Not everyone needs a hug.
December 19, 2014 10:43 AM   Subscribe

 
Italian: hug AND kisses, at least one per cheek. Face cheeks, anyway.
posted by lydhre at 10:46 AM on December 19, 2014


From the first link:
"Anyway, several people at the service told me something I never knew. He'd had some business cards printed out with his name and contact info on one side and "Please, no hugs" on the other that he used to hand out at church gatherings. Apparently it was a very huggy-feely congregation. My sisters and I thought that was hilarious.) "
I love this guy. Great idea.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:49 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


The modern world is a complex place for many men. You are expected to be in touch with your feminine side, but never to the point that it compromises your masculinity. And to make things even more confusing, along comes the "man hug" -- an unabashed show of affection to your fellow men. If you don't hug, you may be accused of not being secure in your sexuality. But if you're not used to hugging other men, it might feel awkward and uncomfortable. Here are some guidelines to approaching the man hug, applicable only to those who've ever been unsure of how to go about giving one.

overthinking a plate of hugs
posted by kagredon at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2014


How to give a man a hug.

1. Locate a man.
2. Hug him.
posted by cortex at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2014 [34 favorites]


"You turn the American around...."

Oh my god that was hilarious. Contrast with the Japanese thread.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not a hugger, but I do believe that if you're going to give a hug you should do it properly, much like a handshake. Nothing worse than the feeling of someone's arms draped feebly around you and having their hands sadly grazing your back.
posted by Rora at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The American Hug thing is odd because they never explicitly explain that this is all male-male etiquette. Women hug each other, and men, all the time.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:08 AM on December 19, 2014


Hugs are the best. I don't internet hugs though, that's just weird.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In what is surely a sea-change in British mores, people in the UK, according to new research, now average 13 hugs per day, which last an average of 9.5 seconds each. Now on a monthly basis, the formerly reserved inhabitants of that scepter'd isle spend a full hour hugging.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like the huggy-shake: shake with your right hand and pats on the back with the left. No awkwardness.
posted by Renoroc at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


9.5 seconds each? Are we sure these people aren't super confused about time? That's a really long hug.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:12 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


That's the bro hug, isn't it?
posted by poffin boffin at 11:12 AM on December 19, 2014


13 hugs per day? Do they hug all their coworkers upon entering the office, or something? That's a LOT of hugs.
posted by suelac at 11:15 AM on December 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


As a completely unabashed hugger, gaining awareness that not everybody wants a hug and continually keeping that awareness in mind has been/is very difficult. It's worse when I'm the foreigner or around foreigners - I'm always terrified I'll forget myself and accidentally hug them, particularly with Muslim men.

On the other hand (cultural differences aside), gaining the affections and trust of a non-hugger to the point they not only let you hug them but hug you first/open their arms for a hug is one of life's greatest pleasures.
posted by barchan at 11:15 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


For the record I'm pretty pro-hug, but I recoiled at the mention of the guy (sorry, spiritual leader) in Doktor Zed's link who claimed to have "cuddled 30 million people." Ack.
posted by psoas at 11:18 AM on December 19, 2014


This can be really tricky to navigate as a teacher; you want to make sure each kid gets expressions of affection but you also need to navigate their personal space and that can be tricky.

When I was teaching second grade in a really rough school I ended up pulling a fourth-grader out of her classroom because she was about to get violent and I wanted to support my colleague so I made her come sit with me and calm down a bit. She was pretty upset and first I was really strict with her but then I could tell she was also having a really rough time so I was like "Okay, we can talk now, do you want a hug?" and she shook her head and I was like "Are you sure? I love to give you a hug if you'd want one but I won't touch you if you'd prefer I not" and she just shook her head again and started to cry and I wanted to hug her more than ever but like clearly that was not the best choice and in fact largely because of Metafilter I was like "shit, if she's just communicated pretty clearly that she does not want to be touched I need to respect that".

So I guess my point is that hugs can be super great and wonderful and I personally love hugs and seventh-grade styling dancing with friends and family members and whatnot but sometimes not giving someone a hug can also be a very powerful positive statement.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2014 [25 favorites]


"Do you know how to give an "American hug"?"

Pretty sure I squeeze them overenthusiastically with an almost imperial disregard for their comfort level with the hug and then pour Coca-Cola down their throat while saying with a huuuuuuuge smile, "Have a NICE day!"

Is that right? Is that how I American?

But srsly, I have noticed a dramatic fall-off in hugs in the last decade in my midwestern American milieu. I don't know if this is a cultural shift, or a middle-age thing, or what. It's weird because people I've met once will hug me the next time I see them, several months later (like when I happen to see my sister-in-law's bridesmaids that I met once at her wedding, at a party she's throwing much later on -- ALL THE HUGS), but friends I'd give my liver to I probably haven't touched in three years, because I see them weekly so there's never a hug-occasioning time lapse.

