Why People Do — Or Don’t — Kiss On The First Date

Photographed by Savana Ogburn.
When it comes to kissing on the first date, there’s no shortage of “dating rules” spelling out the conditions in which you should or shouldn’t kiss someone. You should not kiss on the first date or they’ll think you’re not looking for anything serious. You should kiss on the first date, or else they’ll think you’re not interested. You should kiss on the first date, but only a light peck, not a full-on makeout sesh. You should not kiss on the first date if you met on an app, but if you already knew each other, it’s fine. You should kiss on the first date, but only at the end of the date, not in the beginning or middle.
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If all this sounds complicated and a little silly, it is. Really, the only rule of dating is that there are no rules. (Well, besides treating your date with respect and making sure everything you and your date do together is consensual, that is.) Some people like to kiss and have sex on the first date because they want to know if they have physical chemistry before committing to a second date. Some people prefer to wait until they know the person a little better to do anything physical. And some people plan to wait until a monogamous commitment or even marriage before kissing. Personally, I kiss on a first date if I’m into the person and the opportunity comes up, but I’m not going to write someone off if the first date ends without a kiss, either.
I asked people if they kissed on the first date, and their answers show that there is no one right way to decide. If you want to kiss (or more) on the first date and your date also wants to, then why not go for it? If you’d prefer to wait, then wait. And if you want to kiss your date but you’re not certain if they’d be into it, you can always ask.
Here are how people decide whether or not to kiss on the first date.
1 of 10

I always go by the vibe. If it’s a good date and we’re feeling it, why not?

“I always go by the vibe. If it’s a good date and we’re feeling it, why not? Sometimes, when I’ve felt so-so on a date, I’ll have the first kiss to see if there’s anything I’ve missed. I think a kiss can tell you a lot about a person. It’s such an intimate thing — even when you're doing it superficially, it can be a huge calling card.” — Rebecca E. Carvalho
2 of 10

I usually kiss on the first date, unless the opportunity doesn’t come up or I had a terrible time.

“I usually kiss on the first date, unless the opportunity doesn’t come up or I had a terrible time (but I don’t think that’s happened since high school, actually!).” — Lydia
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3 of 10

I kiss on the first date and I think it’s very important. It’s critical in determining if there’s chemistry.

“I kiss on the first date and I think it’s very important. It’s critical in determining if there’s chemistry. As a queer woman (where too often the line between a date and a hangout is blurry) who mostly dates masculine-of-center, butch, and androgynous queer folks, I have received feedback from my lovers that me kissing them first was a nice inversion of the at-times gendered and regressive idea that the more masculine person needs to initiate.” — Maddy
4 of 10

Generally, I prefer a hug.

“I’ll kiss on a first date on rare occasions, but generally, I prefer a hug.” — Dena Landon
5 of 10

I feel like if you like someone, and they like you, and the moment feels right… why not?

“When I was single, I always just went with the flow. If I was feeling the chemistry and wanted to get physical, I would (with enthusiastic consent from the other person, of course, as well as expressing my own). I never subscribed to any of the ‘rules,’ whether it was don’t kiss on the first date, wait three dates before having sex, etc. I feel like if you like someone, and they like you, and the moment feels right… why not?” — De Elizabeth
6 of 10

I always have a weird fear of kissing people when I don’t know them, because kissing is pretty intimate to me.

“I’ve done everything from had sex to not kissed a guy on the first date (I’m straight), so it’s not that I’m prudish. But I always have a weird fear of kissing people when I don’t know them, because kissing is pretty intimate to me.

"If I get drunk on a date, I usually will kiss the guy because I like to kiss people when I’m drunk, but when I’m sober I usually wouldn’t kiss on the first date. That kind of isn’t a great pattern. I’ve also had dates that went okay and then the kiss at the end was great and it made me consider a second date, instead of calling it a one-and-done.” — Anonymous
7 of 10

I’ll kiss if the opportunity comes up. I don’t like to overthink or unintentionally take things slow from internalized sexism.

“I’ll kiss if the opportunity comes up. I don’t like to overthink or unintentionally take things slow from internalized sexism about women waiting X amount of dates for physical intimacy. I do like to ask and be asked though! That internalized sexism only rears its ugly head in my mind in heterosexual situations — I don’t feel that with women.” — Larisa Manescu
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8 of 10

My current partner refused until our third date and we both really wanted the kiss by then, which made it even better!

“I used to always kiss on the first date. I thought no matter how the conversation went, you don’t know about chemistry until you try a kiss. But my current partner refused until our third date and we both really wanted the kiss by then, which made it even better!” — Rae
9 of 10

I’ve always felt that I had to be in love with someone to kiss them.

“I’ve always felt that I had to be in love with someone to kiss them, so unless I thought I was in love on the first date (which happened on a couple of occasions), I did not kiss the guy. I am conservative about my personal behavior, although I don’t care what others do. There were a few occasions when I was caught off guard and the guy kissed me, but this was rare. I was good at turning my head quickly. I have always been weird about germs. I also won’t share a drink with a guy unless I love him.” — Charlotte Laws
10 of 10

If I’m into the person and the date is going really well, I’ll kiss them.

“If I’m into the person and the date is going really well, I’ll kiss them. It’s important to read the cues and body language to make sure they’re feeling the same attraction.” — Nance C.
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