When To Hug Someone: Life’s Greatest Mystery

Knowing when to hug someone is a question that has plagued humanity since its very inception. Confounded cave-people deduced how to trap and eat their monkey brethren right away but would have to wait thousands of years before even the most basic hugging etiquette could be established. Misplaced hugs have torn apart families, ruined lives and even caused wars (probably World War I). Despite thousands of years of struggling with hug protocol, scientists have yet to unlock its deepest most powerful mysteries.

There was a period in my life where I had friends and then hugged them until we were all so tired from embracing that we had to take lengthy naps. They were like platonic orgies. It was a perfect world where everything made sense and nobody felt bad about themselves or each other. We drank, talked and warmly embraced each other deep into the morning hours. Through perseverance and community spirit, we had become masters.

Amateur huggers, who aren’t confident in themselves or their abilities, always have the same three questions:

1. “What if it feels like we are about to kiss?”
2. “How aware should I be of how close our genitals are to each other?”
3. “Is smelling them okay?”

My answer to these queries is always the same: Hugging is an art. While society has guidelines set in place to define it, some of the best huggers/artists are all about breaking through barriers and thinking outside of the box. It’s not always evident when the best time for a hug is and, occasionally, you have to make a leap of blind faith. Understanding these aspects of it helped to make me the Picasso of hugs.

Things have changed a lot since then, though, and hugging, like any skill, diminishes without practice. It is important to surround yourself with top tier huggers to keep you sharp. I once knew a man that hugged down a near homicidal maniac. But the best I could hope for today is an awkward embrace from a distant family member at the next funeral. As we get older, more awkward and bitter, many of us simply stop hugging. Luckily, the fundamental knowledge has yet to abandon me and that information came into play rather dramatically one fateful day.

I knew a guy who had just been told that he was being laid off and understood that, at some point during the day, I was probably going to have to hug him. It was a terrifying prospect. I spent the majority of my afternoon trying to come up with a plan that would get me out of it and, when I couldn’t do it, I frantically began trying to mentally prepare myself for what was to come. While pretending to work, I went over every potential outcome and how to deal with it. I had never hugged him before so I had no idea what to expect. He could have wanted everything from a short pat on the back to a full on extended consolation hug. There was even a chance he might not even want a hug at all. Holy shit, I thought to myself. How the hell was I going to plan for that contingency?

Then, right at five-thirty, he stood up and said “Well, I guess this is it.”

It sure was. 

Despite rehearsing it in my mind repeatedly, I wasn’t even close to ready. I stood up and searched his body language frantically to get a sense of what was coming. But it wasn’t until I saw his eyes that I knew it had to be a hug. I offered my hand anyway and, looking a little hurt, he took it. As I brought him in with my other arm for the half-grab, his other arm got away from me and the safety barrier I had carefully orchestrated through the shake was lost. We were in full-on hug territory now and he was preparing for the squeeze. But, before he could, there was an explosion of tears. I was getting dangerously uncomfortable now. I was so out of hug practice that I really didn’t know what to do with this. I contemplated screaming in the hopes that someone would come to my aid and pull him off of me. Yet, somehow, I managed to find that part deep inside of me that still knew how to hug like a total champion. He was enveloped by my power and I felt his soul relax a little in my arms as if the pain inside him had died. I had done it. I was a king.

I hugged him so well that he knew he didn’t need that job or anything it had to offer. Suicide was off the table now and even being worried wasn’t in the cards for him after an embrace like that. In fact, the hug was so good that he probably carried its radiance all the way home to use on his wife after he told her that they were probably going to give up their newborn for adoption due to the crippling financial burden. With that single moment, I might have saved dozens of lives. Do I expect a parade in my honor? As appropriate as that would definitely be, I do not. I just think it’s a good idea for adults to hug each other once in a while.

*Mr. Bevins now has his own twitter account @mr_bevins.

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47 Responses to When To Hug Someone: Life’s Greatest Mystery

  1. One of the best posts I’ve ever read. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Looking forward to following Mr. Bevins’ sauciness on Twitter.

  2. gingerjudgesyou says:


  3. UndercoverL says:

    Wow, Posky. Don’t know what to say. I am pleased as punch that Mr. Bevins made an appearance.

  4. I trust that you sniffed him a little.

  5. You spent a lot of time worrying about this man and his predicament and then you hugged him. In my book you are a decent human being which is high praise coming from me. I envy guys the handgrab and half-hug; it seems to avoid any discomfort either may feel. I, however, would prefer not be to be hugged by anyone but my honey bear.

  6. prenin says:

    I hug all the time! :)

    Especially at church as I have many friends there and I love them to death! :)

    I’ve been unable to go to church over the Christmas period so Sunday I will catch up with all my friends after the service and see how they spent Christmas.

    Gastroenteritis is NOT fun and I missed a lot… :(

    God Bless my friend and loads of hugs!!!