I consider myself cool with face-kissing greetings but once I hosted a baby shower for a friend from abroad and all the guests were Latin American and southern European and GOOD GOD. Since I was the host I got kisses from everyone arriving and everyone departing and there were a million people and LOOK THAT'S JUST MORE KISSES I'VE HAD IN TWO HOURS SINCE I WAS A NEWBORN BABY WITH CHUBBY CHEEKS. I have found my cultural comfort threshhold: 100 kiss-greetings in an hour is TOO MANY.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:24 AM on December 19, 2014 [21 favorites]


You look like you could use a hug, but I'm not going to give you one.
posted by larrybob at 11:31 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kiss-greetings are the best, but only when both people are on the same page in terms of left vs right and how many kisses per cheek. Failing to coordinate is where the embarrassment comes from.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:32 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


XOXOXO
posted by Monochrome at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2014


I wonder if trees actually like to be hugged.
posted by tempestuoso at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Group hug!
posted by monospace at 11:40 AM on December 19, 2014


So many other apes and primates in general hug that I'm of the opinion that, to the extent that some cultures don't hug, they do so in spite of some in-built programming to the contrary. I suspect that's why hugging catches on so quickly in places where it was once almost unknown; it just floods you with delicious oxytocin once you give in to it. I understand that there are cultures where people absolutely do not do this, but since they seem so cavalier about judging me and my huggy ways then I'm totally fine judging right back. Y'all need a hug.

I recall the dismay my wife felt when her Taiwanese mother, who had never once hugged her that she remembered, gave my parents hugs when she saw them, because "Western people like being hugged." Well, no, your kids needed hugs too.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I average less than 13 hugs per year. I'm not joking. The idea of having someone RIGHT UP IN MY PERSONAL SPACE like that gives me hives. I have a relative who is known as the preying mantis for the way she latches onto people to hug them on greeting. I've never actually met her.
posted by Solomon at 11:44 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Considering some of the horrifying results of the Harlow experiments with rhesus monkey babies and overcrowded orphanages giving insight into touch deprivation, it might be interesting to look into any correlation between the various happiness indexes with cultural norms about physical touch, especially hugging. (And since happiness also draws on cultural preservation, there could be layers upon layers there.)
posted by barchan at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


ha, 1adam12, our thoughts went in the same direction! *hugs*
posted by barchan at 11:46 AM on December 19, 2014


Count me as one of those people who fucking hates hugs. I will hug in extenuating circumstances, like, saying goodbye to a friend who is moving away, but other than that, NO HUGS. I think I can count the number of times I've hugged my own family members on my fingers. It is always discomfiting when I visit my in-laws who are The Huggiest.

I am especially uncomfortable hugging other women because boobs get in the way.

Sorry, huggy people.
posted by Librarypt at 11:51 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Now on a monthly basis, the formerly reserved inhabitants of that scepter'd isle spend a full hour hugging.

Awkward British hugging.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 AM on December 19, 2014


I am not a hugger. To communicate the violation I feel when being unexpectedly hugged by someone, I lick their cheek. This has proved effective at eliminating future hugs.
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:53 AM on December 19, 2014 [28 favorites]


I have another relative who likes to grab me by the love handles when we're done hugging. Like the hug isn't enough, there has to be more contact that points out that I'm overweight. What's worst is that the hug is over so I'm expecting to be let go of, but I get grabbed again. /shudder
posted by Solomon at 11:54 AM on December 19, 2014




I have another relative who likes to grab me by the love handles when we're done hugging.

WTAF. I'd find it amusing to tear off one of his ear lobes and hand it to him, after that.
posted by thelonius at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


In what is surely a sea-change in British mores, people in the UK, according to new research, now average 13 hugs per day, which last an average of 9.5 seconds each. Now on a monthly basis, the formerly reserved inhabitants of that scepter'd isle spend a full hour hugging.

My goodness. Who are they hugging? To average thirteen hugs a day, I would have to hug co-workers even if I also hugged all housemates, stray friends and romantic partners every day.

it just floods you with delicious oxytocin once you give in to it.

No, it doesn't. It floods you with "how long is too long for this hug? since this person hugged me, do I have to hug all the others who are also coming in/leaving? What if I smell weird but don't even know it? Is this person judging my body? god please don't let me have to hug the person I have a crush on, I would feel so skeevy...how do I hug firmly enough not to weird people out without hugging too hard?" or worst of all "I bet this person is only hugging me out of a generic sense of obligation". The sincerity/insincerity situation plus the fears of hugging incorrectly or having the incorrect body to be hugged, plus all the stuff you have to negotiate as a visibly queer person - the people who, for example, hug everyone else but don't hug me and it's pretty clearly for homophobic/gender-non-conforming-o-phobic reasons, the anxiety about people feeling that they have to hug me even though they believe I'm a disgusting pervert. The way that hugging locates you firmly back in the very body that society uses to justify your punishment and exclusion...God, I hate hugs, hugging and all things associated with hugging.

