Everybody hugs at one time or another, and each of these hugs has its own personality. We hug our grandparents differently than our bestie, favorite kid, or even our pets. Hugs bring people close together, improve health (really!), and can even give us more self esteem. Hugs stimulate the release of the so-called “bonding chemical,” Oxytocin (not to be confused with the addictive drug Oxycontin). Oxytocin gives us that warm fuzzy feeling, and it’s pretty too…
So what do the style and duration of your hugs say about you?
This is a common hugging stance that involves leading with your shoulders as you bend forward at the waist. It’s an appropriate hug for older relatives or those you don’t see much, work friends, and other less casual junctures. If you hug this way all the time, it may mean that hugging is a formality or an obligation to you. It may also mean that you’re uncomfortable with physical closeness, or with your body as a whole.
A “full” hug is one where both parties stand basically straight, so the embrace runs the entire length of the torso. Needless to say, this makes for a close, high-contact hug good for best buddies, crushes, and romantic partners. Funnily enough, this is also how most young children hug. If this is your hug of choice, you are bold, affectionate, and live life with passion and flair. Good for you!
We all have that one friend who hugs for so long it’s almost uncomfortable. If, during your hug, your friend starts laughing or uncomfortably patting your back, you might be a fan of the long hug. Long huggers have most likely developed a taste for the bonding chemical Oxytocin. If you’re a long hugger, you are trusting and trust worthy, as well as being better than most at maintaining relationships.
Ever know anyone who continues talking while they’re hugging you? It’s weird, right? If I’m getting hugged, I’m essentially incapable of listening until the hug is over. Talking during a hug may mean that you’re taking the act of hugging for granted. It could also mean that you’re deflecting attention from the physical closeness by injecting a bunch of words. This is the hug of someone anxious, hurried, or with a cluttered mind.
Formal hugs are used in situations where hugs are expected, like a family reunion, getting a work award, or congratulating someone. They may also happen at weddings, funerals, and other uncomfortable events. These don’t tell us a whole lot about a person, except that they’re willing to hug people they don’t feel especially close to. That’s nice…in a way, right?
Helpful hugs come in many forms. Sometimes they’re full contact hugs that last a long time. Other times, the huggers lean in, keeping some physical distance. This type of hug is used when comforting a friend, after an apology is given or accepted, or to show someone that we’re on their side. Back patting and cheek kissing may accompany this hug. If this is the hug you use most often, you’re a caretaker type. You wish you could heal the whole world, and you’re trying—one hug at a time.
This hug might be used during a scary movie, a thunderstorm, or any other situation where you’re seeking safety and protection. Use of this hug might make you a scaredy-cat, or it might just mean that you’re with someone you trust enough to protect you (or to make a pact that you’ll protect each other). Babies and pets are especially prone to safety hugs. I admit though, that I’ve indulged in a safety hug during horror movies or when I fear that my favorite Game of Thrones character is in mortal peril.
This hug can be as elusive as it is amazing. Just the right duration, the perfect amount of squeeze—the heartfelt hug is an expression of love and friendship celebrating and strengthening a human connection. This is the hug you give when you’re delighted to see someone, or sad that they are leaving. Love hugs echo strong emotion with physical closeness, expressing feelings through the power of touch. In life, everyone’s goal should be to enjoy as many love hugs as possible. If you already do this, chances are you’re a happy and fulfilled individual.
What’s your favorite way to hug? We want to hear your hugging theories in the comments!