To kiss someone involves lots of emotion. Kissing, in some cultures, is the sign of highest affection, reserved for only those individuals in your life that mean the most to you.
Whether it’s a romantic partner or even a parent, kissing is seen in today’s world as a form of intimacy.
However, not all cultures view kissing as a form of intimacy. It is possible for friends to kiss platonically and without any emotions attached.
There are other signs besides kissing that will signal whether two people are “more than just friends.”
Kissing entered the mainstream media beginning with silent movies in the early 1920s.
Ever since the inception of silent films, romantic scenes, and a very skewed definition of “love,” people have felt the need to kiss to show affection in American culture.
However, the origins of kissing are much older than that. The first documentation we have historically of people kissing dates to around 3,500 years ago.
This was the time when the Indian Vedic Sanskrit text was written and described lip-locking as a sign of affection.
It makes you wonder if kissing really is the ultimate form of showing affection, a primal behavior, or just an innocent act between humans that has been interpreted to mean much more than it really does.
Every opinion is different for every individual. Below are some of the factors that can impact whether or not a kiss between two friends is romantic in nature.
A recent study done in 2021 found that only 46% of some of the world’s cultures kiss to show affection!
That is a staggeringly low number, considering how ingrained the act of kissing someone is in our minds.
Instead of kissing to show affection, other cultures use different physical interactions with their mate to show they care.
For instance, in China, people prefer to kiss in private and do not readily display public affection.
On the other hand, France is perhaps one culture that epitomizes the fact that kissing is…just friendly!
In France, the traditional kiss is known as “la bise,” and it is a form of affection or greeting.
People in France kiss to welcome each other, and this is known as a basium in Latin, the language of ancient Romans.
It was the Romans that introduced the concept of kissing in order to show affection toward their friends.
And it was the Romans that spread the culture of kissing in France to greet others.
There are various reasons why someone would want to kiss another person, according to anthropologists.
Although a hot steamy kiss right before foreplay (or during) can signify lust and physical desire, kisses are also able to help people:
- Feel emotionally close to another adult (not a child)
- Show that they care
- Comfort another person
- Be physically close to someone else (in a non-sexual way)
- Appear approachable
- Appear welcoming or inviting to another person
- Make another guest feel at home
Although a kiss might seem a bit invasive in American culture, think about kissing your children.
Children are able to accept kisses freely and wouldn’t think twice about it.
For some reason, there is a boundary set for adults. However, there is a good way to kiss a friend and not break their boundaries.
First and foremost, it’s important to obtain consent to physically touch someone if it is invasive, such as kissing.
Even hugging someone without consent might seem a bit invasive and can quickly lead to an awkward moment (ahem, Kesha and Jerry Seinfeld).
Before you attempt to kiss someone, even if it’s your friend, ask them the below questions:
- Do you feel comfortable with people kissing you? Some people might not be open to any type of physical contact due to past trauma, cultural differences, or even medical conditions. Even if you think you know your friend well, it’s always best to clarify their customs and be accepting of any cultural differences.
- Can I kiss you? Visit France and you’ll quickly be bombarded with kisses as greetings and “la bise”! However, if you live in another country and want to kiss someone (friend or not) always ask for their consent first. This can still be a sweet moment if you’re kissing a love interest, or a friend you want to take things to the next level with. Speaking of which…
We know that both men and women in different cultures (like France) might use kissing just to greet each other or show affection (on the cheek or lips).
Other cultures that use kissing as a friendly gesture include:
- The Philippines
In some of these cultures, kissing between two opposite sexes is forbidden (such as in some parts of the Middle East) but between two of the same sexes is completely acceptable.
Other cultures will vary depending on whether they want to initiate one, two, or three kisses. Russians, for instance, kiss to greet and then hug each other!
Clearly, there are vast cultural differences with anyone you meet, so how can you tell when a kiss means more?
Surveys have shown that the ideal “first kiss” for people lasts 10 seconds! Of course, a peck on the cheek or lips is much shorter than that.
Obviously, the length of time here matters since you will be kissing someone for the first time when first taking things to the next level.
If you’re experiencing your first kiss with someone and it lasts 10 seconds or more, this is probably a sign that you’re in the “passionate first kiss” territory.
On the other hand, shorter kisses might mean the kiss isn’t necessarily the beginning of a steamy romance.
If you’re on a date with someone, have just felt incredibly close to them, and are now having a close moment, this is a good sign that your kiss means more.
In fact, surveys have also shown that people tend to close their eyes during their first kiss. Are your eyes closed?
Have you asked for consent and your date knows the kiss is coming? Context is everything when determining if your kiss is friendly or not!
In a perfect world, the first kiss would be a magic moment straight out of a romantic comedy.
We would feel as if there was nothing that could stop us from feeling the first kiss enchant our body.
Unfortunately, some first kisses might be too short, too awkward, or simply confusing.
This is why asking for consent is so important.
Not only is consent when kissing a major part of being able to kiss someone and make them feel comfortable, but it also establishes the reason behind the kiss.
If you simply kiss someone out of the blue or they kiss you without any sort of context or consent, it can leave a person feeling bewildered.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to “fix” that first kiss of yours.
- Ask questions. There’s no shame in asking your date, your friend, or someone that kissed you why they did so. Is it a part of their culture? Did they mean anything by it? Asking questions can help you get the answers you need.
- Ask for a do-over. For some couples, re-doing their wedding vows or even gifting new anniversary gifts can be a sign that they want to mend their relationship and make it even better! What’s wrong with asking to do-over the first kiss? This is not only a funny, light-hearted way to mend an awkward first kiss, but it’s also one that you and your partner will talk about for ages to come.
Many cultures view kissing as a strange act or one that is best reserved for being at home. However, other cultures fully embrace the kiss and all it entails.
From showing affection for friends to being a form of greeting, kissing has come a long way since it was first described 3,500 years ago.
Kissing can be platonic between friends in some cultures.
However, if you have agreed to kiss a friend in a romantic way and have clarified that your kiss is more than platonic…enjoy the magical moment.