A Heterosexual Man’s Guide to Kissing Other Men

You’re socially liberal. You’re well-traveled. You’re culturally sensitive and possibly multi-lingual. And you’re a straight man in Buenos Aires.

If it’s your first time in the city, you may be slightly taken aback by the sight of these famously macho men kissing other men in greeting. As a progressive, open minded, non-homophobic individual, you think, oh this is simple, I can do this, it’s just like kissing a woman in greeting.

But it’s not. The mechanics are different, the physical dimensions are all wrong, and there’s that whole scratchy beard thing. So how do you kiss other men as smoothly and casually as a native porteño?

1. Verbally greet your manfriend with a nod of the head and a standard greeting, “Como andas?” or “Que tal?”
2. Approach your manfriend and incline your head clearly, unequivocally, towards their left cheek, signaling this cheek to be your intended target.
3. Simultaneous with your lean-in approach, raise and place your right hand on your manfriend’s left shoulder and pat it in a congenial buddy ‘ol pal manner.
4. Move in for the kiss. Now, what’s more important than actually placing your lips to his cheek is the symbolic gesture of kissing. Place your cheek to his cheek and make a very loud smooching sound that says, “I am kissing you, dude, and it doesn’t make me the least bit uncomfortable with my sexuality, even though it’s really weird feeling your scratchy-ass beard all up on my face!”
5. Follow up with the phrase, “Todo bien?” Say it two or three times just to be safe. Chances are, they will ask the same question, to which the proper response is, “Todo bien.” Therefore, the total verbal exchange should go something like:
“Hola, como andas?”
“Hola, todo bien?”
“Todo bien. Y vos? Todo bien?”
“Todo bien.”

6. Congratulations! You’ve managed to kiss another man without endangering your masculinity. You are now a dude-kissing machine. Look for other dudes in the group and repeat from step one.

Important notes:

Do not mix greetings. For example, some local men will assume that as a foreigner, you will not be expecting a kiss from another man and will therefore offer you a hand. Do not shake hands and then go in for a kiss. It’s like a double greeting. It’s redundant. It’s awkward. It makes you seem either overzealous or insecure. Don’t do it.

Kissing other American men. It’s okay to kiss other American men whom you’ve met in Buenos Aires, but I think if I were to see these guys in America, I would probably offer them a hug but it would be strange because I’d never hugged them before. Mid-level intimacy just gets lost in translation.

While many things are open to interpretation in this greeting, do not place your right hand on your manfriend’s love handle while greeting him. This is a very sensitive place for a man to be touched and it’s like crossing a line.

When kissing a much taller man in greeting, never, ever stand on your tiptoes.


~ by Jeff on November 3, 2007.

12 Responses to “A Heterosexual Man’s Guide to Kissing Other Men”

  1. This is probably the best comment I’ve read on the subject. It is a very useful guide, even for local girls as me. I wish everybody followed these simple instructions. I’m going to translate them, print them and hand them over. The greeting kiss must never leave a wet trail on anybody’s cheek. It’s not a proper kiss, just the smooching sound and, let me correct you, not even a loud one. Believe me, it can temporarily damage your ears.

  2. milk came out of my nose when reading this. Honestly, i still have problems with the whole platonic guy/girl cheek kiss. When to do both cheeks? Do you kiss the cheek or the air? Then there’s the awkward you thought he was leaning in for a kiss so you lean but he wasn’t going to until he saw you lean in and by then it’s too late, and he kisses your hair or your ear instead. 3 more days…woot!

  3. I have no problem with hugging a male friend to greet, to congratulate or in parting. I kiss my wife, my sons and my friends’ female partners, swiftly followed by a firm eyeballed handshake for the husband. I have always thought that if I kissed another man it might be misinterpreted either by the recipient or the onlooker. This article has put a straight view on this tricky issue and it simplifies it to a protocol. I can cope with that.

