Oh, darling, I haven't seen you in forever!
January 10, 2006 10:24 PM   Subscribe

How do I initially greet a potential lover after a several-month separation?

Over the summer, I went on several dates with a young woman whom I find rather attractive. Physically, and on several other metrics. Due probably to my inability to make up my fucking mind, nothing physical ever occured during those four dates--no, not so much as a kiss.

Then, she went to London for a semester. During that semester, we had a several-month multi-page-email exchange and talked extensively via AIM. There was more than a little sexual (word) play exchanged.

She's coming back to school in a few days. We already have a date set. We're getting Indian food (we both adore it). I'm not terribly concerned about that evening; I have my lecherous schemes already designed. I just don't know how to initially greet her.

What is the most appropriate way to initially greet her, given the (AFAICT) mutual attraction and the lack of a physical history? As romantic as it sounds in my deluded little male mind, I don't think that running up and kissing her hard is the right answer.

I'm leaning toward the long, tight hug. "I missed you. I enjoy your presence."
posted by Netzapper to Human Relations (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Personal opinion, but "I enjoy your presence" sounds a little cheesy. "I missed you" will totally suffice on its own.

You can't go wrong with the hug, because it can always be followed up with a kiss if your eyes hit each other and it feels right... and if it's not followed up with a kiss, that's not the end of the world... if it's to be - it will come later in the night anyway...

I say do everything exactly as you planned, possibly just saying "I missed you", but honestly that's my own personal opinion.. I don't know her or you.
posted by twiggy at 10:28 PM on January 10, 2006

Oh, I'm not saying that. That's a transcription of the hug.
posted by Netzapper at 10:36 PM on January 10, 2006

Pull up about a foot short of a hug, pause, and then lean in and plant a kiss full on the lips. Much better than words.
posted by notsnot at 10:48 PM on January 10, 2006

notsnot: Oh, that's what I want to do. However, I'm not sure that it would come off the way I want it to.

Although, honestly, the dramatic gesture might be fun. I do love the proverbial broad stroke.
posted by Netzapper at 11:21 PM on January 10, 2006

Meet her eye as you walk toward her, smile broadly and confidently say something like "Welcome back! I missed you". If her attitude is also warm, follow the momentum forward into a hug. You want to declare your affection but also give the both of you time to settle into the fact that your relationship has changed since you last saw each other in person.

It sounds like she likes you, but be prepared for a bit of awkwardness the first few minutes you're together. It's one thing to have hot e-mail and IM conversations with a person and quite another to have them standing right in front of you. You'll both do a mental temperature-check that things still feel right.
posted by rhiannon at 11:21 PM on January 10, 2006

Hug first... a GOOD hug, perhaps with a little "ungh, it's great to see you"... then pull back, let your eyes linger on each other, and kiss. Seriously. Do it. Don't hesitate, don't say anything, don't ask permission, just smile and lean in and do it. I spent far far far too many years too chickenshit to do that kind of thing. I've been going for it lately, and y'know what, it works. If she doesn't want you to, she'll let you know, but she's not going to run screaming. She's talking to you and going out with you because she likes you. Kiss her, you fool. Sweep her off her feet.

Of course, be mindful of her body language. But from what you've described, unless she crosses her arms and glares at you, it will likely be well received.

Unless, of course, the fantasy of a relationship was fanned by the unattainability of distance, and the pressure of having to step up could make it so that there are no sparks at all. Then your best bet is to let it go and move on. Obsession never helps anybody.
posted by p7a77 at 11:23 PM on January 10, 2006

Take some flowers and put on the card, "I have never wanted to kiss someone so much as I want to kiss you right at this moment."
posted by planetthoughtful at 11:23 PM on January 10, 2006

>then lean in and plant a kiss full on the lips

no no no no no

geeze you guys, haven't you heard of flirting?

Greet her with a hug (and why not flowers?), tell her you missed her (that's excellent), but otherwise give her space. Let her warm up to *you*.

Stare into her eyes while having dinner, continue with the banter that you began months ago on AIM and email. Listen. Watch how she reacts to you.

Have some wine, then a little more wine. But not too much.

*Then* show her how you feel.

A rash move could ruin everything. A delayed kiss is only sweeter when finally delivered.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:26 PM on January 10, 2006

Take some flowers and put on the card, "I have never wanted to kiss someone so much as I want to kiss you right at this moment."

