I kissed a man and it wasn’t my boyfriend! But hey, you naughty… I’m not talking about a lover’s kiss. I’m talking about La Bise, something actually much more French than a French kiss! 😉
Yes, French people usually kiss a lot! When not in a pandemic at least.
The first time a French person will greet you by kissing you on the cheeks will probably be perplexing. The number of accidental lips sliding against each others, or nose bumping probably has a part to play in how embarrassing it can be. Other times, you might just be left hanging in the air waiting for a second or a third kiss, while the other person is one kiss short!
All of this happens to experimented French kissers as well! Nothing to be worried about. Although it is always a little embarrassing when ‘accidents’ happen with the wrong person.
As you already know, La Bise is how French people greet. Between friends and family. Not with strangers, not with professional acquaintances, although it can happen too.
For obvious reasons, La Bise was no longer an acceptable way to greet people, for the past year or so. Yet, I know a lot of French people who never stopped, but a lot of others wondered if the pandemic would definitively stop such practice.
I certainly stopped kissing people and actually felt mostly happy about it!
On not kissing people for over a year!
You see, I’m not a very social animal and I’ve mostly been team #StopLaBise. To me, the pandemic put an end to some unnecessary meetings and habits, like La Bise with people you barely know. It sometimes gave me the distance, I felt I always needed, with the people I didn’t want to be close with.
When kissing people is a social requirement, it can be annoying.
When arriving somewhere, it can take a while to kiss everyone there. And then you have to do it when leaving too. It is time consuming!
It can be annoying when you barely know the person, when you see the person everyday, when it’s always awkward… And yes, bad breath, sweat, heavy make up and stuff are not great!
Plus, one has to be honest and admit that not all bises are pleasant. Some are uncomfortable, some cheeks just do not feel good, some are just not a good match for your own! And some bises were always unnecessary.
Indeed, all in all, a lot of bises felt like a requirement, not necessarily something I enjoyed!
I’m not the only one feeling this way, which makes me feel a little better. The #NoKiss and equivalent hashtags are trending in France, every now and then!
But then… I kissed a man and I liked it!
Yes! Still talking about La Bise!
A few days back, for the first time in over a year, I met with a friend of mine and we greeted each others with a bise! Well, 2 bises actually! Because Paris requires 2, it’s like that!
And actually, he wasn’t my first, but my second! Yet, it was different.
And so, indeed I like it! I suddenly remembered what it was like to greet a friend, to feel close, to be happy about such proximity. We embraced each others and kissed and it absolutely felt right.
I also felt safe in that moment. Feeling safe and being safe are two entirely different things and maybe in a few days, I will regret this but still, in that moment, everything was fine. It was more than fine. I actually enjoyed it.
La bise which had become a social obligation, suddenly regained all its meaning. It suddenly was again a way to show how much we had missed each others, a way to share a moment of intimacy and display our affection.
We touched, we kissed, we stood close and lingered. Things that felt, in that delightful moment, so natural and yet, things I had not done for over a year, which suddenly seemed like an eternity.
In that moment of blissful ignorance of all pandemic related distancing requirements, I also wanted to rush and kiss and hug all my friends! Not doing this just yet, but this bise gave me hope that maybe soon, it will be a reality. A reality in which not only we can kiss and hug but also a reality where I will enjoy it!
So yeah, I kissed a man and not only did I liked it, but I’m also ready to do it again!!
I thought I should share this glimpse of hope with you and add my 2 cents to this widely discussed French habit!
I know, I know, La Bise is a confusing thing!
In case it makes you feel better, French people get confused with the technicalities of La Bise too! So confused that there is even a website to tell you the most important aspect of it: how many and which side to start with! In short 2 kisses, starting with the right cheek is the norm, in most places. But indeed some do 4 kisses. Check it out: www.combiendebises.com
Please do note that when greeting someone with La Bise, your lips should generally not touch the other person’s cheek. That is for La Bise as a mostly social obligation.
When kissing someone you love, do as you please! One big kiss with a big hug, several of each, hands on their arms, their shoulders, holding them tight…
Yes, French men do greet their male friends with La Bise too. It isn’t weird.
And yes, consent is key!
It may be difficult in certain circumstances, but you can refuse La Bise. To not sound impolite, you can always say you are feeling a little sick! Put your hand on your throat for maximum effect. No, you shouldn’t have to lie because consent doesn’t need to be explained, but here we are anyway.
La Bise is not a sexual behavior and for most French people, expecting consent for La Bise would be as weird as expecting consent to shake hands.
I’m not saying this is right and things are evolving, especially since the pandemic.
In a couple years, maybe La Bise will be forgotten, or solely back to private circles. I’m actually all for that. Kissing and hugging the people I love and greeting others in a slightly more distant way! An ideal world!!