I just had a heartfelt conversation with a dear friend who recently moved away from my fair city to a faraway land where she does grad student things and such. She's unhappy. Is she unhappy with grad school? No. Her new friends? No. The work load? No. What is she unhappy with? None of her new friends are interested in hugs or physical affection of any sort.

This is a problem.

Being touched is a good thing. Affection is a good thing.
Friends are excellent targets for this sort of activity.

So, while having this conversation where we're both lamenting our lack touchy friends/cuddle partners it dawns on me I do still a good handful of friends interested in this arcane art that seems to have been eroded over time.

Most of the people I know these days are crappy huggers.

This is the caliber of hugs I seem to be getting lately:

This isn't pleasure, this is formality.

This is how to give a good hug:

Giving a hug is really quite simple once you realize the only reason to give a hug is to feel the comforting and pleasing presence of another body up against your own. There really is no other reason to give someone a hug. You're either accepting the pleasure, offering it to them, or mutually exchanging it.

People feel good. People are warm. Sometimes people are squishy. People smell nice. People are more real when you're touching them.

These things are delightful.

A hug is an embrace. You should be pressed up against your hug target. It should be sustained - a quick hug is no fun. It should be all for the intertwining of arms that give some degree of pressure upon the two or three or twelve bodies participating in a hug.

Aside: Back-patting on it's own isn't bad per se - it just seems to go along with all the rest of my hug evils. I encourage and will participate in back-patting research if it adds to my personal hug count, though I'm still skeptical.

And that's more or less that.

Spider Robinson once wrote about how he learned to give a good hug. (Paraphrased, but that avoids copyright problems anyhow.)

He was at a Science Fiction Convention when Theodore Sturgeon, who is apparently a master hugger, offered a hug. So Spider hugged him, and Theodore said, "Ah, a type A hug." Spider was puzzled by this term. As luck would have it, a fan of Theodore's work happened along, and Theodore offered a hug. After the hug, Spider observed him saying, "Ah, a type 1 hug." Curious about the meaning of the two terms, Spider asked Theodore what the difference was.

Theodore said that it was simple. A type A hug is hugging bodies apart, shoulders touching, arms wrapped together. It's shaped just like the letter "A". To make it more obvious:

 /  \
 |  |
 |  |

However, a type 1 hug is hugging bodies together, touching, wrapped up against the other person. It's shapped just like the number "1" in Theodore's mind (and type 1 hug is easier to remember than type lowercase l hug). Or, to use ASCII graphics again:


Since then, Spider has tried to always give type 1 hugs, a practice I heartily endorse.

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