Do You Hug and Kiss Your Friends?

Growing up in Michigan, I didn’t really touch people. Other than the odd handshake, you keep your hands politely to yourself. So when I moved to New York after college, I was surprised to find that most people kiss hello—a quick peck on the other person’s right cheek—and hug goodbye.

Then I saw this fascinating study:

In the 1960s, Sidney Jourard studied conversations in various parts of the world between friends in a café. Americans, he discovered, touched only twice throughout the interaction. The French, however, made contact over 180 times.

(180 times!!!) Although I hug and kiss my family and children all the time, it still feels awkward to touch friends. Am I the only one? What about you? How often do you touch people? Do you hug and kiss your friends? Drape arms around each other? Touch each other’s arms when you laugh?

P.S. Do you kiss your baby on the mouth, and do you make out in public?

(Photo by Maurice-Louis Branger)

  1. kate k says...

    Joanna, I know this is a super duper old post but I have to tell you…. I disagree with your opener! I too am a native of Oakland County (Farmington Hills to be exact- Hello fellow Detroiter!) and I feel like we were all pretty huggy and now when I see my high school friends, we are still huggy if not huggy AND kissy. Maybe it’s a Woodward Avenue Divide. Joanna! Get out there and hug people, dammit! #248

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so interesting, kate! maybe it’s a generational thing, too. i’m 38 now so it’s been ages since my beloved michigan days, haha.

  2. Eb says...

    I always hug my female friends and kiss there cheek or head as a greeting or saying goodbye. Love it!

  3. As a Polish tradition we always kiss twice on the cheeks. If there is somebody’s birthday, you are supposed to kiss 3 times! And of course we hug. I think this hugging and kissing is really good, it shows respect and warmth to your friend/family member.

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  6. I’m brazilian, and here we kiss and hug a lot! When people meet they kiss one, two or three times (each region has a number of usual kisses to give). And during the conversation, we touch a lot too.

    When in NY i had to cncentrat to not touch people, they didn’t react well!!!

  7. OMG I love to hug and kiss and cuddle with my friends!! Especially when I haven’t seen them in a while I will definitely kiss and squeeze them. With my very best friend, we grew up doing regular sleepovers and always shared a bed. Now, we always cuddle and it makes me feel connected. With my close girlfriends, we are very touchy feely…we’ll grab butts, cheeks, boobs, arms… anything gushy is fair game. With my guy friends, I usually always do a kiss on the cheek or a hug. try it!

  8. I am from Upstate NY and have noticed that many people from that region kiss hello and or goodbye casually on the mouth. Parents and children, siblings, cousins, friends. I never thought a thing of this while I was growing up, but now that I live in a different region of the country, I have found this to be notable when I return home.

  9. I’m pretty reserved but wish I wasn’t. I’m affectionate with my family and hug my best friend hello and goodbye but mostly because she (a hugger) established the pattern long ago. Everyone else gets a wave haha…

  10. My old roommate and I, who is one of the people I am most close to in my life, have kissed each other on the lips several times, in the way you would kiss your close family members. I’m from Texas where everyone is INSANELY friendly (southern hospitality is so real, y’all), so I have always been a big hugger/kisser/cuddler with all of my friends. However I definitely know to respect the boundaries some of my friends have. If you don’t like to be touchy, then I won’t be touchy with you!

  11. I always thought the kiss on the cheek was an East coast thing; it seems like us West coasters don’t partake. A relative lives in NYC, and I’m always surprised when he kisses me when he comes into town! I do hug friends and family, though:) Great blog topic!

  12. Lu says...

    Being a brazilian and living in France you wouldnt be able to escape from a big hug of mine if I ever see you on the street Jo ;)

  13. I grew up in small-town Ohio and rarely saw people kissing hello or touching each other more than whatever might be necessary for a polite greeting. Conversely though, strangers would almost always say hello or wave in passing, a kindness that a lot of people in larger U.S. cities seem to avoid.

    As I’ve moved around and gotten older, I’ve had to learn not to flinch when someone hugs me and sneaks an unexpected kiss in there–it seems to be mostly attempted by older men (I’m a woman and a little paranoid about potential sexual harassment kind of situations). Now I’m making a concerted effort actually to try and touch people’s arms to show interest in the conversation or whatever, and be more generous with hugs for new people. Though I suspect kissing other adults in a non-romantic way will always feel unnatural. I wish I’d been raised in a more affectionate family and culture so it would be a non-issue and I could come across as really open to everyone I meet.