  4. I am a married heterosexual male. I judge the degree of intimacy with another male based on his comfort zone. This is usually easy to detect by reading body language. I have several male friends who are perfectly comfortable exchanging a nonsexual kiss on the lips and on the other end of the scale are friends who would be mortified by anything more physical than a handshake. (By the way, my kissing male friends are also married and straight). I am happy that in the U.S. hugging between two men is becoming more acceptable. Maybe some day a kiss between two same sex people will become the norm (why not, if you care about the other person?)

  5. Now that I’m back in the US, this issue has taken on another resonance (namely, because it doesn’t exist here). I’ve always noticed that my friends from California (where I grew up) are generally more comfortable with hugging, while my east coast friends in New York might prefer to shake hands with me even after I’ve known them for years. I’m even finding, as Cindy implied with her much too familiar ‘hair / upper ear kiss’ scenario that many women on both coasts are uncomfortable with a quick peck on the cheek.

    In this respect, I do get the sense that women would be a lot less uncomfortable if we men make sure to follow the same general rule as kissing a woman than kissing a man on the cheek – specifically, that lip to cheek contact is not necessary, but rather cheek to cheek + kissing sound is easier to handle. The French are amazing at this — watch a Frenchman kiss a woman hello (and I don’t mean those ridiculous ‘air-kisses’), and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Graceful as hell, and no risk of banging cheekbones.

    I think I realized this when I noticed one of my female friends would always lean in and basically face me with her cheek in a completely funny angle implying she didn’t actually want me to kiss her cheek, but to touch my cheek to hers. Nobody wants to have to wipe themselves dry after a greeting.

  6. “When kissing a much taller man in greeting, never, ever stand on your tiptoes.”

    “While many things are open to interpretation in this greeting, do not place your right hand on your manfriend’s love handle while greeting him.”


  7. I am a married heterosexual man and I feel a non-sexual kiss on the lips between two men is a wonderful display of friendship. Recently my wife and I spent an enjoyable evening with some friends (another married couple). We were saying our good byes. The two wives did the usual girl thing exchanging a kiss on the check. Then the most wonderful thing happened. After a handshake with my male friend, we embraced very intimately. Before breaking apart we gave each other an affectionate and non-sexual kiss on the lips. Neither one of us felt strange about it, although doing it in front of our wives made we wonder what was going on in their minds. A few weeks later my friend’s wife and I were chatting. Out of nowhere came the comment from her: “I know how much you and my husband love each other. It’s about time you displayed it”.
    I do think one rule should apply and that is BOTH men are comfortable kissing. If either isn’t, then let the handshake be the token of friendship.

    • Ok this is amazing. I’m not the only one who wishes I could kiss my male friends non-sexually? And some people are actually doing it? Your story just made my day man. That kind of intimacy should be for all men, not just a scant few. Man I wish my closer friends were like this. Do you want a third? Ok, done. lol. Anyway thanks.

      • I don’t meet people with whom I interact on the internet, but I’m sure a kiss between us would be special.

  8. I think it was the best to explain how we, argentines, kiss. By the way, if you want to know, there is a knew way of greeting (don’t worry mates, it also includes the cheeck kiss).

    This is just for MALE teenagers or young adults (at least until we became adults, the VERY old generation still prefer plain handshakes) Here we go: You extend your arm like if you want to play arm wrestling on the air, as your partner do the same thing (and hold hands tightly) This is done very quickly. Like a high five. Very, very manly.

    This greetin COULD end up in too posible ways depending the level of familiarity:

    1) If your are only acquaintances instead of just letting his hand go, you will change your hand (and his too) into a plain handshake, but here is the important part: You will change the greeting without letting his hand go. It’s a bit tricky and difficult to explain, you just have to try it. Arm wrestling on air, and then handshake, in two phases, in the same movement. Tricky.

    And if you are familiar with him you will do the arm wrestling thing and immediatly resume the protocol of cheek kissing detailed on this page without letting his hand go until the procedure is finish.

    This way of greeting is very popular, (and it’s about..6, or 8 years old) because we mix the macho attitude of us young men and the kiss check, in a very special way. Note that MOST of young man use this salute, and if you meet and argentinian (male) and you perform this, he will like you, no matter what

    I hope you guys embrace this greeting,

    your amigo


  9. Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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