Hugs are a necessary form of physical contact that we all need, from the moment we’re born until the day we depart from this world. They can be a sign of romantic affection, comfort, emotional security, intimacy, or love – and they form a deep bond between the giver and the receiver.
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Why Do We Hug?
Hugs are very popular, but are also very complex. How you hug will reveal a lot about the type of relationship you have with someone. Most embraces are loving gestures from a special individual, but can be misunderstood.
Hugging your loved ones, especially your partner, will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It makes us feel safe, secure, valued, and cherished.
Hugging may seem like just a popular way to display affection, but it’s actually so much more than that. In fact, there is an entire science attached to it.
- Research shows that hugging decreases depression and increases our well-being. Couples who hug the most are also the happiest in their relationships. Unless something else is wrong, couples who hug a lot stay longer in love with a smaller chance of them falling out of love.
- Hugging has both physical and emotional advantages. Through the sharing of mutual affection, hugging facilitates intimacy between two people.
- The release of oxytocin, together with serotonin, aids in reducing stress by lowering cortisol levels in the body. In this way, hugging is a simple and efficient stress-reduction technique.
- Hugs will help you feel better by being soothing and relaxing, while allowing you to express your close bond and emotional connection.
Who knew hugging could be such a cure-all?
How Do You Know if a Hug is Romantic?
When a hug is intimate, it lasts. It’s never a hurried or messy embrace. Romantic hugs contain a lot of closeness, and can sometimes even give you goosebumps.
Among the various styles of hugs, a romantic embrace is most unique. Locking eyes and making contact below the abdomen are both parts of the romantic embrace.
You’ll know if a hug is romantic without needing a guide, because it’s both caressing and reassuring – and you’ll feel safe, cherished, and special in every fabric of your being.
The 40 Different Hugs: And What They Mean
Of course, you’ve probably given and received hugs for almost all your life. While they can mean a variety of things, it’s clear that they’re an undeniable form of affection.
How can you figure out what they really mean? Did you just receive a “courtesy hug” – or was there a deeper, more flirtatious meaning behind it?
There are several different styles of hug, some being passionate, but all being an expression of our emotions.
Let’s check out all the different ways people hug one another, and what they really mean.
1. Side Hug
When you hug someone side-by-side, and your arms are wrapped around your partner’s abdomen, it indicates that you’re not completely smitten with the person, but you like them.
It’s more amicable and suitable for people you aren’t super close to, so they’re very common among acquaintances and distant relatives.
A side hug says, “You’ve got this!” or “I appreciate you!” without embracing someone completely.
2. The Envelope
This is most common between two people with a height difference. Typically, this is a warm embrace between a parent or grandparent and the child they love.
This type of hug radiates safety, security, and positivity. More than anything else, i tsays, “I’m here now. Nothing can hurt you.”
3. A Polite Hug
This is your classic “formal dinner party” hug. While there’s no “animosity” between the parties, it isn’t over-friendly either.
A polite hug is a formal embrace given to coworkers or relatives you don’t know well to establish a courteous relationship and is usually brief and swift.
Be aware of the subtleties of such an embrace, as the recipient may seem tense or awkward.
4. Tight Hug
This is a full-body, heated hug where you wrap your arms completely around your partner. The extra tightness of this hug emphasizes the bond you share.
This is an emotional hug when you don’t have words to express yourself, for example, when you see your loved one after a very long period of time or when saying goodbye.
Only people you’ve known for a long time can feel at ease with this close embrace.
5. Friendly Hug
A typical, two-armed embrace with both people’s chests touching is known as a friendly hug. In most cases, we turn our lower bodies away from each other rather than closer together.
The excess space between the two pelvises prevents something from being misinterpreted as sexual. Unless you haven’t seen each other in a long time, these embraces are usually brief.
Of course, this pelvic distance isn’t done consciously. On a more subconscious level, you embrace each other without coming entirely together.
6. Bear Hug (Non-Platonic Relationships)
Perhaps the most sincere and meaningful embrace is the bear hug. In times of celebration, a genuine and close embrace is normally exchanged. An embrace like this is very intimate, because it includes putting your arms completely around another human.
