16 Different Types Of Hugs And What They Mean

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types of hugs
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As a child, I was never a touchy-feely person. The ease with which people reach out, touch, and hold each other has always been a source of curiosity to me, so I decided to investigate further. And I had tons of questions: Why do people hug? What are the types of hugs guys like? What kind do girls like? Imagine my surprise when I found out that there are several different kinds of hugs and each one of them has different connotations and health benefits.

If, like me, you too have been confused about why hugging is such a prominent expression of intimacy and affection, you’re at the right place. You may also love hugging and not know about the deep meaning behind a long, hard hug. In that case too, you’re at the perfect place. In this article, I’m going to share all that I’ve learned about the different types of hugs and what they mean. Let’s get right into it.  

16 Different Types Of Hugs

According to studies (and there has been a lot of intense research on the topic), the receptors in our skin are so sensitive that any touch can spark off a reaction in our brains. Skin-to-skin contact is a potent instigator of the release of oxytocin. Now oxytocin – also known as the love hormone – is responsible for making you feel all mushy and loved up. This positive response can carry you through a large part of the day. 

Upon further investigation, I discovered the various types of hugs and their meaning, both in terms of the amount of physical contact involved and the response elicited in the body. Body language i.e., “the conscious and unconscious movements by which attitudes and feelings are communicated,” can indicate a lot more than we realize. Psychologists and experts have studied body language with reference to different hugs and categorized multiples types. We’ve listed 16 different kinds of hugs here. So, if you’re whether or not you love hugging or are perplexed about what a hug means, read on: 

Related Reading: 13 Non-Sexual Touches To Feel Intimate And Close

1. The bear hug

The bear hug
Bear Hug is considered one of the best types of hugs

Through my research, I realized that the bear hug is considered one of the best of the different kinds of hugs. Why so? Well, when a person comes to you and enfolds you in his or her arms, holds you tight, and squeezes you for a while, the feeling can be indescribable. It’s a loving hug!

Bear hugs are intimate hugs that suggest a healthy relationship. One which is full of strong positive and reciprocal feelings. While this is not always a type of romantic hug, bear hugs remind you that you are loved and appreciated. So, bear hug meaning is that someone out there has your back and can offer you the emotional support you require.

2. The full-body hug

full body hug
A full-body hug is a strong and tight hug

Of the different kinds of hugs, this scores better than the others. Much like the bear hug, a full-body hug is a strong and tight hug with full-body contact. Couples or close friends hugging like this may have intense eye-contact and hold this tight embrace for a long time. A long, hard hug like this one rejuvenates the soul. Full-body hugs may or may not be romantic, but they are not normally exchanged between colleagues or acquaintances.

Children love giving and getting full-body hugs, and I suspect this arises from the need for skin-to-skin contact. Giving a child a full-body hug can calm him or her down and placate their feelings in no time. Try giving such a loving hug the next time your child is having a meltdown or getting agitated. Such fun hugs can work wonders toward making the child feel comfortable. 

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3. The long hug

long hug
long hug is a hug that lasts longer than ten seconds

According to doctors, a ‘long hug’ is a hug that lasts longer than ten seconds, unlike a short hug. The longer the hug, the greater the impact on the nervous system. When you think of different types of close hugs, long hugs definitely come to mind instantly. These types of hugs from a woman also make a man feel special. Here are some facts about them:

  • If your romantic partner loves long hugs, chances are that he or she is developing feelings for you
  • Best friends give each other long hugs when they need each other to lean on
  • Family members or those in a long-term relationship indulge in this type of a loving hug when comfort and reassurance are required
  • If someone approaches you and embraces you like this, it may also be a silent cry for help

Take the time out to reciprocate and get to the bottom of the problem.

4. The London Bridge hug 

London Bridge hug 
The London Bridge Hug is a short

The London Bridge hug is a short, quick hug where two people’s upper bodies lean toward each other and touch. However, their lower bodies remain firmly apart, indicating a formality in the relationship. It may look a bit awkward. This is the type of hug that is exchanged in a professional setting and could indicate some level of discomfort in one party or both.

Body language experts state that a London Bridge hug is a polite hug, one that may mean that neither party really wants to get too close to the other. A word of warning – there is no possibility of a romantic relationship if someone hugs you like this.  

Related Reading: 8 Types Of Intimacy In A Relationship

5. The pickpocket hug

pickpocket hug

You’ve seen these types of couples around. And they either infuriate or enchant you with their public displays of affection. A pickpocket hug is the type of intimate hug when partners walk around with their hands tucked into each other’s back pockets. Here’s what they mean:

  • This type of cuddle hug occurs when a couple is very comfortable with each other
  • This hug indicates that they may walk silently but are probably still in touch with each other without talking
  • The signs are clear here that the physical relationship between the two is strong and mutual

This hug rates high on the types of hugs guys like. 

