I am French and I was told American people usually just say hi, shake hands or sometimes hug if they know well each others.

I have been living in California for the last few months and I noticed that people were sometimes cheek kissing here. I also just saw that in an episode of Dexter (in Miami I believe).

Is cheek kissing something common in the US for born American citizen?

  • Which setting are you talking about?
    – Karlson
    Jun 17, 2013 at 11:00
  • @Karlson You mean which situation ? colleagues greeting before a meeting, friends meeting in the street, a guy entering a shop and saying hi to his friend owner...
    – Ugo
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:06
  • 1
    Those are different situations where behavior differs.
    – Karlson
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:13
  • 1
    I am a woman, I was born in the US, and I work in IT on the East Coast of the US. No one has ever kissed me in a business setting, and I would not be comfortable with anything more than a handshake. This is just my opinion, but the less touching, the better.
    – Lisa
    Jun 17, 2013 at 19:50
  • 1
    And in a social setting, no friends have ever kissed me, either. Only relatives, and only parents/grandparents after the age of 11 or 12.
    – Lisa
    Jun 17, 2013 at 20:04

5 Answers 5


The behavior and acceptance of this behavior generally differs. Kissing someone on the cheek is generally considered to be a great degree of familiarity with the person you're doing this with. So here goes:

  • In the business setting I've only seen this done by French or Canadian(Quebec) expats.
  • Between friends it is acceptable but again only if you know the person you're kissing.

When it comes to business environment you kissing a woman as a matter of greeting technically can cost you dearly since it might be spun as sexual harassment and you're likely to be fired on the spot but this is a discussion for Workplace site.

Between friends: Almost anything goes but you have to look at it based upon the situation.


I am French and I was told American people usually just say hi, shake hands or sometimes hug if they know well each others.

This is correct. Americans rarely initiate cheek kissing.

If you initiate a cheek kiss, and the kiss-receiver understands what you're doing, they will probably reciprocate and think, "Oh, how charming and foreign!"

  • I would strongly disagree with the last paragraph. I think most Americans would be quite uncomfortable with that, except perhaps with close friends or family.
    – reirab
    May 12, 2015 at 14:46

From Wikipedia:

According to the March 8, 2004 edition of Time Magazine, "a single [kiss] is [an] acceptable [greeting] in the United States, but it's mostly a big-city phenomenon

The Wall Street Journal points out how it's affecting business, and when to do this.

Chicago Tribune has a piece on how it's spreading, and notes that it's not just a case of "is it in America now?" but that it's cultural, and different regions make sounds when they do it, might do one kiss or two, and it varies even in the same city.

Having traveled around there, I can confirm that one of my friends did it but perhaps because she has a lot of Latin American friends, and she points out that some of her friends were taken aback when she did it in Florida. So short answer - it depends. I'd watch the person you're greeting - if they go in for it, follow their lead, until you feel comfortable with what to expect.

  • And isn't it only when at least one female in involved? In France men also cheek kiss each other as a greeting.
    – gerrit
    Jun 17, 2013 at 9:20
  • @gerrit I have iranian male friends who also do the same
    – Simon
    Jun 17, 2013 at 10:20

I grew up in Texas and I have always observed it to be very common for family and close friends to cheek kiss when they greet one another, especially in a home or holiday setting. When we were young it was mostly the adults and little kids, but it has become more common all around. However, some people find it an odd invasion of their personal space (family or otherwise).

I have noticed that it is becoming more common here among young people in big cities (especially between my friends who have lived/traveled abroad), but still seems to be between close friends.

Even my Latino friends here in Texas seem to follow the same cultural norms. Ie. Sometimes in public - nearly always at home/special occasion.


Well I spent 6 months in the USA in 2014 and as a Turk, I can say that cheek kissing is highly common in Turkey. So I faced a little trouble at the beginning because American people that I meet during the 6 months were like just saying hi, not kiss or hug. If you meet someone on the street they do not even stop to talk a little, just say hi, and go on. In Turkey we stop and talk for more than 20-30 minutes which is something I do not approve :) But just hi is not enough for me I think.

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