How many kisses is too many kisses?


When I was a brand new editorial assistant in my first publishing job, I signed off an email to one of the company directors as follows:

Susan xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The moment I pressed ‘send’ I realised what I’d done and I sat there, frozen in horror.
Once I’d started breathing again, I realised I couldn’t just pretend it hadn’t happened, or she might think that *I* thought this was an appropriate way for a junior to sign her name to a director. But how do you say sorry to someone for having put too many – or indeed, any – kisses in a message to them…?
“I apologise for my excessive epistolary affection”?
“I will endeavour to communicate via a more formal register in future”?

In the end, I put my head round her office door, red-faced, and mumbled somethig inarticulate. Given that she was far older and more experienced than me and in a position of power, this was her cue to be amused and reassuring and make me feel much better.

She wasn’t and she didn’t. Instead she was bemused and condescending, which is why I’m clearly still trying to get over to trauma 18 years later.

It hasn’t stopped me from putting kisses after my name, though, when I’m actually writing to a friend. I’ve noticed that there is a definite etiquette involved in this process. The number matters. One kiss means you’re on friendly terms. It *might* mean that you’re close, but it could also apply to, for example, a client you know well or another mum you chat to in the playground. Three kisses definitely signifies that you’re good friends, whereas an extravagant row of many kisses either means that you’re twelve-years-old (in which case you might intersperse them with circles to represent hugs), or that you’re writing to your partner or very close friend.

In an email exchange, it’s interesting that most people will copy your pattern exactly. For example, two kisses after your name will get you two kisses after the recipient’s name.

There is a gender segregation here, though. Men are definitely less generous with their rows of x’s. If I’m writing to one of my male friends, most of whom tend not to put kisses after their names, I find myself having an internal dialogue as follows: “He doesn’t, so probably I shouldn’t. But if I were writing to a female friend I definitely would. It feels really unfriendly not to. So I will – I shouldn’t let my normal writing style be dictated by someone else.” Then I do so, and immediately feel very slightly silly and childish. And then I feel annoyed with myself for being so insecure.

I write most of my messages on my phone using voice recognition, so if you see me with my phone to my mouth saying “love-Susan-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex”, this will be why. Please try not to cross the street.

Love Susan xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

PS When searching for a suitable image to accompany this post, it was noticeable that when I put ‘kisses’ into Google Images I got lots of nice pictures of pink lips, whereas when I searched ‘kisses xxx’ the results were startlingly different. It probably would have been better if I hadn’t been doing it outside my daughter’s ballet class.


If you would like more of this sort of nonsense, why not ‘like’ my Facebook page – or take a look at it, at any rate?

7 thoughts on “How many kisses is too many kisses?

  1. TheTawnyOwl

    Probably equally horrifyingly, my kids’ headteacher recently signed off an e-mail to my husband with name + x. Either a mistake, or they’re having an affair.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FictionFanatic1

    Brilliant post, Susan. I am so glad it isn’t just me who agonises over the number-of-kisses etiquette and counts to make sure I’m not being snubbed/snubbing anyone! Have you noticed the trend among some women friends for ending an exchange of text message with a single ‘x’ to signal ‘message received and understood but no reply needed’? I can’t decide if I’m touched or irritated by it . . . !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. feellikeagrownup Post author

      I hadn’t noticed that specifically. I quite like it, actually. I’ve definitely used it to comment on Facebook in a way that’s intended to express general sympathy ,when there really isn’t anything one can actually say.


  3. Sophie

    Fabulous spossy. I’m definitely 12, and I’m going to go back and check old messages to see if I’m a good friend or a one kiss friend! I’ve remembered for a while I fought against this by signing off with the word ‘snogs’, in a vague attempt to make it clear that the kisses weren’t actual kisses (French or otherwise). Not sure that went down well in the work place either. I’m just content with being 12 I think.
    Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx S

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sophie

      Ps. Also I realise that often, these days, I suffer from crappy phone typing issues so usually actually end my messages with ccccccc or, the more appropriate zzzzzzzzzzz

      Liked by 1 person

      1. feellikeagrownup Post author

        I’m fairly confident that you’ll find plenty of kisses in the correspondence because I think you were probably the one who started me off on the ridiculous numbers of kisses. Or possibly Helen… ggggggggggg


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