That Moment

It’s a question for the ages: How do you know if someone wants to kiss you? There is a certain contingent who would in complete self-assuredness say, “You just know!” Well, no, you don’t. That sort of mindset has a variety of flaws. All too often, what you think you know is simply wrong. A false positive (so to speak) causes all sorts of trouble. In the other direction of error, missing the boat by missing actual interest may not cause much trouble, but causes little joy, either.

At some point we’ll discuss the reasons behind behaviors of plausible deniability, their validity and inherent weaknesses, but not today. For now, just assume that someone is signalling interest in a kiss – and a kiss right now – and that you need to be able to see it in order to respond appropriately. It’s a conversation without words, and a lot of fun. So what does that exact moment look like?

Fair warning: This is going to sound as clinical as can be. It’s in the interests of romance, though, so we’ll get as specific as possible. Learning about verb tenses may not be very sexy, but the poetry it enables certainly can be!

The most aggressive signal is a leaning in, about to where you can simply lean forward yourself to complete the distance. The interested person will always put themselves in proximity, especially if they want that kiss, and the most assured (or fearless) will literally stick their neck out. Usually the chin won’t be tucked down, for obvious reasons, unless they want you to take a very strong lead by first physically raising it so lips can meet. It’s kind of rare to see that combination of aggression and submission in a first kiss, though, and usually the lips are pretty openly offered. I’ve seen a sort of head-ducked coyness combined with directly leaning in and chin up to receive a kiss all at the same time, but I really don’t know how it was accomplished. Effective, though.

Eyes and mouth can make very different statements in the lean-in signalling, but as they are the same as elsewhere, we’ll move on to those.

Someone telling you they want you to kiss them will almost always have slightly parted lips. It’s used in advertising all the time because it is a powerfully attractive thing. Whether their expression is playful and smiling or more serious is a different matter. The smile will be less broad than usual, the better to offer a pillowy pucker. A smiling offer of a kiss promises a lot of fun. When I was younger, a shift in expression to the serious really confused me. Is she concerned? Uninterested? Sad? What’s happening? What was happening was a shift away from thought about expression to thought about the other person. My fear that she was thinking, “Uh oh, does he want to kiss me? Yike!” was reasonable – the specter of the false positive loomed large in my mind – but observation of enough people lets one differentiate between the two. Romantic movies have this sort of expression shift a lot, which is handy for the new student of Aphrodite.

The eyes are the main sign. Holding someone’s gaze, when combined with the above other signals, is a fairly direct way of consciously telling them of your romantic interest. More sure and less necessarily conscious, though, is eyes lingering on your mouth. That pretty much usually means they either can’t hear you well or want to kiss you. Eyes moving along a triangle between your eyes and mouth is a very clear indicator.

Now, all of these things are possible individually, and exponentially more reliable as they add up. Someone being near you who occasionally holds your eye with theirs may or may not be asking for a kiss. Likewise the one you’re talking to who glances at your mouth at times. They may be – and the more uncertain a person is, the less certain their signals will be – but it’s not the way to bet, for the most part. On the other hand, someone standing very close and lifting their chin a bit while their eyes drift from your eyes to your mouth… well, it doesn’t get much clearer than that.

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Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.