on the nature of hugging

men, do you know how to be confident in your manliness and hug each other properly? if not, watch the following video. i watched five guys watching it and laughing after they had practiced a variety of fierce, tough-love man hugs and creepy “never do this” man hugs.

so here it is.

but wait! what if it is not a man you are hugging? what if … oh horrors … it is actually one of those confounded creatures called a woman??? *dun dun DUN!!!* what in heaven’s name do you do then?

well, you could read this article called how to give a girl the perfect hug.

if you are me … which obviously you are not … that article will make you mentally snort. that’s all well and good, but we want something a little more useful to this business of hugging than mental snorting.

so, men, here’s some advice on hugging women, from me to you:

1. be natural
2. don’t be weird

and that is really all.

what i mean is this: don’t go giving girls you don’t know very well fierce full-out bear hugs, but don’t act like a girl is going to shatter if you touch her, either. it gets translated into how the hug feels, and so then it seems like what you’re thinking is “i know hugs are socially acceptable and even perhaps expected forms of communication and greetings but oh gosh this is so awkward and i’m doing it wrong and i just want this to end and now she’s going to hate me, isn’t she?” … even if that wasn’t at all what you were thinking.

are you just comfortable giving side hugs? that’s totally fine: but own those side hugs. if you act like you think you’re committing some sort of sin by hugging a girl, believe me, it will feel awkward for both of you.

are you a both-arms hugger? awesome: again, own your hug. if you initiated it, follow through. just don’t hold on forever.

i am admittedly a stand-offish person — or can be — when it comes to inter-gender hugging. i’ve received at least three unexpected guy hugs this year, all from different people, and what i appreciated about each was that they didn’t act like something awkward was happening. they initiated, they followed through, they carried on. that’s what makes it ultimately not weird. in my book, anyway.

ladies: if a guy hugs you, hug him back. don’t stand there all stiff and poker-like glaring daggers at him. unless he’s being a jerk, don’t be a jerk back to him. if he is, tell him firmly but politely that he’s making you uncomfortable, and don’t hug him back. but mostly, don’t be a jerk.

and here’s another thought: if you’re saying goodbye to two people at the same time, and you give the girl a hug, give the guy one, too. gird up the loins of your mind and don’t be weird about it. if it’s weird, remember that practice usually makes things less weird. keep calm and carry on.

now. ladies, about hugging anybody — don’t limp-fish it. you know how some people shake hands like their appendages were made of wet lasagna noodles? that is awkward for everyone, and you might as well have told the person to his or her face that you didn’t want to shake hands or touch to begin with.

don’t hug like that. i know girls who give rib-cracking, toe-dangling bear hugs, and they are awesome (not sure how i get practically lifted off my feet by people who aren’t that much bigger than me, but it happens, and it’s cool). i know girls who’ve hugged me like we were both made of glass, and i came away from those interactions feeling like it was just a waste of movement.

honestly, ladies, if you don’t want to hug someone, don’t. i know “actions speak louder than words,” but God didn’t make us mimes, and we have a whole bunch of different ways to say good bye without having to have any sort of physical interaction. besides, if you are dishing out an obligatory trendy farewell hug, your actions are going to scream THIS IS AN OBLIGATORY TRENDY FAREWELL HUG!!!

if you’re going to hug someone, man, woman, child, animal … please own your action and make it worthwhile, for you and for them.

nothing says “i care about you” like a good hug.

and nothing says “oh my gosh this is awkward i hate this i’m freaking out please let it be over already” than a bad one.

just sayin’. ; )