I mean, don't let me ruin your fun. Just, for chrissakes save your hugs for after I leave.
posted by Frowner at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


No hugs, please. Or we're fighting. This is non-negotiable.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


FYI, cats do not appreciate hugging. They consider it disrespectful of their personal space and would like to get NOW please.
posted by maryr at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


My Quebecois family does the two kisses on the cheeks. We call hugs "caresses".
posted by Hazelsmrf at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2014


Oh, and the situations where all the obviously-women-people get hugs, the obviously-men-people don't, and the hugger just sort of dithers in front of me. That always makes me feel awesome.
posted by Frowner at 12:01 PM on December 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


My social group (lots of goths) is very hug positive, pretty much by default everyone hugs everyone. Which can make saying goodbye to a large group a lengthy job. I come from a very much non hugging family so the acclimatization to this (years ago) was odd. There are always the standoffish types in the group and their space is respected... but definitely the rarity.
posted by cirhosis at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


people in the UK, according to new research, now average 13 hugs per day

actualy just statistical error. average brit hugs 10 per year. Hugs Georg, who lives in clerkenwell & hugs over 10,000 each day, is an outlier adn should not have been counted
posted by poffin boffin at 12:05 PM on December 19, 2014 [31 favorites]


My awkward hug moment is usually the significant other of a good friend that I've only met two or three times. The good friend gets a hug (usually because they instigate, but if it's someone I don't see often, I might start it) and then all the friends gathered have to get hugs and then I'm left with the guy or girl I just met. I usually try to kind of make a joke out of it, but bleh, awkward.
posted by maryr at 12:06 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I grew up hugging relatives and all, but casual hugging is still a bit weird to me. Big New England personal space bubble, thank you. Friggin' Californians.
posted by maryr at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wish there was a bit of a middle ground, the hug is too intimate for some people and unneeded for people you see all the time. I love cheek kisses, but I'm not French Canadian so it's not something that I can just start doing. I even find myself embarrassed at myself because I love the hand shake - it feels so stuffy and anglo! But when I first meet people, I'm not ready for a hug and there isn't any other option.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2014


How to give a good man-to-man hug. Apparently, platonic male contact must come with the risk of a broken clavicle.
posted by Solomon at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Honestly, hugging my friends is probably the only thing that got me through high school (okay, and college... and grad school) and probably as a result, I almost always err on the side of hugging vs. not-hugging, particularly at social events (and especially if I'm hosting). But I can totally respect that many people feel uncomfortable about it so I'm trying to dial back my inner Golden Retriever and train myself not to automatically go in for the hug when I see someone I like. Or at least ask "are you a hugger?" and sub a handshake if they don't seem enthusiastic about it.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


IMHO, the two-handed handshake is not a bad middle ground if you want to show particular affection for someone without going all the way into hug land. Definitely a "personal" as opposed to a "business" handshake, of course.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2014


Ok, so those of you who don't want hugs - how do you signal this when a hugger approaches? I always have a hard time figuring out whether or not certain friends/family want hugs.
posted by kitcat at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2014


For the record I'm pretty pro-hug, but I recoiled at the mention of the guy (sorry, spiritual leader) in Doktor Zed's link who claimed to have "cuddled 30 million people." Ack.

Amma is a woman (we're having a hard time with this today). I'm one of the 30M, and these are not quick hugs either. You get in line, remove your eyewear* and eventually get a lengthy hug and a blessing (which she comes up with on the spot). She uses the term "darshan" for this, which is interesting.

* based on the small but non-zero chance of the frames of your glasses hurting her during a hug. Probability overall is something like (1 - 0.999999^30,000,000)
posted by kurumi at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2014


There's a guy at the science fiction conventions that just hugs people. That seems to be his main fannish activity. I don't even know his name and I have gotten tired of this thing where I have to give him a hug before I can continue walking down the hall. Hugging implies some sort of relationship, but my only relationship to this dude is that I know his face because I have had to hug him about a hundred times in the last couple decades. I mean, at least he bathes, and he's not gropey, so I guess that's a point in his favor, and I'm usually OK with hugs, but I don't really know him and it's kind of creepy.

A few years back I started saying "Not now" or "No" and not only did he accept it gracefully, it only took a few encounters before he stopped opening his arms at me every time he saw me. So he's trainable and probably not even meaning to be creepy. But for someone less willing to be awkward, he's probably a big obstacle.
posted by elizilla at 12:25 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hug my wife, I hug my mom, I hug my dogs.

Everyone else - including my sister - not a chance.

This is one of my wife's ongoing training efforts because she loves a good hug.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:28 PM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Kitcat, I found a great answer for this on the Captain Awkward site. You say "Jedi hugs! Jedi hugs! I hug you with my mind!" and make little flipper motions with your hands. In certain social circles people instantly understand what you mean, and smile as they back off. And you can feel good knowing you are propagating a fabulous meme that helps us all.

It doesn't work so well for great aunts, though.
posted by elizilla at 12:29 PM on December 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


Ok, so those of you who don't want hugs - how do you signal this when a hugger approaches? I always have a hard time figuring out whether or not certain friends/family want hugs.

Many people in my social circle - valuing good consent as they do - ask. I find it better to ask "do you do hugs" or some similar formulation rather than "may I hug you" because it's a lot easier to say that no, I do not "do" hugs than to say "no, I am going to deprive you of this innocuous small and exceedingly unpleasant-to-me thing that you want to do". People who ask if they may hug me usually get a grudging yes, because it's framed as "will you do me this small favor [even if you don't want to]" and it feels much more ungracious to refuse.

I feel that the onus of asking is on the person who wants to start with the hugging, just as it would be if it were, like, kissing or taking a closer look at my messenger bag or whatever.
posted by Frowner at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


ugh do not hug me, anyone, ever. Just thinking about all this hugging is creeping me out.