  14. Growing up, in Michigan as well, my mom’s family would always hug and kiss. My dad’s side, not-so-much! My college friends were all huggers and that became comforting and enjoyed. Since moving to New York, all my co-workers (and their families) are cheek kissers. I love it! Hugs and kisses all around!

  15. I usually reciprocate when friends hug or kiss me on the cheeks, it’s common practice here in Malta, but I find it a little bit awkward. It’s as if it’s over confidence to me..especially from acquaintances and not close friends. So I mostly tend to keep my hands and lips to myself, and prefer it that way.

  16. I’m German and live in Munich. The hugging and kissing depends on the person you meet. I just kiss persons when I’m with the “Bussibussi Gsellschaft” we call them here. Those are people who want to be friends with everybody and who are a bit over effected. They want to be in the Upper class and behave extremely friendly (even if they don’t know or like you). I hug my normal friends and family for hello and goodbye. 180 times also seems much for me…

  17. i’m not really a hugger or cuddler – probably partly because of having grown up in finland. i hug my finnish friends & family when i see them after not having seen them for a while and sometimes when parting, in spain instead i do the cheek kisses – i kind of miss hugging there, for me it’s in some way so much more intimate, maybe because you let the other person so much more close.

  18. I hug my friends for hello and goodbye … it feels awkward not to do this: You share so much with each other – why not also a gesture that says “I like you”? XO!

  19. Yes, I am an incredibly touchy-feely. I hug and kiss pretty much all of my friends, male and female. To the point that, if I had been away from work for a while, my former boss and I (as well as the rest of his family) would greet each other with hugs and kisses.

  20. We live In Dubai and as its so multicultural its an unwritten rule that you kiss twice or three times depending how well you know them, on each cheek. We do this when we meet and when we say good bye Amber x

  21. I never kiss and hardly hug :/ I only hug if I haven’t seen that person for awhile, or if I won’t be seeing that person for awhile :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • Oeg says...

      I am a midewest woman in my fifties. agree with a hug and a kiss only if u hadnt seen that person in a while. Especially when it is a male.

  22. Not touching is a WASP thing. Cosmopolitan NY sheds yet more light on how the rest of the world functions, isn’t it great?

  23. iV says...

    i definitelly touch kiss and hug my friends, even those who don’t like it ahahha :) i think when the level of confidence is high enough and you spontaneously do it, it is a very nice and warm sign of affection.

  24. in Switzerland we either do the cheek to cheek to cheek kiss with friends or a formal hand shake to people we don’t really know! :)

  25. It’s weird, I hug and kiss some friends and some not. I think it just depends on the root of our relationship. My best friend I wouldn’t kiss but others I know less intimately I would so I am unsure why that is? I did love living in Europe where that was the norm in certain countries, can’t say I don’t miss that. ~Kim (

  26. I rarely hug or kiss my close friends … kinda sad if you think about it :/ but we’ve gotten used to it that it’s uncomfortable/awkward if we do hug and kiss….this is probably one of the reasons why me and my boyfriend (now ex) broke up..because of how he’s too lovey dovey and touchy and he wants me to be like that too :/ oh well, people are different and they show affections in more subtle ways

  27. I`m from Europe (Hungary) and we used to kiss but not hug. I think the first family member I hugged was my grandma just before I moved to the US. but I`m still not a hugger and never be: as there are nuances to kissing, there are as well to hugging, and I just can`t wrap my head around them!! I`m a kisser, period.

    As for touching, in Hungary we are touching somewhat in between Italy and the US. I`m married to an Italian guy and he and his friends are super touchy. Hungarians a bit less, and in the US I found people don`t touch each other basically at all..

  28. I’ve always wanted to be a touchy feely person with my friends, but I was always uncomfortable in my own skin growing up. So touching people outside of a hug felt VERY weird and almost too intimate.

    I’m much more comfortable now hugging as an adult, but kissing is a definite no-no… Lol. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to try, but my question is how do you do it? Do you actually kiss the person’s cheek? What if you have on lipstick? Is it more of an air kiss that you do? There must be a friendship kissing etiquette manual somewhere for us affectionately challenged.. Lol.

  29. That study made me laugh! When I went to Paris with my mom we walked around arm in arm and always got couple comments! It was never assumed that we were friends or family, always lovers.

