How to Greet a Russian Woman

Let’s learn the right way to say hello to a Russian woman.  Many older people might recall pictures of old Soviet politicians greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek. That might indeed be how Soviets greeted each other long ago, but not now! When meeting a Russian man, whether it’s the first time ever, or just the first time that day, a firm handshake and a “zdrastvuitye” is the most appropriate.

But more importantly, Russian for hello is different for men and how they should greet a Russian woman, especially for the first time. If the woman is just a friend — say, your fiance’s college friend — you can hug and or give her a peck on the cheek. (But not too much. Russian women are quick to jealousy!) But if this is a woman you’ve been corresponding with, with serious intentions between you, then you need to greet her with a warm hug and a kiss on the lips. Nothing too passionate. Quick and manly.

And please…

…I beg you…

..when saying hello to a Russian woman, do NOT offer your hand for a handshake. A Russian woman will look at you as if you’re from Mars. I understand it is an American custom, but it is not a Russian one. In Russia, only men shake hands.

Next, be sure to greet her with a gift of some kind. You don’t actually want to give her anything expensive — even if that’s easy for you — because then it sets a dangerous precedent. Keep it simple. A flower or three. (Never give an even number of flowers. This is a Russian superstition.) Or a box of chocolates. If you give fancy jewelry or perfume on your first meeting, she will always be expecting such luxuries.

Also, more important than giving her a gift, be sure you give her a compliment. Yes, it’s okay to do this in English, but she will be much more impressed and flattered if you take the time to tell her in Russian. Remember that. She can meet tons of lazy guys anywhere… guys who just can’t be bothered to learn even a few words of Russian, much less something as simple as how you saying hello.  But if you tell her she looks pretty in Russian, she will be immediately taken by you, and impressed. She will think, “This is a man I can introduce to my parents.”

So, try to tell her this: “You look super!”

Tee vwee – glih – deesh super! (Yes, the word “super” is virtually the same in Russian.)

If you’re sending that in an email, you would write it like this:

Ti vuiglidish super!

So that’s how to handle greeting in person.

Good luck, and poka!

  • Brad says:

    Hi, First great website!
    Without reading this page I would have been dreadfully embarrased when I meet my lady friend in Russia later this year.
    But I just have to confirm, is a kiss on the lips really common place in Russia?
    A warm hug I can understand, but in Australia we would never kiss a lady we are just meeting (even with serious intentions) on the lips the first time. A kiss on the cheek would be as close as it gets.
    Thankyou for your time,

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