Should You Kiss on a First Date? Kissing Experts Share Their Advice and How To Make It Memorable

Photo: Getty Images/Angel Santana

To kiss or not to kiss? It's hardly a first date if the question of whether to kiss the person isn’t racing through your mind (that is, if it’s going well). And unless you have a strict rule about no kissing (or maybe always kissing?) on the first date, figuring out what to do can be stressful. On the one hand, going in for that first kiss can be exciting and electric, but on the other, locking lips when neither of you is ready can make things awkward.

While you might dream of that type of magnetic connection where the first date naturally concludes in a time- and space-shattering kiss, the reality is, first kisses are often nerve-wracking, regardless of the person or situation. Below, kissing experts share the potential pros and cons of a kiss on the first date, what a first kiss might reveal, and tips for reducing your nerves so you can enjoy a first kiss, whenever it may happen.

Experts In This Article

Should you kiss on a first date?

There is no easy answer as to whether you should kiss on a first date. We all have different approaches to dating, and even experts have varying opinions about whether a kiss on the first date is a good idea or an accurate indicator of a relationship’s potential.

Kissing expert Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, is a huge proponent of "carpe kiss 'em." That is, if a spark of courage and chemistry encourages a smooch, you should trust your instincts and lean into it, even on the first date. After all, kissing as a dating vetting process has been around for quite a while. “It’s believed cavemen sought a mate to procreate by smelling and tasting the saliva of young cavewomen,” Demirjian says. “There is an immunoglobulin [or antibody] in our saliva that indicates good health, and cavemen instinctually relied on kissing to determine [who] was best suited.”

Of course, nowadays, you probably don’t run home to your friends and tell them how great your date’s health is based on a first kiss (though you can increase your risk of getting a cavity from kissing someone who has one). It’s more about what can only be described as a romantic spark. “A passionate, enthusiastic kiss can be a clear signal that there's a strong physical spark between you two,” says psychotherapist and sex educator Lisa Lawless, PhD, CEO of sexual wellness retailer Holistic Wisdom.

“If the kiss feels hesitant or a bit awkward, it may just mean you need more time to get to know each other.” —Lisa Lawless, PhD, psychotherapist and sex educator

When we go in for that first kiss, we’re looking for that strong sense of connection, but sometimes, it may take a few more tries to feel it. “If the kiss feels hesitant or a bit awkward, it may just mean you need more time to get to know each other, or it simply isn't a good match,” says Lawless. Only time will tell. If you enjoy spending time with the person, waiting for a stronger emotional connection to form may lead to more physical chemistry.

For the same reason, there can also be upsides to waiting to share a first kiss until you spend more time with someone; the delay and anticipation can make the moment feel even more special when it arrives. “Waiting for your first kiss allows you to deepen your bond, reduce nerves, and build sexual excitement,” says Lawless.

While an electric first kiss can point to chemistry, it also isn’t the only indication of a good potential relationship. “It is best not to overanalyze a single kiss, as it's just a small part of the bigger picture of how well you connect,” says Lawless. (After all, even those who connect physically off the bat can develop a bristle reaction to certain kinds of touch once the honeymoon phase ends.) At the same time, people give and receive love in different ways that may or may not include certain kinds of touch. “Not everyone expresses themselves through physical affection in the same way, and not everyone feels completely at ease with physical connection right from the start,” says Lawless. As a result, dismissing a great date because of a subpar first kiss may do you a disservice.

“The decision to share a first kiss really boils down to your own feelings about it.” —Dan Rosenfeld, dating expert

That's all to say, the only real way to know if you should kiss on the first date is to tune into your and your date’s feelings during your time together. “In the world of dating, whether you've connected with someone online, met them in person, or have even gone on a blind date, the decision to share a first kiss really boils down to your own feelings about it,” shares dating expert Dan Rosenfeld, founder and director of The Match Lab. “Creating a rule for when you're ready for a first kiss may be a good idea, but remember, it's okay to adjust it based on how comfortable you feel during the date.”

How to go in for a first kiss, whether it's on your first date or 10th

1. Work through the nerves

Feeling nervous about a kiss on the first date might not just hold you back from experiencing a positive physical connection; it can make things uncomfortable should you choose to lean in. “Some of the common reasons why people get first kiss nerves are lacking confidence in their kissing skills, not knowing when the kiss will happen, worrying that their date won't enjoy the kiss, concerns about bad breath, and overall worrying that a bad first kiss will spoil their chances of having another date,” says Rosenfeld.

