First date question: To kiss or not to kiss?
Dear Straight Talk: I am a 24-year-old man relatively new to dating. It has been my assumption that kissing a woman on a first date is considered "too forward," but after reading relationship advice from various sources, I'm getting the impression that a kiss is expected if the date is going well. Is it normal for a good first date to end with a kiss? — Andy in Bowling Green, Ohio
Sarah, 19, Redding: I, and many other ladies, would find your protocol refreshing. Some, however, would consider your apparent lack of desire insulting. It really depends on how long you've known your date and what her standards are.
That said, it is not abnormal to end a first date with a kiss. Size up the level of mutual attraction and act accordingly. Helpful hint: It's hard to go wrong with a sweet goodnight kiss and a phone call within three days. Good luck!
Katelyn, 16, Huntington Beach: There is no set rule, so don't feel pressured. Best thing for a first date is be open and interested in getting to know the girl.
Katie, 18, Auburn: I've had many different dating experiences. If the boy has been respectful and I enjoyed his company, I don't mind a simple goodnight kiss — and a call or text within five days (I leave room for nervousness about calling). But do I expect a kiss? Not really. But each girl is different. If you kiss her, be a gentleman. Don't drool all over her, just a simple kiss for a first date.
Elise, 20, Orlando, Fla.: I personally don't like it. If a guy tries kissing me on a first date, it makes me feel like he does that with everyone — like I'm just any girl. If a date is going well, obviously you will go on another one and have the opportunity again.
Rachel, 20, Petaluma: First dates often end with a kiss, but first dates that have me longing for second dates are when I don't get kissed.
Catherine, 24, Hudson, N.Y.: I'm not sure I've ever been on a date without a kiss. Heck, I've even kissed before the date. People do generally move faster these days, but being comfortable is what's important. Honesty is always a good bet. If you want to kiss, express your thoughts and feelings. Getting consent is sexy.
Gregg, 20, Los Angeles: A kiss is not expected, but it can show your attraction and purpose. But don't read too much into early kisses; they can be misleading. Best advice: If you like a girl, pay attention to what she responds to, then deliver that.
Mark, 24, Laguna Niguel: The tabloids stir the pot and create unnecessary expectations. I remember this one girl. We totally clicked upon introduction. I kept in touch with her and asked her to dinner the next week. The date was fabulous! We ate good food, had a few drinks and a deeper-than-expected conversation. When I took her home, we kissed for a long time outside her house.
Then she invited me to a party with her friends. Well, I didn't keep up in the drinking department and embarrassingly fell asleep on her couch. That was end of that. I figured after a good first kiss on a good first date that we were well connected, but we weren't. Bottom line: Be genuine, pay attention to cues — and have fun.
Dear Andy: Remember the famous line: "Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly"? Well, stop reading magazine dating advice! It will only make you feel dull. A common complaint I get from both guys and girls is that things move way too fast.
In Mary Schmich's famous "Wear Sunscreen" essay, the words "Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly" were the words most ignored. It's too bad. The "magazine effect" is enormous.
And now magazines have cornered dating advice. And they've designed it around the expectation that everyone wants to be a movie star — or a porn star — and if you don't, there's something wrong with you.
I guarantee, if you just act yourself and act from the heart, the encounters you have will actually be sexier because of their realness. The mainstreaming of pornography has duped everyone to think that sex is what's sexy. The sexiest thing is and always has been the human heart and mind expressed as realness, intelligence and vulnerability. — Lauren
Lauren Forcella co-writes Straight Talk TNT with a panel of 30 teens and young adults. To ask a question or become a panelist, click StraightTalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.