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Hugging Like I Mean It

“A hug is a priceless gift of love and kindness.” Debasish Mridha

“Hug while you can.”  Jay Woodman

When Ed and I first met, he introduced me to the E-hug, which is full, heart-to heart embrace in which two people melt together, touching all the way down to the knees—and lower if possible. There is nothing sexual about an E-hug—it is not a hug with a grind—it is simple, full-contact tenderness, a hug that says, “you matter; I see and feel you; my heart touches your heart.”

Growing up, my family did not hug much at all and E-hugs never happened. In fact, for a long time, I was not comfortable hugging people other than Ed, though I experienced a deep longing when I saw people in non-sexual, deep, welcoming embraces. “I want that!” A little voice inside me seemed to call out. “I really want that!”

When I began attending workshops on intimacy, love and sexuality, I landed in a place where E-hugs were commonplace—and I’ve grown to love this kind of all-in warm, welcoming hugging. Actually, I don’t just love it: I crave it, and wish as a culture we were more open to greeting one another with our hearts. Connecting through hugs is one of the most heart-warming and sweetest ways to experience non-sexual touch with other humans. Yet, the E-hug is a rare animal among hugs. Here are the more common types of hugs I am sure you’ll recognize:

  • The “A-hug” or “A Frame.” The huggers stand far apart, arms around each other’s shoulders, press together quickly and separate;

  • The “B-hug” or “Sidearm squeeze,” “Dude hug,” or “Buddy hug,” in which two people (commonly guys) hug from the side, with the sides of upper bodies touching quickly then separating;

  • The “C and D-hugs,” frontal hugs involving more frontal contact to or above the waist, that is usually quick;

  • The “Baby-Burp hug,” which includes a flurry of little pats on the back but no real contact; usually a variant of the “A-hug”; and

  • The “Spine Crusher,” no explanation needed….

While I value all kinds of hugs and recognize that not everyone is comfortable with E-hugs (nor is an E-hug appropriate in all contexts), I’d love to give and get more E-hugs from my friends and family. It can be challenging: I’m pretty sensitive to others’ comfort levels and if I read discomfort, I back off quickly, settling for a hug that allows both of us to be comfortable.

So I ask: What’s your hugging style? Do you regularly greet friends and family with a warm E-hug, or are you a Sidearm Squeezer, or a Baby Burper, or hug-avoidant? Is your hugging style just what you’ve always done? Would you like to get and give more E-hugs? I certainly would and plan to give and get as many E-hugs as I can in this lifetime. Feel free to tap me on the shoulder any time and make an E-hug offer. I’m available and welcome melting together, heart to heart.

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