18 Kinds Of Hugs We've All Experienced

by Dacy Knight

While it may not have been marked on your calendar, Jan. 21 is National Hug Day, so while we observe the holiday by engaging in embraces, it's the perfect time to reflect on the hugs we've given, received, and encountered in our lives. To celebrate the best embraces and take a moment to acknowledge the less desirable, here's a comprehensive list of the hugs we've all experienced, from the affectionate, to the awkward, to the utterly strange.

Hugs, like their participants, come in a variety of forms. There are bold hugs and bashful hugs, hugs that are unrelenting and hugs that are unrequited, hugs that envelop you in warm affection and hugs that could be easily confounded with a half-hearted pat on the back. Everyone approaches embracing and getting embraced differently, and the many varying executions of the hug incite very different reactions in their participants. The list below is an attempt to classify The Hug into the categories we encounter most frequently in our daily ongoings. While it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive list as the subtleties are boundless, this list attempts to provide broad groupings in which the majority of hugs fall. So read on to see what you're up against and prepare for a successful National Hug Day.

1. The Best Friend Hug

An exemplary model of what society pictures as a "hug," the BFF Hug sets the standard for warm, loving, platonic embrace. In some instances, the BFF Hug can exceed the level of physical contact and public affection that certain individuals feel comfortable with, yet it still remains an archetype of an impeccably executed hug.

2. The Side Hug

Some argue that the Side Hug is not a hug at all, but simply a "squeeze" or a "grasp." Most often executed if it is unclear to either party if a genuine hug is appropriate, or if the participating individuals are situated in a way that makes attempting a frontal embrace too risky.

3. The Bear Hug

A popular hug if both participants are in agreement with such generous contact, the Bear Hug is an uninhibited embrace typically enjoyed by best friends or among family members. It helps if there is a disproportion in size between the two participants, with the larger hugger delivering the bear-sized embrace.

4. The No Touching Hug

The antithesis of the Bear Hug, the No Touching Hug commits to as little bodily contact as possible. This hug is typically experienced if there is a strong discomfort towards physical interaction by either party or the individuals experience a tension with one another that will not permit normal social functioning. Most often delivered to strangers, friends of friends of friends, and exes.

5. The Group Hug

Any time the participant count of a hug exceeds two, it falls into the category of a Group Hug. Common side effects are swaying, spinning, and someone getting elbowed.

6. The Sneak Hug

The Sneak Hug requires that the hug's receiver does not anticipate being hugged. The embrace usually occurs quickly, without warning, and is often executed from the side or another awkward angle to deter the recipient's suspicions that they are about to be the object of a caress.

7. The Surprise Hug From Behind

The Surprise Hug From Behind is the Sneak Hug 2.0. Not only does the hugger sneak the hug onto their target, but they do so swiftly from behind so the recipient doesn't know what's coming until they're subjected to a full embrace. Best practiced between friends and loved ones.

8. The Forehead Hug

To indicate a profound moment was just shared between two individuals, said individuals may sometimes engage in a Forehead Hug. Both parties face each other, then bring their foreheads together to demonstrate their common understanding and bond.

9. The Smothering Hug

Similar to the Bear Hug but not necessarily solicited, the Smothering Hug all but devours its recipients in a full-bodied embrace. This occurs most frequently at holiday get-togethers, and is executed by elderly members of your family.

10. The Handshake Turned Hug

The Handshake Turned Hug is one of the most awkward embraces, yet is encountered regularly, especially in the work place. One individual will initiate a handshake while the other will go in for a full-on hug. Sometimes there is enough lapse in time for the individual who offered their hand to correct their action and comply with the new level of physical intimacy, but most often the results are one-sided and uncomfortable.

11. The Dancing Hug

Hugs within this category can be as diverse as the dance moves that occur during them. If two or more people embrace while also engaging in dance, or even the quick rhythmic shifting of weight between their feet, a Dancing Hug is underway.

12. The Clenching The Clothes Hug

The Clenching The Clothes Hug occurs in response to severe heightened emotion. The feelings could fall anywhere along the range of elated to devastated, but the results — tight embrace with hands clenching the garments of the other — will appear the same.

13. The Bro Hug

As the name suggests, the Bro Hug is what bros like to do when the moment calls for hugging but they don't want to fully commit. The execution is almost always awkward but has long been accepted into society as the norm for their demographic. The act typically begins with a high five, which not-so-seamlessly transitions into a shoulder bump with a pat on the back, almost always adhering to a strict one-arm-only policy.

14. The Squad Hug

A subcategory of the Group Hug, the Squad Hug can be distinguished by its makeup of entirely girls and the addition of compliments, "love you"s, kisses on cheeks, and sometimes clapping.

15. The Huge Height Difference Hug

While possibly comical in execution, the Huge Height Difference Hug can be the most fulfilling. There is something ever so heartwarming about a close embrace with someone who either fully envelopes you or becomes fully nestled within your grasp.

16. The Too Long Hug

There is no set time limit on any embrace, yet certain interactions come with perceived propriety determining their optimum length of time. Factors include who is hugging, who is being hugged, venue of hug, and reason for hug. As soon as one participant deems that the embrace has exceeded the length of time considered comfortable, the hug becomes a Too Long Hug.

17. The Run And Jump Hug

Usually reserved for romantic movies and a handful of awkwardly executed IRL interactions, the Run And Jump Hug is a hug reserved for couples who want the world to see that they're madly in love.

18. The Unreturned Hug

The Unreturned Hug is the worst category of hug and should be avoided at all costs. May your National Hug Day be free of this travesty of an embrace.

Images: Giphy (17), Netflix