Even if this was tactically sound (which it isn't) the message on the card is an obvious lie. You can say something like this and it might be true but if you write it advance there is not way it can be. Even if the poor woman receiving the note is willing to play along how is she supposed to respond?

I'm a miserable failure when it comes to human relationships but I'll offer some advice anyway. Be a little less goal oriented and more willing to play. You haven't seen each other for a while. If she likes you as much as you like her, I can't see why you end where you want to go anyway.
posted by rdr at 11:57 PM on January 10, 2006

What is the most appropriate way to initially greet her, given the ... mutual attraction and the lack of a physical history?

I think you need to break the ice with some humor. For some reason, I'm seeing a single rose and a full-on, cheese-laden Joey Tribbiani, "How you doin?"

Then move on with the rest of the date as normal. But dress/act/etc as if you were on a date, not just two old platonic friends chatting it up. Dinner, dancing, flirting, the whole nine yards.
posted by frogan at 12:07 AM on January 11, 2006

Don't plan.
posted by puddinghead at 12:14 AM on January 11, 2006

What is it people have about flowers? No woman wants to have to carry around a bunch of flowers all evening because some guy thought it would be a nice gesture.

Just watch her eyes and you'll know what to do.
posted by zadcat at 12:20 AM on January 11, 2006

No flowers. No cheesy lines. No kiss on the lips.

Make sure you turn up second. This makes it look like she's desperately waiting for you, figuratively speaking. Also it allows you to naturally do this move: when you arrive, hold your arms out so she knows ahead of time you're going to hug her. No surprises. No unnatural funny business.

But make sure the hug is delicate and sexy not just friendly. You can even peck her on the cheek. Then when you let go, touch the small of her back or her hand for slightly too long. The idea is to let her know your intentions (physical) but that also that you are cool and not desperate and needy.

Nine times out of ten the girl will be reaching out for your hand wanting to hold it on the walk to the restaurant. This is the ideal position to be in: the girl making the moves.
posted by dydecker at 12:35 AM on January 11, 2006

Oh, come on, just a warm long hug and "I missed you" would be the best thing in my opinion.

Don't plan what you say or what you do, because you never what she might have thought of doing, and that would ruin your plan, and you wouldn't know what to do/say, and you'd look like an idiot, thinking "damn, that bitch stole my line, I have to find something else to say REAL QUICK".

To keep up with the Friends idea stated above, you'd be like Ross thinking "Say something! Anything!", and would blurt some lousy ice-breaker like "hu, nice shoes you got here. Wanna f**k ?"
posted by XiBe at 1:59 AM on January 11, 2006

My advice to you :

Stop obsessing about the moment. It will only disappoint you if you continue to magnify the significance. I'm fairly (99.99%) certain that she won't be viewing this initial meeting as having anything like the importance you have placed on it.

Relax. Say "hello" or whatever. It's no big deal. If you plan some big flourish, you'll fuck it up and end up looking like a weirdo / stalker / murderer.

Apologies for the brusque tone.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 3:32 AM on January 11, 2006

My advice: Don't even think about it. Just do what comes to mind and let the fan spray the shit everywhere like it's going to anyway, and enjoy the show. :-)

Basically, go with the moment.
posted by cellphone at 3:45 AM on January 11, 2006

I like what p7a77 said, but I agree with everyone else - stop planning! Just hug, say you've missed her, maybe say, "it's so good to see you"... You could kiss her on the cheek, as a hint of things to come later? It's not quite as showy as a full-on kiss.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 4:24 AM on January 11, 2006

Oh, that's what I want to do. However, I'm not sure that it would come off the way I want it to.

How might it come off? Like you really like her? Oh no! She knows!

Seriously, if that's what you want to do, for heaven's sake do it. You only get one shot at this life, you know. No point regretting decisions not made.

Look at it this way: wouldn't you be really happy if she did that to you? Of course! You'd be ecastatic. And think of all the time you'd save with the stupid flirting and re-getting-to-know-you bullshit. Life's too short.

Anyway, "flirting" is what you've been doing for the past semester. Time for action, young man.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:37 AM on January 11, 2006

Months of exchanging deep and/or sexy emails != "couple time."

