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Question #88367 posted on 12/05/2016 7:06 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What exactly makes a hug an "amazing" hug? A friend of mine told me a few years ago that I give amazing hugs, and another friend within earshot agreed with her when she said it, but I never really found out what was meant by that. As a rather withdrawn and not very tactile person, I don't think I've ever really thought anything about hugging other than "avoid awkward side hugs."

Help me rectify my ignorance, board writers. Is there more to the dynamics of hugging that I don't understand? Do I unwittingly possess some mysterious gift? Or is this compliment as mystifying to you as it is to me?

- quiet belladonna


Dear Quiet Madonna,

I too am often told that I give good hugs, and I've never known why. So, I decided to analyze different kinds of hugs to see if I could figure out what the common factor(s) in good hugs is. I apologize in advance for how dark the pictures are. Apparently my apartment is a black hole.

Exhibit A: The half couch/half standing hug.

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Rating: 3/10

Exhibit B: The crossed-arms hug.

 Crossed arms.jpg

Rating: 8/10.

Exhibit C: The butt-out hug. This one usually isn't quite as dramatic as this, but we had to exaggerate the space between us for the sake of the photo.

unnamed (1).jpg

Rating: 3/10. 

Exhibit D: The side hug.

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Rating: 4/10.

Exhibit E: The upside down hug.

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Rating: 7/10. (I probably would have given it a lower rating if I were the one who had to do a headstand, though).

Exhibit F: The hand hug.

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Rating: 1/10.

Exhibit G: The third wheel hug.

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Rating: 4/10.

Exhibit H: Girls-arms-under hug.

 Arms under.jpg

Rating: 10/10.

Exhibit I: The girls-arms-over hug.

 Arms over.jpg

Rating: 10/10.

The results: The more body contact the better. The weird hugs were the ones where we made an effort to make sure our bodies didn't touch each other. People who give hugs but sort of lean away while doing it, or seem reserved in their hugging, aren't as comforting to hug as people who lean in. The tightness of the hug also matters, because limp arms are bad, stiff and robotic arms are bad, and squeezing way too tight is bad. The best is when the hug is tight, but not suffocatingly so. And finally, people can sense when someone they're hugging cares about them or not, so actually caring about the people you hug is good.



Dear quiet belladonna,

Interestingly, I don't think I've ever heard of someone saying that a guy gives amazing hugs. I don't know if that's because we're all terrible at hugging or what, but I've definitely heard that sort of comment about girls several times. I've thought the same thing at times, though I don't think I've ever actually expressed it, probably because I thought it would be a weird thing to say. Others may differ on their definition of an amazing hug, but to me it means that it lasts a little longer than a standard hug (at least 4-5 seconds) and you squeeze just a little tighter than normal. Also, both arms have to be either up or down; the X-shaped hug is just a bit awkward.

-The Entomophagist