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How to deal with all the kissing

I regularly attend business networking events and there are 2 men who specialise in grabbing each woman they come across and kissing them.

As a woman I am presumably supposed to be glad, grateful someone cares, honoured to be attended to in this way, or something else that eludes me. I note these men don't kiss the other men. The kissers are not unpleasant in any way, but seem to feel they have the right to do this, and that makes me rather angry. I have been thinking of how to tell them that I don't want or need to be kissed in future. If I don't do this soon I am liable to give one of them a right hook instead.

What form of words would you suggest?


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20th Mar 2012 16:43

Why not...

... offer them some gum or a tic tac? :)

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20th Mar 2012 16:58

I tend to...

... beat them to it by shaking their hand and keeping them at bay.  If they come to kiss me mid shake I will politely grimace, not in a 'urghhhh, boys' way, more in a 'I think we have moved past this socially by now' way.

If they are doing it because they feel it is expected, seeing you being uncomfortable may make them at least say 'would you rather I don't do that'?

Of course if they are fit...

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20th Mar 2012 17:27

Whilst there's no bigger flirt than me

I see exactly where you're coming from with this post.

My wife's a podiatrist and some of her male patients think that they should end the consultation with a "group" kiss. My wife's cringing doesn't seem to work?

I've mentioned that she should say, "you really ought to see a specialist with such a bad case of halitosis"!

Although I am one, as I'm sure you've guessed, some men seriously believe that they're gods gift -why, I know not.

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20th Mar 2012 17:39

kiss off

I really wish this kissing fashion would pass. It never used to be like this! I don't particularly want to kiss anybody that I'm not VERY close to.

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20th Mar 2012 17:48

You should worry ...

Try living in France - the village do's are a real snogfest ! It takes half an hour to say hello to everyone.

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20th Mar 2012 17:48

It's not just the men either!

I am going to take a deep breath and the next time someone - male or female commences planting kisses on me or enveloping me in a large hug, I shall move backwards and comment "You are assuming I'm OK with this level of intimacy. I don't want it thanks!"

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By Flash Gordon
20th Mar 2012 17:56

Grope them

and when they look shocked just tell them you assumed you were on intimate terms! Then wash your hands :)

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20th Mar 2012 18:04

What would men say to another man who tried to hug/kiss them?

I am sure some of you men out there are full of some very lively retorts!! Perhaps those are the ones I should use and not pussyfoot about!!

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20th Mar 2012 19:54

Being realistic about my looks........

.......I always offer a manly handshake to male and female alike. Looking at my hideous visage in the shaving mirror for 31 years has made me particularly sensitive to the sheer horror women must surely feel should I lurch towards them, puckered up in eager anticipation and smelling strongly of cheap Sauvignon Blanc and peanuts. On occasion, I do get blindsided by a woman and then it becomes a question of the correct form. One kiss or two? If one - left cheek or right? Lips to touch cheek or ludicrous air-kiss? If to touch - what strength? A light brush, as soft as a leveret's paw, or a hearty smacker a la Boris Yeltsin? The whole thing is far too complicated and, distressingly American for me. I blame that Stanley Baldwin introducing equal suffrage for women in 1928. I bet we had none of this nonsense in 1927.

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20th Mar 2012 20:30

You're lucky

When I did my training in the eighties we had one (large) client where the MD greeted female members of the audit team with not only a kiss, but a squeeze of the arse as well.


The partner in charge didn't seem interested in doing anything about it.

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20th Mar 2012 22:18

Highlights of the female condition

When I was in my 20's it was normal to be chased around the office when alone with senior male persons. How could you complain?

It was a common occurrence to be groped (usually by revolting men).

The crowning glory was when I was in my late 20's and temping in a merchant bank. I happened to get into the lift with a man from the post-room. As the lift doors closed and we descended down the building he said to me "I bet you'd be surprised at what I'd like to do to you". I decided to pretend I hadn't heard and got out as soon as I could. I jokingly told my immediate manager - a very nice person. He clearly understood how frightening the lift experience had been but didn't make any further comment. He and I knew no-one senior in the company would take any action if I tried to escalate a complaint.

From that day on, every time the post person in question delivered mail, my boss would quietly say to the other staff - "Ah, the Office Rapist". It made me feel someone actually cared.

