Picture this: You’re several dates in, things are going well and you’re sending him all the signals—but once again, no goodnight kiss. Plenty of women walk home alone after a seemingly stellar date wondering “why won’t he kiss me?”
This can be extremely frustrating, but before you waste time wondering whether it’s something you’re doing (or not doing), it’s important to remember that these circumstances may be due to multiple factors.
In some cases, it could be a simple misunderstanding or misaligned expectations. Other times, the answer may revolve around long-standing traditions of propriety and religious and cultural expectations of modesty before marriage.
For example, Robert from California tried to change his habits in order to encourage his date to kiss him—when it may have been a miscommunication more than a reflection of him.
“Many years ago, I went out on a first date with a woman and she wouldn’t kiss me because my mouth smelled of cigarette smoke,” he explained. “So, I quit smoking and I went out with her again a week later… and she still wouldn’t kiss me. That was the last time we went out.”
Melba from London had the opposite experience. Despite their flourishing relationship, her prospective partner thought she wanted to take it slow—until she showed him otherwise.
“I was seeing a guy for some time, maybe a few weeks. Lots of flirting, declarations of attractiveness, that sort of thing. I hadn’t encountered this kind of guy before. Normally the guy is all over me, all touchy-feely, etc. I wondered if he didn’t fancy me. But his texts would describe how beautiful I was. I started to get frustrated a bit,” Melba explained.
“One night, I got rather intoxicated and I made the move and kissed him. Oh my sweet potato pancakes did he kiss me back! He was so passionate, and I could tell from how deeply he kissed me that he did want me all that time but he was respecting my space. It’s been a year now and that’s one of the many, many things I love about him.”
Why do we kiss, anyway?
It’s pretty weird that we show affection by putting our mouths on each other, when you think about it, but according to an analysis by the American Anthropological Association, there are good reasons as to why some cultures adopted smooching as a sign of affection.
The study, which looked at 168 cultures from around the world, shows that only 46% of cultures actually kiss in the romantic sense. According to the analysis, it all has to do with social complexity.
“There is a strong correlation between the frequency of the romantic-sexual kiss and a society’s relative social complexity: the more socially complex the culture, the higher frequency of romantic-sexual kissing,” the authors concluded.
“We kiss because it feels good… literally!” added Anna Morgenstern, dating coach and matchmaker in New York City. “Oxytocin is released in the brain, which is the ’love hormone’ that makes you bond to the person you’re with.”
We’ve been on several dates—so why is he waiting to kiss me?
Whether you’ve been on several dates or you’ve been together for years and the spark has fizzled out, there are endless reasons why he won’t kiss you. Like many things, dating culture today has been affected by the #MeToo movement.
While a greater focus on and understanding of consent is a good thing, it can be customary for men to slow-walk some things to make sure you’re fully on board before making the first move. According to Morgenstern, there could be many reasons why a guy won’t kiss you after the first few dates:
He’s shy and inexperienced with women. He’s most likely trying to be respectful, as some shier men tend to look for the woman’s lead. The shy guys sometimes need a push or a sign to show them you want them to kiss you.
He’s afraid of rejection. Men can definitely overthink things in the beginning, and they may convince themselves you’re not into them or you’re reserved. He might be playing a certain interaction over and over in his head and is worried that kissing you may be coming on too strong.
He’s self-conscious. He might also have bad breath, a cold sore or any other medical condition that could prevent him from kissing you that has nothing to do with you. Some guys are self-conscious about their breath, in particular, and if they feel it’s not as fresh as it should be, they might avoid kissing altogether.
He’s just not that into you. Most of the time, if a guy wants to make a move and feels you’re into him, then he’ll do it without playing any games. If he’s interested in you, he’ll make a move soon enough. However, if he’s not into you, he probably won’t attempt to kiss you. If you’re already in a relationship and he’s no longer kissing you, it could be a sign of something bigger going on.
His religious beliefs preclude him from premarital physical intimacy. Even if you and your significant other are of the same religious faith, specific community mores and observances can vary widely. Many men and women genuinely hail from communities where it is taboo and immodest, if not altogether forbidden, to have physical contact before marriage.
If that includes someone you’re currently seeing, it may be worthwhile to have a frank discussion about each other’s pre- and post-marital expectations, adherence to religious beliefs and preferred lifestyle.
How can I get him to kiss me?
Maybe you weren’t giving obvious signals that convey willingness/openness, or maybe he was misinterpreting them, like with Melba’s potential partner. If he’s still not kissing you, it’s best to create an open line of communication. Maybe he’s self conscious or just not that into you, but there’s no way to know for sure without proffering a window to talk about it.
“If partners are not aligned on kissing (as with any other significant issue), it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the topic,” explained Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist.
According to Manly, it can be as simple as saying, “Hey, I really enjoy kissing and see it as a sign of affection and connection. I’ve noticed that you don’t kiss me. I’m really curious about what kissing means to you. It would feel great to me if we could work on this part of our relationship.”
After all, kissing can be an important sign of affectionate attention that is normal, connective and affirming for some partners.
If you’re not ready to talk about it just yet, you can definitely hint that you’d be receptive to a kiss by touching his arm or leg throughout the date and breaking the touch barrier.
Morgenstern suggests moving in closer to him and pretending you can’t quite hear him until your face is right next to his.
“You could even do a little kiss on the cheek if he gives you a compliment—which would surely tell him that you’re open to smooching… or just lean in and go for it,” Morgenstern said.
“If you’re not getting flirty vibes from him, then he might not be attracted to you. That’s OK. Move on, and meet someone who is.”
It started with a kiss
You’ll eventually know when someone just isn’t into you beyond avoiding kissing. You won’t catch him doing things like making eye contact, making a point to prioritize your needs or other obvious ways to convey his affection.
“There is a difference between a guy being respectful or shy versus just not interested,” added Morgenstern.
“If he is interested, he will keep making plans with you and show you that he wants to be in your life. The best relationships are the ones that start slow—to really get to know each other first before jumping into the physical part.”