hugging 101

google How to Hug a Girl sometime.  i dare you.  you’ll find step by step instruction.  is that necessary?


a few days ago, i posted a blog that ended up with a bad hug rant in the comments.  which i loved.  my readers are leave the best comments.

the consensus was bad hugs suck.  so, since i’m a list girl, here’s a list of hugs and their execution:

1. the side hug – this is popular among my christian brothers and sisters as it leaves no chance for your naughty bits to bump.  as the name suggests, this hug is a one-arm squeeze from the side.  appropriate for youth pastors and coaches.  there’s even a whole blog about it by Jon Acuff.*  feel free to make this one more awkward by turning into it and hugging with both arms.  that should freak a side hugger right out.

2. the A-frame – this seems like it would take two bad huggers to make it happen, but it doesn’t.  it only takes one person to bend at the waist and hug you around the neck to form the A-frame.  variations include the standard 3 pats on the shoulder and a single arm squeeze that usually involves someone being pulled off balance.

3. the over n’ under – this hug looks like you’re about to use the Jaw of Life.  one arm over the shoulder, the other under the armpit.  most often used by guys when hugging other guys, the over n’ under is a platonic, good-to-see-ya-man kind of clutch.

4. the wrap up – i have a friend who is a master of this hug.  to pull it off, you have to make it clear, as the hugger, that your arms are going around the neck or the shoulders so the huggee knows their arms are going around the waist.  then wrap that huggee up like you’re absorbing them into your chest.  variations include a circular back rub, head-lean or slight rocking motion.

5. the bend n’ lift – this is like the wrap up’s older, jockier brother.  the approach looks almost like you’re going to be tackled, but instead the hugger’s arms go around the waist and the huggee gets lifted off the ground.  this can be startling, so make sure it’s someone you know.

6. the back to front – giving someone a hug from behind can be dangerous.  a successful back to front will result in the hugger giving a squeeze with arms around the waist and the chin resting on the shoulder of the huggee.  make sure the arms are around the waist though, because if you put your arms around the neck, you go from hugger to mugger.  and guys, it is best to not use this hug on another guy.  for any reason.  ever.

what are some hugs i missed?

have an awkward hugging story?  tell it.

*i met Jon Acuff a couple of weeks ago.  he gave me a side hug and whispered in my ear that my fly was down.  true story.


11 comments on “hugging 101

  1. Lynelle says:

    Brilliant blog post! ((((hugs))))

  2. Jennifer Harrall says:

    You missed the sweet hug (normal hug between friends), the welcome home hug (the run and jump on him type), and the married hug (the intimate hug between a husband and wife, he ALWAYS goes around the waist -sometimes landing on the butt- and she ALWAYS goes around the neck – usually landing in the hair)!!

  3. Jenn says:

    I believe the side hug should be a non-option period. I understand we (men) are all afraid of some “lady love pillows” as my bestfriend calls them, being brushed or squished but really – that is no justification for grabbing a hand of my love handles – that is even more scaring for me.

    I think that men should be confident enough to opt for the hug or if not a firm hand shake.

    Personally I’m a fan of the wrap-up hug – a good tight squeeze – as I said before NO chaste hugs with space the size of Ontario/Texas between the two people – if you’re that far away a handshake would be a better choice

  4. Mandie says:

    I think the over’n’under is acceptable for two friends of the opposite sex. It definitely says “friends only” to me.

    I had a guy friend at church who would hug so his arms were under the girls’ arms. The hug was fine but the release…he ALWAYS did a side boob graze. Every time. But you could never escape his hug because he would surprise you with it. We called him Greg McLinger. I believe he lives in Texas, so he’s your problem now.

    And for the most awkward hug story I have…I had an ex who would give my mother back to front hugs. So. Wrong. It was weird and made everyone involved uncomfortable. Also, his regular hugs included a wiggle. Didn’t matter if he was hugging a male or female, always the wiggle. I witnessed the hug and wiggle between him and a pastor, once. The man will need therapy. His whole small group is probably still praying about the incident. This guy needs a hug intervention, big time. I feel like I need to go wash my hands just thinking about this.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’ve always been the guy that defers to the high fives/A-frames because I suck so much at hugging. The step by step guide is for people like me.

    But wait. I’ve been practicing. I was in El Salvador last week for work (water filter/NGO stuff), and there were 25 other guys from various places in Latin America. And they love hugging. A hug and a handshake were standard affair every morning and night. Sometimes even a surprise neck massage (which isn’t too bad once you get used to it).

    Anyways, here is what I learned: completely ignore or disregard any perceived boundaries and freaking commit to the. I also learned/already knew that this is a poor strategy with girls. I don’t know, maybe I didn’t learn anything….

    I’m done with hugging. Its like swimming with bloody tuna arms through shark infested water (if that makes any sense….it probably doesn’t, and thats okay).

    • Jenn says:


      You are completely right you need to commit to it – when in the right cultural setting – so in NA – I think you’ll be fine with hugging a female you know.

      As to the ladies – I think a lot has to do with the person and how well you know them. For example if we met you wouldn’t hug me intially because you just shouldn’t do that – but after that if the woman in question is a hugger she’ll let you know. Maybe that’s the secret – most of us aren’t as complicaed as you might think – if we really want that hug we’ll like just initiate or let you know. But when in doubt a pleasant firm handshake is a good place to start.

  6. Matt says:

    I am an expert of the wrap up and the over/under. However, you forgot one very popular hug among the menfolk; the handshake hug where a handshake is initiated, but pulls into a one armed hug with forearms in between to avoid unnecessary men on men chest touching.

  7. alyssaemi says:

    Did you happen to meet Jon at the SCL Christmas party? Also, I have a friend who is a PRO at the the over n’ under hug… I shoulda known we were only in the friend territory just by the way he hugs me. HA!

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