but worry about the fumbling goodbye moment or whether your limbo skills are sufficient to dodge incoming lips, take charge of the moment. Thank him for a lovely evening and stick out a hand for a handshake. This should send a clear message. If you do want a kiss, move in closer, take his hands, and tell him you had a great time. It should be clear that the opportunity is there for him if he’d like to take it.

While there’s no clear answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t, the good news is a missed opportunity for a first date kiss only means a second date, and a second chance, whereas if you go in for a kiss prematurely, you may hurt your chances of turning it around. It never hurts to forgo a first date kiss if you’re unsure—you can always send a flirty text on the way home to get an idea of whether or not they’re still thinking about you. It never hurts to leave them wanting more!

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