I suppose that I could accept a hug from a medical professional who I'd never see again, just like when I'm sick I want everyone I know to leave me alone but have no trouble being a model patient. I suppose if I ever feel that I need a hug, I'll have to hire a trained hugger.

I mean, I don't pretend that this hatred of hugs isn't the result of a fucked up childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, but hugs, augh, even Jedi hugs are de trop. I do not want to "hug you with my mind". What about a cheery wave with my mind? Or a jaunty hat-tip of the mind?
posted by Frowner at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel that the onus of asking is on the person who wants to start with the hugging, just as it would be if it were, like, kissing or taking a closer look at my messenger bag or whatever.

As a hugger, I agree with you even though it's hard to remember at times. And it always makes me feel bad when someone is apologetic they're not a hugger. Um, no, *I'm* the one asking to invade your space, you should not feel a need to apologize.

*bookmarks this thread for future meetups*
posted by barchan at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2014


The last time we were in France, we stayed with a friend who now lives in Canada but had gone back to visit her family. She took us to a large family gathering, where we were already quite prepared for cheek-kiss greetings. However, I think the family knew that foreigners might find it startling--so we were asked politely if we would prefer to kiss or shake hands. I thought that was sweet. (We said we were fine with the kissing, so what ensued was a kind of Eyebrows McGee-style experience.)

But the funniest part to me was when one of the family members asked our friend (in French) how Canadian people usually greet each other. "Oh, they hug," our Canadianized friend said casually in English, and then demonstrated on me, which resulted in a flurry of surprised exclamations!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2014


Hugs + hearing aids = feedback.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ok, so those of you who don't want hugs - how do you signal this when a hugger approaches?

In the case of my father-in-law who I dislike and is a bear hugger with cheek kisses, I back away quickly with a look of horror and disgust on my face. It doesn't seem to dissuade him, however.

With general people, I stand back, don't raise my arms, maybe give a little wave while saying hi. Huggers need to watch for body language.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:44 PM on December 19, 2014


I am so unintentionally huggable that one day two different strangers hugged me. In New England, where we don't generally do that.
posted by theredpen at 12:47 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I live in a fairly huggy country, and always have. I hate hugs, and I'm sick of tolerating them just to be polite.

Look, lady I barely know, I don't want your boobs squished against me, and frankly it's creepy that you go around doing that to everyone.

Seriously, it's incredibly invasive. It's like when you go to someone's house and their dog greets you by shoving its nose in your crotch. Humans should know better.

Walking up to someone in the "I am going to hug you" stance forces an unreceptive second party to either a) submit and be uncomfortably intimate, or b) reject the advance and feel like a jerk. I don't want either of those things, and many people I know don't want either of those things. Just don't.

Hugs are appropriate for a) your own children, and b) your romantic partner. For everyone else, a handshake or wave is entirely adequate.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeesh, I'm with Frowner. Do not fucking hug me unless I've known you for about 15 years and even then probably not. I don't even like when people say "**hugs**" online. You can hug me if you're married to me. I do not know whence the insistence upon hugging perfect strangers has arisen in the past however many years, but I can say I don't like it one bit.
posted by holborne at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2014


In what is surely a sea-change in British mores, people in the UK, according to new research, now average 13 hugs per day

I'm not afraid of hugging -- quite the opposite actually -- but I don't know if I've touched that many people on purpose in the last month.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:58 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very telling how some folks here who are comfortable with hugging express discomfort about kiss greetings, but a lack of empathy with people who aren't as hug-positive. It's the same thing.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:01 PM on December 19, 2014


*bookmarks this thread for future meetups*

barchan, I am currently cross-referencing this thread with Yeses for the Nashua meetup tonight.

(Fortunately it looks like I've met most of them before OR they hail from New Hampshire, so I think I'm safe.)
posted by maryr at 1:03 PM on December 19, 2014


Personally, in this enlightened era of consent, I've taken to asking folks if they'd like a hug unless i'm reasonably sure it'd be ok.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:04 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Are people with young children skewing the 13 hugs a day number? Because that is a lot of hugs, and I wouldn't even get up to that number if I was living with a partner, but I might if there were affectionate kids around. Or maybe it's a "YOUTHS!" thing, because I have definitely seen groups of teenage girls hug when they first see each other and then hug again as they leave.

Whatever, I'm from a cheek kissing family and I'm not big on hugs. I like them in theory I suppose, but in practice they are awkward and I just feel uncomfortable.
posted by yasaman at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2014


I wonder if trees actually like to be hugged.

Some do and some don't; you just need to learn to differentiate between a friendly playful bark and an aggressive bark!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:22 PM on December 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


At a recent holiday party a work friend and I started out greeting each other with a wave, realized we were a little close for that to be not awkward so went for a handshake, realized that was too formal so shifted over to hug, realized that might be too informal (particularly with her husband right there), so we ended up kind of going in for hug that aborted into a high-five that neither of us was really feeling.

I have since resolved to greet everyone I know with a chimpanzee pant-hoot.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:26 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hugs + hearing aids = feedback.

So thanks for bringing tears to my eyes.

