What Does It Mean When a Man Kisses Your Hand?

Neck kisses, cheek kisses, forehead kisses… there are numerous variations of a kiss, and while some are easily understood, others carry more complexity.

A hand kiss is one of those gestures that holds a multitude of hidden meanings!

Hand kissing is not an everyday occurrence. It is a vintage gesture that only a few brave individuals still practice today (or should I say, in these modern times).

Having someone kiss your hand can evoke a range of emotions, from feeling special and flattered to feeling extremely awkward (I personally lean towards the latter).

Each of us perceives a hand kiss in a unique way because it is no longer a popular or expected gesture.

Even though it may not be trendy, you might encounter the magic (or awkwardness) of this vintage gesture.

When (and if) that happens, you’ll probably feel confused like I was, and you’ll seek answers. While I’m not the universe, I can certainly help shed some light on the matter.

Whether you’re simply curious about this unique gesture or you’ve experienced it recently or may do so in the future, here’s everything you need to know about hand kisses, their origins, and their possible meanings!

The History Behind Hand Kisses

man kissing woman

Tracing the first references of a hand kiss is not easy due to its prevalence in the past.

However, one of the earliest mentions can be found in Homer’s The Iliad (written in the 8th century): “I have steeled myself as no man yet has ever steeled himself before me, and have raised to my lips the hand of him who slew my son.”

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It is also believed that hand-kissing originated in the Spanish courts and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the 17th and 18th centuries.

This gesture is still practiced in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, Romania, and Austria. In 1979, the New York Times confirmed this in an article.

To sum it up, hand kissing was considered a respectful and chivalrous way for a gentleman to greet a lady. Traditionally, a woman would offer her hand to be kissed by a gentleman.

Interestingly, the lady offering her hand was expected to either share the same social status as the man or have a higher social status.

Hand kissing represented politeness and courtesy, and refusing the offered hand was considered rude.

The Decline of Hand-Kissing in the 20th Century

man kissing woman

Hand-kissing started to fade away in the 20th century, replaced by two alternatives: a good old handshake and a kiss on the cheek.

In today’s world, hand-kissing carries various connotations, from a religious or diplomatic gesture to a romantic expression of emotional attraction in a traditional manner.

Sometimes, the gesture is even interpreted as mocking the past.

I remember one instance when a guy kissed my hand. Every time I recall that moment, I vividly relive the awkward yet special experience.

To be honest, I initially thought it was a mockery and burst into laughter. But to my surprise, he didn’t laugh along.

At that moment, I didn’t know how to interpret what had just happened. However, being an overthinker, I pondered over that hand-kissing event for days.

Logically, I convinced myself that he was just joking, but my feelings suggested otherwise.

After researching hand kisses, I discovered that it was a chivalrous gesture. He was waiting for more hints from me, signaling the green light to escalate his romantic endeavors.

If you’ve had a similar experience and are unsure of its meaning, I’ll reveal all the possible interpretations and more!

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5 Meanings Behind Hand-Kissing

A Chivalrous Gesture

man in brown coat kissing woman

Remember those hand-kissing scenes in older movies? A gentleman would kiss a woman’s hand as a sign of ultimate respect and devotion.

This traditional greeting between different genders at social gatherings used to bring excitement. Nowadays, nothing is sacred anymore.

While modern times have brought us many advantages, they have also taken away some valuable aspects.

In the past, it was nearly impossible to take someone for granted. Social norms dictated respectful behavior, patience, and an appreciation for a person’s true beauty (not the one portrayed on social media).

As a woman, let me ask you something: If a man kisses your hand when you meet for the first time, would you consider him a hopeless romantic or a creep? Hmm…

A Diplomatic Gesture

man holding female hand with gold ring and kissing it

If you’ve watched The Godfather, you’ll recall a scene featuring a hand-kissing moment. It was a symbol of loyalty and utmost trust.

The respect in the guy’s eyes as he approached to kiss Don Vito Corleone’s hand exemplifies a diplomatic gesture.

In this case, hand-kissing is not seen as a romantic act but as a way of expressing allegiance to an authoritative figure.

This can also apply to priests or other important and dominant individuals.

A Parting Gesture

man kissing woman

Sometimes, a hand-kiss signifies a parting gesture. Imagine you’re on a date with someone you really like, enjoying each other’s company, and then it’s time to say goodbye.

As he looks deeply into your eyes, you smile shyly while he gently kisses your hand. In such moments, words become unnecessary.

By kissing your hand, he’s letting you know that he had a great time with you, likes you a lot, and hopes to see you again.

If your guy does this, he’s a real gentleman. Seriously, I envy you. Want to know why? Because men like him are rare gems.

They aren’t solely interested in getting into your pants; they value your personality, smile, eyes, and more.

They aren’t superficial or chasing fake ideals; instead, they appreciate the true value of the small things.

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Respect for the Elderly

arabic muslim man in red t-shirt kissing grandmother

In some cultures, kissing an elderly person’s hand is a sign of respect. This practice is popular in Arabic countries like Indonesia, Turkey, and Brunei.

In the Philippines, after greeting an elderly person this way, the greeter draws the hand to their forehead to receive blessings.

This gesture is commonly used to greet elderly individuals of both genders, including parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and teachers.

It reminds me of the concept of agape love, which promotes respect and love for nature, God, humanity, animals, and all life on Earth.

A Religious Gesture

woman in black jacket kissing pope

A hand kiss can also be a religious gesture, particularly significant in the Roman Catholic Church.

