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Is it OK not to kiss on the first date?

Whether or not to kiss on a first date is a common dilemma. Some people feel nervous about being physically intimate too soon, while others see kissing as a harmless way to show interest and gauge compatibility. There are good arguments on both sides of this debate, and no single right or wrong answer. The most important things are understanding your own comfort level, respecting your date’s boundaries, and not making assumptions.

Should I kiss on a first date?

There are a few key factors to consider when deciding whether or not you want to kiss on a first date:

  • Chemistry and attraction – Do you feel a genuine connection and physical spark with this person? Kissing may come naturally if the mutual chemistry is there.
  • Comfort level – Only kiss if you feel truly comfortable doing so. Don’t force physical touch before you are ready.
  • Signals – Has your date been giving signals they may welcome a kiss, like lingering eye contact and physical touches? Or have they seemed uncomfortable with closeness?
  • Pace – Some prefer to take things slowly and let intimacy progress gradually over several dates. Others are comfortable with kissing early on.
  • Values – Your personal values and boundaries around physical intimacy on a first date matter most.

The most important factor is whether you personally feel ready to kiss this person on a first date, not external pressure or conventional expectations. Move at your own pace.

How to tell if your date wants to kiss

Because first date kissing preferences vary so much between people, it can be tricky to know if your date is interested in kissing you. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Prolonged eye contact – If your date holds eye contact for longer periods, they may be signaling desire.
  • Smiling and laughter – Frequent smiling and laughing together builds chemistry and intimacy.
  • Finding excuses to touch – Gentle touches on your hand, arm, back, etc may test the waters.
  • Snuggling closer to you – Subtly shifting closer to you shows comfort with physical closeness.
  • Licking lips or lip biting – This gesture can telegraph eagerness to kiss.
  • Grooming gestures – Your date may fix their hair, straighten clothes, freshen breath, etc to prep for a kiss.
  • Compliments – Flattering comments about your appearance reveal attraction.
  • Slowing speech and lowered voice – Gentler tone can invite intimacy.

Of course, not all dates who do these things want to kiss. The best way to know for sure is to ask politely before making any first move. Consent is essential.

How to kiss on a first date

Once you’ve decided you’re ready for a first kiss, here are some tips to make it great:

  • Pick the right moment – Choose a private, quiet time when you are both relaxed. Don’t rush.
  • Make eye contact – Give a warm gaze to signal your intent before leaning in.
  • Go slowly – Bring your faces close together gradually, so they have time to pull away if not comfortable.
  • Pause before contact – Hover your lips just slightly apart at first to build anticipation.
  • Start soft – Begin with light, gentle kisses before deepening the passion.
  • Use your hands – Gently hold their face or touch their arm/waist to increase intimacy.
  • Read reactions – If your date kisses back, groans softly, or presses closer, they are likely enjoying it.
  • Don’t overdo it – Keep the first kiss(es) relatively short and sweet. You don’t want to get carried away.

The first kiss doesn’t need to be perfect. If you focus on being in tune with your date, you can’t go wrong.

Good first date kisses lead to…

Here are some great outcomes you can expect after a positive first date kissing experience:

  • It deepens intimacy and chemistry – Kissing releases bonding hormones, leaving you both wanting closer connection.
  • It builds comfort with touch – Having a good initial kiss eases nerves around further physical interactions.
  • It sets the tone for romance – A kiss is a threshold into dating as more than just friends.
  • It solidifies attraction – A great kiss confirms you both feel mutual desire and weren’t misreading signals.
  • It increases chances of a second date – People typically won’t kiss someone they don’t want to see again.

In short, a satisfying first date kiss helps ensure your next date goes just as well or better!

Bad signs from a first date kiss

While most people have positive first kiss experiences, here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Forcing it – If your date seems stiff, pulls away, or denies consent but you persist in kissing, stop!
  • Too much too soon – Letting the kiss escalate to intense groping or hands under clothes can feel uncomfortable on a first date.
  • Bad technique – Sloppy kisses with lots of teeth and tongue are a turn-off.
  • Bad breath – Good oral hygiene is a must before a date when kissing may occur.
  • Seeming bored/distracted – If they are visibly distracted and not engaged, they may not be that interested.
  • Awkwardness after – If you two can’t make eye contact and seem uncomfortable post-kiss, it likely didn’t go well.

Pay attention to your date’s signals during and after the kiss. If you don’t think it went well, slow down on physical intimacy for now.

