How to kiss socially: Norms of Kissing Across Cultures

Social Kiss or Love

Social Kiss or Love

I thought I had to write about this, after a friend of mine went through this interesting goof-up. This guy from the US was waiting to greet his friend’s mother from Japan. They came and met and it was time to kiss. While he wondered which cheek was permissible and probably she wondered too, he ended up kissing her on the mouth. OMG! Social goof ups like that are not uncommon. Many of us often face the situation, and though while there is no hard and fast rule on kissing, mostly depending on the comfort levels one shares with the other, this post seemed like one whose time had come.

Wedding season would soon begin, and social gatherings would start becoming common. So to make the most of your knowledge on kissing-norms, we at Personal Art bring you this interesting post. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed researching, interviewing people and compiling it.

-Cheek kissing is the most common form of social greeting in many countries. These include Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Mediterranean and Latin America. Depending on local cultures, this is permissible between men, man and woman, adults and children etc.

-Depending on local cultures, a cheek kiss could involve touching cheek to cheek and cheek to lip. In the Phillipines for example, cheek to cheek kiss is the acceptable form of greeting. In the big cities of North America, only one such cheek kiss could suffice. However in many other countries, the kisses could be on both sides and number two or four.

-Depending on how much you know a person, shaking hands, hugging and verbal greetings could also take place. When the hug is done as a social contact, this would only involve contact of the upper body parts.

-While in some countries like the US you need to know the person well to kiss him/her as a social greeting, such is not the case in some Latin American countries, where introductions could immediately be followed with a social kiss.

-Two men kissing, could be socially acceptable in some countries like Argentina. However in other countries, this is not usually acceptable.

-In some countries, the social form of greeting may not be kissing, but could be hitting the head from side to side. This can commonly be seen in parts of Africa and even Turkey.

While each nation follows some norms of kissing, these usually change with the region and with age. Younger people are more apt to kiss each other, than older people who are reserved in most cultures. If you are new to a place and unaware about norms, you can let the other person take the lead. However, if in any situation you are uncomfortable about a kissing norm, feel free to express your views and let them know about your social norms.

People are usually unaware about social norms in other nations and will give you the benefit of doubt. And if you are in love with someone, trying to tell them through kissing, go ahead and break those social norms, so you can easily get your message across. ‘A kiss then is an act that makes the need for words superfluous’.

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