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GQ, Humor, Original Work

How to Hug a Woman


Sure, it might sound easy on paper. But there are subtleties a man must consider when bringing it in for the real thing.

As black sheep children with liberal arts degrees and non-profit jobs continue to decimate the lineage of America’s blue blood families, the air kiss is going the way of the dinosaur. In its place, we’re left with its pedestrian second cousin: the hug. Hugging, which combines the platonic intimacy of being cradled with the very real possibility of brushing against boobs, has usurped the air kiss, handshake, and other physical manifestations of hello as the dominant means of greeting someone—including, well, non-dudes. Hugging your bros is one thing. But for many men, the delicate balance required to hug a woman without making them feel like a mouse perched in the gaping maw of a boa constrictor is still something of a mystery. So how do you hug a girl, anyway?


Mind your member. In the immortal words of Next, “Girl, I know you felt it; boo, you know I can’t help it.” While ’90s R&B gods might be able to get away with a little poke comin’ through, when hugging in polite company, you’ll want to make sure you’re not rubbing your crotch on anyone: high school crushes, colleagues, aunts you may or may not actually be related to. I know this can be a difficult rule to follow—the junk wants what it wants—but keeping a little room for Jesus between you will keep you from incurring ball kicks or prison time.


Remember where you are. Once in a while, it’s an amazing feeling to be lifted off the ground in a passionate hug, kicking your legs out in pure joy as you’re spun around by whatever monster is strong enough to be doing this to you. Believe me. But do it at MoMA and they’re all, “Sir! Sir! We told you to keep your damn feet off Les Demoiselles d’Avignon!” Groan zone, right? Avoid sticky situations by being aware of your surroundings.


Practice, practice, practice. One key to avoiding an awkward semi-hug? Never hesitate. In fact, once you do it enough times, you’ll soon learn that there is a time and place for every kind of embrace. A single arm squeeze works for most co-workers. A brief hug with your shoulders tilted in and your hips out will do nicely for family gatherings. And a long hug punctuated by heavy breathing has always worked well as a non-cash tip for my mailman at Christmas.


No sniffing. This is so tempting! You would think that if people wanted to stop being sniffed when you hug them, they would make a conscious effort to smell less like green apple shampoo, pine needles, Dove soap, a little bit of sweat, or my dad.


Don’t put your mouth on her face. There’s so much we don’t know about the human face. Is it edible? Should we give it a small nibble? Why is she crying? When you’re hugging someone, planting a kiss on her cheek may seem like an appropriate way of showing your affection, but it’s also completely insane. Think about it. Is there any other time when you casually put your mouth on an acquaintance? Instead of eating $600 worth of Sephora products off her face, let’s keep our mouths out of it. Kissing someone on the cheek doesn’t mean you’ll get to kiss her on the mouth any more than screaming before dawn makes you a rooster.


And there you have it. Don’t let your life pass you by without experiencing the sixth- or seventh-best form of intimacy on a semi-regular basis. If all else fails, I guess you could just die alone.

About Sarah Crow

Writer, natural redhead, semi-professional napper.


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