My great-great grandmother Netty Thatcher was once asked whether it was harder to “get in trouble” in her day, since there were no cars (and therefore no making out in a car). She responded and said, “It was the same, except without cars you didn’t have to travel as far to get in trouble.”

Although the way men and women correspond with one another has changed over the years, the basics have stayed the same. The car has been added as a popular option, but the doorstep continues to be the scene for many a couples’ good night kiss. However, there are two things to know about before approaching the doorstep: body language and words. The most important of the two is body language. Men must be able to read it, and women must express it. I failed at this after a date I went on last year.

It was about 2 a.m. I was at my doorstep after a first date with Oscar Piaggio and my roommates were sleeping. It was a fun date, but I didn’t plan on kissing anyone, especially since it was a first date. We didn’t kiss, but later I found out that he was going to try to kiss me that night. I guess I was playing with my keys, which some people translate as interest. Luckily the awkward moment was avoided when he went in for the initial hug. On his way, his hand accidentally hit the doorbell. An interesting moment happened at that point, and the doorbell must have thrown him off his game. To be safe, though, I should have been more clear about my intentions.

Expressing disinterest in a kiss is easy, although I didn’t understand this with Oscar at that time. At almost any point, either person can simply say goodbye and leave. Unfortunately, expressing interest takes more finesse.


For women, the task is to know how to use posture and position to say the right thing. You should show that you expect nothing and at the same time want something—the kiss. Traditionally, the man makes the move, but you should know that the woman actually has more control over the situation than the man.

Don’t worry men, there are things you can do too. When reading the woman you can use words to help the process, although it is not always necessary. Body language is more important than the words that are said. Expressing or reading body language incorrectly can be more embarrassing than messing up the words said.

However, it can be helpful when words are said. This is especially true at two times during the doorstep scene. The first one is that moment when the conversation is extended past the “thanks” and “goodbye.” Words give the man more time for making a move. The second moment that words can be helpful is during the five seconds before the kiss. In that case, words keep eye contact going.

With the fall semester starting up, there will be new situations for meeting people. But with this new season, remember to be careful with what you say with body language. If handled wrong, it may result in an awkward moment; if used well, it can be used to the advantage of both parties.