Hugging Etiquette

She hugged me yesterday. I thought I was over her, but maybe I’m still smitten. Physical contact does funny things to the mind.

I don’t understand why girls are so into hugging. Often, I’ll go for a handshake, and as if it doesn’t take, they’ll lean in to hug afterward. A girl once asked if she could hug me after I explained to her my procedure for checking a cat before adoption. Figure that one out.

The funny thing is that most girls aren’t very good huggers. They give limp hugs — more of a pressing of the arms to the body — and it bugs the crap out of me. It’s like getting a soft handshake, also referred to as the “limp noodle“.

Bronwen’s an exception. I always give and get a bear hug from her when I see her and when she leaves. Sometimes we fight for arm positioning, because we both prefer to have the arms lower than the other. I like to have my arms around a girls’ waist, whereas she likes to have her arms surrounded, so she feels protected.

The two Louise’s are/were also good at hugging. Nice and firm, without being too clingy. Maybe it’s a Louise thing.

It just makes me wonder; if girls are so into hugging, why aren’t they better at it?


  1. I agree about the limp noodle thing, I hate that. I also don’t like it when a guy tries to crush my hand. Can’t they feel my bones crunching?

    Although I guess hugging is a little more intimate, and girls hug everyone so that no one feels left out. They’ll probably give better hugs to people they care about vs people they just met.

    I know girls who are just really into the hugging and they give everyone a good squeeze. I just don’t see myself as that open with people I don’t really know, and I also kind of gauge other people’s touchy-feely level. Some people who are really touchy feely, I’ll reciprocate, but if they’re kind of stand offish, I’m not going to throw myself onto them.

  2. Oh yeah, and while we’re on the greeting topic, the kiss on the cheek thing is definitely cultural, and I’ll only do it if they do it. Or if it’s a special occasion, like weddings. :)

  3. I hear some golfers don’t shake hands, they shake forearms (grabbing someone’s forearm) because they get the occasional fan who has a grip that’s too strong. Crushing a golfers hand would be like ruining their livelihood. I never understood that either. You can give a nice, firm handshake without showing off how strong you are.

    I give a firm handshake to whoever I meet, but I’ll only give a firm hug when I feel the other person doing the same. Otherwise, I feel like I’m being really creepy. And I generally only initiate a hug if you’re in my inner circle of friends. Maybe it’s my culture that’s made me stand-offish towards people with whom I’m not very familiar.

    I’ve only kissed on the cheek twice in my life (not including my grandmother). Maybe I haven’t had enough practice, but it’s so awkward!

  4. I love hugs. They make me feel warm.

    I’m not a limp hugger or a limp handshaker. When men give me wimpy handshakes, I call them on it and tell them that we have to do it again. However, I’ve never once re-called a hug. If a guy or girl gives me a wimpy hug it doesn’t mean much to me and I shrug it off.

    Women need to feel adored, cared for and safe. It is our way of connecting. I think, though, that women give shitty hugs to men because sometimes they are afraid that the connection might be misconstrued as something else and therefore only do it halfway. I could be wrong, because I’m not the type to half-ass a hug. I love hugs.

    In fact, I could use a hug right now! It’s a shitty day already at only 9AM!

    PS. Love your writing lately. Perfect for autumn.

  5. Here’s a theory.

    Women are allowed to do more physical contact without it being sexual.

    The rules are looser for women but at the same time if a woman holds too tight she’s at risk for seeming to be making “an advance”. If that’s the dynamic of concern, then it’s a delicate balance.

    If the person is more straight-shooting and has the attitude, I’ll tell you in no uncertain terms if I’m interested that way, she has more freedom from the affection vs. coy complexity.

  6. ah, Mae Ko was saying while I was thinking, and said it better. :)

  7. I think more people should be called on weak handshakes. Maybe I’ll start doing it myself now. Louise called me on a weak hug once, which I gave because I didn’t think I was close enough with her yet to go full out.

    You’re both right about a firm hug as an opportunity for being misconstrued, and I realize that I shouldn’t be so annoyed when I get a weak one. Definitely a delicate balance though. As I said in my recent assumption/interpretation rant, it’s up to how the person receiving interprets it, not the one giving, but an initiative for a hug is much more likely to put out the wrong idea.

  8. Yes, excellent point. A community of equals, each culpable only for themselves, not patronizing keepers of each other, not kow-towing expecting others to mind-read.

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