  7. nevernicole says:

    I’m fine with hugs and I think I’m a pretty good hugger. Just the right amount of pressure and boob squishage (is that even a word)? But casual kisses? I can’t do it man. My sister is engaged to a portugese man, and as a rule, portugese families are HUGE and they love cheek kisses as a way to greet people (ANY PEOPLE).

    I tend to just sort of hide behind the biggest piece of furniture and wave lamely at them while they decide if lunging across said piece of furniture at me would make me even more uncomfortable than I already am.

  8. I thought I was alone when I would dread hugging certain people. I hug most of my friends upon seeing them but there are some folks who I fucking dread hugging. Sometimes, I skirt around successfully. Only if I arrive with a group of people and I manage to move to the back of the group and pretend like the path to the hug is too cluttered with everyone trying to say hello all at once. So then I throw up a two-handed wave, like two hands waving rather than one makes it more special.

  9. peculiarpotato says:

    I don’t dread hugging. Shit, I think it’s good medicine. This stigma hails largely from tough guy actors in Hollywood. This in tern, due to the multitude of violent Movies,games..Shit, I love them all too! But, most people don’t realize there is a large collective of people who do realize it’s just entertainment; Others actually believe this fiction too be fact! Wave after wave of teens began believing they where gangsters..The real gangster would take you out so quickly your head would literally spin. tough-guy movies always give homophobic suggestions.Also,this is an easy way too thwart our brotherhood between friends/family..”Hate thy neighbor” pretty much sums it up! Diabolical bastards….hey wait a minute,is this place a secure location Posky? Ok,I’ll take your word for it! Don’t make me cut you!…………….Sincerely, PeculiarPotato………

    P.S. Hello Posky it’s been awhile I see you’re still, constantly releasing quality work…You make me laugh and roar, and for that “Huggs!”

    P.S.S. “yeah that’s right bitches, I hugged the man,what of it you shallow,ignorant,baby men!
    Sorry little tangent there..Anyway, Later….P.P.

  10. Gina Marie says:

    I’ve been virtually hugging people lately. It feels slightly less awkward.

  11. Soul Walker says:

    You have made my day… and almost made up for Christmas.

  12. Pingback: Ready? To Let Go and Embrace! « A Kiss Of Bliss

  13. Aurora HSP says:

    Reblogged this on aurora morealist and commented:
    had to share, last share of 2012 – enjoy!

  14. yerpirate says:

    The first post I read in 2013. Extraordinary! And yes, I was looking for the little blue rectangle in disbelief, but happily see it below. This comes from the best tradition of living theatre, the tragi-comedy, vaudeville, absurdity and philosophy at its finest. But my words aren’t needed here, you already said it all, but so, so wonderfully.

  15. alicelo7 says:

    Never know where to out my hand in the hug or if I should move them? Now I just wait for me to be the hugee not the hugger and even then my social awkwardness ruins the occasion with me asking, is it over ? Can it be over ? Anyways great post!

  16. This is a fantastic article! I’ve always had that awkward feeling of not knowing if I should hug someone or not. Reading people can be hard sometimes, but at the end of the day, who wouldn’t appreciate a good hug?

  17. Reblogged this on halfformedbeing and commented:
    PLATONIC ORGIES………ideas…

  18. Anna says:

    Oh God, this is so funny and unbearably true. I have hugged so many people that did not require, or expect, an awkward embrace that most of the people I see in day-to-day life I now have to regard as people to avoid at all costs. It’s not funny, it’s an epidemic… an epidemic of poor social reactions from people. Hug me back, bitch, make this less horrendous for both of us!

  19. lifeworthdying says:

    Reblogged this on lifeworthdying.

  20. TJ Kelly says:

    I’ve often pondered upon the necessity of hugs. You have made it clear. Its to prevent us from eating each other.

  21. guinifi says:

    A good read :) With females there is also the awkward greeting of the air kiss to the cheek. Some do it, some don’t.. I normally go for the handshake with them… aaannd then they pull me in for the air kiss and I just stay still until they are done :P

  22. Thakasile says:

    Absolutely amazing post, I love it! Might help me shed my amateur hugger status :)

  23. Val says:

    You’re a nut and I like you. Whether I’d hug you, I’ve no fucking idea.

  24. wyethbednar says:

    Please write a full Hugging for Dummies book. I will treat is as gospel

  25. “I contemplated screaming in the hopes that someone would come to my aid and pull him off of me.”

    Oh the schemes that coil in your convoluted mind…

  26. blowingoffsteamandmore says:

    Awesome post! Just found your blog and I can’t wait to read more. My grandfather, who is 90, gives the best hugs ever. If everyone could give hugs like him the world would be a happier place.

  27. arkansasrose says:

    I avoid the whole thing when possible. I don’t hug unless the other person initiate and then it’s a quick one arm encounter.

  28. NakedBanana says:

    The worst part is waiting for the hug. When you know it is coming, you have to plan for it, which only makes you look even more awkward…You have my deepest sympathies.

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