No-kiss first dates

Just because you don’t kiss on the first date doesn’t mean you won’t eventually develop chemistry. There are many valid reasons you may not kiss on a first date:

  • Nerves – It’s normal to be anxious kissing someone you just met, even if you really like them.
  • Taking it slow – Some people prefer to build emotional intimacy before physical.
  • Consent issues – Your date may be waiting for an explicit verbal indication the kiss is wanted.
  • Environment – Kissing may feel awkward in loud, crowded bars or restaurants.
  • Interference – Friends, parents, or others being present can deter kissing.
  • Saving it – No kiss can also build tantalizing romantic tension for the next date.

The absence of a first date kiss is no indication of lacking chemistry or attraction. Let things progress naturally.

How to recover if you get rejected for a kiss

Getting declined an attempted first date kiss can feel embarrassing and disappointing in the moment. But you can recover gracefully:

  • Apologize sincerely – Say you misread the signals and you’re sorry if you made them uncomfortable.
  • Don’t take it personally – It’s likely just about nerves or needing more time, not a rejection of you.
  • Change the subject – Diffuse the awkwardness by redirecting the conversation elsewhere.
  • Make a self-deprecating joke – A little humor can help laugh off the uncomfortable moment.
  • Be cool about it – Don’t sulk or make your date feel guilty. Keep the mood upbeat.
  • Confirm interest – Restate you do have romantic interest in them for the future.
  • Keep physical space – Give them reassuring distance and don’t try to kiss again on this date.

With grace and maturity, you can still salvage the situation and your chances of a second date.

Asking before a first kiss

Explicitly asking to kiss your date may feel awkward, but it is the best way to avoid assumption and be sure you have consent. You can make it romantic:

  • “I’ve had an amazing time with you tonight. Can I kiss you?”
  • “I’m so tempted to kiss you right now. Would that be okay?”
  • “We don’t have to rush anything, but I’d love to kiss you if you’re comfortable with that.”

This shows care for their feelings, not a lack of confidence. If they say no, smile and say “I appreciate you telling me” so they don’t feel guilty. Consent will only deepen connection and comfort with physical intimacy as you continue dating.

When to stop trying for a first kiss

If your date clearly shrinks away from hand touches or hugs, avoids prolonged eye contact, turns their cheek when you lean in, or verbally expresses disinterest, take the hint. At a certain point, continuing to push for a kiss stops being romantic and starts feeling pressuring. Back off and let them take the lead in initiating any first kiss when they are ready. The spark may light up down the road.

Other intimate dates without kissing

You can have an incredibly romantic and sensual first date without locking lips. Some alternatives to kiss-focused intimacy include:

  • Slow dancing closely together
  • Cuddling in front of a movie or while stargazing
  • Giving an intimate massage
  • Taking a moonlit walk hand-in-hand
  • Enjoying a candlelit dinner with lingering gazes
  • Cooking together with light caresses
  • Exchanging eloquent love letters
  • Having intellectually intimate conversations

There are endless ways to generate that spark of closeness and attraction without physical contact. Focus on emotional connection first.

Expert advice on first date kissing

Here are some key expert tips on navigating first date kissing:

  • “Take it slowly. Rushing into kissing adds pressure.” – Dr. Wyatt Fisher, dating coach
  • “Pay attention to body language. If they regularly touch your arm or hold eye contact, they likely want that kiss.” – Celia Schweyer, dating expert
  • “Don’t worry if there’s no kiss. That anticipation can make the next date even better.” – Dr. Jane Greer, relationship therapist
  • “Asking politely shows you respect boundaries. If they say no, don’t make them explain why.” – Dani Manslow, counselor
  • “Focus on fun conversation and emotional connection. A kiss will happen when the moment is right.” – Claire AH, dating advisor

The key is tuning into verbal and nonverbal cues, moving at the pace you and your date are comfortable with, and not assigning too much meaning to a first kiss.

The role of kissing in a relationship

That first kiss is just the start of physical intimacy in a relationship. As you grow closer, kissing evolves:

  • Early stages – Kisses are passionate but nervous as you explore new territory.
  • Several months in – Kisses become more comfortable, familiar and convey deeper emotion.
  • Established relationship – Spontaneous kisses become an expression of affection during your daily life together.
  • Long-term – Kissing maintains intimacy. You know how to please each other but also mix things up.

Don’t neglect kissing as the spark of new romance fades. It bonds you through different relationship phases.


Deciding whether to kiss on the first date depends entirely on your unique situation and instincts in the moment. There are no universally right answers. While some see kissing as the perfect end to a great first date, others prefer to take it slowly and let that anticipation build over several dates. With mutual consent, comfort, and respecting each other’s signals, you can have an amazing first date whether it ends with a kiss or not.