6. The straddle hug 

The straddle hug

Every Hollywood romantic movie has at least one scene with a straddle hug. In this type of hug, usually, the feminine partner wraps her legs around the other. A straddle hug can be done either in bed or while standing up. It can even be a hug from behind or a back hug. 

It’s the epitome of intimacy in a relationship and passion. This is considered a type of romantic hug that is a prelude to something sexual for sure. Straddle hugs indicate trust and comfort and a wonderful physical connection. It comes as no surprise that men who love hugging rate these types of hugs from a woman as the best. 

On Romance

7. The quick hug

The quick hug

A quick hug is just what its name says it is. A quick lean-in with body contact that ends almost as quickly as it begins. It could even be a perfunctory hug from behind. Here are some facts about this type of hug:

  • It can be exchanged between colleagues, friends, relatives, and even couples. Though, if you are a couple and only exchanging quick hugs, there may be problems afoot in your relationship
  • A quick hug (also known as a polite hug) is also indicative that the people involved are not really comfortable with or invested in each other.
  • You could call this type of interaction a more socially expected one rather than one with any real impact or meaning

Related Reading: 9 Tips To Build Harmonious Relationships

8. The slow dance hug

The slow dance hug.jpg

If you indulge in a slow dance hug, also known as the waist hug, there is enough romantic tension between you and your partner to light up a room. In this style of hugging, the guy wraps his arms around his loved one’s waist. The other partner holds him around his neck and draws him close. This hug exudes joy and love and can be considered a stepping stone to a more intimate relationship. Men rate this type of tight hug from women as the most pleasurable. 

Speaking of pleasure and physical touch, this is how a Reddit user feels about hugs, and I think we would all agree: “Because when I hug someone I really care about, my heart fills with a ticklish sensation that is just the best. And then I feel lighter for hours.”

9. The side hug

The side hug

Also referred to as the buddy hug, the side hug is a relaxed expression of comfort. Generally, a short, sweet, fun hug, it happens when a person next to you leans in and wraps an arm around your shoulder or waist. People also hug this way when posing for photos. 

How do you tell if this hug is romantic? I hate to disappoint you here, but this is no frisson of flirtation, but rather an expression of a good mood. If a girl or boy hugs you this way, take it from me, it is one of the signs they are not into you or don’t harbor deep feelings. They probably see you just as a friend, with no romantic feelings involved. 

10. The flirty hug

flirty hug

Okay, so this is how you give a flirty hug: You wrap your arms around your partner’s neck, and then lean your head on their chest, or hug them with one arm and draw them closer to you. A flirty hug may also entail stroking a person’s arms, giving them a tight back hug, or nuzzling their neck when leaning in. This initiation of physical touch is one of the body language signs they are in love with you and won’t mind being intimate with you. 

All these modalities indicate the need to get closer and show your interest in the other person. You don’t need to be an expert to know that such kinds of hugs from a woman or a man are confirmation that the person is very into you and wants to take these intimate hugs to the next level. 

Related Reading: Physical Touch Love Language: What It Means With Examples

11. The heart-to-heart hug

heart-to-heart hug

When you see a person you love and care about, you may raise your arms wide open, maintain eye-contact, draw the person in close, and hold the hug for a while. This full-contact hugging can end with a short pat on the back or a shoulder rub. The intense eye-contact attraction continues long after the hug. Supposedly highly restorative, this alignment of the heart can calm a person’s energy and increase serotonin levels, making both parties happier. Win–win, I’d say!

12. The patting hug

The patting hug
The patting hug

Now, this type of hug comes along with a gentle pat on the back. There can be many connotations of the hug. Here are some meanings it may convey:

  • The pat on the back may be to pep up a person who is demotivated or sad
  • This sort of a hug is also known to be a platonic way of showing you care
  • A hug with a pat also shows a friendly approach, without any mush or romance

This hug can be seen not just between men and women but also between two male friends or female friends. Now, interestingly, a discussion on men hugging men threw light on how some men are averse to hugging other men. But as one Reddit user puts it: “Hugs are great! A hug can convey respect, love and compassion all at the same time. It can also tell you how honest someone is as well.” And the patting hug scores well on such asexual but meaningful hugs that make people feel good.

