Hugging one another is one of the more pleasant things in life. There is precious little that can compare to being embraced by friends who hug you as if they mean it. I am very fortunate to know people like that.
Being a writer who creates fictional characters for my stories, I am, by necessity, a close observer of people I encounter. Their quirks, habits, tics, and proclivities invariably find their way into the personalities of my characters. That is what makes them come alive for the reader.
Over the course of countless such observations, I’ve devised a classification list for hugs. Each type depends on two things: the persons doing the hugging, and the context in which the hugging is occurring.
The least sincere hug, the social hug, might occur between two ladies dressed for a formal occasion, or between a lady and a man similarly attired. Each bends stiffly forward from the waist to allow a cheek to touch, ever so slightly, upon the other’s cheek. It’s as if they’re saying, “How lovely to see you, but don’t mess my hair!” I have witnessed many of these during intermissions at the opera, for example.
The next category is the sociable hug, exchanged between two people wishing to acknowledge each other more personally than with a handshake. Arms are placed on each other’s shoulders, or perhaps around waists, and right cheeks touch briefly, generally without a kiss. Nothing touches below the waist, especially if it’s two men.
The third type, the friendship hug, is very similar, except it’s the left cheeks that touch, thereby positioning each person in a ‘heart-over-heart’ posture, denoting a deeper, more personal relationship. These hugs last longer, and kisses on the cheek (or, more rarely, on the lips) often accompany them.
The fourth classification, the dance-hug, has three subsets, all set to music. The first might occur when someone is dancing with the boss’s spouse at an office party; lots of polite distance between them, even though they’re hugging in accepted ballroom style. The second is common among long-time friends, perhaps at a country-club affair, dancing with each other’s spouses; familiar contact, but nothing untoward.
A third subset may be seen when a caring couple is dancing; intimate contact, including below the waist, loving caresses, perhaps kissing or whispering in each other’s ears—all of it as if the dancers are oblivious to their surroundings, lost in the moment.
I have learned a lot about people’s relationships with each other by watching them on the dance floor.
A fifth type, the loving hug, might be witnessed at an airport, when family members or close friends are parting, or perhaps reuniting. Bodies seem to meld, kisses are fervent, hands run up and down each other’s frames, and the hugs are only reluctantly ended. Tears are frequent, either from sorrow at the parting or from joy at the return.
The final two categories, both called passion hugs, are similar to the fifth one, except for two significant differences. The sixth is almost identical, but conducted in a horizontal position, and seldom publicly. The seventh is the same as the sixth, except without clothing. I haven’t personally beheld other people in these hugging activities, but I do write about them in my books, anyway.
I never try to identify which type of hug I might be part of when it’s actually happening, of course; I simply enjoy the moment. A hug shared with the right person, at the right moment, can be an amazing source of renewal, support, affirmation, or joy. When fortunate enough to be in that situation, I always feel any sadness or doubts I may have been harbouring drain away, as happiness and assurance flow in.
I love people who hug me as if they mean it!