You may well have noticed that Dutch people are a rather kissy bunch. Plop yourself down on any terrace in town and take in the sight of Dutch people all around you greeting & kissing & kissing & kissing then leaving & kissing & kissing & kissing! It is indeed an odd practice for a normally rather un-affectionate bunch.

What, you ask, is all this kissing about? Who exactly kisses who, and more importantly, when is the right moment for all this kissing? As always, we at SDPL are here to make the mysteries of the lowlands a little less mysterious. Kissing is indeed a rather important cultural norm in the Netherlands. However, social kissing does come with its own precise set of rules and regulations, which we will humbly describe.



1. It is common practice to greet people with kisses.
2. Kisses, however, are not indiscriminately dolled out to anyone; they are strictly reserved for friends and relatives only.
3. The norm these days is three kisses on the cheek.
4. These kisses are, however, are not actual kisses on the cheek; they are more like air-kisses and your moist lips dare not actually touch the other person.
5. The three air-kisses are used to greet someone and used again to say goodbye.
6. Women are all about the kissing. Women kiss women. And women kiss men.
7. Men generally only kiss women (apart from their relatives).

8. Two men greet instead with a very manly and firm handshake.
9. Kissing follows the pattern right cheek – left cheek – right cheek; don’t dare go rogue or you are sure to cause a face-on collision.
10. Even with all this daily kissing going on, it is still not the norm to french-kiss in public. The Dutch would rather you left that type of kissing at home.

Confused-much?! Who would of thought that a simple little greeting could have such a complicated set of rules? Of course, there are always awkward moments and situations that even our handy 10-step rules can’t solve. What happens when a colleague becomes more like a friend, do you then greet each-other at work with kisses? Or what if you go a little to enthusiastically into a kiss and painfully smack cheek bones, do you then give an apology kiss? Lastly, when is the right moment to wipe someone’s sweat/spit off your face after a rather moist encounter? 😉