I have just learned everything I ever needed to know about hugging or, in actuality, all the uncertainties of hugging. There are so many things to consider:
Do you turn your face to the left or right at the onset of the embrace?
Repercussions: if you and your partner both turn your head the same way and end up nose to nose or knocking foreheads, it’s hard to come back from.
Do your arms go up, down, or (as I told to do in self-defense class) one up and one down?
Repercussions: if you and your partner both choose the same move, it becomes an awkward arm dance that is difficult to play off as anything else. I, myself, go up and around the neck for a tall person meaning I have to stand on my tiptoes. This often causes confusion.
What is the proper tension of the hug?
Repercussions: you don’t want to pull away too far, but you also seem like a creeper if you pull the person too hard into you and crush the life out of him/her.
What is an acceptable duration for a hug?
Repercussions: these are pretty obvious. if you hold on too long, it becomes uncomfortable very quickly. And no one wants to be last.
There is the one armed hug. The “bro” hand clap/back slap. The two armed embrace with back pat. The two armed embrace without back pat. The “Liz Nam” shoulder forward, concave chest, butt out. The “Andrea Nissley” body tense and locked or ever-present “don’t touch me” aura. So many options to choose from. How is one to decide what’s best? And with whom?
(*Note: All aforementioned experiments were conducted on concrete columns in our living room with accurate facials expressions. No participants were harmed or made uncomfortable during the process.)