I would like to think 25 years later that things have improved. I wonder whether they have or not.

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20th Mar 2012 23:53

make the excuse of eating Garlic or you have a jealous husband.i Think the touching issues are dealt with quite seriously by the Police and some of the circumstances above would probably be covered by the sexual offences act.In the companies I worked for in the past such behaviour would not be tolerated and the perpetrator would soon be looking for a new job.As an owner/manager would classify such behaviour as gross tolerance.

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By Abacjm
21st Mar 2012 01:04


Well to save an awful lot of soul-searching for the right words in this situation, maybe the OP can wear a conspicously placed brooch in either jacket lapel/dress, bearing the words "I am HIV Positive"

That should keep the wolves at bay. LOL!

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21st Mar 2012 07:07

Politely say No

It is important you tell them since you are not comfortable with this. They may be others like you as well. 

I would ask to have a word with both of them and just tell them something like this - This is just to let you know I am just not comfortable being kissed, can you please not do this. I prefer a handshake. I hope our business relation will remain unaffected.

The other option is to email them and let them know.   

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21st Mar 2012 09:29

Doesn't bother me ....

and I just take my lead from the other person (within reason obviously!). My wife on the other hand is 'beat them to death with a stick' anti the social hug and kiss. Like one of the previous respondents she just gets the handshake in first and if they advance she firms up the arm which maintains the gap. Oddly enough she has been teaching complete strangers to ballroom dance in her spare time for the last 30 years ... women are odd you know!

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By Supotco
21st Mar 2012 10:06

avoiding a social kiss

When they approach, step backwards and extend your hand. They are most probably not going to loom at you. If they do, stand on their foot.

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21st Mar 2012 10:56

Couple of suggestions:

Tell them you think you have a cold sore coming and would hate to give them herpes.


Simply tell them quietly and from a distance you would prefer them not to kiss you.


I think there are now a lot of men who think it's the modern way to be but they don't quite "get" that there are women who prefer to keep some distance, particularly in business situations. unless they're sneaking up on you you know in advance this is a likley outcome and you can take evasive action they won't be expecting. Tho i would tell them you're not comforatable with it, a) because the evasion may be construed as odd behaviour,

and b) it may make them think twice before they do it to someone else.

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21st Mar 2012 10:58

People stay well clear of me

once they've discovered the nervous twitch in my right knee.

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21st Mar 2012 11:15

Thank you!...

for all the amusing and helpful comments.

This morning I learned one of the kissers has not renewed his membership. Was it something I didn't say?

I would never email someone about a troubling aspect of their behaviour. I must be woman enough to handle it in person with them, but give them the chance to save face. Frankly, some of my own behaviour can be very irritating to others and I would hate someone to make a scene publicly because of it.

Future encounters with men that I don't know in these situations need to be dealt with by me firmly shaking their hands before the odd one or two start any funny business.

And Chris Martin you are clearly very beautiful in the soul, which is where it counts with me!

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23rd Mar 2012 11:46

And I thought it was just me!

I thought I was the only one who disliked kissing/being kissed and was therefore socially frigid!  Don't get me wrong - I will hug and kiss/be kissed - but only when I really mean it, and that keeps it special.  I don't routinely hug and kiss family and frends just when we meet either - only if there is a special reason.

I agree with earlier posters - stretch out a hand for shaking - but maintain eye contact so the determined can't get to your flesh without breaking the eye lock.  Or maybe holding their look in itself may be sufficient to deter.

Happily, these days, as I get older, I also get hairier - and I suspect my moustache (esp. with a bit of food, or other "matter" adhering to the longer whiskers) is a deterrent, too.

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23rd Mar 2012 11:50

as a fan of Japanese management techniques

you may wish to consider the Japanese greeting of a gentle bow.


Timed correctly it should result in either a fat lip, or bloody nose.


Shoudl stop any future issues...


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23rd Mar 2012 11:51


I encountered this when the practice of offering the peace in Church extended from acknowledging your neighbours extended to walking around the building trying to "greet" al present.

I sought advice from my mother, nearly 90 and Scots, (and so ethnically adverse to public affection), who advised to extend the arm for a handshake - full length and then they cannot get close enough to kiss.


Works for me.


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23rd Mar 2012 12:30

How exactly...

... is a chap supposed to conduct a proper inspection of a lady's cleavage if she insists on keeping him at arm's length, I ask you?

