Holiday Party Season Survival Guide


Good date, bad kisser. How to bow out.

For some time, I have been wallowing in the awkwardness of a moment. It took a little while to wrap my head around what happened, and reflect on the situation.

I kissed the world’s worst kisser.

It happened the old-fashioned romantic way (leaving a bar) and the anticipation was fantastic, the stuff of teenage goose bumps. The minutes leading up it I was smitten, had mentally decorated our hypothetical beach house and was excited for this kiss. Careful what you wish for, they say.

By all possible measures, it was the worst kiss. Technically, the approach and the execution were abysmal but the real injustice was that this awful kiss was on the heels of a really, really good date. So how does one dance around the question of, “When can I see you again?” when the answer isn’t one the asker wants to hear? Where does honesty merge with decorum?

What I wanted to say was, “I’d love to see you again, but you are the world’s worst kisser, so I’m sorry, I think we should part ways.” And ideally, shouted over my shoulder as I sprint in the other direction. But what I say, once I regained rightful control of my mouth, was, “Thanks for a great night” and bought myself some time to think. In the spirit of if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, I wanted until there was a solid invitation to address it. And I wanted to communicate a polite decline in such a way that no one had to feel burned by it. I stand by my theory that there is a lid for every pot: one day he will kiss someone who kisses in the exact same way and they’ll both feel the earth move beneath them.

A 1950s etiquette book reminds us that it is always a woman’s prerogative to refuse an invitation, and it is never necessary to make detailed explanations as to why she cannot accept an invitation. The modern footnote to this is the soft decline. My parting words were along the lines of he is fun to be around (true), I had a great night (also true) but I’m just not feeling like this will move on to anything, that perhaps we’re not compatible (obviously true).

So I kissed and told, but modestly spared the gory details.

Pity, it was such a good date.

(First published on The Huffington Post Canada, July 2012)

Show some PDA: It’s International Kissing Day

by Lia Grainger



Getty Images/Dan Kitwood A young couple kiss on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2012 in London, England.



Are you a fan of the PDA?

Friday is International Kissing Day, and a new survey from the matchmaking website has found the vast majority of Canadians have no problems puckering up in public.

Of the more than 1,163 Canadians surveyed, a whopping 93 per cent confessed they were fine with public displays of affection. Women are ever so slightly more modest than their male counterparts: 51 per cent of the ladies responded said that public kissing in moderation is fine, while 61 per cent of the fellas said anything goes.





“The high numbers of people that are okay with PDA is indicative of our easygoing tolerance and acceptance – qualities that are consummately Canadian,” says Toronto etiquette expert Karen Cleveland. She says that attitudes towards kissing in public have softened over the years, but is quick to warn there is still such a thing as going too far.

“A good rule of thumb is to avoid doing anything you’d be embarrassed to do in front of your grandparents,” says Cleveland. “That means no groping and no tongue.”

Dating consultant Shannon Tebb says location matters. “If you’re on a subway car or in a doctor’s office – anywhere confined with other people – it’s probably best to avoid big displays,” says Tebb. “If you’re on the street, it’s more acceptable.”

If you’ve decided to go for the public smooch, why not make your partner happy?

According to, most Canadian men prefer sensual kisses on the lips, while the majority of women like the so-called French kiss. Those with female partners should be extra observant of what their partner enjoys, as most women say being with a good kisser is important, while men are less concerned because their partners “may be better at other things.” We’ll let you ponder that one for yourselves.

(First published in Metro, July 2012)


Suck my kiss

There’s nothing worse than someone giving you a kiss hello, thinking it’s over, and then they lean in for the double cheek kiss. You end up bumping noses or landing one right on the lips.
Can it be more awkward?
Are there rules? Goodness knows there should be. How close do you lean in? How long do lips maintain contact with cheek? Is there contact at the entirely too ubiquitous air kiss? Kiss on one cheek? Two cheeks? What side first?
It would seem that inelegance occurs when the kisser and recipient are on the fence about what is going to happen. If you’re going to go for the double kiss, do it with full conviction, so the recipient knows exactly where you are headed (literally). Typically, whether you’re serving up a single or a double, you start with the right cheek, because most people are right-handed and you’ll naturally lean in to that side. If you’re still shaking hands, maintain the grip. Or, you can rest your hand lightly on your co-kisser’s forearm, or shoulder (waist or chest territory can send a different greeting message all together: not always a bad thing). Whilst leaning in to kiss/be kissed, keep the contact very light (really more of a cheek graze than a full smooch) and if you like, offer a ‘how are you” or “nice to see you” to soften the interaction. The “mwa, mwa” sound is a bit Fran Drescher for me, but I digress.
If you offer your hand to shake with a softened elbow, it’s more inviting to be pulled in for a cheek peck. A firmer, more extended arm puts more space between you, and is less kiss-friendly – and if that’s your comfort zone (hello, flu season), stay right within it. You’re certainly not obliged to give or receive a kiss.

(First published on She Does the City, October 2009)

PDA’s (not your BlackBerry, nerd. Public Displays of Affection)

First off – I have a confession. I’m a closet romantic. There.
There is indeed a fine line between civilized affections and knock-down-yuck-fests and I try to stay on the right side of the fence.

PDA’s send a staunch message that you’re so into the person you’re with, you don’t care who knows it; a notion which is fine (almost endearing) when you’re 16. Any older and it’s a surefire way to make your friends or complete strangers feel uncomfortable (or even worst, make a creep feel a little too comfortable) and lose your hard-earned credibility.
I’m all for
– Holding hands
– Sneaking in a quick kiss (any longer than a few seconds and it’s weird for everyone)
– Fast hugs or embraces (like a shoulder squeeze)

What I’m not for
– Whispering sweet nothings
– Long kisses or embraces
– Any unmentionable acts that go beyond the above: you know exactly what they are you saucy devil – I’m too polite to name them

Sometimes a kiss is not just a kiss.

(First published on She Does The City, April 2008)