Body Language - Hugging
Part 2

We continue with the second part on hugging in body language.

How Close?

How close things get says much about the relation between the participants.

A negative example: When we're forced into hugging with someone we don't really like, we try to keep as much distance as possible between our body and theirs. This is especially evident in children, who lack the etiquette and sensitivity of adults.

Let me demonstrate that from my own experience: When I was around the age of 10, I was forced by mother into a dancing class. I hated it, and I wasn't into the whole thing of dancing with girls since I considered that unmanly (yes I know.. the pride of a 10 year old).

So when I actually danced with the girl, we would keep our torsos way apart, the instructor who didn't fancy that idea always yelled at us: "stand closer! a train could pass between you!".

Bottom line? When there's a physical gap, there's also an emotional one too.

kids dancing

Keep that distance

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A side note: What happened to my dancing career? Well, I left the class after several months, saving my pride but missing my shot being the world champion in Tango (:
On a more serious note, I'm really glad that I took that class since this experience improved my coordination and dancing skills, what I find very useful today.

What About the Hips?

When hugging friends, we want to prevent our genitals from touching as it may send  a sexual message, so we simply keep our hips apart.  To further avoid this inconvenience many male friends generally pass up the full frontal hug and stick to other, less 'touchy' gestures such as the handshake or the 'man hug' (see below). 

But let's say it's a romantic scenario and you intend to 'make a move', how can you escalate the frontal hug into something more?

By getting closer of course! When embracing your crush, use one hand to slide it down towards their lower back and gently pull them closer to a full body contact. You can also add a smooth rub on the back to intensify the act.

This is a powerful and emotionally charged gesture that literally brings the hearts together.

A word of caution: if you feel resistance (verbal or nonverbal) from your date, slow down and even stop, make sure they feel comfortable enough being this intimate with you.

Use Your Head

Holding the head of someone is a paternal gesture of protection and care. Our head is the most vital part of our body, so "entrusting" it to another's hands is a symbol of trust and deep affection, don't take it lightly.

Traditionally, females and children will lay their head more often than adult males as it signals vulnerability , an attribute that males avoid displaying publicly.

Using the head to nuzzle the neck or face is a cute gesture between lovers. In many parts of Eastern Asia, for example, rubbing one's nose against the cheek of another is the equivalent to kissing in the western culture.

head hug

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Types of Hugs

Now let's look at some common examples and their meanings:

The Male-Hug

AKA the bro-hug,

The true origin of this hugs is unknown but it probably became popular through the hip hop culture in the US.

man hug

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Think about it as a combination of the handshake and a hug. In this hug\handshake, 2 (usually) males will make a handshake and then proceed to bump their shoulders together while their hands locked between their bodies; often followed by a simultaneous pat on the back and then a quick release.

2 things that make this hug very comfortable for men:

A. There's an easy flow from the handshake to the hug.

B. The locked hands between torsos keep the bodies apart, allowing comfortable space between the platonic huggers.

I myself use this type of greeting a lot with my close friends, because it reveals more affection and familiarity than the simple handshake while you get to keep your personal space and dignity intact.

The Side Hug

side hug

 "Let's pose to the camera hug"

This one is a familiar friendly gesture, often used in a group setting. Hugging this way shows single front and great rapport between the participants (if it's reciprocal).

It's a neutral hug so it's quite safe to use it early in a relationship to create affinity and Kino escalation with a potential mate. On the other hand, shy guys often get "stuck" in this hug without moving forward to more intimate gestures – what sends the girl a message that they're not really serious.

Note: Wrapping your hand around the neck of another is a display of dominance and ownership over that person (similar to the dogs we mentioned in the first part). Even if it's friendly and innocent by intention, it might send a message that "I own him\her"-  what consequently lowers that person's status in the eyes of others.

The Criss – Cross Hug

A romantic hug where one hand rests on the waist and the other goes up around the neck or shoulder, creating an X with the hands of the partner.

The female may put her hand on the chest of her man in this position - a sign for  a deep affection.

This is an excellent setup for a passionate kiss - it's easy to pull both the head and body closer at the same time. People who dislike being "too sticky" don't like these kinds of intimate hugs, it's hard to get away from them.

Behind the Back

behind the back hug

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One partner will approach and hug his lover from behind encircling them. This one is meaning is dependent on the context:

On one hand it shows deep connection and caring - what can be especially comforting when your partner feels down.

On the other hand, it's a protective and territorial signal – you can often notice it in a scenario when one partner tries subconsciously to protect his claim over his date when another sexual threat is imminent. It's like saying: "It's mine and it's guarded, don't try anything"

Bottom Line

That's it folks,

My hope and intention was to refine and perhaps add some perspective to a gesture most of us see and use on a daily basis. I don't want you to overthink it though, hugging is something quite intuitive and obvious – most of the time you just go with the flow.

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