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By mm01
23rd Mar 2012 12:48

I read this post with amazement last week wondering which males in their right minds would attempt to go in for a kiss at a networking event....well to my shock a visitor at my networking meeting yesterday went round attempting to kiss all the women!!  Having read this post and realising how awkward it makes you ladies feel I had a quiet word with him about "networking etiquette" and he said he had no idea it would make anyone feel uncomfortable!

I spoke with the guy who runs the networking organisation later on in the day and mentioned this very topic to him and he said that they currently have one female member pressing for sexual harrassement after a fellow member got a little too friendly and thought a pinch of the old rear would be a lovely greeting for one young lady!


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23rd Mar 2012 12:53

Social Pecadello

I find that emitting a chesty cough at close range will often solve this problem – phlegm optional.


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By Hansa
23rd Mar 2012 13:39

The revolting habit of expecting to kiss on meeting

I'm male and have noticed over the last decade the increasing popularity of this revolting habit.

- Social & business events which include English or French attendees are marred by this - I find most women on first meeting lean forward expecting a kiss.  I simply stand back and extend my hand for shaking.  I suspect this would (generally) work for women too.  If anyone were to be so crass as to comment, I think the woman might be completely justified in asking "don't you think kissing to be a little over familiar?"

On the same theme, has anyone noticed that people tend to stand too close when speaking? - I watched a hilarious clip a few years ago filmed from the ceiling of a ballroom (Embassy reception or similar) and speeded up, where an American & Japanese made 3 complete circuits of the (large) room - each time the American stepped forward, the Jap stepped back! 

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By kalewis
23rd Mar 2012 13:34

If only a kiss were all I had to deal with

Many moons ago at the begining of my career the MD at the company I was working for asked me if I might care to go to a swingers party with him!  At the time all i could do was blush and politely decline.  Now, in my later years I think I would be confident enough for the right hook option suggested earlier in this thread......

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23rd Mar 2012 14:44

Good on you MM01!

I think the way forward for us women is for more men to understand what we are still having to put up with and help us by having a word with the offender in question when appropriate.

The offending men are so used to treating women as second class citizens, they are likely only to believe another man when he explains how insulting it is.

The good news is that there are so many very nice men out there who would never think of treating us badly - many of them, it seems being accountants!

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23rd Mar 2012 14:53

Not professional

I'm a man and find the kissing behaviour entirely unprofessional.  It's just not appropriate for the workplace - maybe with your good friends outside of work, but not with purely professional relationships.

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23rd Mar 2012 17:16



 Are you sure it was a  "Busness networking event" you were attending?

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24th Mar 2012 11:54

I have been in this situation both in the office with clients and at meetings. With clients it is largely a very occasional way of saying an extra special thank you and I don;t generally mind taking that at face value. Don't most of us give someone we know a hug and kiss (male or female) as a way of thanking them if someone has done something extra nice for us or got us out of a mess at times? 

One of my clients - s true gentleman in all other respects - always tried to give me a kiss when leaving. He was quite elderly and I think it was just the way things were done in his day when leaving a friend's house. I liked the fact he say me as a friend but was not comfortable with the kissing. It did in fact affect my opinion of him so I kept my dog at my side whilst talking to him after that and got someone else to show him the door for a while. He took the hint. The dog is only small but is very jealous and the snarl he gave this bloke every time he approached was enough. The dog allowed a handshake so I managed to keep a valued client without anyone feeling offended. A bit drastic but it worked!

However kissing at a meeting is entirely inappropriate and I would do what a previous poster said and take a step or two backwards or "see" someone you know in he background and lean out of the way of the kiss to wave to them. If they didn't take the hint then I would have to say something quietly to them i.e. just tell them I don't feel very comfortable with it. If you don;t say anything they will assume it is OK. Just don't get uptight and blame them for what they may see as a friendly gesture.If they ignore that you have a perfect right to complain to the organisers of the meeting.

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24th Mar 2012 14:41

It isn't a friendly gesture in the meeting scenario

I have thought long and hard about why these men are motivated to do all this kissing and have come up with the stark conclusion that it is a power matter and useful to them both to show publicly their domination of women (who they regard as inferiors) and to indicate to other men what studs they are. That leads me to assume they have an inferiority complex.

