“The decision to kiss for the first time is the most crucial in any love story. It changes the relationship of two people much more strongly than even the final surrender; because this kiss already has within it that surrender.”-Emil Ludwig
The night of my birthday, I found myself in a first-date predicament. I had agreed to go for after-dinner drinks with a man named Mark. After two hours and one-and-a-half vodka sodas, Mark leaned in to kiss me.
Should I be flattered or offended? I thought as I quickly turned my head to avoid his lips.
“No?” he asked. “I thought it would be a nice birthday present.”
For me or for you? I thought to myself as I smiled and shrugged my shoulders, attempting to be cute. “The vodka is more than enough,” I said with a laugh. Awkward.
On the way home from the date, I couldn’t stop thinking about the non-kiss. In the past I would’ve been upset if a guy didn’t try to kiss me. I might have even interpreted my date’s lack of lip-to-lip contact as a lack of interest! But these days I just can’t see myself kissing someone on the first date. Why would I want to kiss someone I barely know? What’s the joy in that? Who knew if I would ever even see him again? This is NYC, after all. My-oh-my, has my thinking changed over the years!
A kiss used to be so simple. In junior high, it was a fun, nonchalant thing you casually shared with friends during games like spin the bottle. In college, you might have even enjoyed a drunken make-out session with a perfect stranger. Until recently, a kiss was just not a big deal.
So, what happened?!
I guess after a few serious relationships—and a few pretty intense recovery periods from them—we all wisen up! We realize we have to protect our hearts and begin to ascribe actual meaning to a kiss. We see that these formerly fun, playful signs of affection are actually really special moments filled with intimacy and layers of meaning. For me, it’s no longer enough to simply want to kiss a guy just because I’m attracted to him on a physical level. I now recognize that in order to enjoy a kiss, I need to have a connection with the guy mentally and emotionally.
Thinking about my non-kiss evening with Mark made me actually laugh out loud. After all, so many people discuss whether or not to sleep with someone on the first date. And here I was, unwilling to smooch! What on earth did Mark think of my prudishness? After all, we are in a hook-up culture! Men and women everywhere are enjoying no-strings-attached sexual relationships—and finding it normal.
I began wondering what a guy’s perspective was on this situation. I texted my close guy friend Tomer to see what he thought about kissing on the first date. His response surprised me: “If you’re weak enough to kiss you should also have sex. Women need to create anticipation, because it always heightens the excitement.”
Translation: Tomer agreed with me. He was saying that men should show some kissing restraint on a first date—and so should women—otherwise they’re just serial kissers!
Speaking of restraint, after my kiss-worthy (wink, wink) date with Mark, it took him a full week to call me. Meaning? Although he lacked impulse-control when it came to smooching, he seemed to very capable of keeping himself in check when it came to calling me.
During this non-calling time away from my non-kissed date, I was asked out by another guy named Ari who took me to a lovely dinner, then walked me home. When we got to my door, Ari leaned in…then gave me the sweetest, hugest, warmest hug goodnight. Yes, I do hug on a first date. Ari then looked me in the eyes and asked when he could see me again. We made a plan for a second date.
All this got me thinking. I realized that the kind of action I like best on a first date, is the action of making plans, not making the moves. When a guy asks me out again, I feel my heart flutter with excitement of what’s to come—and at the same time also feeling a sense of calm knowing that there will indeed be something further to come!
The truth is:
When a guy attempts a kiss on a first date, all he’s saying is: “Mmmm! I’m sexually attracted to you!”
But when a guy chooses to hug you and ask you out he’s saying: “Hmm…I’m really looking forward to getting to know you more!”
The latter is far more exciting to me than even the hottest tongue-wrestling match.
-Lindsay Kriger of ifonlyiknew.tv
Lindsay Kriger is a New York University grad with a B.A. in Psychology and the founder of IfonlyIknew.tv—the go-to relationship resource for young women. She has trained with the PAX Mastership and Leadership Program, taught by internationally recognized Relationship Expert Alison Armstrong, and at 23 is the program’s youngest trainee to date. Lindsay has attended numerous seminars on male-female relationships and partnership-building, establishing herself as a relationshipologist and dating guru for young women. She lives in New York City with her dog, Harvey.
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think? Do you kiss on the first date? Why or why not?