Thursday, September 18, 2014

When did the man hug arrive and when's it going to go away?

Last night I said to my wife "when we got married, thirty five years ago, was there any male hugging?"

"No," she said. "Your father and my father might have put an arm around your shoulder but it wouldn't have been anything people would recognise as a hug."

We looked at the wedding picture on the wall and wondered whether the other guests might have hugged. We decided they wouldn't. That didn't make them notably undemonstrative people. They just didn't hug. Nobody did.

I was asking last night on Twitter when the current vogue for male hugging began. It's like the internet. It spread so fast you can barely remember a time when it wasn't there.

Somebody said it began in 1988. "Why?" I asked. "Ecstasy," he said. Oh.

Like all these things the man hug has gone from being optional to being obligatory in no time at all and now people look at you as if there's a piece missing of you if you don't do it. I'll be honest. With very few exceptions I hate it.

Is there any chance it will go away as fast as it came?


  1. I once knew a man in his 70s who was an advocate of non-sexual hugging and would, when greeting me or saying goodbye, embrace me in a clinch that lasted just a bit too long.

    It pains me to say that one of my brothers has gone down this road. I tolerate it.

    I am not a tactile person yet I constantly find myself in situations where bone-headed social convention expects me to hug or kiss people who I barely know as a form of greeting. I might be more amenable if it was leading anywhere but it's just an empty overly-familiar gesture that makes me yearn for the day when I will evolve venom glands and exude toxic mucus from my skin.

    The hugging thing does seem to be more prevalent in London. In Southend you are still more likely to be punched.

  2. I hope it disappears with the weird version of a handshake that footballists use. A straight handshake and a pat on the back are perfectly sufficient, thank you.

  3. What about the "sincere politician" handshake, with simultaneous elbow clutch?

  4. I find it invasive and awkward. But I do it nonetheless because in the circles I find myself in (especially workwise), it's expected.

    But I'd rather not have to and avoid it if the opportunity to do so presents itself.

  5. “Is there any chance it will go away as fast as it came? “
    I doubt it, but if it does, I hope it takes high-fives and fist/knuckle touching, or whatever it’s called with it.
    Boxers touch/touched gloves at the start of a match and, if goes full term, at the start of the final round. And that’s reasonable enough. But nowadays and for some time, the winner and his/her corner team go mad with the hugs.
    The glove touching is also rampant in cricket. If somebody scores a century or half-century, fine, but every time they hit the ball?
    No. It smells.
    As noted, a pat on the back is okay in sporting situations, but everywhere else, a regulation, traditional, handshake does the business.
    I’ve never had “honour” of shaking the hand of a politician, so I’ve managed to escape the “sincere elbow”technique.
    If some thrusting entrepreneur decides to produce a “No-Hugging Badge, I think they’re onto a winner. Until then if ever I seem in danger of being hugged, I simply say it. If the would-be huggers don’t like it, they can lump it. But interestingly most of the folk I say it to accept it happily and look relieved. Almost as if it’s as some sort of reprieve from yet another 21st century puerile ritual.
    End of (current) chunter.

  6. Okay, I will admit it. I am one of the blokes who likes to hug. It probably started during a very difficult time in my life when my father (who is not tactile in any way) embraced me and it made me feel better.

    But there are strict rules.

    1. Don't hug someone unless a precedent has been set. That person will invariably be a very good friend and will probably have initiated the first hug.

    2. The hug generally signifies something in particular like a farewell. An exception to rule 1. might be that the person is going away across a great distance and for an extended period of time. (But hugger's discretion is advised.)

    3. The hug should be succinct and to the point and convey emotion that cannot be conveyed through a verbal or hand gesture, or possibly in rare circumstances, through a mix tape.

    4. Never hug anyone employed by the government. This especially applies to members of the police force and military.

    5. By contrast, if you don't like hugs then never work in the not-for-profit sector (as I have). They love it. This never felt right, even though one fellow was actually quite skilful at it. He just didn't respect rules 1 through 3.

  7. I blame 'Friends'.

    I love you bro'.

  8. "It smells." Brilliant comment, and one that should be used more often in more serious discussions than this.

    I think man-hugging should be permitted if either of the potential huggers has a hand that's unsuitable for the traditional handshake. For me, that's particularly that cold, slightly damp hand you occasionally meet. *shivers*

  9. Anonymous2:33 pm

    It's touching - literally - but, yes, overdone.

    Maybe it's crossed over from therapy, where this sort of thing is encouraged. And of course most folk get a bit more touchy-feely after a few shandies.

    Or maybe it's a bizarre gender-equality version of the more tactile gestures between male and female friends: "If I'd hug Martha on leaving, why not Arthur?"

    But, even as a tactileophile myself, there's definitely a bar of familiarity which some folk set way too low. Although I'd put up with it without making a scene - I am, after all, English - I wouldn't welcome a hug from somebody I'd not spent at least 1,000 hours with.