Usually, these embraces are platonic in nature. The close embrace envelops you in comfort, relieves tension and doubt, and serves as a reminder of how much you value the relationship.
7. Bear Hug (Romantic Relationships)
The bear hug can be fun or romantic in nature. For romantic partners, close friends, and family members, this embrace is appropriate.
The sensation of a bear hug is similar to that of being in the womb, where we felt safe and happy. It aids in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for bringing us out of battle, flight, or freeze mode.
On a physical and human level, this form of embrace is extremely satisfying. A bear hug is suitable for close friends, romantic partners, and family members.
8. Long Hugs
Long hugs are common in long-term relationships or between best friends. The duration signifies longingness and relief at meeting again.
When you’re feeling down, a strong and soothing hug can be just what you need. You envelop the other person’s body and hug them tightly to show that you care for them.
The hug expresses your amazing chemistry by providing a lovely sense of warmth.
9. Hug From Behind
The back hug is an unexpected hug that expresses deep emotions or is often exchanged during happy occasions.
In trusting and close relationships, the back hug reflects a deep physical bond. An embrace like this shows that these two people care for each other.
10. Hugging at the Waistline
Two intimate partners hug each other tightly in this form of embrace, with their bodies and waists closely aligned and their upper bodies leaning back so they can gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes.
Both partners’ waists are perfectly balanced, and their arms are placed around one another’s waists in this embrace.
They can take it into a more intimate, sexual domain by kissing or taking it into a more intense interpersonal embrace.
11. The London Bridge Hug
The London Bridge hug is so awkward that onlookers have a good laugh from it. In this hug, both the giver and receiver only use their shoulders to hug one another while the rest of the body does not connect.
This type is used to greet someone you aren’t too fond of. We often see such hugs between frenemies, toxic friends, or passive-aggressive relationships.
12. The Cuddle Hug
The cuddle hug is that post-sex embrace that us girls are typically fond of. In this hug, she uses her partner’s arm as a pillow and has her arms wrapped around his chest.
To say this hug is intimate would be an understatement. It’s a follow-up to the most intimate act romantic partners engage in, and serves as a bonding exercise for both partners. Simply put, this hug reassures both the partners that the relationship is so much more than lust.
13. Neck Burrow Hug
This kind of hug is one of the safest and most intimate forms of affection that can be between parents and children and even between lovers, as the intent is definitely intimate – but not sexual.
The shorter person hides their face in the crook of the other person’s neck, and stays there in this embrace.
14. Hugs With Cheek Kisses
This may not be as common in the United States, but is a very popular way to welcome people around the globe.
This embrace is reserved for immediate relatives and friends, but can also be extended to strangers. Some cultures tend to kiss just one cheek, while others kiss both cheeks.
Keep in mind that you don’t literally place your lips on the person’s cheek. Instead, you press your cheek against theirs and press your lips together, making a kissing sound.
15. Quick One-Sided Embrace
The one-sided embrace, which is often perceived as a forced or unwelcome hug, may actually be physically affectionate. It actually signifies that while there’s love, there just isn’t any time.
Both people are facing each other in a one-sided embrace. Typically, one receives the embrace, and the other gives it. The receiver’s arms are usually limp at their sides, while the giver/supporter is closely clutching the other.
16. Heart to Heart Hug
Both huggers embrace their left sides so that their hearts meet first. This can be achieved whether standing or sitting, at which point your arms and legs can get intertwined.
Hugging from the left side is more personal and intimate, while hugging from the right side is subconsciously more defensive and farther away from their hearts.
These hugs are also useful for people who don’t usually hug but want to comfort a loved one who enjoys physical contact as a love language.
17. Head-resting Hug
Another warm and fuzzy hug is resting your heads on each other while in an intimate embrace. This romantic gesture lasts for a long time and makes you feel safe.
When you choose to place your head on your partner’s, it’s a clear indication that you’re madly in love with them. This embrace expresses your shared confidence and sincere devotion to the other individual.
This type of hug isn’t limited to romantic partners; it can be shared by parents, siblings, and friends as well.