My Pop-Pop passed away seven years ago. It was pretty clear that he was in declining health so I'd ride my bike from the Bronx into Manhattan and over the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey to his house and visit him every couple weeks. He and Gram would be sitting at the kitchen table - both of them always in their same spot. They already ate - they'd just eat a big meal at around 2.30 and kind of graze earlier or later in the day - but Gram would insist that I get myself something from the fridge. Provolone so sharp it bites back, and some hard hard sopressata.

Gram would pull me to her cheek and I'd kiss her soft, wrinkly cheek.

And then I'd move around the table to Pop. He'd look up from his crossword puzzle and extend his hand to me, with its dry papery skin, and we'd grip each other and he'd pull me close for a hug. He'd deliberately make his hearing aid feedback into my ear, and I'd laugh, and he'd chuckle each time, a slow dry little old-man chuckle, like it was a new joke each time. He was never an effusive guy, but he was quietly loving and cheerful and that little feedback prank - and the bright look in his eyes when I'd pull away - showed me that, every single time.
posted by entropone at 1:29 PM on December 19, 2014 [24 favorites]


I am especially uncomfortable hugging other women because boobs get in the way.

Yeah, where do they all go? (Actually, a woman close to me tells me that is the best thing about hugging other women, but she is not a zero on the Kinsey scale).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:35 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ok, so those of you who don't want hugs - how do you signal this when a hugger approaches?

By not saying "can I have a hug, please?". For me at least, there's a default assumption of No Hugs. Not asking for one is making it clear that I don't want one.

I think it's a matter of different forms of etiquette, perhaps? Some folk have the default of No Hugs, and others have the default of Hugs. Neither party is wrong, per se, but when the two groups meet, you have a potentially uncomfortable situation on your hands. Asking first is great, but perhaps a more subtle method might be watching that person's behaviour - do they instigate hugs with others?

By the time you're coming at me with your arms outstretched, it's already too late.
posted by Solomon at 1:44 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ok, so those of you who don't want hugs - how do you signal this when a hugger approaches?

I have noticed that a blind friend of mine (and thus someone who is not going to see a hug coming -- I think he does not appreciate them much because of the startlement involved) has a tactic here. When greeting people, holds both hands out before him with arms bent ninety degrees at the elbows and forearms parallel to the ground, with his hands open, much as if he were miming holding an invisible beach ball. This signals receptiveness for a handshake but without the awkwardness of holding out a hand for that if the other party is not coming in for it; in that case, it can also play out as, "what a delightful surprise that you are here!" I suppose it also serves to throw up some flak against uninvited hugs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:50 PM on December 19, 2014


boobs get in the way.
Yeah, where do they all go?


Bend sharply at waist in a way that looks like eagerly leaning into the hug, but the goal is to position oneself shoulders-forward boobs-downward. Nice tight squeeze where it's all shoulders and arms encircling the other person. It's very enlightening to see someone's face right after I hug them this way. Like, yeah, I just welcomed your hug and fully participated in the embracey aspect of it while simultaneously depriving you of boob contact, how does that make you feel?

The worst hugger in my life isn't done hugging until your head and her head clunk against each other. For the love.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if trees actually like to be hugged.

Hug a logger. You'll never go back to trees.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:57 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am especially uncomfortable hugging other women because boobs get in the way.

a woman close to me tells me that is the best thing about hugging other women

Now that you mention it - yeah. Boobs are great precisely because they do get in the way! Mine are too small to get in the way. So when I hug my close guy friends, which only happens at Christmas since they live far away, our abdomens press together and it feels really weird and wrong. But it's a cute awkward problem I only have once a year, and I think I would miss it if I practiced some corrective technique.
posted by kitcat at 1:58 PM on December 19, 2014


I have noticed that a blind friend of mine...When greeting people, holds both hands out before him with arms bent ninety degrees at the elbows and forearms parallel to the ground, with his hands open, much as if he were miming holding an invisible beach ball.

Tee hee, if a not-blind person greeted me like that I would take it for an invitation to dance.
posted by kitcat at 2:05 PM on December 19, 2014


I did think it was pretty funny that my friend's answer to "How do Canadians greet each other" was just a quick and confident "Oh, they hug" because I actually don't greet people I'm meeting for the first time with a hug. (I will hug family and friends whom I know are fine with it.)

But coming from a country where people never hug strangers, I bet my French friend takes note every time she sees strangers hug in Canada and it has been extrapolated in her mind to be What Canadians Do.

If I touch someone I'm meeting for the first time, it's at most a handshake. So that was why I found the "let's kiss on the cheek upon first meeting!" thing a little startling. It doesn't bother me, but I can see why it would bother some people, the same way I can also see why presumptuous hugs bother non-huggers as well. I try to read body language and I generally wait for the other person to initiate if I don't know them well.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:08 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hug a logger. You'll never go back to trees.

I'm about to go hug a lager.
posted by tempestuoso at 2:11 PM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


I consider myself cool with face-kissing greetings but once I hosted a baby shower for a friend from abroad and all the guests were Latin American and southern European and GOOD GOD. Since I was the host I got kisses from everyone arriving and everyone departing and there were a million people and LOOK THAT'S JUST MORE KISSES I'VE HAD IN TWO HOURS SINCE I WAS A NEWBORN BABY WITH CHUBBY CHEEKS. I have found my cultural comfort threshhold: 100 kiss-greetings in an hour is TOO MANY.

