A hug is one of the best and widely accepted ways to show your affection and love. It communicates many emotions that words fail to express. There are different types of hugs that express different emotions. When you feel low, angry, distressed, or sad, a quick squeeze or hug is all you need to lift your mood. A heartfelt hug can heal broken hearts and resolve any differences. Hugs are also a form of greeting people and showing friendliness. However, they can sometimes be misinterpreted if you don’t read the subtext. This post talks about different styles of hugs and their meanings.
29 Different Types Of Hugs And What They Mean
1. The bear hug
The bear hug is probably the most genuine and meaningful hug. A real and tight hug is usually shared in moments of joy or excitement. A lot intimate, such a hug involves wrapping your arms around another person. Typically, such hugs are platonic! The tight embrace fills you with warmth and relieves you of stress and anxiety. The hug is a reassurance of how much you care for the relationship.
2. The tight hug
A tight hug is a kind of full-bodied, warm embrace where you completely wrap your arms around your loved one. An extra squish highlights the closeness you share with the person. This type of hug usually happens in emotional situations when you do not have enough words to explain, such as when you meet someone after a long time or when you bid farewell. Only people whom you have known for a while will be comfortable with a tight hug.
3. The back hug
A hug from behind is a surprise hug that signifies deep feelings or is often shared during happy moments. The back hug expresses your strong physical connection in trustworthy and intimate relationships. Such a hug indicates that the two people are fond of each other. A gentle backstroke or quick nuzzle can express what a million words cannot.
4. The side hug
The side hug or one-armed hug is relatively less intimate and mostly shared between friends. It is more relaxed and often showcases that you are in a good mood. You can see employees sharing such a hug at the workplace or when people pose for photographs. A side hug may appear casual, but often could be genuine and meaningful. Long-term acquaintances share a side hug on certain occasions or at parties to give positive energy.
5. The friend hug
There are two types of friends: one is your best buddy and the other is a close friend or acquaintance. And this hug is for the latter. One of your arms goes over their shoulder while the other arm goes under their armpit. The friend hug may or may not last long but is a loose hug indicating your approval of that person. Reserve this hug for a friend you like and spend time with, but not for your best buddies.
6. The group hug
Assemble your squad for this one! They are your special people with whom you have developed a deep bond over the years. Be it your coveted inner circle trio or your entire gang, this hug is probably the friendliest type of hug. Nothing is as warm and comforting as being surrounded by your loved ones, locked together in a warm embrace.
7. The self-hug
The self-hug is a special type of hug. One cannot always depend on others for hugs and emotional reassurances. In such a scenario, a self-hug is what you might need. Just wrapping your arms around yourself in a tight embrace is a wonderful feeling of the affection you have for yourself!
8. The cuddle hug
Cuddles form the basis of a serious relationship. The cuddle hug is a lovely way of showing your strong bond with your romantic partner and involves kisses and nuzzling. The cuddle hug is snug and cozy when you wake up in the morning or when you are on the couch watching television together. Snuggle up and feel the love. This type of hug signifies the loving and caring nature of your relationship.
9. The long hug
The long hug is typical of long-term relationships or shared between friends. A comforting and strong embrace, you may yearn for such a hug when you feel low. You take the other person in your arms and hold them tight to send out a message that you are there for them. You may even give a hug around the neck. The hug provides much-needed warmth and emotional support to them, and speaks of your incredible chemistry.
10. The straddle hug
A full-body close embrace with deep eye contact, the straddle hug is often shared between romantic partners. The hug highlights a good physical connection and mutual trust between the two people.
11. The heart-to-heart hug
If you want to express to someone how much they mean to you, try the heart-to-heart hug. In this hug, the people involved have to specifically place their left arm over the other’s right shoulder and their right arm around the other’s left side. This way, their hearts come closest, creating an intimate heart-to-heart hug. Such a thoughtful and warm hug can help deepen a relationship. This hug can also be used when trying to comfort someone you love and assure them that you have their back.
12. The around-the-waist hug
A hug around the waist can indicate a strong or casual relationship. This type of hug can signify that the person wants to spend as much time together as possible. A more intense one can grow into a warm, loving embrace and is typical of a passionate relationship. Observing one’s body language can reveal a lot about how they truly feel!
13. The one-sided hug
The one-sided hug is probably the most awkward of all hugs. The other person just isn’t involved in it. You may feel cold as the other person shrugs you off quickly. A one-sided hug may make you feel unwanted, but try to read your relationship dynamic beforehand. You should not encroach into the other person’s personal space.