18. Hugs With a Forehead Kiss
When two people hug each other, and one kisses the other on the forehead, it becomes a warm and compassionate embrace, while not necessarily a sign of sexual desire or passion. It’s more common when one person is older or has more authority over the other.
This embrace can be seen between a father and a daughter, a grandfather and a daughter, or even a parent and a newborn.
19. The Walking Hug
This is when two people give each other a “side hug”, and proceed to walk together in the same direction. This is a common hug among couples, but is also seen among family members and female friends.
This is one of those comfy, adorable, friendly, and fun-loving embraces that casually show deep affection. When you hug someone like this, you’re showing them that you love spending time with them.
20. Head Holding Hug
When two people hug and cup both of their hands around the other’s head, tit’s actually considered to really be possessive, and says “I want to keep you safe”.
When a grown man embraces a woman like this, he’s expressing his desire to protect her – which is why it’s a common way to see parents hugging their young children.
21. The Twirl Hug
Twirling someone around is a great way to show your affection, especially if the two of you have a penchant for drama. The larger person lifts the smaller person and twirls them around in a close embrace.
You’ll see such embraces especially when the couple is seeing each other after a long period of time.
22. The Ragdoll Hug
The ragdoll embrace is an unusual hug that represents unrequited love, and could also mean that the person who isn’t in love is unwilling to go the additional distance to advance the relationship. This type of hug can come across as cold, and unwelcoming.
However, it’s possible to misinterpret the true motive behind this type of hug. The person may be a friend who’s shy or uncomfortable with affection.
23. Slow Dance Hug
A slow-dance embrace is a sweet and romantic gesture that you might see on a date with your Valentine or during a waltz at a wedding. This embrace expresses the desire to be engulfed in each other’s arms for as long as possible.
When combined with direct eye contact, the rest of the world seems to melt away, while your amazing chemistry and bond are reflected in the embrace.
24. Sloppy Hug
The sloppy hug is most commonly seen at celebratory events where it’s important to appear warm and polite or to reignite the flame of friendship. This embrace will last longer, but may be meaningless.
It’s something you do just because it’s polite. The sloppy hug isn’t particularly intimate, but is common among friends of the opposite gender.
25. The “Catch Me” Hug
This kind of hug is not for the faint of heart; it’s a softer spin of the infamous Dirty Dancing scene.
When two people are in a long-distance relationship or when you see your best friend after months, they tend to share this kind of hug.
You run up to them, excited, and share a passionate embrace. This embrace exudes warm energy and shows just how much you’ve missed someone.
26. Flirty Hug
A flirty hug can signal the start of a new relationship or the beginning of new love. A soft contact and a gentle gesture of extra focus are the key things to notice in such a hug.
This is one way that extroverted people attempt to discover shared chemistry without directly saying so. The flirty hug is a sweet gesture that expresses your positive emotions with an exquisite look.
A self-hug is a unique kind of hug. When you can’t count on hugs and moral reassurance, self-hugs are perfect in this situation. Enveloping your arms tightly around yourself in a warm hug is a beautiful expression of your love for yourself!
28. Straddle Hug
The straddle hug is a powerful and dominating stance of love, and you really can’t mistake it for much else. You can’t hug everyone this way because it’s reserved for those who deserve it.
Typically, a straddle hug is one that a woman initiates when she wants some much-needed steamy time with her partner, but anyone can really be on top.
This embrace elicits a lot of lust from the recipient and demonstrates that you and your partner have a strong physical bond.
29. Cuddle Hug
Cuddles are the foundation of any long-term relationship, and the cuddle embrace, which includes kisses and nuzzling, is the best way to demonstrate your strong link with someone.
When you wake up in the morning or are on the sofa watching TV together, the cuddle embrace is snug and comfortable. How loving your relationship is, is signified by how frequently you and your partner engage in this kind of embrace.
30. Group Hug
Get the team together for this one! They’re your best buds, with whom you’ve formed a strong bond over the course of many years.