Physically speaking, you may find you are exactly where you need to pick up and progress from where you were before she left: you'd had four no-contact dates. She finally knows you're interested, and you have the security of knowing it appears to be mutual, but don't plan to jump in like long-lost lovers. My suggestion: a warm hug, and then letting the kiss happen when it does (or doesn't) over the course of the date. Much sweeter for the first time than a frenzied "I-missed-you" smooch the first time you see each other again.
posted by availablelight at 4:41 AM on January 11, 2006

What is it people have about flowers? No woman wants to have to carry around a bunch of flowers all evening because some guy thought it would be a nice gesture.

Word. If you can bring them to her house so she can leave them there, yes; otherwise, no.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:51 AM on January 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

You're going for Indian food? Kiss her, for the first time, before dinner. And make it a thoughtful, gentle, sweet kiss, worth remembering.

Doesn't have to be at the moment of meeting, but probably best within a couple of minutes thereafter. A hug, a thorough look over a face you've missed and want to remember, 5 to 7 seconds of direct eye contact, faces a few inches apart, to make sure it really is the mutual desire you think it is, and if so, kiss her well and roundly and unhurriedly.

Don't be indecisive, and for God's sake, don't rush a peck regardless of what you see in her eyes. If she doesn't want or expect to be kissed, she won't keep eye contact, and if she keeps eye contact, you've been given permission and you need to follow through, then and there, or confusion will ensue.

And if you like it, make sure she knows it immediately. A follow up hug complete with a heartfelt sigh, and a second kiss in the same embrace are the usual unambiguous methods of indicating pleasure and satisfaction.

As for flowers, a small corsage you can pin on her coat gives you a reason to be face to face with her for several seconds at meeting. Plenty of time for significant eye contact, or not. Small orchids in light colors work well for this.
posted by paulsc at 5:18 AM on January 11, 2006

Seawallrunner: "geeze you guys, haven't you heard of flirting? "
Yeah, that's what he's been doing the last six months. I've personally been burned a few times for not taking the initiative, so I'm just going on what I know.
posted by notsnot at 5:26 AM on January 11, 2006

As for flowers, a small corsage you can pin on her coat gives you a reason to be face to face with her for several seconds at meeting. Plenty of time for significant eye contact, or not. Small orchids in light colors work well for this.

Speaking as a female, corsages don't make me think of romance - they make me think of awkward high school Homecoming dances or perhaps being Mother of the Bride. Other females may disagree...
posted by srah at 5:28 AM on January 11, 2006

"It's great to see you again. I missed you." That sort of number. Then be sure to encourage her to talk a lot about what she got up to while she was away. And be interested. Actually, going for Indian is a canny choice: it'll be a perfect opportunity for her to tell you how much better it is in London!
posted by Decani at 6:02 AM on January 11, 2006

Agree on the weirdness of a corsage. They belong to high school dances and moms in church on mothers day. And that's about it.
posted by desuetude at 6:15 AM on January 11, 2006

Double ditto on the corsage weirdness. I think I'd just die of embarrassment.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 AM on January 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

A single rose or other flower - does she have a favorite? - would be ok though. She can stick it in her purse, or leave it in the car during dinner. You get your props for thoughfulness, without making her carry around a big bouquet. If she's allergic or really hates flowers, you would look like a doofus though. Find out ahead of time.

Having something in your hand might help in those awkward first minutes. And if she likes the flower, she might want to say thank you by giving you a hug, or a kiss on the cheek, and there you go, she's made the first move.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2006

A good, warm, hug. Don't be the first to let go.

Before the evening is out, however, you've simply got to kiss her. Just do it at the right moment. None of this "asking permission" foolishness. It's dorky and never works well (as I've learned from experience).
posted by aladfar at 7:39 AM on January 11, 2006

OK, kids, I'll submit that the corsage thing may be generational. And that the allergy bit is a consideration. And that it's out of play if this is a jeans & winter parka level dress occasion.

OTOH, even at 3 to 1 odds, this is a planned and discussed event. It's possible they'll be dressing up, and they're going for Indian food. Our man Netzapper is deep into advance schemeing, and kicking himself for not making a big moment earlier. And there are 6 months of messages, etc. Sublety is not, I think, what he's going for.

So, he shows up dressed nicely, with a boutinerre on his coat himself. He offers her a corsage, and for a moment it is awkward, it is high school, it is hopelessly trite. Memorable moments often are. Being willing to be awkward together is pretty special. And nothing he does thereafter that evening will seem anything like as awkward.

Cary Grant could pull this off. Hugh Grant has made a career out of small peices of stage business like this. And being, quite likely, the only couple wearing flowers in an Indian restaurant isn't your usual 5th date game plan.

