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Greeting members of the opposite sex

Written by admin, Thursday, April 29th, 2010 in Q&As

I recently moved to Canada from a Latin American country. Back home I was used to greeting all women with a kiss on the cheek, but here I’m confused as that seems to be too forward. However, I’m not satisfied with simply standing and waving. How do you greet women in different situations? (e.g. a female friend, a girl you’re meeting for the first time, an acquaintance, the mother or sister of a friend, etc.)

Yep, in both America and in Canada, for the most part, a kiss on the cheek is considered too invasive of personal space. The long story short is, unlike in many other countries, most people in Canada/America have a pretty wide area around themselves they don’t like invaded by even friends — a kind of implied distance (their “personal space”) that everyone keeps from one another. It’s strange, but not too difficult to get used to once you realize it exists.

The best thing you likely can do, other than waving or whatever, is probably just a very simple hug. Even that may be considered too much for some girls — many feel much more comfortable just waving or saying “hi” without any physical contact whatsoever. Don’t feel as if a wave is impersonal or insulting — it isn’t, at least in the minds of most here. Still, at the most, I’d go for a hug — a handshake is obviously too professional, a kiss would be generally viewed as too invasive, so a simple, short, as-nonsexual-as-you-can-make-it hug would be best.

As for each girl? For friends, a hug or a wave, depending on the girl and how close she is to you (and how comfortable she feels with the hugging/whatever). As for a girl you meet the first time, unless you are on a date or something clearly set up for romance, don’t give a hug — a wave will do, or just saying something nice. As for the mother or sister of a friend, similarly, keep it to waving or saying something nice — let them initiate any sort of hugging/whatever, not you. Basically, keep that implied distance unless you know the person pretty well, and if you do have to play it by ear, err on the side of caution.

Good luck!

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One Response to Greeting members of the opposite sex

  1. Juan Domingo Perón says:

    Argentinian here. I think you guys just effectively saved me from doing massive fuckups in my future travel to Canada.

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