Wednesday, December 22, 2004

to hug or not to hug?

So Emmy Sue and I went over to her friend Karla’s last night for a Christmas party. It turned out to be pretty much an FRA reunion, and one of those parties where you see tons of people from high school that you really aren’t friends with and have the same 5 second conversation with every person. Did you graduate, what’s your major, where are you living, where are you working, blah blah blah. You revert back to the superficial high school days when you talked to people because you had to and not because you wanted to merely out of politeness. Em and I did have one stimulating conversation with her friend Chris however. It had to do with the nature of hugging, and the difference in hugging styles between guys and girls.

Of course guys do that thing where they shake hands, and then pull their other arm around the guy and do the pat-each-other-on-the-back-slash-hug thing. You can tell how close the guys are by how many pats on the back they give one another and by how long the entire hug transaction takes. The longer the hug, the more pats on the back, the closer the friends.

Girls will do the frontal two-armed hug for other close girlfriends, and the side one-armed hug for acquaintances. Again, ever on guard to be polite, the one armed hug between women signifies that we know each other and recognize the need to acknowledge one another, but shaking hands just isn’t the ladylike thing to do, so you one-arm hug them.

The real curveball though is when guys and girls hug, hence the conversation between Chris, Emily, and me. The whole thing transpired while standing in the kitchen (where else do you stand at a party?) and watching the other people in the room greet each other and hug. "What is that thing that girls do, where they hug you with one arm from the side?" Chris exclaimed. "It’s like they don’t want to get too close to you, so they give you that halfway hug and keep the rest of their body as far away from you as possible." So the three of us discussed this and Em and I came to the conclusion that the logic behind the one-armed side hug is that we girls are trying to let the guys take the lead and let us know just how much of a hug he is looking for. We are waiting for the guy to initiate the depth of the hug by first putting our one arm around our male friend’s waist. The guy then determines whether or not to swivel around and give us the frontal two-armed hug or whether the buck stops here and one arm is all we’re getting. If the guy does turn towards us and wraps the other arm around our shoulders, then we will gladly reciprocate, but the initial one-armed hug is a way for us to allow the guy some control and authority in a non-obvious way. We of course don’t want to be overzealous huggers and come on too strong!

Then again, as a guy, if a girl gives you the kind of one-armed hug where she is in fact trying to keep herself as far away from you as possible, limply puts her arm around your waist, and then removes it as fast as possible, now that’s just plain body language that she probably isn’t going to be sticking around for much longer! Do not, I repeat, do not reach around for the two armed hug because you’re only prolonging the awkwardness!


emilyb said...

Very well said, Amanda. It was a very intense conversation...perfectly fit for a Seinfeld eposide. I can just see Jerry trying to determine if a girl likes him or not. And Elaine and George are asking 20 questions about hand placement, how many arms were involved, and how long the hug took place. Ha-larious...

My dear friend Amanda almost forgot the funniest part of the night. For those of you who don't know the movie Shag, this won't be as amusing, but I'll try to enlighten you. Since the movie is set in the 60's, the common term for beer is "bevo". At one point the main guy says, "Bartender, four bevo's" (keep in mind that the bartender is just his friend, Chip, with a cooler strapped around his neck). So last night, Amanda decides it would be appropriate to quote aforementioned line, but instead she said, "Bevo, four bartenders." Now was that the bevo talking?

"Are you...fuzzy?" "You shutch-your filthy mouth!"

"They...they went ALL the way!"

Rhonda Lu said...

"Bevo, four bartenders" HAHAHAHA I wish I was there for that one!

HA-larious post by the way!

RAAAGER said...

Actually ANY time a girl offers the one arm hug it sends a VERY strong signal to the guy that she wants to ba as far away from you as possible and thus the guy will end the hug and conversation as quick as possible.