  30. Im from Argentina and here everyone kisses and hugh with everyone. I’ve traveled around the world for a year and in the most of the places (Europe and Israel) the people was like: OH MY GOD SHE IS SO LOVING. and i was like: oh yeah, im from Argentina. Its reminds me to a Seinfeld episode that all the old ladys from his building kiss him to say hello and he gets mad about it.

  31. Lu says...

    my friends and i hug, kiss, lean on and tell each other we love each other. all of us!

  32. Interesting. I live in Spain now and we double kiss our friends (including our fellow American friends) hello and goodbye and hug if we havent seen each other in a while. Back in the states, I always hugged my friends hello and goodbye at the very least and was more affectionate with some friends than others. I’m from California. One thing I found weird in the beginning is kissing people you’re being introduced to for the first time. Especially when it’s a brief encounter!

  33. I am such a toucher… touching is definitely my love language! I am from Texas though… maybe that has something to do with it?!


  34. thanks for sharing this, fascinating.. i grew up with a norwegian mother and iranian father in minneapolis. my mom never touched her family in public and my father would kiss his brothers on the lips and hold their hands.

    i believe in the healing and health of good touch. i am also curious about how being held affects us and actually created a multi-disciplinary project that will be touring this fall.

    i hope you will check out the video which shares some moments from the list edition at gowanus loft in brooklyn.

  35. Hug, yes; Kiss, no.

    I’m from the Rockies, if that helps.

  36. I’m from Korea where you almost NEVER touch your friends and then I married an Italian. Two kisses, one on each cheek for hellos and goodbyes. I was so awkward when I had to say hello and goodbye to Italian friends, but now I’m all “come on here you!”

  37. I’m not a huge fan of hugging and kissing anyone aside from my immediate family and husband. I grew up in Singapore and we’re not a particularly touchy feely bunch, and when I moved to Australia as a teenager, I had to get used to being hugged a bit more. Then I moved to the States in my 30s and holy hell, so much hugging and kissing. But I’ve made it known to my friends that it’s not really my thing and so they understand and tend to leave me alone. Unless it’s a birthday or we’re leaving for a trip etc. And we do the Irish goodbye at family gatherings because I don’t want to spend 30 mins hugging every person there. My in-laws still blindside me with hugs and kisses though lol

    But when it comes to my husband, I’m very touchy feely because he’s a cute dork, and I love being close to him :) And to this day, when my sisters and I get together, we still watch telly in a huge pile hehe

  38. I’m from Ontario, where normally you hug your friends or parents when saying hello/goodbye. I now live in Montreal, (only two hours down the road!) where it is more common to do the ‘bise’ (a kiss on each cheek).

  39. I’m from the deep south and we’re HUGGERS down here! I hug male and female friends hello and goodbye (and congratulations and I’m sorry and bless-your-heart…). We’re not fancy enough to kiss ;)

  40. My MIL is a mouth kisser. I hate hate hate it. She is also very touchy feely. I spend a lot of time dodging her. Now that I am pregnant she has taken it to a whole new level, she will just grab me around the waste and start rubbing my belly.

    I cheek kiss friends and family. Depending on the person it sometimes feels awkward. I’m not very cuddly.

  41. i’m not a very touchy feely person and am very big on boundaries but with people i really love (family, so, close friends) i’m sometimes all over them with hugs and kisses. but it annoys me terribly when people i don’t really know or like try to get too close (it’s like they’re forcing intimacy..) and i’m always awkward when almost strangers try to kiss me on the cheeks when they meet me somewhere…

  42. Where kissing and hugging all the time here in Spain!

  43. I don’t have a family, so any physical contact I have is with my sweet friends. Its amazing how good a quick hug and/or kiss is and can bring me joy. I also have a friend who’s notorious for 20 second hugs, which feel awkward at first, but always remind me to slow down and be present

  44. My friends are all huggers but I’m not at all. I go with it with it when saying hello/goodbye, but its a butt out, shoulder pat, kind of hug haha! They know I hate it so they forgive me:) After a glass of wine (or two) I’m less awkward about it.

  45. I think it depends on the country and their culture. In Spain, for example, it is more or less like in France. We hug and kiss our friends, like we do with our family. Sometimes we even kiss unknown people when we meet!

  46. I hug my friends all the time. It’s a normal thing in the mid-west.

  47. Hawaii culture is very affectionate. We always greet people with a kiss on the cheek. Even people we are meeting for the first time. Basically, if you’re a friend of my friend, then you’re a friend of mine type of mentality so we greet them the way we do a friend.