Heh, that's basically every social event here where I live.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm about to go hug a lager.

Just the one ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:36 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had the kind of annoying childhood where I was not very huggy but had huggy relatives who were never really interested in the fact that I was barely tolerating their hugs, and didn't get a lot of support for wanting to remain unhugged. And then I spent most of my early adulthood in a super multiple-cheek-kissy-wow-we're-high-yay-huggytime location and am thus totally okay with the 2 or even 3 cheek kissing thing, but I would never advance upon anyone not expect to be advanced upon for such a greeting here in the US because wtf, no. What happens in europe stays in europe, if you touch me in nyc you will get the people's elbow.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


since this person hugged me, do I have to hug all the others who are also coming in/leaving?

I recently saw the Israeli film Policeman, and it felt like half of the film was spent with all the bro hugs every time someone showed up or left. I haven't been to Israel, so I don't know if this is an Israeli thing or an elite SWAT thing or what, but it reminded me of doing the same thing but with handshakes in pre-ebola West Africa. In large groups carefully shaking hands with each person was itself a serious time commitment.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:01 PM on December 19, 2014


i spend a lot of time touching people, and being fairly frank about how i feel. i worry about this now.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:09 PM on December 19, 2014


Wait, now, with the cheek-kisses: is there supposed to be actual lip-to-cheek physical contact? Or is a slightly audibly "mwa" casual smoochy-noise acceptable? What's the deal on that? I generally only my put my lips on my wife, but in the social-circles I'm in lately (southern politics) there are a lot of hug-with-a-cheek-kiss types, and I have felt actual lip-contact on my cheek, and the ensuing lingering feel of a few molecules of the saliva of another person on my cheek, (which oh my god there is not enough time to run to the bathroom and scrub my face every time I greet someone at a fundriaiser) even with people with whom I've only gone as far as the air-mwa because I save my lips for wife-kissing. Is there a handbook or manual for this?
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:27 PM on December 19, 2014


Hugs by Optiganally Yours (Pea Hix and Rob Crow of Pinback's Optigan-utilizing band Previously)
posted by larrybob at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2014


I'm hugging right now.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:40 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


i spend a lot of time touching people, and being fairly frank about how i feel. i worry about this now.

Just don't hug anyone on a yellow leash and you'll do ok.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:04 PM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know if, for where I grew up, we were outliers or what, but when I moved to NYC from Wisconsin years ago, many people I met were surprised that I was willing to shake hands but not hug. My family were not huggers, nor my friends, nor schoolmates, nor anybody, really. If one was sad, there were pats on the hand, or if the relationship was closer, pats on the upper arm or shoulder. Cheek-kissing was right out.

I'm sure a lot of the surprised reaction of New Yorkers in my early days here to my reticence to hug was because they automatically assumed that people of color are more physically demonstrative. It took me a while to learn how to hug socially. I'm still not very comfortable with it. I'm still not a cheek-kisser, either. I like to joke that I come from the WASPiest working class black family in America, 'cause that "hugging" shit was not on with us, OK? And can you take one step back? Thanks.
posted by droplet at 4:05 PM on December 19, 2014


I've never heard of men who hug. The last time I hugged anyone spontaneously was in childhood, but the memories of that are so dim I can't recall what it felt like. Once or twice over the years I've been hugged by an aunt or cousin (always a woman, never an uncle) and it feels so very awkward. I try to respond in kind but probably don't get it right.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2014


I'm not really a hugger and didn't come from a 'hugging' family culture either. So my experiences with hugging have mostly been in the context of them being forced upon me and never understanding why this was a thing people wanted to do to me (and that I was expected to endure). As such I certainly developed a tolerance to hugs, but man, oh man, do I usually still feel weird the entire time. For me, it's such a huge invasion of personal space since the gesture itself seems fairly intimate (you're embracing one another after all--and not necessarily just for a brief moment). Then there's the social concerns to think about -- hugging too tight/not tight enough, hugging when someone has hygiene issues, group etiquette for hugging, hugging when there's considerable height/weight differences (as a petite person, having to endure a bear hug with some strange guys' junk pressed against your sternum is pretty awkward, lemme tell ya). And the list can go on.

Of course that isn't to say I don't enjoy hugs. I love hugging (and will eagerly initiate it) when it involves my boyfriend and (to a lesser extent) close friends. But everyone else? It kind of feels like everyone else goes through the hugging gesture out of a sense of obligation to seem 'warm' and 'caring' --even to complete strangers and/or people they dislike. As such it all seems pretty meaningless from my perspective, and pointless to do unless the recipient is someone for whom the 'warm'/'caring' message has meaning (ie: not a stranger). Not only that, but if the message intended to be conveyed is that the person giving the hug 'cares' -- forcing someone into a hug (who doesn't want one or has to feel like an asshole for declining one) conveys the exact opposite to them. It just tells them that the hugger hasn't bothered to get to know them, can't be bothered to ask whether this is something that's OK, and seemingly has no problem ignoring personal boundaries and trying to physically embrace someone without knowing (or caring) about their consent. This strikes me as very domineering social behavior disguised as pseudo-caring or 'being nice'. Especially for those whom insist hugging is just what they do and poo on everyone else for not welcoming their hugs.