While commonsense and a small bit of christian charity tells me I must be kind when telling such people it is wrong to assume it is OK to do this my real self feels very angry indeed.

As to expecting anyone else at such a meeting to back me up - experience tells me I would be very lucky. Most people don't dare to stand up and be counted. And for stronger sexual harrassment it would be absolutely pointless asking any meeting organiser to help there. Most of them wouldn't know what an earth to do - so would just leave the matter on the back burner.

No wonder this has been going on unchallenged for so long. The victim - when they complain - is likely to face being ostracised for rocking the boat.





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25th Mar 2012 10:19

I personally think that the

I personally think that the best way to handle these situations is through humour. I would probably make a big joke about it, drawing in other women in the group (so it is very public) and maybe commenting on how they are disciminating against the other men by not kissing them too. I would suggest that from now on they kiss everyone and not just the women! Every time someone launched their lips at me after that I would remind them that there are plenty of men feeling left out. That should put a stop to it. If it doesn't, you have a certain kind of character on your hands that I personally wouldn't hesitate in offending by putting them firmly in their place. Some people only respond to that kind of approach.

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25th Mar 2012 10:51

The Hand-Crush Shake

I wonder if the kissers of women also go in for the too-firm hand shake with men? 

I think Moonbeam is onto something with the dominance suggestion. 

Good job they don't do as dogs do and do a bit of dry-humping as well (although I suspect many would really like to). 

Or sniff each others bums, come to that.

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25th Mar 2012 18:23

I like Catherine's suggestion

Thank you Catherine - I think your suggested comments indicate clearly to the transgressor that it their behaviour is sexual harrassment without actually saying as much, and give me an opportunity to rope in the other men nearby, one or other of whom is likely to make a ribald comment to the man concerned.

Very clever!

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26th Mar 2012 12:15

Ah Catherine, men kissing men, just as ridiculous

I don't like all the air kisses, cheek (facial) kissing. lip kissing, and then the algorithm needed to calculate the number of kisses, 1,2,3, and even with friends and familiy it's a rare occassion.

If it does happen it's not me who takes the lead and if a woman is prepared for some unknown reason to attempt an air kiss I go with the flow, cringe inwardly and try not to embarrass the lady.

So, whilst it's not the same as being chased round the office we men are just as uncomfortable with these scenarios.

Surely this is something that the European Courts could make a ruling on; being intrusive in the extreme, this seems right up their street.

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26th Mar 2012 11:43


I seem to always proffer the wrong cheek and end up bumping noses, just cannot get it right somehow - probably because I would rather not although it does appear to have become the norm recently.  "Normal" people appear quite happy to do this nowadays - when I was really young it was only the "dirty old men" - they always smelled revolting and slobberred from my memory.

When I was a teenager I worked in an outpost office of the (still) biggest firm of surveyors and architects and one of the latter was far too handy and thought women were fair game.  I took some papers to his department and he grabbed me from behind and held me in a bear hug. I was horrified and jerked myself upright to get away  - silly man, he always had a pipe in his mouth and I caught this really hard with my head pushing the pipe  backwards into his throat nearly taking his tonsils out, he had a sore throat for days.   He was not pleased but kept his distance - at least with me.



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27th Mar 2012 09:26

Not a power thing

That's just not true that it's a power thing.  Women kiss women too - and sometimes women go for the kiss with a man, it's not always the man going in for the kiss (yes I have been in that situation).  I think you'll find it's an attempt to make you think you're really good friends with them, i.e. they're closer to you than the other randoms you've met.  For example at a networking event, you might shake hands with 15 people (and promptly forgot their names), but if you only kissed one of them, it seems that they trumped the others on the closeness of that relationship.  And you probably didn't forget their name!

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28th Mar 2012 08:51


Think yourself lucky that the worst you've had is an unsolicited peck on the cheek.

As a man, I've always been happy with a firm handshake with other men - the worst that happens is that very occasionally you get a limp-wristed wet kipper handshake. This results in a lifetime intense dislike of the person concerned.

I've recently been subjected to an unsolicited bear hug from someone who totally ignored my outstretched hand. He has spent the last 20 years in the U.S. and this is apparently normal for our friends across the pond.





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28th Mar 2012 09:14

@ thomas 34 - Shudder

Sympathetic shudder mixed with intense feeling of discomfort.

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