I was thinking about physical affection and how it means different things to different people.
There are people who see a kiss on the cheek as the height of romance. It’s sweet, it’s innocent, it’s beautiful.
I’ve known people who feel the same way about a forehead kiss. There’s something about it that is intimate and caring. It shows an intimate level of affection. In fact, I had a friend who thought a forehead kiss meant more than a peck on the lips.
However, I do not feel the same way. For me, a kiss on the cheek is a kiss on the cheek. It means nothing. It’s affectionate sure but it would not make me swoon. I feel even less for a forehead kiss.
What are you supposed to do with a forehead kiss? If you’re gonna kiss me, kiss me properly.
Whenever I read fluffy fanfiction and it’s filled with forehead kisses it makes my stomach turn. Is it my fault for picking fluff? Maybe. But proper kisses can exist in a fluffy fanfic, it’s not illegal, they’re not mutually exclusive.
I was thinking about why I think this way and I thought that it is perhaps because of the way my people greet.
In my culture we greet via kisses on the cheeks. We alternate between cheeks when greeting. In France they kiss twice, one on each cheek. In Rwanda we do more kisses, like five? I don’t really count but five seems to be the average.
So for me, since I was young, kissing on the cheek is causal. It’s a form of greeting. There is no romance behind it. I’m just saying hello or, if giving a single kiss on the cheek, saying goodbye.
When I moved to England I never understood why people got so hyped if a girl/boy kissed them on the cheek in Primary school. In my head I’d think, “It’s just a greeting, no?”
I quickly learned that for them it was not just a greeting but that it meant something deeper, something romantic.
Recently that made me think about all the different ways in which we greet people and how that colours how we see certain types of affection.
Take hugging for example, in England we hug a lot. I went to a girls school and hugging was our way of greeting. So I got real used to hugging. In church as well we hug as a way of greeting.
However, in other parts of the world they bow as a way of greeting. If they are to make physical contact the most they will do is shake hands.
Thus, how we view hugging and how those cultures view hugging is different. Just as how I view cheek kisses and people who don’t greet that way view cheek kisses is different.
The same can be said for eye contact. In Rwanda, my mom says you shouldn’t look an elder in the eye when talking to them, it’s seen as rude. The same goes for when greeting, you don’t tend to look them dead in the eye.
Whereas in England it’s weird if you don’t look people in the eye when greeting them or talking to them.
If I knew more greeting practises I would list them but those are all the ones I know.
Isn’t that interesting?
I find it interesting. Our cultures can have us view different types of affection differently all based on how we greet each other.