14. The flirty hug
A flirty hug is the sign of a newfound love or the onset of a new relationship. Such a hug involves a light touch and a subtle expression of extra attention. This is typical of outgoing people who are trying to explore your mutual chemistry without saying anything explicitly. The flirty hug is a nice gesture with an exclusive look that conveys your strong feelings.
15. The polite hug
The polite hug is a formal hug usually shared with colleagues or distant relatives in an attempt to create a social bond. A polite hug tends to be short and quick. You should pay attention to the finer nuances of such a hug as the receiver may seem uncomfortable or awkward.
16. The London Bridge hug
The London Bridge hug involves the upper part of the body touching while the lower body stays apart. London Bridge hug is a formal hug or cordial embrace when two people maintain a certain distance from one another. This is the most awkward hug. We often see such hugs between diplomats or politicians. Such hugs are often shared to strike a social bond or to establish a non-personal relationship.
17. The buddy hug
Ever placed a hand around your buddy? That is a buddy hug! A buddy hug is not shared in a romantic relationship. You can see siblings sharing a buddy hug, which is never one-sided.
18. The slow dance hug
A slow dance hug is a sweet and intimate gesture, possibly seen on dates with your Valentine or at weddings during a waltz. This type of hug signifies your shared desire to remain locked in a close hug. The whole world tends to fade away when this is accompanied by deep eye contact. The hug speaks about your incredible chemistry and connection.
19. The head-on-shoulder hug
This refers to a partner laying their head on their mate’s shoulder. It signifies a strong connection and affection between two people. It shows a successful relationship in which partners feel comfortable with each other. This hug can be followed by a cheek kiss or a forehead kiss.
20. The catcher hug
The catcher hug is the physical manifestation of missing someone. This can apply to all kinds of relationships. The catcher hug will be shared by two people in a long-distance relationship or when you meet your best friend after a long time. You rush towards them in excitement and share an intimate embrace. This hug exudes positive energy and displays your real emotions.
21. The eye-to-eye hug
The eye-to-eye hug is common to new couples and people with deeper feelings. Such a hug could often be an expression of romantic love when two people get lost in each other’s eyes. The eye-to-eye hug is a personal and intimate one, which indicates a strong and deep bond between two people. Slow dancing with your soul mate often results in this type of hug with a gentle squish.
22. The quick hug
A quick hug is often misconstrued as unaffectionate or cold, but may not always be true. A quick hug rarely has a romantic subtext.
23. The ragdoll hug
The ragdoll hug is an interesting type of hug, which signifies a one-sided relationship. The ragdoll hug may indicate that the other person may not want to walk the extra mile to take the relationship to the next level. This type of hug can be considered cold and off-putting. However, there is a possibility of misreading the other person’s true intentions. It could be that the person is a dear friend who is too shy or not too comfortable with physical affection.
24. The patting hug
A hug accompanied by a gentle pat is meant to pep up the mood of a sad or a dejected person. Such a hug is platonic and an excellent indication of camaraderie.
25. The resting-heads-on-each-other hug
Resting your heads on each other while in a warm embrace is a cozy cuddle. It is a deep and long-lasting romantic hug that makes one feel secure. You are madly in love with a special person if you rest your head on your partner’s head. This type of hug is an intimate gesture that indicates the mutual trust and deep commitment you share with the person.
26. The twirling-you-around hug
The hug with you twirling around is an example of happy hugging. In this type of hug, a taller person lifts a relatively shorter person and twirls her or him around with a tight hug. You can often see such hugs at airports when two people meet each other after a long time.
27. The sloppy hug
The sloppy hug is mostly shared at happy occasions or parties, where you need to appear to be warm and friendly to form social bonds. This type of hug may last longer but may not mean anything. You do it because it is polite. The sloppy hug is not intimate and often common between male and female friends.
28. The triangle hug
The triangle hug is employed when two individuals feel a bit awkward about embracing. During this hug, the lower bodies of the hugger and the person being hugged are positioned at a distance, forming a triangle. Typically, it is chosen when the situation demands a hug, but uncertainty prevails about the level of closeness. The hug may also happen when it’s done out of obligation.
29. One-armed hug
A one-armed hug is friendly and platonic. When someone offers you a one-armed hug, it indicates they view you as an acquaintance or, at most, a friend. In this hug, the hugger wraps a single arm around your back, with minimal chest and body contact. While a one-armed hug may signify that you are still within the friend zone, it does convey a sense of rapport and comfort.
How Are Hugs Beneficial?
