Great Date, No Kiss

You thought you clicked, but the night didn’t end the way you’d hoped for. Here's what’s going on when the evening is smooch-free.

by Hillary Quinn

hrys Wu, of Los Angeles, met a guy at a party. They hit it off. An invitation to the theater followed... as did tickets to a baseball game... then dinner at a Mexican restaurant with strong margaritas and a cozy couch. Eventually Chrys found herself on a romantic hike, gazing out over one of the most magnificent views she'd ever seen—with a date who still hadn't kissed her. "He was standing so close to me, I could feel the heat radiating from him," she recalls. "I thought to myself, 'If I turn around now to face him, will he kiss me?'" The answer? No. The hike ended with a hug, and Chrys spent the next day wondering what was up.

"If you've really connected with someone on a date, and no kiss is forthcoming, it doesn't necessarily mean the person isn't interested in you," says Pepper Schwartz,
A shy date would rather miss out on a good time than risk being turned down.
Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Washington, and author of Everything You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong. Instead, there could be something else going on, and learning to read the signals can help you figure out what it is. Here, some possibilities:

Your date is a shy guy (or girl)
"This is probably the most common reason for not kissing," says Schwartz. "Shy people are worried about being accepted and they're not good at figuring out other people's level of interest." The shy date would rather miss out on a good time than put themselves in the position of being turned down. "While you're wondering where the kiss is... they're wondering if their advance is welcome," explains Schwartz. That turned out to be the case for Chrys' date (who eventually became her boyfriend).

If your date looks down, avoids eye contact, and laughs nervously, and it takes them a while to warm up to intimate conversation, you can bank on the fear factor. "Unless they get a very strong 'go-ahead' signal or someone else makes the first move, it's just not going to happen," says Schwartz. The solution? Spring into action by initiating the kiss yourself, or take the slightly more coy approach of cozying up, putting a flirtatious smile on your face, and posing a daring question. "What does a guy/girl have to do to get a kiss around here?" should send the message loud and clear.

Your date has conservative values
When religion — or a strict upbringing — guides a person's behavior, they may take any kind of physical contact very seriously. If that's the case, says Schwartz, no amount of prodding, flirting, or begging for a kiss will get you what you want. "Even asking them for a kiss may cause them discomfort," she explains.

Several years ago, Kristin Coronado, a Catholic girl from New York City, was asked out by a Mormon guy, for whom kissing — or any premarital physical contact — was not in the cards.
"If I go in for the kiss and the guy doesn't kiss back, I know I'm getting blown off."
After several blissful dates went by without intimacy, Kristin was disappointed, but not surprised. "We sat on the beach, I cooked for him, he played me his guitar, read poetry to me—it was always so romantic, but he never made a move," she recalls.

Your best move? Initiate an honest discussion about your date's outlook on relationships, says Schwartz. Often, devout dates will tell you about their faith early on, given that religion is an important part of their life. That can provide an opening—ask them, for example, "Does your faith influence how and whom you date?" If you don't share your date's views on intimacy, you might have to adjust your expectations—or give thought to your compatibility.

He (or she) is just not that into you
There it is—the phrase no one wants to hear, and few people do (because, generally speaking, disinterested dates don't fess up). "If I go in for the kiss and the guy doesn't kiss back — or worse, gives me his cheek — I know I'm getting blown off," says Ali Basye of Seattle.

Hang in there for another date or two (and if those don't materialize, your suspicions are confirmed), and see if the vibes change. A lukewarm ending to subsequent dates should trigger some questions on your part: "Consider asking some questions about what they're looking for in a partner," advises Schwartz. If they respond with, "I want someone who's smart, pretty, and funny—like you!" then you know you're still in the game. If, on the other hand, they seem to be talking about a third person — like, "Well, I really haven't found anyone I click with" — you're getting a strong message that they may just be marking time with you. At this point, courage is often your best bet. Dr. Schwartz recommends saying something blunt, like: "You know, I wanted to kiss you last time, but you didn't seem into it. I'm just kind of wondering what's going on." At best, you'll get the kiss.. at worst, you'll have an answer for the absence of one.

You're unwittingly sending out stay-away signals
Let's say your date is warm, flirtatious, definitely "into" you... but never offers up a kiss. That's when it might pay to take a look at what you're contributing (or in this case, not contributing) to the date. Nonverbal signs that might ward off a kiss include keeping your hands in your pockets, crossing arms in front of you, not letting your legs touch when you sit beside one another, avoiding eye contact, and even wearing straight-laced, buttoned-up-to-there clothing.

"Flirting generally involves touching and connecting physically to the other person, so make sure you're sending the signals that get you what you want," says Dr. Schwartz. In addition to making physical contact, like casually touching your date's hand or arm in conversation or gazing into their eyes, be sure you're appearing verbally "open" as well. If you keep the conversation distant and impersonal (say, by telling your date that you lost your last job, but not saying how you felt when you lost that job), you're essentially saying that you don't want to be known. And when you're hankering for a kiss, that's the last signal you want to give!

Hillary Quinn is a Seattle-based writer who has written for many national magazines, including Self, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Maxim.
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