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As your 20s progress, you’ll find yourself at more sophisticated, tastefully muted parties. Wine replaces Jell-O shots, brie replaces Cheezy® dip and a polite kiss on a woman’s cheek replaces barfing on her shoes as the most common/appreciated greeting.
Whereas it once seemed impossible that ladies would initiate physical contact with you, let alone merely for entering a room, it’s now a ritual of politeness. However, only a fool would mistake a cheek kiss for a romantic one. This is a tense, high-risk audit of your physical and mannerly grace; one minor mistake will convince her that you’re no gentlemen, just a social incompetent at best and a mouth-breathing predator at worst.
A smooth operator knows it’s all about restraint and a careful reading of each individual situation. So follow these ground rules for kissing women on the cheek — if, that is, you ever want to kiss one anywhere else.
1. You Must Actually Know Her
If you go around the party kissing every random cheek, then yours will get slapped. It’s simply not an exchange shared between complete strangers. Think of it this way: A kiss on the lips means getting to first base, a cheek kiss is a ceremonial first pitch, and cheek-kissing someone you’ve just met is streaking across the baseball diamond.
2. She Makes The First Move
Forget everything you’ve heard about how guys are supposed to take charge when it comes to swapping spit. If she wants a kiss on the cheek, then she’ll kiss yours. If she doesn’t, then she’ll give you a handshake or a hug. Follow her lead. And if she smooches the air next to your cheek, not your skin, then make like Jimi Hendrix and kiss the sky.
3. Lean To Your Right
The most crucial element of the non-creepy cheek kiss is avoiding accidental lip-on-lip contact. This might be clumsily charming in a romantic comedy film, but in real life it will result in, “Ewwww, what is wrong with you? Please tell me you don’t have oral herpes.”
Here’s an easy mnemonic device to help you remember: Leaning right is right because you are refined, and leaning left will result in you being left alone because you are lame.
4. The One-Armed Hug
Another creepy thing you desperately want to avoid is the semblance of groping. A single-handed hug communicates the minimum of affection, as well as the subtle, reassuring message that you can be trusted to keep your paws to yourself, unless of course she would prefer otherwise. Impersonal? Perhaps. Improper? Never.
5. Get In, Get Out
You probably enjoy the contours of boobs pressing against you, because it’s kinda like you’re feeling them up with your pecs or something. But if you linger too close for too long, things will get real awkward, real fast. You know “Puff, Puff, Pass”? Peck, peck, pass.
6. No Suction, No Saliva
Your goal here is to not make her shudder with douchechills. At no point should she wonder if you’re leaving a hickey on her face. Basically, try to do the exact opposite of this guy:
Photo via Wikia
7. Speak At A Normal Volume
The physical closeness of cheek-to-cheek could tempt you to utter a whispered greeting into her ear. This is a fantastic idea, if you would like to sound like Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
8. Above All Else: Do NOT Sniff Her Neck
….audibly. Relish that feminine scent in perfect silence, you creepy bastard.