If you’re Arab or live in the region, then kiss greetings are definitely a part of your life. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? One on the right cheek, one on the left. Or is it one on the left cheek and one on the right? Wait… what about those people who hang on to one side for multiple kisses?

Yeah, cheek kiss greetings are more complicated than they look.

People from different countries have different kiss greetings. People from different areas have different kiss greetings. Different families have different kiss greetings. People make up their own styles. The styles change. In essence, there is no one protocol we all follow.

Because of this, it’s easy to find yourself in an unsavory situation. Here’s a list of some of these situations. Follow along and collect points to find out how awkward you are when it comes to kiss greetings. We’re also going to suggest ways to avoid these moments when possible.

  1. Hair in the faceYou are meeting an older person who you must stoop down to greet. Forget that your legs are cramping. The older person now has your hair all over their face. They’re pretty much stuck in this situation.How can you avoid the hair-in-face? Twist your hair around behind you or to the side before stooping down.Give yourself 2 points if you’ve smothered an elderly person with your hair.Pocahontus-braid
  1. Old aunties and grannies and authentic kissesMost of the time, when we lean in, we just give the other person an air kiss. In fact, let’s be honest: some of us lean in without offering a kiss at all. But older relatives take this stuff seriously. I won’t go into  details, but let’s just say you’ll hear these kisses smacked on you.I won’t lie. I don’t think there’s any way of avoiding this, except maybe saying you’re sick. But then you might get a tray of garlic, onions, and honey forced on you. Yum. What’s the solution? Just be grateful for the love they’re trying to show you.

    Give yourself 2 points if you love your grandma.

  1. Cultural cheek clashesEven your fellow country(wo)men probably do kiss greetings in different ways.Someone once told me that in Kuwait, the standard in the past was two kisses per cheek (right, left, right, left). But when this person returned to Kuwait years later, she saw that the protocol had changed. People now linger for several kisses on one cheek.Cheek kisses are a result of cultural exchange. As long as people continue to interact, protocols will change.

    The best thing to do when you don’t know what to expect from the other person is to follow their lead.

    Give yourself 1 point for meeting people from different backgrounds with different kiss greetings.

  1. Meeting a fellow followerLike I said, the best thing to do is to follow the other person’s lead, like in a dance to which you don’t know the steps. The risk? The other person might not be confident either.The other person may have been expecting you to lead. In this case, you’re likely now in a situation where you’re both stretching your necks back and forth. In this case, you need to seize control of the situation and end this dance immediately. Be confident. If they’re still reaching, give them that last kiss and move on.

    Give yourself 2 points for doing the most hesitant shimmy ever.

    glee shimmy

  1. Hand sandwichSorry for the graphic image, but that’s essentially what this is. Sometimes while reaching for a kiss, you also reach for a handshake. In the process, the person does not see your hand. Your hand is then left hanging there between your bodies.It’s okay. Happens to the best of us. You can’t force them into it. Just pray nobody saw.Give yourself one point. Your poor hand deserves it.

    And what if someone wants to shake your hand and you don’t want to?

  1. Post-kiss intimacyMost are okay with just the kissing. Others will take it a step further and get uncomfortably deep into your personal bubble. You know who I’m talking about. They kiss you then talk to you with their face just millimeters away from yours. They’re so close that you can see their pores. So close that you are now self-conscious about your breath.You can accept this if it doesn’t last for long. If it’s lasting too long, pretend to fix your hair or scarf. Or pretend to have to blow your nose. In theory, the fastest way to stop this is by asking them to give you some space. But most of us wouldn’t do that because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

    Give yourself 2 points if your personal bubble popped this way.

If you scored less than 3 points, what’s wrong with you? Do you even live here?

If you scored higher than 3 points, you are perfectly normal. Try to be confident and stick to a protocol. Keep these tips in mind and you can make things better for yourself and for others. Here’s a summary of the tips and a few extras:

  1. Twist your hair around behind you to keep it away from people’s faces.
  2. If you want to avoid kisses for whatever reason, say you’re feeling sick.
  3. Don’t put your hand out unless you see the other person approach you with theirs out.
  4. Get out of a sticky situation by fixing your hair or scarf or blowing your nose. Or go extreme by acting like you’ve got to sneeze.
  5. Dab a small amount of perfume behind your ears to give people a little something extra.
  6. If you usually give kisses to older men, it’s best to wait for them to start. This could save you the pain of rejection.
  7. Number 6 applies to adolescent boys too. Wait for them to begin the greeting. Sometimes, you kissing them will make them feel like little boys.

Share your situation with us. Do you think a universal protocol is necessary?