How to Hug

Humans need more bear hugs.Humans need more bear hugs.

Hugging is the single most under-exercised human ability. With a hug you can say, "Hello. Goodbye. I miss you. I like you. I love you. You're amazing. Good game. I want your sex. Thank you. I'm sorry. I hope you feel better. I know the world is a big, bad, scary place, but it's all going to be OK."

A hug is like a physical "Aloha!" Plus, when done right, hugging makes your whole body tingle with joy. Hugging is almost always just what the doctor ordered; the only problem is, doctors don't order it nearly enough, leaving a majority of the world's population hug-starved. Most people are average huggers, some people are amazing huggers and the rest give the worst hugs on the planet. Put more meaningful hugs in your life with a few easy steps.

Make eye contact with the person you want to hug.

Determine the type of hug you will be administering. Is it a family hug, a romantic hug, a playful hug, a sports hug, a welcome hug, a first hug, a sympathy hug or a congratulatory hug?

Open your arms.

Watch your potential co-hugger's response. If he shows signs of hug rejection, such as a clenched jaw, tense shoulders, panicky eyes or stick straight arms that seem to be glued to his body, abandon your hugging plan. You can do this and save face by reaching your open arms toward the sky and exhaling a relieving sigh as if taking a much-needed stretch. If your potential co-hugger seems ambivalent about your advances, hug with caution and give added attention to Step 8. If your co-hugger responds to your open arms by opening his or her arms, move on to Step 5.

Wrap your arms around your co-hugger's body. You can wrap your arms in one of three ways: 1) Both arms above your co-hugger's arms to encompass his or her shoulders and upper back, 2) Both arms below your co-hugger's arms to encompass his or her mid- and lower back, or 3) One arm above and one arm below your co-hugger's arms to form a "crisscross applesauce" or "X marks the spot" sort of hug. Sometimes the exact arm positioning requires some awkward maneuvering. This is natural and should in no way distract or detour you from the task at hand.

Relax into the hug. Breathe, and drop your shoulders.

Enjoy the moment. Do not think about the dishes piling up at home or the text message vibrating your phone in your purse. No other thoughts or distractions have precedent over a hug. A hug trumps all.

Remain for the hug's duration--no more, no less. A romantic hug can last for hours if you want. A friendly greeting hug, on the other hand, lasts a minute. Pay attention to your co-hugger's energy. If she wants out of the hug, let go. If she lingers, maintain the embrace.

Repeat three to 300 times each day.

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  • Always hug goodbye and hello with friends and family.
  • While hugging, rub your hands up and down your co-hugger's back, kiss his crown/forehead/cheek/neck, nestle your head into his chest, pick her up from the ground or wrap your legs around his waist. Adding such flair should be done with care, however.
  • Hugging many people at once is super fun, especially when proceeded by the boisterous exclamation, "Group hug!"
  • You can playfully initiate hugs using lines like, "Come here, you hot fox!" and "Hug me, big boy!"
  • Hugs can end a fight between lovers quicker than any love note, bouquet or verbal "sorry."
  • Parents should hug their children at least once every day. They should hug their teenage children at least twice every day.


  • Do not pat your co-hugger on the head, back or bum unless you are romantically involved with the person.
  • Be careful with the question, "Can I have a hug?" When done right, it can be endearing and powerful, yielding a satisfying hug for both parties involved. When done wrong, it can come across as needy and annoying, yielding a obligatory sympathy hug that makes everybody feel yucky.
  • If your significant other does not hug you the way you'd like, talk about it openly. If she still does not give you the quality or quantity of hugs that you need, leave that relationship. Hugs are essential to any intimate relationship.

About the Author

Amanda Ford is a writer and creative thinker with a knack for cultivating love wherever she goes. She is the author of several books including KISS ME, I'M SINGLE: AN ODE TO THE SOLO LIFE and BE TRUE TO YOURSELF: A DAILY GUIDE FOR TEENAGE GIRLS. Amanda's work has been featured in Real Simple, The Chicago Tribune and The Seattle Times. With a sweet and soulful style, Amanda hopes to help her readers deepen all the relationships in their lives using kindness, compassion, understanding and play.

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