"Can I give you a hug?" or "Can I have a hug?"
"Hug(s)?"
"Would you like a hug?"
"Do you do hugs?"

Asking any of those prior to going in for a hug is WAY less awkward than assuming everyone wants hugs and then discovering your assumption was wrong. That said, I have never been on the receiving end of cheek-kisses-as-greetings. Really glad for that. Yikes.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:27 PM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Here's what I get a buncha: I'll go to shake a (usually) woman's hand after having met her and chatted for a bit and then it's time to go, and she'll say "Oh, I'm a hugger" and then hug me. Um, I'm a hand-shaker. If I had my druthers, I'd hug, maybe 15 people total lifetime. Family, super-close friends, that's it. But somehow, if I spend 10 minutes chatting with someone and we're saying goodbyes, and that person is a "hugger" I'm supposed to acquiesce. And I'm not antisocial or introverted or whatever, I just like having my personal space respected. One guy, when I went to shake his hand and he was all "oh, how about a hug?" and I was all "well, how about a handshake" and he was all "oh, we don't have to be formal" and I was all "you don't have to put on a tuxedo for it - I just prefer handshakes". And he told me I had personal space and body issues and there was nothing sexual about it (!!!)

But I hug my wife and kids and Mom and in-laws and close, long-time friends and it's great and I get all the affection I want that way. If it's someone I don't know very well, or care for very deeply, it's intrusive and gross and they make me feel like I'm the one that needs some kind of therapy. (maybe I do?)
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:24 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait, now, with the cheek-kisses: is there supposed to be actual lip-to-cheek physical contact? Or is a slightly audibly "mwa" casual smoochy-noise acceptable? What's the deal on that? I generally only my put my lips on my wife, but in the social-circles I'm in lately (southern politics) there are a lot of hug-with-a-cheek-kiss types, and I have felt actual lip-contact on my cheek, and the ensuing lingering feel of a few molecules of the saliva of another person on my cheek, (which oh my god there is not enough time to run to the bathroom and scrub my face every time I greet someone at a fundriaiser) even with people with whom I've only gone as far as the air-mwa because I save my lips for wife-kissing.

Euuuuugh, no, those folks need to step up their cheek-kissing game. Cheek kisses, like handshakes, should only include dry contact. Like, carry a handkerchief if you know you're going to be greeting people and discretely dry off if you must, or do the air-mwa, but wet cheek-kissing: not even once.
posted by kagredon at 8:38 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


From the first link ". In Japan, people do not hug strangers. So if you just met, don't hug. Polite bows and handshakes are where you should stay. "

After reading that thread I feel like I'm seriously missing something here. I'm American, born and raised in NYC and lived in a couple of other parts of the U.S. I'm sorry, but do Americans go around hugging people they barely know? If so I must be living in an alternate dimension, because I've never seen that to be the case. If you ask me this is not the norm at all.

When I went to Italy I did find that people kissed strangers and people they just met on the cheeks sometimes and I tried not to feel awkward about it.
posted by rancher at 8:43 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Cheek kisses, like handshakes, should only include dry contact. Like, carry a handkerchief if you know you're going to be greeting people and discretely dry off if you

I've never gotten a wet cheek kiss (one word: yuck!) but I've had plenty that left lipstick. Lip to cheek contact is not unusual, even when people aren't drunk or flirty.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:53 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cheek kisses, like handshakes, should only include dry contact.

I've lived in Montreal for 8 years now, which was my introduction to cheek-kissing, and to do it I have figured out to aim for contact between the soft part of the cheeks of both parties — the space just past the corner of the mouth. that and a little kissing sound.
posted by spindle at 9:23 PM on December 19, 2014


I'm someone who identifies with the people upthread who are Not The Hugging Type. I don't do touchy-feely; I do ouchy-bleedy. It took almost 25 years until I encountered a good (male) friend who broke down those barriers, but I'm still standoffish with pretty much anyone who isn't either him or a musician who I happen to have a crush on at this particular moment in time. But more generally, huggy-type people are emphatically invading my personal space, not that I can do much except kind of freeze up and try to reciprocate. It's not that I don't care about them or feel affection for them. It's just that my affection isn't physical with most people.

There is almost nothing else like that type of comfortable intimacy with people who aren't necessarily your soulmate, but who are close nonetheless. I've learned that hugging is absolutely addictive, a kind of rush, with the right people, but I'm still more of a scared wild dog than a Labrador Retriever (to borrow a metaphor from upthread). What strikes me is that I manage to get this neurobiological rush from hugs with certain people despite a lifetime of being strictly anti-hugging. Hugs from friends are fine now.

What I need to figure out is how long to hug. With this friend in particular, it can range from 10 seconds to 3 minutes, so while I'm never quite sure where our friendship stands, the hugs seem to be an accurate emotional barometer for both of us. When something changes for better or for worse, it's the first indicator. Right now we are Good Friends But Nothing More, if my past readings were accurate, and they were.

