Kisses come in all shapes, sizes, and meanings, but in terms of meaning none is more confusing than the forehead kiss.
When a parent or family member kisses a child on the forehead, it’s a symbol of care and nurture. When it comes from a partner or date, it’s a bit more confusing. Today, we’re going to try to get to the bottom of the question: what does the forehead kiss mean?
“The forehead kiss is such a sweet and gentle act. Think about it, when someone takes the time to kiss you on the forehead they are displaying an act of true admiration. This kiss is not about passion, not about sex. It is a thoughtful way to express fondness,” says Meredith Futernick of LGBTQCouplesTherapy.com.
Many experts agree that the meaning depends a lot on who is giving the kiss and who is receiving it.“The forehead kiss can mean anything from ‘I’m a dismissive jerk’ to ‘I’m feeling very tender about you but getting aroused at the moment would be inconvenient’,” says relationship expert, Dr. Janice Presser. “A lot has to do with age, of the kisser, the kissee, and the relationship.”
Not to mention, culture, values, and general state of the relationship.
“Different cultures have different meaning behind this gesture,” says Mary J. Gibson, a relationship and lifestyle blogger, and senior content strategist at DatingXP. “For example, Arabic culture states that the forehead kiss is a sign of an apology or acknowledgment. In some regions, an elder person kisses the younger one as a sign of protecting them always. For some people kissing is a public display of affection which is a gesture of love, that allows emotions to flow from one person to another.”
And, showing this kind of outside-the-bedroom affection is important in all relationships.
“The forehead kiss is a compassionate nonsexual form of endearment that should be accepted and used in any relationship. It is a way to give affection while your partner is busy and a way to give affection that will not be confused with a sexual advance,” says Adina Mahalli, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant. Not to mention, forehead kisses are also ideal for the morning as to avoid morning breath of your partner without being rude and still giving them affection, she adds. “Kissing any part of your partner is important but forehead kisses are arguably the most versatile.”
Other meanings behind the forehead kiss could be something as simple as showing a loved one, they are special. Some people may have trouble expressing their feelings through words but show they care and love you with simple gestures like the forehead kiss or a hug. It can also be consoling if someone is grieving, or just a general sign of respect.
“Certain people have a habit of showing respect in the gesture of forehead kiss stating that they respect them and will never hurt you and will always protect you,” says Gibson.
But there are those that may find it demeaning or corny.
“Actions are either motivated by fear or inspired by love. If someone is insecure, wanting to feel good enough, superior or in control…their forehead kiss could feel degrading. If someone is ashamed of their sexual expression, wobbly in their public displays of affection…their forehead kiss might feel childish or corny,” says Allana Pratt, an intimacy expert. “If someone is deeply in touch with their sensual expression…their forehead kiss would feel sexy or erotic.”
But a word to daters. While the general consensus is that the forehead kiss is seen as sweet, if all your new partner is doing, is kissing you on the forehead and nowhere else, it could be a sign they’re not looking for anything more than a platonic relationship.