When’s It Time to Touch?


You spot an acquaintance and as you approach one another, you:

a) lean in for the side cheek kiss
b) do the hug thing
c) shake hands
d) do the head nod of acknowledgement from a distance

Greetings get greatly complicated when you don’t have a set greeting yet established with someone. The cheek kiss seems to be the most common form of greeting someone in our twentysomethings, but is there a certain set time one must wait before they do the cheek kiss with new friends? And furthermore, is it really all that appropriate to cheek kiss someone who is just an acquaintance? And what if you run into a group of friends who are with one of their friends you don’t know well?…Do you cheek kiss everyone except for that person and if so, are they offended? Are you then a bitch with a capital B? Do you pity kiss them hello just to make them not feel (a presumed) left out?

I know you’ve been there before. You don’t know when it’s time to touch, you don’t know what the proper greeting etiquette is. You’re uncertain of whether you should be the one to say hi first, you may lean in for a hug/kiss/hand shake just as they lean in for a different greeting and it gets downright awkward. So what is a blonde, bronzed, twentysomething to do?

I remember once running into someone who I had recently befriended. She worked at a cafe next to where I worked and we’d often chat on lunch breaks or those ‘need out’ mid-day breaks many of us tend to take. On this particular day I went in for the hug. It felt right and just came to me as soon as I saw her. So I did it, though I hadn’t ever before, and she seemed a bit taken aback. ‘Are we hugging now?’ she asked semi-sarcastically as she embraced me in return a bit awkwardly. I gave her an all-too-enthusiastic ‘yes’ and many times following that interesting interaction, I remember revisiting it in my mind, laughing out loud to myself at how eager I was to hug, and that perhaps it was too soon.

When meeting someone for the first time, a hand shake is most appropriate. But in future sightings of the person, keep your hands to yourself and instead opt for the side cheek kiss or the hug. When hugging, don’t let it slip out too soon. I know you think it’s cute and shows just how confident you are to hug someone upon your first meeting (especially if alcohol is involved) but people have boundaries and it’s just a bit too much from the get go. If you don’t want to get trapped in the ‘How are you/what have you been up to’ fake and unnecessary convo, a head nod from a distance will suffice.

We often send off messages without any words so next time you spot an acquaintance be aware of the message you are trying to send.

– Jenny Jen

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