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It’s how pick-up communities refer to physical touching in a romantic/sexual context.

A handshake, a hug, an arm around the waist, a playful punch. Beyond that, kino is key to establishing and developing physical comfort between two people. Plus, this is where Indicators of Interest (IOI for short) come in.

Most people follow what’s called a “kino escalation ladder,” which sorts specific instances of physical contact by their generally accepted level of intimacy. For any functioning fling or relationship, both parties have to find the appropriate pace to negotiate the 11 steps (or more if I forgot any kinky physical stuff you like to get into). A girl texting you to tell you about her day might be an IOI, but who knows? If she’s standing in front of you, holding eye contact (even breaking it and doing a double take now and then), and smiling? Even if it’s an accidental – two people who accidentally bump into each other often communicate “oops” without words.

You basically start at the bottom, and as you both get more physically comfortable, you work your way up. When two people shake hands, they establish a level of formality and respect understood by both.

If two people awkwardly hug, both people in that situation know it.

If someone performs a rear naked choke, it’s pretty clear that the person being choked messed up somewhere along the line.

Put Kino and your sense of Indicators of Interest together, and you’ve got a barometer for how your interaction is going.

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Simple, and yet guys still get it wrong thinking that kino and IOIs are like the chicken and the egg, wondering whether they should kino first or look for an IOI that would make kino okay first. Kino isn’t just for establishing comfort with someone you know who is attracted to you – it’s for finding out whether someone is attracted to you in the first place.

It’s only AFTER that initial move (the vague thing that everyone’s always telling you to make) that you will see an IOI or none at all. Your paying attention to whether she smiles, squeezes back, and holds eye contact.

You’re no longer just putting your arm around her – you’re seeing if she responds in kind and scoots closer into you.

You’re no longer just telling that joke – you’re seeing if she shoves you while smiling and laughing.

All of the reactions you get from being physically close to a girl will tell you more about her level of interest than a two hour conversation from across the table.

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