Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Let's Talk About Awkward Hugs


Well, because Blimey Cow came out with another video:

And of course, because I am an expert on awkwardness. And hugs.

Can I just be honest and say that I have given my fair share of awkward hugs?

True story: I was playing 'What was your first impression?' with the Americans I work with (what, no one else plays that game?) and BOTH my male team mates said that they remember the awkward moment when they just met me and they didn't know whether they should hug the Indian girl... or what. I KNOW IT'S ME! I give off a 'Well maybe we could hug, but then again let's not, perhaps a side hug, I don't really know, let's go with an awkward 'Heyy!! Welcome to India!' in a warm tone to make up for the fact that I'm not hugging you' vibe.

But let's increase the general potential of hug awkwardness with the different cultural expectations. So Americans just hug. Two arms around you, usually angled with one over the shoulder, one under the opposite arm (just pretend this makes sense), variations allowed based on height, level of tightness and length of hug depending on how close you are.

Most Indians don't do general greeting/goodbye hugs. But Indian CATHOLICS now (Western/Portuguese influence variety). Things are different. You do the handshake plus kiss on both cheeks to other Catholics, especially older aunties and uncles. Or hands placed on shoulders/upper arms along with the kiss on both cheeks. Now the kiss itself isn't usually a real kiss- it's usually a cheek brush. Sometimes it's a cheek bump and then you could have bruises on your face.

In the Philippines, and with some Europeans, you do the kiss on one cheek greeting. Also in the Christian circles I hung out with in the Philippines, we did the one cheek kiss with girls, and wait for it...a SHOULDER PAT for guys. IT'S SO CONFUSING! After spending time with too many different cultures, and throwing in my own special social awkwardness, I mess it up ALL. THE. TIME. I go in for hugs when people aren't offering them, try to shake the hand of people who are trying to hug me, get my nose pressed against people's chests, almost kiss people when we both go for the same side or mess up the one cheek-two cheek thing (someone I know told me 'That's how I got my first kiss'), and get my nose buried in people's hair or ear (same person told me 'Some guy had his nose in my hair during a hug and said 'Garnier?' and I said 'no').

Here's the only three possible options I have come up with to deal with awkward hugs:

1. Comment on the awkwardness: Preferably at the same time as the hug occurs. This will either defuse the awkwardness, or make the hugger plan to avoid you forever, so it's all good.

2. Practice: Embrace the awkwardness. (Ah ha ha ha. I crack me up.) Accept the fact that this happens and hug anyway. And maybe if you keep doing it, you'll come up with an smoother technique. It's like dancing, you know? You're going to look like a fool at the beginning, but eventually grace will take over. (For most people.)

3. Stay the heck away from all potential huggers: Exchange the awkwardness of the hugs with the awkwardness of being the non-hugger. Everybody else lovingly hugs each other goodbye, and you stand off at one side and smile and wave. Or let your arms hang awkwardly to the side and stare gloomily at people while they leave. Whichever. Just be that person.

I'll leave you with this fascinating fact: The word 'awkward' on the blog post draft page appears.. wait for it.. 15 times!


  1. This was SO FUNNY. If I were there in person, I would inflict an American hug all up on you! :o)

    1. Ha ha, at least you would be forewarned. :-)