Hello, my name is Muse, and I'm a hugaholic.
I'm not sure if there's a twelve-step programme for this, or whether I'd even want to go through it, if one existed. I absolutely, unashamedly LOVE hugs.
I'll never understand people who don't like them. A hug is a powerful thing. A good hug releases endorphins and gives you energy. It can communicate so many things without words: joy, sorrow, empathy, security, respect, pain, comfort...the list goes on. It can say, “I'm so happy to see you”, “I'm sorry for your loss”, “I understand”, “Congratulations”, or, “You're a legend and I'm really glad you're my friend.” Amazing, really.
Of course, there are different types of hugs, and not all of them satisfactory. Churches, schools and music/dance/theatre groups are brilliant research environments for hugging. Over the years I have become a keen student of the subject.
Technique is extremely important and can even change the meaning of a hug, conveying a completely different message to the hugee than was intended.
Here are some examples I've compiled:
They're not sure if they really want to hug you so they'll just give you the hug-equivalent of a limp handshake. Arms are held up at half-mast and bent at the elbows and wrists, to resemble a t-rex or a kangaroo. Lots of arm patting is involved.
Mind The Gap
They'll willingly hug you, but they'll keep an all-important 3-inch gap between your bodies. Don't breach it, whatever you do.
The Drama Queen
This is not so much a hug as a staged lean, accompanied by air kisses in the direction of both cheeks. Usually performed by teenage girls who can't stand each other.
The Youth Pastor
If you're a youth pastor, you apparently can't come at someone full-frontal, especially someone of the opposite sex, so you perform a manoeuvre that is otherwise known as the “side hug”. It's one-armed, awkward and, quite frankly, a bit silly.
This is performed by guys who feel they must footnote an all-male hug with three thumps on the back that quite clearly state “I'm. Not. Gay.”
The Bake 'n' Shake
This occurs when one hugger is taller or bigger than the other. It involves exuberantly pinning the smaller party's arms to their sides, picking them up and rocking backwards and forwards several times while their feet are still off the floor. May be used in lieu of The Tub-Thumper.
Sometimes accompanied by squealing; given by bubbly girls who have haven't seen you for– oh, at least three hours.
Found only on a sports field, where all the usual rules of male bonding go out the window. Incorporates elements of The Bake 'n' Shake. Usually followed by hair-ruffling. May involve butt-slapping. Variation: The Chest Bump.
The Teddy Bear
My personal favourite. It's the kind of hug that occurs between true friends and is suitable for almost any occasion (although, truthfully, it's best given by guys who consider themselves your mates and aren't afraid to show it). It's both gentle and strong. It's the kind of hug that makes you feel safe and loved and happy. In a nutshell, it says, “You're my friend, and you're all right.”
PRO-TIP: Whatever type of hug you give, make sure it's sincere. The Wimpy must be eradicated.
Special thanks to O.R. and L.C. for their valuable contributions to this issue.