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The Kiss/Hug Fiasco: How Should a Man Greet a Woman?

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Man-to-man, a hand-shake is standard. We understand the hand-shake, we know how to do it.

But the 'hello' greeting between men and women is as confusing as ever. What are the rules? If you're meeting for the first time, a handshake will often do, but sometimes the woman wants a hug, like you're an old acquaintance from college. How are you meant to know?

The government need to step in. We need legislation. Sometimes a handshake/hug/kiss mishap leads to awkwardness, which is fine - but if you're not careful, it can lead to an unwanted kiss, or worse; head-butting. This is why I fear saying hello to women - if I get it wrong, I could end up in jail.

Say you bump into a woman who you've met only once previously, at a funeral. What is the protocol? One might think a hug, others may say a polite wave; but what if she's expecting a kiss on the cheek?

A kiss on the cheek is the most frightening greeting of all. Is it one cheek, or two? There's no way of knowing unless you insist on prior written notice. The single/double-cheek kiss fiasco is where most accidental head-butting occurs. It could also lead to sexual harassment litigation. What if the woman is expecting a firm shake of the hand, and you go for a double-cheek-kiss?

I acknowledge that this affects me more than it affects most people. I've seen you all at parties, casually gliding between kisses, handshakes and hugs. You're all so comfortable.

I never get it right. I'm the guy who, at the end of a date with a beautiful woman, opts for the ecstatic high-five. Or worse still, goes in for the kiss when my love interest has settled on a polite wave from a moving car.

I know I'm not alone. I sense that all women know what they're doing; it's just us guys who get it all wrong. Would it be so hard for the government to send out a pamphlet? Or for some women's group to lay out some ground rules?

If this doesn't get resolved soon, I may withdraw from greeting people altogether, it's just not worth the anxiety. If you don't relate to this, then you've never kissed a woman on the cheek when she was expecting a dap (fist-to-fist based greeting).

I must stop writing as I'm about to meet my friend, Samantha. And, as usual, I'm petrified of saying hello.