So, Netzapper, it's 3 to 1 against from the distaff side of the house, and I stand, still, for the grand gesture.
posted by paulsc at 7:40 AM on January 11, 2006

But why get the date started on such an ackward foot?

Plus, a lot of corsages are UGLY and clunky, in a way that would keep one from eating. My Junior Prom date brought a corsage that was so big, it keep leaning over onto the plate and eating my dinner with it's tentacles. ::shudder::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 AM on January 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Cary Grant could pull this off.

Any idea that begins this way is not likely to be the best advice for someone who writes things like "I went on several dates with a young woman whom I find rather attractive. Physically, and on several other metrics."
posted by bingo at 8:19 AM on January 11, 2006

Speaking as a pretty romantic kind of girl, if I was in this situation, this is what I'd want: Looking directly into her eyes, lingering a moment before touching her, then a warm hug. When you pull back, place your head on the back of her head, near her neck and kiss her on the temple or somewhere around there. I don't think I'd want the big kiss right away, partly because I hadn't seen the person in awhile, and partly because flirting and the big build-up is the best part. But before the evening is over, plant a big one!
posted by meerkatty at 8:25 AM on January 11, 2006

Please by no means do the corsage, which will serve as little more than a promise of awkward post-prom dry-humping. You will look like a complete nincompoop. I second most of meerkatty's suggestions, just don't linger too long. Good luck!
posted by youarenothere at 8:44 AM on January 11, 2006

Man, I'd be kinda tickled by a corsage. Especially if I were wearing jeans. So there's one vote for. But I suppose if everyone else is against it, you might not want to. (Hey guys, thanks for ruining it for me!)
posted by dame at 8:47 AM on January 11, 2006

Send her another email -

"You know...... When we meet for dinner..... I'm going to grab you and kiss you."

Just that. No long silly explanation. No quizzing her about how she'd feel. No invitation for her to decline.

And then do it.

If she writes back and tells you it's not that way, fair enough. If she fends you off gently when you grab her, fair enough. But eventually women want to be grabbed and kissed, and they don't want it done by a frightened little boy. And it sounds like you've gotten the flirting out of the way.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:56 AM on January 11, 2006

I wouldn't email -- it just gives both of you (and especially her) time to overthink it and freak out.

Grab her and kiss her if you want, but I wouldn't announce your intentions so much earlier than the event. It may then come off as staged.

But I would go for a lingering kiss on the cheek, myself. Given that the Londoners I know are automatically kiss my on each cheek upon greeting, she's likely to have picked up there anyway. (I remember coming back from Italy and being a little put off by the general lack of cheek-kissing here, since its absence means Americans say "hi" and then do that awkward standing-around thing.)

Or she could be totally sick of all things English and just want a good ol' American hug, so .... yeah.
posted by occhiblu at 9:27 AM on January 11, 2006

I'm with Dame. I think a corsage would be the sweetest thing ever. Alternately, the single flower plan is good...I'd stick it in my hair, though so watch out for anything with thorns.

And good luck!
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2006

When you pull back, place your head on the back of her head, near her neck and kiss her on the temple or somewhere around there.

just to make matters more confusing, I'd find this weird, I think. A kiss on the temple seems to belong in some thoughtful moment of melancholy after a funeral or something... If this is young, horny romance, I'd hug and maybe let your face touch hers as you withdraw, and see if a kiss happens. If not, then do it later. And clarify through body language that this is attraction - touch her when you interact, lean in a little closer than you do with friends when you talk, etc.

I wouldn't worry so much or force anything to happen, though - make a move when you feel it, don't hold back, but also don't think of her like a project you have to plan and then implement. You've decided you're gonna go for it, so don't let yourself get timid when it comes time for action, but respond to her rather than following a previously devised algorithm, y'know?

you'd have to have a pretty strong individual sense of style to pull of a corsage these days. A single flower wld clarify yr intent symbolically but isn't necessary.
posted by mdn at 9:50 AM on January 11, 2006

"I missed you" and a big solid hug--and eat some of the fennel seeds on your way out of the Indian restaurant, they're usually in a little dish by the door.
posted by brujita at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2006

Alright, having read the responses, I think my "plan" is to go for the hug and see where things go from there.

