Hug Day 2024: 6 types of hugs and their meanings - Hindustan Times
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Hug Day 2024: 6 types of hugs and their meanings

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Feb 12, 2024 08:40 AM IST

Hug Day 2024: Cuddling provides not just sensual pleasure but also a feeling of comfort, security and companionship. Here are 6 types of hugs and their meanings

February 12 marks Hug Day, which is the sixth day of Valentine's Week, when people comfort their loved ones by hugging them because when words fail to express our feelings for someone, the language of physical touch works wonders and a hug can help your loved ones know you are there for them, ready to solve any problem and fix emotional cracks, doubts or anxiousness about the future. As the Valentine's Week is unfolding with great mush and Hug Day is around the corner, here's decoding how you feel about the one you’re hugging, the meaning of different types of hugs and what a left-sided or right-side hug signifies. (Also read | Happy Valentine's Day 2024: Wishes, images, quotes, SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook status to show your love on February 14)

Hug Day 2024: 6 types of hugs and their meanings (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)
Hug Day 2024: 6 types of hugs and their meanings (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)

Did you know emotions such as affection, love, sadness or afraid depend on the side we embrace others? In a study published in 2018 in the journal Psychological Research, lead author Julian Packheiser from the Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum in Germany, highlighted how most people showed an increased preference for right-sided hugs while left-sided hugs occurred more frequently in positive as well as negative situations and explained, “This is because of the influence of the right hemisphere, which controls the left side of the body and processes both positive and negative emotions.” (Also read | Happy Basant Panchami 2024: Saraswati Puja wishes, images, quotes, SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook status to share)

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The researchers observed that the predictions about which hand will be on top during an embrace can be based on the participants’ handedness and footedness where right-handed people usually tend to hug the other person from the right side, much more often than left-handed people while a strong left-hand drift was observed in an embrace between two men, even in neutral situations.

Accordingly, the right hemisphere is activated due to negative emotions and affects the motion to the left. Sebastian Ocklenburg from the varsity elaborated, “Our interpretation is that many men consider embraces between men to be something negative; therefore, they tend to perceive hugs as negative even in a neutral situation, such as saying hello.” Here are 6 types of hugs and their meanings:

  1. A side hug means you're not fully in it and is more common in acquaintances since it's more approachable and appropriate for people who aren't very close. It signifies politeness and friendliness but if a close friend or romantic partner gives you a side hug, it signifies quick affection, comfort, encouragement or to give positive energy.
  2. A back hug or hugging from behind is literally saying “I've got your back” and is a surprise hug that signifies deep feelings, expresses your strong physical connection in trustworthy and intimate relationships and indicates that the two people are fond of each other. It can express what a million words cannot.
  3. Waist hug or hugging around the waist is an intimate romantic hug provides an opening for someone to make the next move and means they trust you or they are comfortable together or that the person wants to spend as much time together as possible.
  4. A bear hug aka tight hug with a squeeze is reminiscent of being in the womb when we feel warm and secure and signals intimacy. It is usually platonic but means that you are close with the hugger and are sharing a happy moment together when you do not have enough words to explain like when you meet someone after a long time or when you bid farewell.
  5. A patting hug, also known as "bro” or “buddy” hug, signifies warmth and comfort, is strictly friendly with a few quick pats or rubs before you pull apart but is more of an intimate hug between close friends. This is also platonic and an excellent indication of camaraderie which is meant to pep up the mood of a sad or a dejected person.
  6. A pickpocket hug is a sweet, romantic hug and a a cutesy, rom-com worthy gesture that signifies they trust you and expresses your affectionate feelings for each other along with the security of your relationship.

We hug when we are sad or afraid or simply when saying ‘hello’ and hugs are typically a marker of having a more intimate and close relationship with another person. A research in 2011 had even indicated that the frequency of cuddling is a far better indicator of the strength of a relationship than having sex where The Daily Mail had quoted Paula Hall, relationship expert for online dating service Parship, as having said, “Cuddling provides not just sensual pleasure but also a feeling of comfort, security and companionship, all of which are just as important to a relationship as sex.”

Forget “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, researchers found that more frequent hugs protect stressed people from getting sick. In 2014, the team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) had found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.

Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E Doherty University professor of psychology at CMU, had concluded, “This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress.”

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