  48. I soooo LOVE this topic!!! I’m always saying that people need to be more affectionate, especially parents! I’m a hugger and cheek kisser. We are all kids inside and want to feel loved…I have no regrets and always show the ones I care about how much. My husband’s family was very un-affectionate until I came into the picture. Now they always reciprocate my hugs (at first it was awkward!).

    • Ikh says...

      I matured into being a “touchy” person in my late teens and college 20’s….

      Not always, but most of the time human contact is the order of the day…
      Even when it’s a person who may only have friend/family potential…
      Of course there are occasions when a polite handshake is the appropriate gesture in business or when it’s obvious the other person is not one who “touches”…
      Always touching or nudging a hand or shoulder of your companions when sharing a laugh or amusing tid bit…!always! And to express love, friendship, comfort without words, simply caring…
      I matured into being a “touchy “ person in my late teens and college…
      Who hasn’t reached out and touched their phone or computer screen when a photo of their child, partner or other loved one appears? …or hugged their phone when a loved one is not present except in pixel form?

  49. I’m hispanic and we kiss and hug ALL the time. Also, I talk with my hands and I tend to touch people either with the front or back of my hand for emphasis. It makes e feel more connected.

  50. I grew up midwestern and reserved–my immediate family members don’t even hug each other. Many of my friends now are from countries where there is a lot more contact. It’s been an adjustment to get used to the hugging and double-cheek kissing.

  51. Sometimes even a single touch from me is unexpected! I usually just wave and say hi. I’m not affectionate with anyone outside of my family or people I really, really trust. It’s just not comfortable to me!

    Surprisingly, I come from a VERY affectionate family. My grown brother still kisses my mom on the lips. My sister is always reaching for a hand or giving a back rub. My dad will squeeze the air out of you with his hugs. My mom cuddles next to you instead of sitting next to you. The cousins I am close with are equally as affectionate. It’s just hard for me to be that way out of that context. I’m married now, but dating was so tricky for me.

  52. Sometimes even a single touch from me is unexpected! I usually just wave and say hi. I’m not affectionate with anyone outside of my family or people I really, really trust. It’s just not comfortable to me!

    Surprisingly, I come from a VERY affectionate family. My grown brother still kisses my mom on the lips. My sister is always reaching for a hand or giving a back rub. My dad will squeeze the air out of you with his hugs. My mom cuddles next to you instead of sitting next to you. The cousins I am close with are equally as affectionate. It’s just hard for me to be that way out of that context. I’m married now, but dating was so tricky for me.

  53. CC says...

    I guess I would be considered more on the touchy feely type. I hug friends all the time. Usually upon greeting and leaving. Also it’s not uncommon for us to snuggle up when hanging out. I even hold hands with some of them. All platonic, of course.
    As for kissing, my Italian side of the family kisses upon greeting and leaving, no surprise there probably. This isn’t something I do with friends though.

  54. Heck yes… a kiss and hug is a guarantee if we haven’t seen each other for more than 2 days. If I just saw them yesterday… then it’s 50/50. Many of their husbands are in on it too. And yes, throughout the hangout I don’t hesitate to touch my friends. Though, I certainly know which ones are more “touchy” than others. Some it might just be toughing their arm, while others we will touch each other many times throughout the hang out. It would feel funny to me if I didn’t greet my friends with a hug.

  55. In Israel we touch and kiss all the time even friends and relatives we haven’t seen in ages. I srael is a very touchy nation.

  56. I don’t know if you have this in the US (and I’d love to know)…but a thing I LOVE, is when someone shakes your hand and then puts their other hand on top of your hand and kind of hand-hugs you! Or else puts the second hand on your arm! Sweet old men tend to do it here in the UK, I’ve totally adopted it and try to remember to do it at any vaguely appropriate time… (I’m a romantic and I don’t want it to die out with the older generation!) it is so perfect for those inbetween people -cousins you rarely see, friends of friends you’ve met loads but aren’t really your friends etc- who you would feel weird hugging.

  57. 180 times?? Goodness! I am very not touchy. but when I moved to new york, every one was huggy or kiss on the cheeky. I can home one time and hugged one of my sisters for some reason and she was totally taken aback. Now, I hug and kiss my mom every time I see here, and we link arms or hold hands and when I see my sisters we are always holding hands, touching each others hair or clothes. when I see my friends we usually hug and there are a few of them who kiss on the cheek. and when I see my husbands family or my mema, always hugs and cheek kisses. 180 times? Did he say how long the cafe meetings were?

