Ah, first dates. They’re a necessary evil of sweaty palms, grasping for conversation topics, and freaking out over if you remembered to swipe on deodorant. Then, there’s the added conundrum of whether to cap the first date off with a kiss. Cringe.
You’ve probably sat at a first date, making a mental pro-and-con list for kissing the person in front of you while they prattle on about the new band they “discovered.” At the same time, you’re trying to decipher if that glint in their eyes means they’re interested in you. Oh, and are their lips dry because of the impending winter, or…? Wait, is a brunch date even an appropriate time for a first kiss?
The anticipation, vulnerability, and waiting to see if the “right” moment comes can be confusing, even if the act of kissing is, honestly, a ball. “Deciding to kiss or not on the first date can be tricky, because you’re not only considering how you feel, but also trying to assess how it will land with your date,” says Samantha Burns, counselor, dating coach and author of Done With Dating: 7 Steps to Finding Your Person.
“Deciding to kiss or not on the first date can be tricky, because you’re not only considering how you feel, but also trying to assess how it will land with your date.”
Naturally, everyone has different preferences and expectations for first dates.“Physical intimacy and the pace at which you’re comfortable expressing it varies so much from person to person.” On one hand, a little first-date smooch can go a long way. “It takes this new potential relationship to the next level, exploring and confirming whether there’s physical chemistry or not,” Burns says. Test the waters, so to speak.
On the other side of the coin, er, lips, you, of course, don’t have to be ready to lock lips right away. Reserve that for the next time you hang out, or the next time…what’s the rush? Let’s get to know this person a bit more, like their nighttime routine. Burns suggests saying something along the lines of, “I don’t kiss on the first date, but I’m looking forward to it when I’m more comfortable,” to clearly communicate that you’re interested but not quite ready.
No matter what you decide on your date, this tried-and-true advice always helps: Trust your gut. Read the room. As one of the women below says, “You do you.” After all, as my good friend likes to say, it’s either a good experience—or a good story.
To prove that point, these women* share how they decide to kiss on the first date (or not)—and the deets of their most memorable first-date smooches (for better or worse).
*Some names have been changed.
“It depends on the person.”
“For me, it depends on the person if I kiss on the first date or not. If it’s a total stranger, like a setup or dating-app situation, then I won’t. I’d be weirded out to lock lips with someone I just met. But if it’s someone I already know, then kissing on the first date isn’t weird to me.” —Lyla H.
“I would’ve gone home feeling like I semi-wasted my time.”
“I just feel it out, but usually, I’ll let them make the first move. If I really like someone, I’ll give signs that I want the smooch, like a coy hair flip or I just inch closer.
“I once met a guy from Bumble, and while we didn’t have a lot in common and I honestly found him a little annoying at times, there was definitely sexual energy there. After going to four different bars (yes, four), I finally went back to his place and we had a smooch fest. I got what I wanted out of it—just some validation and a hot hookup. I’m glad we kissed on the first date, because I would’ve gone home feeling like I semi-wasted my time, spending too much money and staying out late.”—Julianne I.
“Only do it if there’s a spark.”
“I think society puts unnecessary pressure when it comes to whether or not you need to have a first kiss on the first date. I’ve been on, maybe, 20 first dates and have only kissed on the first date once or twice. You should only do it if there’s a spark, you’re truly attracted to the person, and you feel a connection to them. If not, you do you. Do what feels right and disregard what anyone else has to say about it.” —Addie M.
“If you’re vibing with the other person, why not?”
“Go for it! I think if you’re vibing with the other person, why not? For me, if the date is going well, I’ll one-hundred percent go for the kiss. It’s usually great, except for one time, this guy made growling noises—it was so odd.” —Caroline S.
“Just go with the flow.”
“It’s all about how well or poorly the date goes. I try not to think too hard about it and just go with the flow.” —Katie M.
“Does it appear to be something that would be pleasurable?”
“I think people tend to feel pressure from all around to feel like they should or shouldn’t. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves what we desire, does it appear to be something that would be pleasurable, and does the other person involved desire and consent as well?
