Sometimes, at the end of a long day, a long, warm hug sounds like all you need.
Other times, you just want people to respect your personal space and ask before they make any type of physical contact.
Touch is personal, after all. And a hug is for you to give — not for anyone to take.
What comes to mind when you see “types of hugs”?
How many types of hugs could there be? And what does each one mean?
You’re about to find out.
9 Types of Hugs and What They Mean
Your hug body language communicates how you feel about the person you’re hugging. And vice-versa.
So, if someone starts out tense but then relaxes into it, you can’t help thinking you must have had a positive effect on them.
It works in reverse, too. So, the next time you share a hug, see if you can classify it as one of the following.
1. Warm Hug
You give warm hugs when you’re genuinely glad to see someone. They’re in one of your inner circles, and they’ve earned the trust that goes with this hug.
You don’t feel the need to stiffen your back or close it with a “There, there, that’s enough” tap. There might even be some squeezing involved.
A warm hug is the perfect opener and closer for time spent with people you love.
You probably give warm hugs to your kids, your parents and/or grandparents, siblings, and other close relatives — as well as close, platonic friends.
And while every person hugs a little differently, you know a warm hug when you feel it.
2. Polite Hug
If you’re meeting someone who isn’t a close friend but who insists on greeting you with a hug, this is probably the hug you’ll return, with a healthy dose of reserve.
It involves both arms, often with some gentle tapping at the shoulders and maybe an air kiss or two.
If you hit it off, the next hug might be warmer and more comfortable for you both.
But if you get the vibe that this person is using physical closeness to manipulate you, you’ll stick with a firm handshake next time. Or maybe just a nod.
You might give a polite hug to a co-worker or friendly acquaintance you haven’t seen in a long time.
You’re not close, but you’re beyond a mere handshake.
After a few minutes of reconnecting, though, you might upgrade your departure hug from polite to warm. Or not.
3. Sleepy Hug
When you’re sleepy and your significant other is conveniently nearby, you might greet them with one of these hugs.
It says, “I’m glad you’re here, and I’d love to be close to you right now.”
It’s not about moving on to something more active; it’s all about enjoying your warmth and sleepiness together.
You trust this person enough to surrender to this hug, without feeling pressured to turn it into something else.
You might also give this hug to a sleepy child or to a friend you just spent some quality time with before they leave for the night.
It’s a no-strings, relaxed hug of genuine trust and affection. If you’re not careful, though, you might just fall asleep in the middle of one.
4. Comfort Hug
When you’re feeling low or just needing to be reminded of your value, you want this hug from someone you trust. You might even ask for it or hold your arms open in invitation.
Those who give the best comfort hugs don’t expect anything in return, either.
You know you can count on them for real, unconditional love and affection, without strings. You know they’ll always be there for you.
They’re the people you want to be around. And their hugs can salvage the most difficult days. You absorb their loving energy by osmosis with every touch.
And when they can’t be physically nearby, they hug with words.
5. Bear Hug
This is a serious, full-frontal hug with some squeezing. And it can have more than one meaning:
- “I’m making up for lost time.”
- “I can out-hug you any day.”
- “I don’t want to let you go.”
Depending on the person you’re hugging, there could be more than one meaning behind the bear hug.
And if you’re not a fan of bear hugs or any kind of embrace that could rearrange your vertebrae, there’s no harm in telling the other person to be gentle if the bear hug is their favorite way to greet friends and family.
You could also threaten to send them your chiropractor bill, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
6. Bro Hug
This friendship hug often involves only one arm from each participant, but not always.
The one-armed approach might seem overly stoic or casual, but the intent is to either acknowledge a genuine friendship or to congratulate each other on a job well done.
The affection is real, and the respect is mutual. To the trained eye, the bro hug is clearly distinct from the stiff one-arm hug (up next).
Bro hugs express a real connection, even if it isn’t always a deep one.
Sometimes, it’s just a “Good game!” or a “You’re okay in my book” hug. Other times, it’s more personal — a “You’ve been there for me, and we’re brothers for life” hug.
But if there’s no warmth in it, it’s not a bro hug. It’s the next thing.
7. Stiff One-Arm Hug
This is the obligatory hug you give to those with whom you feel zero connection but who apparently expect a hug of some kind when you meet them.
You keep it cool and reserved — so reserved you keep a barrier of impenetrable space between your fronts.
There might as well be an electric fence between you. Nothing is closing that gap.
And you’re thinking, “Is this really necessary? Neither of us really want this.”
Yet you stop yourself from stepping back and offering a handshake instead. It would seem rude, you think.
So, you step forward and return the awkward, one-arm hug. And you smile politely. Or you nod.
It’s awkward for both of you, and you suddenly feel an overwhelming need to escape (or stress-eat).
8. Flirt Hug
This hug is meant to let the other person know you’re interested in them.
The physical closeness, combined with the effect of smooth curves or subtle perfume, definitely comes with an ulterior motive.
Behind the politeness, at least one of you wants to give the other a taste of what they might be allowed to get closer to. It promises nothing but does express openness.
You might greet your date with a flirt hug when you meet at your appointed rendezvous.
Or you might use this hug to end the first conversation with someone you’d like to see again — as if to say, “This is a prelude. I hope there’s more to come.”
Or it might just tease the other with a taste of what they’ll never have. “This was fun, but that’s all it was. Buh-bye, now.”
9. Cuddle Hug
This romantic hug is definitely a prelude to something more.
Whereas the flirt hug is a tease, this one expresses strong romantic interest. You don’t cuddle hug just anyone. There’s an exclusivity to this embrace.
The cuddle hug doesn’t have to lead to something else, though.
Sometimes, it’s all you need with the one you love. And sometimes it’s all you have the energy for.
But it says everything you want to say. And it both surrounds and fills you with warmth and contentment. It’s your happiest happy place on earth, wherever you are.
And your cuddle hugger is the reason for that.
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What types of hugs are your favorites?
Now that you know about these nine types of hugs, which ones do you give or receive most frequently?
Which one will you probably give to someone before the day ends?
And if you need a hug right now, which one would you most like to share?
Every hug is an outward expression of closing the distance between you, but some close more distance than others.
But a real and welcome hug has a way of melting barriers.
It doesn’t have to be a long one, either.
It’s the heart behind the hug that’s responsible for the message it sends. A warm heart can make even a polite hug feel more welcome.
May every hug you share today warm you both from the inside out.