  58. Yes, I do. Once, I ran into someone I knew (an ex-boyfriend with whom I’d had nasty breakup) while out with friends. I introduced him to my friends, and was cordial and perfectly nice but as soon as he left, one of my friends said “You hate that guy.” I blurted out, “How did you know?” and my friend said “Because you didn’t jump up and hug him and kiss him, like you would with everyone else!”

  59. I would love to be more tactile with good friends, but in some ways I’m relieved it’s not part of the culture in Canada because I would have a very difficult time touching people I didn’t care for just to be polite. When I have been more tactile with friends, I get the vibe that it’s weird, so I’ve backed off.

  60. I’m from Minnesota and am not much of a hugger. I agree with the other comment about it perhaps being a German/Midwest thing.

    Or maybe farmers don’t hug their dust onto others to be polite? :)

  61. I live in Canada.. hugging is fairly normal between friends, but I don’t usually initiate hugs. I don’t think I’ve ever kissed a friend. Maybe that has something to do with how I was raised, though… with an English father who hardly ever hugged us! My husband and I cuddle/hug/kiss and he’s English, so who knows… maybe it’s just the older generations (or my father) who weren’t into physical contact. I don’t usually touch people… I am very aware of my own personal bubble so I don’t invade others’.

  62. I am a pretty big hugger (my toddler is covered in hugs and kisses!) I hug my friends – but only the ones who are comfortable with it. One of my best friends has always been very cuddly – her whole family is. We used to curl up on my little couch watching sex and the city episodes. We hug constantly. She was recently diagnosed with a very rare disease (it’s called LAM for short) so we know the reality is that, even though we are both just turning 40, and each have toddlers (mine is 2.5, hers is 3.5) that we will be lucky if she sees her son hit his teens – it will be up to those of us who loved her and knew her to let him know how amazing she is/was, and how much she loved him – she was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant, and refused to induce him 9 weeks early to start the treatment – we’re not sure if this decision is related to the LAM. Just typing this breaks my heart, so I am so glad for each hug we have shared and will continue to share while we can. We also say I love you frequently – because, when the worst happens, wouldn’t you want that to be the last thing you said to a loved one?

  63. Here in South Africa we just kiss and hug hello & goodbye. Not much in between :-)

  64. I am Spanish and we hug and kiss all the time!
    I always hug and kiss my friends and if I haven’t seen them for a long time we’ll hug strong and for a while.
    Talking about family I kiss for no reason, I say I love you and hug to make them (and I) feel better.

    I live in Ireland and I do the same here, I always say hi with a kiss and a hug to my boyfriend’s family and his friends. His granddad always say that he miss my hugs when I don’t see him in a while!

    I think that physical contact is very important in every relationship; it is a way to show to the other person that you really care about him/her. I never know how to act about someone cold (unless my relationship with that person is strictly professional).

  65. This comment has been removed by the author.

  66. I was raised in a strict, mostly unaffectionate environment. As I got older I found myself latching on to friends or significant others who were similar, then my first marriage exploded and I just changed my life.

    My second wife and my 3 daughters are a very touchy-feely,. I’m a hugger, now and I like it. My friends remark that I’m a big hugger and affectionate person. Ten years ago, you could’ve called me an iceman.

  67. Moving from Philly to Maui it was an adjustment getting used to hugging people upon first meeting them; which is what a lot of people do here. It took me a long time to warm up to that. However, I recently met some people from out-of-state and we exchanged a handshake. It felt so cold and empty that I thought I had left something behind somewhere. And I realized, it was the hug-less greeting. I don’t know if I could go back to that.

  68. I’m a total hugger! I love to hug my friends whenever I see them and I give little kisses on the cheeks of those I’m extra close with. I think it a nice sign of affection that you care and are excited to see them.

    xo Donna

  69. I saw this study somewhere else and it pointed out that it is a bit dated…it would be interesting to see what the results now are. I am from Northern California and am very affectionate. Always always always and kissing on the check. I have some friends who give mouth pecks. My Danish family on the other hand will peck on the check but in general are much less touchy.