But there are steps you can take before the date starts to feel more comfortable going for it. Rosenfeld recommends practicing meditation and soothing breathing techniques on a regular basis, but especially before your date. Worried about bad breath? Bring gum to pop after drinks or a meal (or at any other point during a date). And if you're concerned about your kissing technique, read up on how to have a perfect kiss. “Just as people watch online videos of how to do yoga poses, it's just as sensible to watch a video on how to kiss,” says Rosenfeld.

Perhaps most important, however, is to remember that a bad first kiss doesn't necessarily spell the end of things with a prospective partner. “Most people are forgiving and would still go out again for another date if they enjoyed their time, even if the first kiss didn't go so well,” says Rosenfeld.

2. Check in on their body language

Keeping an eye on your date's body language can help you determine when the time may be right for a kiss and if your date is also interested, says Lawless. In particular, certain body language cues can signal that the person is into you, she adds. These include:

  • leaning toward you (or other physically open body language, like uncrossed arms or legs)
  • making eye contact with you often
  • playing with their clothing as they talk
  • touching you during the conversation
  • raising their eyebrows when they look at you
  • mirroring your body language

3. Ask for consent

This simple step may seem a little weird at first blush, but it can help ensure you and your date are comfortable. "You can simply say, 'I've had such a great time with you tonight. I'd love to kiss you. Is that okay?'" says Lawless. “By doing this, you're respecting their boundaries, and it can also make things more comfortable when you kiss because you know both parties want to do it.”

4. Keep it simple

While there may be a lot of pressure to make a first kiss memorable, it's not necessarily the time to try out different types of kisses. Experts advise that a simple kiss is the way to go. “A gentle peck can be a sweet and memorable way to end the evening,” says Lawless, who suggests erring on the side of being more reserved with your moves. In other words, you might want to save the fancy tongue and extra touching for later in the relationship.

Still, that doesn’t mean that a kiss on a first date or any other first kiss can't evolve into something more. “If there's mutual enthusiasm when you start kissing, it's perfectly fine to let that first kiss naturally turn into making out,” says Rosenfeld.

5. Enjoy the moment

Testing your connection with this person and enjoying your time with them is the reason you went on the date, so let yourself savor it.

“Many people rush going in for the kiss, so be sure to slow down, make eye contact, lighten up, and smile a bit,” suggests Rosenfeld, adding that you can also use your hands to touch your date's neck or their back to enhance the kiss. “After unlocking lips and pulling away from the kiss, it can be nice to smile and enjoy a little eye contact with your date to savor the moment and check in with them,” he adds. That post-kiss moment can help you determine if you're both on the same page and if the physical chemistry is there.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sharing a Kiss on the First Date

Is it normal to kiss on a first date?

It depends on a few things. “A big detail to note is whether the date went well—because few dates that go poorly will end with a kiss,” says Rosenfeld. Next, it depends on what type of date it was. Rosenfeld explains that going out for drinks or dinner for a first date is more likely to end in a kiss than going out for coffee or lunch (that is, in broad daylight).

It also may be the case that one or both people on a first date are just not comfortable kissing someone they only just met—and that's totally fine, too.

What percentage of first dates end with a kiss?

“Of the first dates that go well, roughly 50 percent end with a first kiss,” says Rosenfeld, offering an estimate based on The Match Lab's data. In a small study conducted by The Match Lab of 100 single people, however, 68 percent said they were open to kissing on the first date. (For reference, that means that of 10 first dates you may go on, about seven people are open to a kiss right then and there, and three aren’t.)

But even though more people may be open to a kiss on a first date than not, it’s important to base your own actions on how you feel in the moment (and not statistics).

How many dates until you kiss?

As noted, it’s most important to follow your intuition when it comes to determining on which number date a first kiss feels right. However, in the same survey from The Match Lab referenced above, the largest percentage of people said that the second date is the ideal time for a first kiss. This offers you and a prospective partner a bit more time to feel comfortable with each other than you'd have on a single date, while also ensuring that you don't spend a significant amount of time with them before putting your physical compatibility to the test.

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