Thanks for the advice everybody.
posted by Netzapper at 10:14 AM on January 11, 2006

Off hand, 'lechery' tends to refer to, uhm, eldery gentlemen, right? You're just 24; remember to not call her 'young woman', it comes off as patronizing :)
posted by Firas at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2006

Not just any corsage, a wrist corsage! (give me a break)

I'm thinking meerkatty's suggestion sounds good.
posted by Carbolic at 11:11 AM on January 11, 2006

Let me just say how much I would love love love to get a corsage for a date! (Just be sure to feel around in conversation for her favorite kinds of flowers...uh, yes, I know that's hard, do it anyway. Then go to the florist and have the person at the counter help you create something special. DO NOT attempt to order this over the phone or through the internet. You will be guaranteed disaster if you are lazy about it.) I mean, seriously, that was the best part of homecoming dances in high school, someone to bring me flowers that I didn't have to cling to myself. So, yes, a big hug, pin the corsage on her, kiss her if it feels right.
posted by bilabial at 11:44 AM on January 11, 2006

What seawallrunner says. Kissing at first would be very weird - you've never kissed before - must build up to it.

NO NO NO corsage. Flowers in general strike me as a little forced and retro in this context. I love to receive flowers from a man, but usually one I'm already dating, and when I can quickly put them in water and not have to lug them around all night.

I disagree with coach_mcguirk - I think she probably is obsessively thinking about this meeting up moment too. Or at least thinking about it.

Just be natural and friendly. Save the grand gestures for later.
posted by Amizu at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2006

The first thing you do when you see her is smile! Seriously, a big, honest, "I'm really pleased to see you" smile is going a long way to breaking any ice & getting you on the way to wherever it yous two are off to.

Don't forget to drop back here & give us a report.

Actually, going for Indian is a canny choice: it'll be a perfect opportunity for her to tell you how much better it is in London!

And if she does you can be a smart arse back!
posted by i_cola at 12:15 PM on January 11, 2006

Brush & floss before meeting.

Enjoy the moment.
posted by UncleHornHead at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2006

Jeez, I'm a pretty romantic girl too, but if someone gave me flowers (or heaven forfend, a freakin' corsage) under these circumstances, I'd think it was pretty forced -- just like amizu, I love to receive flowers, but only from a guy I'm already dating! Just grin, hug warmly (unless she's leaning in for a kiss, in which case: KISS), tell her you missed her, and let the evening run it's course. Seriously, does it really need to be planned? Just be in the moment.
posted by scody at 2:56 PM on January 11, 2006

By the way....

Goes without saying that we need a followup or a "best answer" selection that cryptically hints at the outcome....
posted by availablelight at 5:28 PM on January 11, 2006

I'm in the "Cary Grant could pull this off" camp. Don't send email asking permission to kiss her. Don't write a note outlining your plans for a kiss. Nothing is more attractive than confidence. Be fucking confident.

I've been way too chicken shit and have second guessed myself enough to know that's not impressing anyone. The times I've gotten these things right I was in a place where I was able to generate some confidence.

If it was me: I'd give a her a lingering hug and a kiss on the lips. I think, the flowers will be awkward. I'd get her a piece of obviously inexpensive jewelry: maybe an anklet with a note saying you've missed her. Cook her breakfast tomorrow (have something appropriate on hand) and send her roses after.

My female office mate votes for a big wet, hollywood kiss and flowers. No corsage.
posted by deanj at 8:51 AM on January 20, 2006

So, it's now one week since the moment this question asked for advice on.

Here's what I did: I walked up and gave her a hug, which I intended to take some time extending. She cut it off after less than a second.

Dinner was fine (we had Chinese instead of Indian; her flight was late, her train was early, Chinese was closer).

After dinner, as we waited on the bench in the train station, her body language was entirely closed, and perpendicular.

I ended the evening with another quick hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Almost immediately, honestly, it was obvious that this was another "let's just be friends" situation. So, I gave up and moved on (this is a skill that I've only recently acquired).

Today, just before I went on a date with a different woman, she called me up to tell me that I "made [her] uncomfortable last Friday", since I "apparently wanted to be more than just friends". After all, "the last time we met before [she] went to England, we met as friends [sic.]". I assured her I didn't hate her, hung up, and went on an absolutely wonderful first date with the other woman (certainly a far better date than I ever had with the girl in the original question).

So, while my moment-of-meeting certainly didn't go well, I can't say that I particularly care. Thanks AskMe!
posted by Netzapper at 11:49 PM on January 20, 2006

Glad it ended well, if unexpectedly!
posted by occhiblu at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2006

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