  70. So funny, I was just talking about this. I’m very affectionate. My cousin and I are best friends, and we often hold hands when we talk, and we’re always hugging. With other girlfriends, I’m a hugger for greetings and partings, and I love holding hands when exchanging exciting news– this happened the other night with a newer friend, and it felt like such a tender bonding moment. I’m a little too shy to kiss on the cheek, but I wish it were the norm here like it is abroad; cheek kisses are so sweet!

  71. I am also from Michigan and don’t touch other people much either. I hug and kiss my son non-stop, but with friends we don’t even hug each time we see each other. Once in while, but not every time. I like hugging, but it also feels awkward. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  72. It’s funny, I have some friends that I hug and kiss and others that I don’t, but there is no particular reason I do for one and not the other… that’s just kind of how the relationship evolved.
    And for the friends I don’t hug and kiss it feels totally awkward to have any kind of physical contact, even though we’re very close as friends. Weird, huh?

  73. i am such a touchy person- when i am talking to my friends with long hair I absently play with their hair while we chat or count. I’ll snuggle with friends, even my dude friends, and my boyfriend doesn’t mind. On top of that my boyfriend and i are always goofing in public that often involves some sort of touching- he’ll pick me, i’ll keep his hands from the ice cream etc. I think it mostly annoys people but i think for us it is a way to be touchy without too gushy and romantic.

  74. I’m a Texan from Austin. We hug, touch, kiss, spank, tickle, poke and tease here in this country. My best friends of 30 years hug and kiss on every girls night out we have. Would be weird to not have that human touch. I kiss my 3 year old on the mouth, too. And after every kiss, he says “mommy I love you, mommy I love you, mommy I love you.” AND we even say hello to strangers in the grocery stores, at music festivals and even on the hike and bike trail. Complete strangers, looking one another in the eye and saying hi!

  75. This is extremely fascinating to me because I think it depends on the friend(s). My hairstylist that I’ve known for 6 years kisses everyone on the mouth and then gives a hug. I have a guy friend who is just really affectionate and so we’re always touching each other and hugging when we say goodbye. But other than that, I have very few friends I even hug. I’ve found I’m only really affectionate with a boyfriend when I have one.

  76. My father is from Yugoslavia. We were raised to always kiss people we knew. When it is someone we don’t know, it is a handshake and a kiss. Everyone else is some variation but always at least a kiss on the cheek.

    I have experienced hug and kiss recoil with my non-European friends. I have had to learn not to kiss people. I just think it is what you are used to and what is culturally acceptable.

  77. I definitely hug and kiss my friends and touch their arm when discussing something. Heck we even hug and kiss strangers that we have just met. Just recently we met a super nice couple from Holland while we were in London and when we went to say goodbye – we went for the usual hug and kiss on the check, but they stepped it up a notch and told us it’s three kisses…I can go for that! :)

  78. I am French and I definitely touch everyone ! Funny thing is my partner is Scottish and we used to work together. As we were more and more getting one together whilst working, I started touching him, like giving him a stroke in the back or putting my hand on his arm/shoulder/leg when we were sitting next to each other, even though I am dead shy and would have never dare initiating something.
    One day, he just grabbed me and kissed me (to my great pleasure obviously !). He keeps saying I was sending him signals but I genuinely behave like this with every one of my dear friends.

  79. I definitely hug my friends and family a lot, but it is by no means every time I see them. I am currently in Barcelona for the summer working and I definitely am still getting used to doing the hug and kiss thing when you meet someone for the first time. I of course always make it WAY more awkward than it needs to be, but I can’t help it. It just doesn’t come naturally to me!


  80. I’m definitely new to the hugging culture. I still have to resist the urge to stick out my hand when someone I just met goes in for a hug.

  81. I have always been a touchy-feely person. Then I married a man who was not at all. I have recently realized that after three years of marriage, I have become much less affectionate with others, and he has become more so. We rubbed off on each other!

  82. Eeeek I hate being kissed by friends!! It weirds me out. I LOVE hugs though!

    I’m a big fan of hugs. I hold my husband’s hand in public, but he’s not a fan of PDA so we definitely don’t make out!

  83. For a person who doesn’t love being touched, I certainly touch other people a lot. I always hug and kiss my friends and family. It’s definitely expected with relatives and I’ve always assumed it’s a cultural thing, coming from a Latin household. I used to hate the kiss/hug expectation from family, but I think that being in a long-term relationship has made me more comfortable with intimacy and so it has just happened naturally.