When meeting an important figure in Roman Catholic society, such as the Pope or a Cardinal, one should kneel on their left knee and kiss the priest’s hand as a sign of devotion and respect.

Afterward, the priest blesses the person by touching them with his hands.

In Orthodox churches, instead of kneeling, devotees tend to raise their right hand. The priest blesses them by placing his hand on their open palm, inviting them to kiss it, symbolizing kissing the body of Jesus Christ.

See also: 15 Things a True Gentleman Does Differently

What Does It Mean When a Guy Kisses Your Hand in This Day and Age?

He Wants to Be Your Lover

Loving young man kissing hand of woman

If a guy kisses your hand, it’s natural to wonder if he’s interested in you. In the days of vintage courtesy, we wouldn’t think much of it.

In today’s society, one of the main reasons a guy kisses a lady’s hand is because he’s interested in her! It’s one of those subtle signs that he likes you.

There’s no chance that a guy would kiss a woman’s hand for no reason.

Let me emphasize: We don’t live in a time when hand-kissing is the norm, but it has become a choice that poses a question:

Did he choose to kiss your hand because he secretly wishes to be your lover? How romantic.

He’s Poking Fun at This Vintage Gesture

happy man kissing woman

He might be teasing this vintage gesture. If he laughs while doing it, chances are he’s making fun of the tradition.

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He sees hand-kissing as something ridiculous because it’s no longer popular. Thus, he sarcastically highlights it to you and possibly others.

In an era of selfies, social networks, and other modern trends, air kisses have gained popularity as an alternative to hand-kissing.

I recently saw a video where a young couple mocks the hand-kissing gesture, affirming what I just mentioned.

He’s a True Gentleman

happy man and woman drinking wine while sitting at table

Regardless of age, if a man kisses your hand (and it’s not meant as mockery), he’s a true gentleman!

Such a romantic and sensual gesture is rare, adding to its value.

I recall a friend who went on a date and texted me afterward, exclaiming, “OMG, this young man is a real gentleman!”

When I asked her why she thought so, expecting something like “He held my hand in public,” her response surprised me: “He kissed my hand.”

If he kissed my hand, I’d probably propose to him right away out of fear that such a man is an endangered species.

And he’d probably reject me instantly, fearing my desperation. Well, maybe I am.

He Wants More Hints from You to Proceed with His Romantic Endeavors

man in gray sweater kissing woman

Men can be sneaky in a romantic way. They constantly test our boundaries, hoping their tactics will bear fruit and help them win the one girl they can’t stop thinking about.

Sometimes, a man kisses your hand to see if you will give him hints to continue his kissing attempts, ahem, elsewhere.

Whoever came up with this tactic is brilliant!

While I, as a woman, dislike such sneaky games, this one is interesting because it allows you to choose whether to give him the green light or ask him to step back.

Needless to say, it’s challenging to reject a guy when he gives you that look (you know which one). This is where you master your self-control.

We don’t want them to think we’re easy targets, right? Modern dating has become more complicated.

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See also: 106 Romantic Kiss Quotes for the One Who Makes Your Heart Flutter

He’s Shy and Doesn’t Want to Rush Anything

man and woman making eye contact while sitting in cafe

Yes, hand-kissers are true gentlemen, but sometimes they choose to kiss your hand because they’re shy and don’t want to rush things.

Dating a shy guy can be frustrating, especially for extroverts. However, as you get to know him better, you’ll discover his uniqueness.

Once they feel comfortable around you, you’ll be amazed by their conversational and romantic skills.

He’s Mesmerized by Your Personality

the man holds the woman's hand

Above all else, I respect men who value a woman’s personality rather than just her physical appearance.

Anyone can compliment your hair or outfit, but few men truly embrace your personality.

If a guy kisses your hand, he’s utterly mesmerized by your unique personality, quirky habits, sense of humor, and more.

He sees you as a whole person, appreciating every aspect. He sees you the way every man should see a woman. However, true love is more than kisses and sweet words.

He’s Deeply Emotionally Attracted to You

man and woman making eye contact while standing in the field

When a guy kisses your hand, it signifies a strong emotional attraction. He wants to know your fears, dreams, and desires deeply.

The more he learns about you, the stronger the bond he feels. By kissing your hand, he conveys all of this and more.

He understands that hand-kissing is a unique romantic gesture that speaks louder than words.

So, if you ever encounter such a man in your life, hold onto him! Such a man won’t take you for granted, play games with you, or indulge in the typical behavior of a modern player.

He Wants to Show His Affection for You

A young couple sensually holding hands

Often, a man kissing your hand is a simple expression of affection, not something to overanalyze.

Perhaps he’s not skilled with words or finds them unnecessary, so he chooses this romantic gesture.

I’ve noticed that older women tend to overthink less when hand-kissed. There are multiple reasons for this, with the most common being that older women are less likely to perceive it as mockery.

Regardless of age, if a man kisses your hand in today’s world, it is generally seen as an expression of ultimate affection.

Final Thoughts

man kissing woman

If the theory of hand-kissing seems too complicated, here’s my humble advice: don’t overthink things.

It’s amusing for me to say that as an ultimate overthinker, but for your well-being, refrain from doing so.

If a guy kisses your hand at some point, accept it as a token of respect and affection, just as in the old times. Don’t dwell on it; instead, appreciate the special moment and the magic of this vintage gesture!

For more insightful articles, visit 5 WS.

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