So what’s the deal with hugs?

There are many benefits to the socially acceptable act of hugging. Often used in greetings, farewells, affection, to share emotion and sometimes just for the sake of it, hugging has being scientifically proven to calm the nervous system and as a form of stress relief.

But how much of thought have you put into hugs? You could be a person that hates hugs, and simply has to endure them, merely not to offend others in your social circle. Or you could be one of those people who just have to hug people, whether you’ve met them once or don’t even know their names; you just enjoy spreading the love.

Well it seems a lot more goes into a hug than one would think, what is the normal duration of a hug? How often can you hug someone? Do you hug people if you’ve just met them?

So the aim of this blog entry (my first) is to shed some light on the social etiquette of hugging, what is and what isn’t allowed and how long is normal.

Based on recent research (and I refuse to reference this) it has come to my attention that a normal socially acceptable hug lasts approximately 3 seconds. This specifically refers to a girl-to-girl hug,  however if the girls are best friends/family/super close, it could last any time from 3 seconds to forever, there is no rule for letting go. However in a normal setting such as a school/varsity/social gathering, it would be safe to stay on 3 seconds.

For guys on the other hand, their hugs start with a handshake which evolves into a partial shoulder- bump-pat-on-the-back sort gesture, which might not be understandable to girls, seems to work for them. This hug also lasts approximately 2 seconds depending on the duration of the pat on the back.

Now when it comes to a guy-to-girl hug, rules change. What seems to be the norm, when hugging a guy who is just a friend, not your best friend/boyfriend/cousin, it is perfectly acceptable to give a side hug, which involves extending one arm and lasting between 2-3 seconds, basically a partial hug. To some it might seem rude but is actually the most appropriate. (This is all relative to the personalities of the people involved, may be subject to change, and DEFINITELY weather dependent.)

Finally, when it comes to hugging parents, I have a simple rule: DON’T LET GO, usually this lasts until a fellow sibling or grandchild pushes their way in and you are forced to surrender.

I also would like to make special reference to guys hugging girls in scarf/hijab. Not always appropriate (ok, it’s never), be reminded that they do not bite and are not monsters, depending on the girl and her personal views will depend on whether she is ok with hugs, in fact it is way more appropriate to ASK.


  • Do not ever pat the back or rub the back when hugging
  • Do not lift the person of their feet (unless there is reason to celebrate)
  • Do not sniff the girls hair (there are levels of creepy)
  • Try and avoid back hugs, they are awkward!
  • Try not to over hug  (more than 3 hugs a day ) , but try not to resent hugs (myself included)

Finally, there are always exceptions to the rules and you always have that one friend who emits rays of sunshine when you hug, regardless of gender. But the gesture of a hug, as my friends explained is just to leave things on a sweet note, so your last thought of the person leaving was a friendly one, it is hard to argue with that reason, even if it is at the risk of contracting flu.