  84. I’m from North Yorkshire in the UK and I always hug goodbye, I hug when people are sad, upset, happy everything, but no kissing. I rarely kiss anyone other than my boyfriend.

  85. I don’t often comment on blogs, but I did feel the need to add a comment here. When I lived in Montreal and Paris I absolutely adored kissing hello, there was something elegant and classy about it. In america I’m teased for a “no touching” policy where I keep my hands to myself and prefer others to do the same. I enjoy handshakes, and quick bisous, but a hug is so intimate and too close…I’m not sure why I’ve drawn the line but I have….I get it. I’m weird.

  86. I’m from Ireland and my generation (early 20s) are very tactile! Even very macho guys have gotten in on it. I always feel so close to my friends when we hug/link arms etc. We would sit on each other’s laps a lot as well, which is nice! Mostly, only girls kiss on the cheek! Before I met my boyfriend I would hold hands with my friends (but now that’s just for him!)
    I’m a total hugger, through and through! :)

  87. My mom taught me you need 7 hugs a day, so I always greet my friends with hugs (and none of that side hug business) but other than that, I don’t really touch my friends (certainly not 180 times per visit!)

    That being said, I lived in Buenos Aires after college and really tried upon my return to bring the cheek kiss back to Texas… it was not well received.

  88. I had a mix of experiences. I come from a very touchy family and I have applied that to my own kids and husband. Even in my twenties I used to cuddle up to my dad on the sofa and my mother loves to hug me and kiss me a little too much. When I went to boarding school in high school I would lie in bed with three friends and we were all always looped around each other. Lots of kisses and hugs. My college friends were in New England and down right puritanical. They didn’t kiss on the cheek and we really only gave each other a weak hug at the end of the school year. These days I greet my girlfriends with a dry kiss on the cheek. I have a couple of colleagues (mostly older men) who hug me to say hello and for some reason it makes me deeply uncomfortable. I always just stand completely still when they come into the room. If I am not related to you, don’t hug me.

  89. I have always been extremely affectionate with friends and family. Hugs are STANDARD, and with my great girlfriends, always a kiss – usually goodbye, but if I haven’t seen her in a while, a kiss when we say hello, too. Sometimes it’s on the cheek, sometimes the lips.

    I remember, though, when I started doing that with friends, because I didn’t always. In 8th grade, I went to summer camp and made a really good friend. We hugged every time we saw one another, and it was so lovely. When I came back home, I saw my best friend and hugged her and she was totally taken aback. That’s when I realized this was a new thing for me, and not everyone was into it. But since then, all my friends have been huggers/kissers.

    Oh, and I grew up near San Francisco, in case that matters.

  90. I have to add that if you meet someone for the first time you give them a kiss in each cheek, and if you are a guy meeting another guy, you give him a handshake.
    Women giving handshakes is purely for professional reasons.
    We are not into hugs, apparently…

  91. I’m Spanish so…we kiss each cheek once. Not if you see someone everyday, unless it is your grandma. Basically because she would give you a slap on the back of the neck (what we call a “colleja”)

  92. I am VERY touchy-feely, but also extremely cautious about touching people who might not want to be touched. But once you give me the go-ahead and open the floodgates, you could be hugged at anytime. I just really love good hug. And I’m not weird about kissing. I usually kiss friends on the cheek, but there are more than a few friends I peck on the mouth, especially if i’s going to be a long time until I see them again.

  93. I guess I am quite reserved – I think it came from my parents, who were not big huggers. I have friends who hug and kiss, and I will reciprocate, but it’s not automatic with me. I do, however, make it a point to be very affectionate with my grandchildren! But that comes very naturally, of course!

  94. I’ve been living abroad for two years and I’ve definitely become one of those people who kiss and hug their friends. First time friends and people I’ve known for awhile are all greeted this way. Friends back home I would greet/leave with hugs. It’ll be so interesting to see what will happen when I finally make it back!

  95. I went to an all girls high school with a bunch of girls who I had also gone to elementary school with, so there was always hugging, arms draped over each other shoulders standing side by side, and an overall closeness that comes with knowing someone since kindergarten. That carried on through college and pretty much ended when I move to San Diego(from New Orleans)after Katrina hit. Man, people out here DO NOT TOUCH EACH OTHER. It’s pretty sad.

  96. My friends and I hug all the time. It’s also not unusual to hug people you’ve just met, especially when you’ve been introduced by mutual friends. I once read that Canadians (I’m east coast Canadian) are second only to Australians in their willingness to hug a stranger! I don’t know if that’s true but I think it’s funny.

