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8 Ways the Arab Cheek Kiss Can Get Awkward

posted on: Mar 1, 2017

BY: Julia Jahanpour/Contributing Writer

Cheek kissing in the Arab world is a sign of greeting, friendship, comfort, and more. When around Arabs, performing the kiss is inevitable. Male-female and female-female cheek kissing is customary, with the male-male kiss being less common. Although not difficult in theory, the cheek kiss has many subtleties, and it is easy to get mixed up in all the ways it is performed.

Here are 8 ways the cheek kiss can be more of a hassle than expected…

1. 3,000 Kisses

Normally two or three kisses will suffice, but when you’ve just come home after a long time away, or someone is extra happy to see you, you might get a stream of seemingly endless kisses! Just soak up the love.

2. Kissing for every possible occasion

Sure, it’s normal to kiss on the cheek as a greeting, a sign of comfort after a loss, or congratulations, but where do you draw the line? Uncle just caught a big fish? KISS. Haven’t seen each other in five minutes? KISS. Where does it end…

3. There is no lips-to-cheek contact. Usually.

The cheek kiss is not a full-on peck on the face. That’s reserved for special loved ones. But there is always that extra friendly aunt, lipstick freshly applied, who loves to kiss all over those cheeks.

4. My right. Your left. Wait…

While usually right-side-first, you never know which side they’ll go for! Be prepared for that awkward almost lip-lock!

5. The one-and-done

There are those who just don’t like the ritual of the cheek kiss, or are in a hurry to get to the food, so sometimes it’s a one-kiss-and-done situation.

6. You’re short and they’re 7’3″

It’s considerate┬áto lean a little to exchange kisses with someone shorter than you, but your extra-tall family friend with the back problems may make it a bit difficult for you to perform the greeting. Chin kisses it is…

7. Hug? Arm on the shoulder? What do I do with the rest of my body??

Depending on how close you are with the other participant, and what the occasion is, your hands might rest on their shoulders, possibly at their waste, or in a full-on hug. Just follow their lead!

8. Look before you kiss!

Someone surprising you with a kiss? Maybe someone in the circle of 38 people you missed? LOOK BEFORE KISSING. Yeah, you want to be quick, but they deserve the same attention as the others. Plus, you might miss…