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How Many Kisses Where You Live?

In the online comment of one expat in Poland:

Pole to Pole, three kisses is the standard. Living with a bunch of ex-pats where zero up to three are all possibilities, anything can happen! Most of us default to three, and hope the other person doesn’t pull out midway!

Social kissing may be coming back into style in the UK, according to a recent BBC article. But no one really knows when or how many kisses, which can lead to any number of awkward situations.

I suspect social kissing is still a ways off in the US (fortunately), but as most EFL teachers work abroad, my readers are the perfect ones to ask: how many kisses where you live? Bows? Man-hugs?

I have yet to master the art of social kissing. I think it’s fine, nice, even, but don’t like feeling awkward. Am I being cold by shaking hands, or even by waiting for the other person to start? And south east Europe, the region I’ve lived in the longest, presents some complications, as people may expect: I was told by a student and friend that Croats and Muslims kiss twice, and Serbs three times. I’m not sure how this works out in practice in Bosnia but it seems like it could cause some confusion. And what to do if you meet someone of Roma nationality in Kosovo?!

There is no easy solution, and it doesn’t seem right to preface a kissing greeting with a question about religion, preferred second language, or national identification.

I will admit to an embarrassing situation where my male CELTA trainer and I both leaned the same way. We came pretty close to a kiss on the lips, which was of course amusing for the other CELToids looking on. The fact that it was public though also made it clear (I hope) that I was neither making a move nor trying to get a better grade! Furthermore, it makes a good story when “embarrassed” comes up as a vocabulary word.

Have you been abroad long enough to change your social kissing ways? Any embarrassing stories to share?