Anyhow, I'm off to hug my cat, who is in love with me. Kitty affection is always welcome.
posted by quiet earth at 10:15 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do not know whence the insistence upon hugging perfect strangers has arisen in the past however many years,

Part of the general Tyranny of the Extroverts I think.
posted by Segundus at 12:19 AM on December 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of men who hug.

I hugged all my friends yesterday, both genders.
posted by ersatz at 4:44 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, related...

A toxic busybody I know, who's principal social skills are character assassination and hogging the spotlight, once got tired of people at conferences smudging her make up and embarked on a campaign to teach the unwashed masses some greeting protocol. (Her previous campaign was about the proper care and display of the American flag.) She was the org prez, so there wasn't much anybody could do when she went off script during a meeting she chaired.

The closing catchphrase of her instructional rant: "Remember! The business kiss is to touch cheeks but kiss air!"

For several years afterward that became my favorite insult (not in her presence, of course). "Here's what you can do. KISS AIR!"
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:04 AM on December 20, 2014


I hugged all my friends yesterday, both genders

You are some parallel-dimensioned Bowerick Wowbagger and I am impressed by your speed.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2014


Wow, so many hug-haters in this thread! I try not to give hugs unless I know they are wanted, but I am definitely a hugger/generally touchy-feely person, and I like hugging.

I go out dancing a lot too, and part of why I like it is that it gives me lots of (consensual!) physical contact with other people on a regular basis. Hugging to music! I guess that sounds terrible to hug-haters.
posted by aka burlap at 9:16 AM on December 20, 2014


Hugging to music! I guess that sounds terrible to hug-haters.

I find actually that most hug-haters like dancing, or not any less than huggy people do. The contact follows certain mutually-accepted rules and is not sprung upon them, which seems to be the main problem people have.
posted by kagredon at 10:04 AM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hugging to music! I guess that sounds terrible to hug-haters.

I'm a hug-hater who really enjoys dancing. But I guess it depends on the kind of dancing one is doing as well. Many types of dancing do not require hug-like embracing. And if they do (ie: slow/couples dancing), you ask the other person if they are interested. You don't just assume that because someone is at a club and wants to dance, that it means they want/have to couples-dance with whomever grabs them.

I find the notion of "oh you're at a dance club, you automatically give consent for hugs/touching" to be pretty bizarre. I wasn't aware that going to public spaces designated for all types of dancing meant that I had to give up my right to individual sovereignty too.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've established a durable preexisting contract of consent with the foot soldiers in my hug army because I am by nature Falstaffian and adore huggy-wugs and I particularly love, when I see someone in my hug army off at a distance, running at them like a steam train in suspenders and flannel, scooping them up like a rag doll, and spinning them around wildly before putting them down. Not everyone in my hug army consents to this level of playful manhandling, but I am always overjoyed when I run into my spin patrol, because wheeeeee!

I did once accidentally have a spin patrol mishap, after a stretch of being nearly bedridden from a work injury, when I went running at a lovely buxom lady friend of mine who is a glorious brilliant amazon with a potent personal style, because I was considerably weakened from my medical ordeal, so I was only able to make half a twirl before accidentally hurling her into a busy Baltimore street in front of a bus. Fortunately, she went unkilled and I was appropriately apologetic and delivered unto her a solid half hour of insanely detailed shoulder massage, so I have retained her consent for future spinning activities.

As a kid, I was intimidated by close contact, particularly the kind with boys that didn't involve hoarded pornography that you stole from a farmer, and so I stood off at a distance from the world, physically and, by extension and influence, emotionally, just missing the direct connection of my fellow beings. My drag mother, inasmuch as I have one, as a non-drag queen, used to hug me frequently, and I found it almost overbearingly Californian until I began to think of hugging as not-necessarily-a-prelude-to-doin'-it, at which point it just became a part of a late-in-life embrace of being comfortable in my skin and with all the rest of the monkeys in this house of primates.

To each their own, of course.

Mind you, the poet and interpreter of Rumi, Coleman Barks, once gave me a hug that was a little unsettling, in that it was a generally nice hug from a kind and open-hearted man, all warm and bearish and perfect until his hand went up the back of my neck, with fingers spread like a rake, into my hair in a way that, if I were a cat, would have made my ass right shoot up in the air. I mean, it wasn't bad, and I love having people put their hands in my hair, but it was a bit too sexy for me at a public event even though I think it was meant to be more hippie than sexy. Still, I added "the Coleman Barks hug" to my options list with the hug army, and sometimes people request it just because it's uncomfortably pleasurable in a way that makes one giggle and say "oh—oh—eww, stop—it got all weird!"
posted by sonascope at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Eh, I'll go either way. If someone else wants to hug (unless they're a creepy dude), I'm cool with it. If they don't, I will not make a move on them. I let the other person decide what they want to do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:27 AM on December 21, 2014


The worst hugger in my life isn't done hugging until your head and her head clunk against each other.

Are you sure she's not part cat?
posted by MartinWisse at 5:21 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sonascope, another good one along those "physical comedy, not actual greeting" lines is the lingering high five, where you give someone a high five that immediately turns into a limp hand clasp upon contact. Delightfully squirmy.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


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