“My fiancé and I made out in the middle of a street festival in Chicago on our first date. I am pretty sure one person said we looked like we were in a really steamy porn. We got engaged the next week and are getting married in April 2020. I’ve had many petite relationships that started with a kiss, and that was it.” —Heather R.
“The person has to express a vested interest in getting to know me.”
“I only go for the first-date kiss if I feel like the person expressed a vested interest in getting to know me. I don’t care how attracted I am to them or how easily the convo flowed—if I don’t get the vibe that they are interested in actually dating me, not just sleeping with me, I won’t kiss them that soon. It’s less for them as it is for me—I don’t want to get too attached if they turn out to be a crappy person.” —Marissa B.
“It helps me decide if the person is a keeper.”
“I used to be particular and never kiss on the first date, but after playing the field, I realized that was a very silly rule I played by. I used to wait until the third date, and if we really connected, I’d let a guy kiss me. However, I realized that not kissing on the first date hinders the vetting process of whether or not the guy would be good in bed. So I stopped being so picky about kissing on the first date and I now prefer it. It helps me decide if the person is a keeper.
“I had gone on a few dates with this one guy, and we clicked immediately. He made me laugh, we had so much in common, and he was quite the gentleman. I thought he was a fantastic catch. We were five dates in and he decided it was a good time to kiss me, and boy, I wish he didn’t. He was the worst kisser. I felt like I was drowning in spit as he tried to nearly eat my face. It’s safe to say I did not go home with him that night and there was not a sixth date.” —Angelica C.
“I usually decide before the date.”
“I usually decide before the date if I want to smooch or not. If I don’t, I’ll cancel. But then, of course, once you are on the date, you have to make sure the chemistry is there before making a move.
“One Friday night, I decided to text a cutie from Tinder to come over, and we hung out on my back porch. We ended up talking for like two hours. But my porch was set up so that we were across from each other, which made it really difficult to physically flirt. Eventually, I awkwardly said we should move inside, and we ended up just standing in the middle of my bedroom, looking at each other and looking away. Finally, he stepped up and kissed me. It was a good kiss, but there was just so much awkwardness built up that I couldn’t enjoy it. After that, I actually took a break from swiping because I realized I had no clue what I wanted. My head wanted one thing, and my body wanted another.” —Katie C.
“I’ll kiss pretty much anyone.”
“I typically just see how I’m feeling and what kind of energy I’m getting from the guy. There have been (usually alcohol-fueled) instances where I end up making out with them at the bar in the middle of the date if things are going super well. It’s less serious or ‘taboo’ than sex on the first date. There’s never any thought of, ‘Oh, if I kiss on the first date, he’ll think I’m easy and won’t want to see me again,’ so I’ll kiss pretty much anyone. I will say, I don’t usually initiate the kiss, but I will linger a little or grab his arm after hugging and see if that gets him to initiate it.
“One time, I had just finished a hard cardio-workout class, showered, and scarfed down a quick dinner before heading to the bar where I was meeting my date. I guess the dinner didn’t sit well with me, because after one sip of my margarita, I started to feel queasy. I didn’t want to run to the bathroom right away because I had just gotten there and knew it would look like I needed to call a girlfriend to come bail me out. He was cute enough and super tall, and I knew he was someone I had chemistry with, so I wanted to play it cool.
“I had some close calls but managed to keep from puking for four drinks and several hours of conversation. We finally headed outside to call our Ubers, and as I stood up from where we were sitting, a wave of nausea hit me. I managed to squeak out, ‘I need to use the restroom,’ before sprinting to the bathroom to throw up. I finished, then reached into my purse to grab a piece of gum, only to find that I had none left. I walked back out to meet up with him outside, and as my Uber pulled up, he leaned in for a kiss. I didn’t want him to be able to tell I had thrown up, so I turned my head and he ended up kissing my neck. It was awkward, and he didn’t text me afterward, but he did follow me on Instagram…and ended up texting me and trying to hook up with me a couple months later.
“Moral of the story: Always carry gum, and playing hard to get always works, even after you’ve just thrown up on a first date.” —Jesse R.
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