Sex & Relationships

5 Friendly Ways To Greet Someone Without Touching Them


Just as your live-streamed restorative Yoga class can somehow make you feel more annoyed at your roommate Sarah, social-distancing can leave you starving for human interaction. If you just joined a Google Hangout with your old friends from summer camp or can't stop DMing random people from college, having a few ways to greet someone without touching them at your disposal can keep you socially connected to others at a physical distance.

According to Patti Wood, body language expert and author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma, greeting others can help build empathy, relieve anxiety, and transform your negative emotions into positive ones. Whether you can share a smirk with your Amazon delivery person or blow your boo a seductive kiss over FaceTime, acknowledging someone in a personalized way can help you both feel less alone. "We have the choice to say, ' I value this interaction, and I hear this interaction,' even if its six feet away," Wood tells Bustle.

While it's important to be mindful about the spread of coronavirus, social-distancing doesn't mean you need to completely ignore everyone you come into contact with — save that treatment for your ex.

From peace signs to corny '80s dance moves, here are five ways of affectionally greeting someone without touching them. And, no — elbow bumps don't count.


The Cadet Kelly

Disney Channel

Although you may be more of a lover than a fighter, Wood shares that a head salute à la Cadet Kelly says: "I acknowledge you, and I am ready to treat you with respect." Just relax your shoulders, lift your arms, and expose your palms.

"In first greeting, I do a salute at the head and then flip to show the palm of the hand, so they know they know, 'I recognize you, and I'm greeting you from a distance at this point,'" Wood says.

Perfect for greeting your boss over Zoom, the Cadet Kelly communicates friendliness and professionalism, even from a four to six-feet distance.


The Simple Life

The Simple Life

Nothing says "loves it" like greeting someone with a double-kiss from six feet apart, while loudly smacking your lips and making the "Mwah! Mwah!" sound with your mouth. According to Wood, this move can signal that you see them, you hear them, and you are paying close attention.

Ideal for when your mother is lecturing you about washing your hands for 20 seconds (despite the fact that you taught her the "Happy Birthday" hack just yesterday), and you desperately want to hang up the phone and get back to marathoning Sex and the City for the millionth time, this greeting works as both a hello and a buh-bye.


The Smiley Miley

Tom Burns/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Boho-chic is back, baby. And this time, it's here to stay.

For those of you who live for a "free love" moment, Wood suggests making like Miley Cyrus circa Hannah Montana and flashing a peace sign, otherwise known as a "V" for victory, or the "deuces!" symbol.

This motion will imply that you're manifesting nothing but peace and happiness to whoever you have the pleasure of speaking with, despite stressful and anxiety-inducing the past few weeks have been. Pull this little number out the next time you speak to your high school friend — the one who just had to cancel her baby shower despite having ordered decorations that were just "to die!"


The Queen Elizabeth


According to Wood, using the same exaggerated wave at the beginning and the end of an encounter can help the person you're speaking with feel seen and validated. "I'll make you feel connected instead of awkward," Wood says.

In order to accomplish this, hold your arm out at a 45-degree angle, and create an L-shape with your elbow. Then, with very little wrist mobility, whisk your stiff palm back and forth like a pendulum. Tuck your thumb in for an extra robotic effect. If you pull this off correctly, critics will even wonder if your hand in question is a fake.

Pull this crowd-pleaser out on your nemesis. You know what they say — keep your friends close, your enemies closer.


The Kylie Jenner

Toni Anne Barson/WireImage/Getty Images

Katie Wynne, M.Ed, a fifth-grade teacher from Swampscott, MA, tells Bustle that the most effective way to give someone an emotional pat on the back without actually touching them is through a "shout-out."

"Shout-outs' are for acknowledging good things like good ideas, teamwork, being kind," Wynne says. "It's important to acknowledge people and to recognize their positive actions."

Make like this greeting's namesake, Kardashian family cash cow Kylie Jenner, and validate your crush. Send them a digital "hey" by shouting them out in an Instagram story or feed post caption.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.


Patti Wood, body language expert and author of SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma

Katie Wynne, M.Ed., 5th grade teacher