This embrace is definitely the friendliest sort of hug, whether it’s with your beloved group of close friends or your whole gang. Nothing compares to being surrounded by your favorite people and being engulfed in a loving embrace.
31. Eye-Contact Hugging
This is one of the most popular forms of embrace, and is reserved for lovers. Since it necessitates full-body touch and good eye contact, it’s also known as an intimate embrace. This embrace is elevated to a new level by eye contact.
People can see through to each other’s hearts and feel the love that exists between them when they spend time looking into each other’s eyes.
32. The “Netflix and Chill” Embrace
This is the hug when you’re snuggling on the sofa while watching TV. It’s not a strongly erotic embrace, but is really intimate, and is only given to people who have a romantic relationship.
This type of hug can also lead to a little bit of risqué business underneath the sheets.
33. The Hug with Deep Eye Contact
The couple entwined around one another looks deeply into each other’s eyes in this embrace. Having that kind of deep eye contact is a perfect way to get things going; there’s even been scientific research to prove it.
34. The Hands in Your Pocket Hug
This is the type of embrace you only have with your partner or someone you have a flirtatious fling with. You hug them in such a way that your hands end up in their back pockets.
Since your hands are basically on someone’s butt, it’s often known as a naughty embrace.
Rest assured that they love you deeply if you’re embraced like this. When he’s with you, he feels comfortable in his own skin – and this is his way of expressing his love and affection.
35. The Extra-Long Hug
This extra-long hug means that you want to make up for lost time by embracing your loved one for a super long time. Both the giver and receiver reciprocate this type of hug because they missed one another so much.
36. The Buddy Hug
Have you ever wrapped your arm around a friend? That’s what you’d call a buddy hug!
While this isn’t a hug you give a romantic partner or even a parent, this is a hug between friends. It feels more like a really friendly attack, and is never one-sided.
37. Piggy Back Hug
In this type of hug, one individual hugs the other and carries them on their back. Although this may be done with children, it can also double up as a really romantic and friendly embrace by two adults.
This embrace expresses that you see each other as intimate friends and life partners. It’s a warm embrace that says, “We’re fun!”.
38. One-Sided Hug
Two people face each other while hugging in this position, but only one of them is ready to hug the other. While one of them has their arms around the other, the recipient just lets their arms lay loosely by the sides.
This can be perceived as forced, and is usually an unwelcomed embrace or an intense hug from one person to the other during a tough or hard time in their life.
39. Pat on the Back Hug
This type of hug screams, “Well done!”. It’s the hug you give your partner when they accomplish something great at work or your child after they ace a test.
There are no particular recipients or givers that the hug is limited to. Anyone proud of their loved one can lock them in a warm embrace with a pat on the back. Nothing says “I’m proud of you” quite like this hug.
40. The Behind the Back Embrace
Being hugged like this makes you feel absolutely wonderful, even though you don’t see the person hugging you. However, you know they have strong feelings for you and that he or she missed you when you were gone.
This embrace indicates that your partner is completely comfortable around you and is simply trying to show how much he cares about you and how precious you are to him.
The Bottom Line
Hugs may seem like a casual way to show you like someone, but it’s seldom that simple. They’re a great way to show you care enough about a person to wrap them in an embrace.
More than anything else, hugs are a connection between two people’s souls. Whether it is brief or long or from the side or even a full cuddle, one thing is for sure: you can never have enough of them!
Why you hug, who you hug, and what type of relationship you have with that person all play a significant role in determining what kind of hug is best for you.
A hug with a pat on the back is the best form of a hug to give to someone upset. This is known as a validating embrace (when you rub someone’s back gently to make them feel better).
If you’re in a loving relationship, the best types of hugs are those that allow you to maintain extended eye contact – such as a close hug, long hug, or even the Netflix and chill hug. Hugs take intimacy to a whole new level, proving that a hug is more than just physical contact.
You can embrace your friends tightly, bear hug them, or hug them on the hand. Overall, a close embrace is an all-time favorite because it helps you to perfectly articulate how important that one person is to you (be it your friend, family member, or partner).
You can’t go wrong with any kind of hug, as long as it’s appropriate for the situation and for the partnership you share with the other.