How Much Physical Contact Is Appropriate on a Date?

A few months ago I was on a second date with a guy I had met online. After a really nice dinner at a local restaurant, he grabbed my hand while walking out onto the street. It caught me completely off guard. Given that I was still trying to figure out whether we had a romantic connection, it seemed like too much contact, too soon. To make matters more awkward, when I tried to pull my hand free, he promptly grabbed it and wouldn’t let go. Since that experience,I have been thinking about physical contact and how much is appropriate when you’re just starting to get to know someone.

Although the hand holding experience I described above made me feel weird, if I’m into someone I have no problem with some physical contact on the first date. It all just comes down to how comfortable I feel with the person and what kind of connection we have.

Not sure when to make the first move? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Hugging – Everyone is different, however I happen to be a hugger. If I meet someone for the first time and we have developed a connection and/or I’m not instantly turned off upon meeting them, I love to go in for a quick friendly hug. It establishes some human contact, without being creepy.

However, as I recently discovered not everyone feels that way. A date went in to give me a hug  as soon as we met (which I totally enjoyed!) but after, once we were sitting down, he asked me, “I hope it wasn’t weird that I hugged you.” Although I am totally pro-hugging and it wasn’t weird for me at all, I thought it was really considerate that he brought it up.

2) Touching the small of the back – Guys, if the date seems to be going well and you want to add a bit of physical contact, try touching your date on the small of back  – for example, while guiding her through a doorway. Some women may totally disagree here, but I find a gentle touch to the back conveys caring and chivalry, and is overall a gentlemanly thing to do.

3) Don’t be creepy – The trick to any kind of physical contact during a date is to keep it playful, not sexual. A hug, a light touch on the back or arm can be a playful way to flirt without getting too intimate. If you’ve established a physical connection already, you can always go in for some hand-holding – even if it’s just touching your date’s hand across the table. As a rule of thumb, don’t rub your date’s knees or legs, or get too intimate. Unless you have already gotten physical, that kind of touching when you don’t know the person very well, can be perceived as creepy.

4) When in doubt as to whether you should make physical contact, you can always ask. A simple, “Is it Ok if I hold your hand/kiss you/etc” is always a sweet way to broach the subject if you’re not sure. Just don’t be offended or assume your date is doomed if the other person turns you down. Everyone has different kinds of boundaries when it comes to touching and dating, and it’s up to you to respect them. They might really like you, but legitimately want to take things slow or get to know you better first.

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