13. The around-the-waist hug

The around-the-waist hug
The around-the-waist hug

This sort of a hug is often seen between couples, be it in casual or serious intimate relationships. This is thus also one of the types of romantic hugs that we know of. This involves one partner casually touching the waist of another while hugging. To comprehend what such a hug around the waist actually means, one needs to look at some other body language signs of the people hugging each other. Here are some more facts about the around-the-waist hug:

  • This hug can mean the person wishes to spend more time with the one they’re hugging or wishes to get to know them better
  • A longer around-the-waist hug can signify the need for a more passionate bond

14. The head-on-shoulder hug

The head-on-shoulder hug

This head hug, often seen between couples, has one partner resting their head on the other’s shoulder. A warm and romantic gesture, it showcases a long-term and affectionate bond between the partners. It also shows the comfort level they share. 

A friend of mine, Carol, said she loved resting her head on her boyfriend’s shoulders when she hugged him. She said, “I love the feeling of warmth I get when I hug him this way. I almost melt when we hug like this.”

15. The catcher hug

The catcher hug
The catcher hug

Apparently, this emotional hug shows how much a person has been missing the other when they were not around. Often seen in movies and described in books, the catcher hug has one person running toward the other and hugging them excitedly, while the other embracing the first person as if they’re catching them.

Such hugs can be shared between couples in long-distance relationships, or even friends, relatives, or family members who’ve been away from each other for a while. This hug is full of positive energy, and one partner’s body touching the other in a passionate way makes for quite an electric connection!

16. The twirling-you-around hug

The twirling-you-around hug
The twirling-you-around hug

This is a perfect example of a happy hug and is mostly seen in couples. This is also one of the many types of romantic hugs. Quite similar to the catcher hug, this hug too is often seen at airports or train stations. So, what does it involve? Well, in this hug, the taller of the two people hugging pulls up the shorter person and twirls them a bit in a display of excitement. 

Apart from couples in long-distance relationships, this hug is also common in people who’ve been away on work for a while and had been missing each other a lot. This hug shows the depth of the relationship like no other. This is what I saw when I went to the airport last week with my friend Jennifer to pick up her husband, Andrew. She was not just ecstatic to see Andrew after 2 months (he had been away in New York for a project), but twirled in his arms as they hugged for a good 5 minutes. So, it was a long hug, and an emotional one! And she later revealed to me how much they love hugging each other every time he gets back after a long work trip.

Key Pointers

  • Hugs can be categorized according to their length and the amount of body contact between two people 
  • Not all types of hugs are romantic or intimate, some can be friendly or simply reassuring and supportive 
  • Hugs are good for mental, physical, and emotional health 
  • It has been scientifically proven that hugging and being hugged can reduce stress and improve sleep 

The obvious fact about hugs is that they are good for you (and me). The flooding of the body with love hormones improves overall health and longevity. This simple act of touching can improve and initiate conversations and communication, leading to lower stress and more happiness. After reading all about how even normal hugs can lower your blood sugar and moderate your heart rate, I realize the importance of touch in all human relationships (and not just romantic ones). So, bid farewell to sadness and let the hugs commence! 


1. What are the different types of hugs?

As seen in this article, there are many varieties of hugs. And by now, you must’ve got an idea of what a hug means. See, when a guy hugs, or a girl does, a lot depends on the duration of the hug, how much of the body is in contact with the other, and the body language of the person receiving the hug. Not all hugs are enjoyable. For example, certain hugs like the London Bridge hug may be an awkward hug or a polite half hug, one done out of duress or social mores. The bear hug meaning is the same as the flirty hug meaning — that of a deeper relationship between two people. A heart-to-heart hug can be just the empathetic response one needs when distraught or emotional. 

2. What do various types of hugs mean?

According to psychologists and intimacy experts, the types of hugs and their meaning, no matter whether you are the giver or the receiver, can tell a lot about your relationship with the other person. Apparently, quick hugs are signs of a formal connection, or they could just be friendly hugs with newly met acquaintances. On the other hand, full body hugs, head hugs, or straddle hugs are definite signs of sexual attraction and are not exchanged between friends, no matter how close. Hugs can tell you a lot about the trust and comfort levels in a partnership or the support and sympathy between close friends. 

3. How long should a hug last?

A recent study by Science magazine talks about the optimal hugging mode. According to the website, several volunteers (including close friends, strangers, romantic partners, and families) hugged and were hugged in a variety of permutations and combinations. The overwhelmingly positive response was to hugs that lasted between 5 and 10 seconds. There was also a preference for arms being crisscrossed around each other. This intimate gesture, or position, provided both partners with the maximum gratification and scored high on the feel-good factor scale.

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