Happiness is an immediate outcome of hugging. Though hugs seem a simple expression of joy or supportiveness, they also have health benefits (1).
- Improves well-being: Hugging leads to happy emotions by releasing endorphins. This increases the sense of satisfaction and well-being.
Envy Fisher, a college student from the Netherlands, recalls that she wasn’t much of a hugger until her views and needs changed. She says, “Last week I failed my first test since I started college. I felt like the world was coming to an end. Then one of the girls in my class held my hand in hers and said everything was going to be okay. And because of that one tiny gesture that accompanied her words, I felt so much better. Imagine what a hug would have done.
“Once upon a time, I would have hidden my need for a hug. But why should I? I’m only human. True, I don’t have to hug you every single time I see you, but when you need a hug I’ll be there for you with my arms open. The only thing I want in return? That one hug I need when I’m the one who’s sad (i).”
- Reduces stress: Hugging is a way of providing a social touch. This leads to reduced reactivity to stress and strengthened willpower. And this is why when a stranger offered to hug writer and yoga guide Sim Scott, she broke down and felt relieved of the stress that overwhelmed her. In her blog post she says, “Earlier this year I spent time in an Indian ashram with a group of beautiful belles from all four corners of the globe. One day, completely out of the blue, an exquisitely elegant Frenchwoman — Aurelia — gave me the warmest, most genuine hug I’d had in a long while. I readily reciprocated, burying my head in her shoulder as she gently told me how she instinctively knew I needed a hug that day. She was spot on… and her words were just enough to burst the banks of my fragile tear defense system. This was one long hug. Aurelia told me that a ‘proper’ hug needs to last at least a minute to be meaningful. I suspect she may have regretted this as her delicate shoulder became completely soaked from my snotty sobs within 20 seconds. Classy. But it worked! Aurelia’s hug was exactly what I needed at that moment. I was all set to take on the world! Or, more accurately, a 2-hour lesson in Yoga Philosophy. A similar undertaking in my books (ii).”
- Improves immunity: Though hugging and improved immunity may not have a direct connection, they are still related. Hugging leads to the release of certain hormones, such as oxytocin and cortisol, that help fight off infections. Higher levels of stress may also affect the body’s immunity adversely. Hugging reduces stress and thus improves immunity too. In fact, there is a study to back this claim. In 2014, Carnegie Mellon University conducted a short study involving 406 adult volunteers over a span of two weeks. In this time period, the volunteers were to observe and note two specific aspects: the number of conflicts they experienced and the number of daily hugs they received. These volunteers were also exposed to common cold viruses to observe any substantial effect on infections. The result indicated that when individuals received some kind of social support through hugs, they were less susceptible to common infections. Even for individuals who got into frequent conflicts, hugs were still a powerful gesture that protected them from the infection (2).
- Enhances sleep: Hugging and cuddling increase the cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a key regulator of sleep. Hence, cuddling with someone before sleeping can significantly improve sleep quality.While some hugs are warm and friendly, others are intimate and romantic. The body language of people hugging each other can reveal a lot about the kind of relationship they share. For example, you may give a tight hug to a person you love, side hug to a friend, and a polite hug to a colleague. Although hugs have become a norm, you should be careful before hugging people because many people prefer their personal space and do not appreciate hugs. Knowing about different types of hugs will help you maintain respect in the relationship and avoid confusion.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an inappropriate hug?
A hug is considered improper when:
The person feels uncomfortable; the person doesn’t want to hug but is forced into the hug; or the hug involves a lot of body touching that is uncomfortable for the one being touched.
2. How long is too long for a hug?
In general, a hug is believed to be anywhere between five to ten seconds. But, you need to limit yourself to this timeframe, and if someone wants a long hug, you can embrace and comfort each other as long as you want.
3. What is a frame hug?
A frame hug is one where two people stand apart and hug by bending their waist and leaning forward so that only their shoulders are touching while hugging.
Infographic: Why Are Hugs Important?
No matter the type of hug, it can have several physiological and emotional benefits. Yes! You read that right. Some experts believe we need a few hugs daily to stay happy and content. Read the following infographic to know more about the benefits of hugging and save it so you can share it with your partner.
- A hug is a beautiful way to express love.
- A tight hug and a bear hug impart the message of joy, excitement, and love.
- The one-sided or ragdoll hug might give away some other intentions that you may learn by scrolling down.
Personal Experience: Source
- Four Ways Hugs Are Good for Your Health.
- Sheldon Cohen et al.; (2014); Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness.