Drake’s utter fail with Rihanna at the VMAs reminds us of an age-old question: To kiss or not to kiss? It’s a dilemma that could throw you into a tailspin of over-analysis, self-defeating talk and crippling anxiety.
If you go for the kiss and she turns away, it’s a tough pill to swallow for any guy. (A pretty big matzo ball to eat, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.) It’s hard not to feel thoroughly rejected.
The thing is, rejection sucks, but the unknown sucks more. I’m not here to tell you to dive in headfirst at 100 mph. Slow your roll, but dip your toes in the water, fellas. Here are a handful of legitimate reasons you should always move in—or at least ask—for that first kiss. (Note to Drizzy: We mean on a first date, not in front of millions of people during a big music video awards show.)
Being a gentleman doesn’t mean you have to avoid physical flirtation, just like being a classy lady doesn’t mean you have to practice celibacy.
1. She likely won’t make the first move.
As much as I vehemently disagree with this, we live in a world where women are programmed to be passive. When we’re young girls, we’re taught to be flirtatious but never forward. When we’re older, we’re rarely encouraged to ask someone out first. Nor is it really socially acceptable to initiate the “what is this?” conversation without running the risk of sounding crazy. Think about it: When’s the last time you watched a woman propose? It’s bullshit. But because of all of this “tradition” swirling around women’s brains, odds are she won’t make the first move.
2. You’re probably going to send mixed signals if you don’t.
I recall one single time a date didn’t kiss me. My girlfriends told me he’s probably gay to make me feel better. He was French. Maybe it’s a French thing. Or a foreign thing. But I always date foreign dudes and this is the first time one didn’t go for the kiss. It was daylight. People get awkward in daylight. He just wasn’t into it. But, wait, he asked me out again. When we ultimately went out a second time, and we did eventually kiss, it was like my dog threw up in my mouth. And I wasted all that time sweating it when I didn’t know I didn’t want to kiss him anyway. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Kissing will establish sexual attraction, or lack thereof (equally helpful).
When you kiss your date, it gets the big question mark out of the way. Are we into each other? Maybe she’ll turn her head to dodge your lips or say no. There’s your answer. If she accepts and it’s great, well, great. You two are compatible and should keep going out. If it sucks to the point that it’s un-trainable or un-improvable, maybe you don’t see each other again and cut your losses before deeper feelings get involved. It wouldn’t be too extreme of a move. In fact, evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York at Albany found that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women say they’ve ended a budding relationship because a kiss didn’t go well. It’s nature’s ultimate litmus test. Trust it.
4. The “gentleman” card is a socially constructed theory that does not exist.
Here’s the myth: Being a gentleman doesn’t mean you have to avoid physical flirtation, just like being a classy lady doesn’t mean you have to practice celibacy. What we’re dealing with here is the male version of slut-shaming, or labels that are utterly subjective. If you want to make out, make out. So long as it’s invited, there’s no written rule that says if you don’t go for the kiss, you’re being a gentleman.
5. Kissing is fun.
Our first experiences with love and security typically involve lip pressure and stimulation through behaviors that mimic kissing, like nursing and binkies. We then lay down neural pathways in our brains that associate pursing the lips with positive emotions. So when we kiss, it also evokes positive emotions. Positive emotions are fun. So don’t think about the possibility of her rejecting you and the pain that it would bring. Focus on the tremendous pleasure you’ll feel when you go in for the kiss, she accepts and suddenly you’re making out. Which is one of the best feelings.
6. Kissing is legitimately good for humans.
Our lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone, so kissing fuels a cascade of neural impulses between the brain, lips, tongue, facial muscles and skin. A kiss can spike the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to feelings of craving and desire, oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone” and fosters a sense of closeness, and adrenaline, which boosts our heart rates and heats us up in anticipation. What’s more, cortisol, which is known as the “stress hormone,” takes a dip, blood vessels dilate, breathing deepens, cheeks flush and the pulse quickens. So really, kissing is just healthy.