  97. I think it must be a regional thing – the Midwest has a lot Germanic people living there, and we (generally) aren’t as affectionate as the French. Despite sharing a border, it’s a very different culture. Yes, there’s a cheek kiss (or just pressing the cheek to the other person’s) upon greeting, but not in an exuberant sort of way. Perhaps, we are copying the French – it was the culture to emulate for a long time. It is always accompanied by a handshake, and it is rarer between men.

  98. I have grown up in India, where too much hugging and kissing your male friends is frowned upon! however its the exact opposite when its girl friends! But when I in college, design school I learnt that its not so bad after all. Design school changed my thinking about this social belief. Now I don’t shy away from hugging and kissing my friends, after all its just a way of showing your affection towards them :)

  99. I am not a toucher! Some of my friends are though, and it doesn’t bother me, but I never initiate. I don’t really like when people I just met go in for a kiss or hug.. seems too personal!

  100. I would be scared to meet a New Yorker who wanted to kiss me on the cheek! Hugs for friends and kids only.

  101. For me, I think it depends on how long it has been or will be until I see the person again. I never kiss my friends or hug friends who I see regularly, but I’ll always hug friends who I see much less frequently when saying hello and goodbye. Thinking about it now, this whole formula I (as well as many others) seem to have is kind of weird!!

  102. I am generally comfortable hugging and kissing friends on the cheek. But it was a bit of a shock when I first met my in-laws. My father-in-law regularly kisses everyone on the mouth, which was initially startling, to say the least. It seems to be a family thing, because when my brother-in-law returned from a semester in Israel, he too kissed me on the mouth, then pulled back and said “How was that? Uncomfortable? Everyone does it all the time in Israel.” I’ve grown accustomed over time, but it’s not for everyone!

  103. I’m from the Northwest and we are very closed-off here. My family wasn’t very touchy-feely and I try to be more affectionate with my children than what I grew up with. I hug my mom goodbye and some close friends will do it so I reciprocate. But it feels strange to me to initiate. Maybe it’s a regional thing?

  104. Growing up in an Italian-American family, there are always hugs and kisses (lots of yelling and interrupting, too – ha,ha). That affection extends to friends as well.

  105. t says...

    I think that my touching has increased as I have gotten older. I remember in middle school that my friends and I used to make fun of the girls that would hug or kiss goodbye. But now, I feel like it’s odd if I don’t. I also frequently find myself giving neck massages, drawing on someone’s arm, playing with a friend’s hair or just leaning against a friend when we are casually hanging out.

    I also have no problem changing in front of my friends and on occasion I have pumped in front of them too (although the first time was awkward, you gotta do what you gotta do). I think I am the least bashful of my various friends groups though. Maybe because that is how I have grown up with my mom and sister.

  106. I love holding my best friend’s hand, and I do it all the time (even if my husband is also in the room! Sometimes I just want to snuggle with her and hold her hand!)

    I link arms/cuddle/hug my close friends a lot, but I never thought I would be like this. As a child I was very against touchiness, but this came from insecurity and a lack of trust in people.

    As my friendships grew and took form over the years I’ve learned to trust myself in that physical way with my friends and to freely give hugs and love!

    Holding hands with the people you love is so comforting. Why do we only reserve this for romantic partners and parent/care-giver-child relationships?

  107. I’m from Michigan as well. I will hug/kiss hello if the other person initiates. I’m just not really a physically affectionate person with people besides my husband (who I can’t keep my hands off of in private haha). I imagine being very affectionate with my kids some day though.

    I guess I will occasionally touch someone’s arm or shoulder while laughing or lay my head on a friends shoulder on a road trip or whatever.

    Now if I’ve had some wine, that’s a different story! I want to hug and kiss all my friends haha.

    I always wished I was that person who freely gives affection to everyone they meet. it’s just not me though!

  108. I’m a toucher. I touch people when I talk to them. I touch them in greeting. I hug everyone.

  109. When I went to Europe I tried so hard to remind myself to kiss, not hug. But I just couldn’t do it! I’m so used to hugging as the acceptable greeting and goodbye, it was a knee-jerk reaction. I could tell our new friends in Oslo were taken aback. Oh well!

    -Lindsay from Dearest Darling

  110. I was born and raised in Brasil, so it’s natural to kiss and hug and touch friends all the time. But I know that’s absolutely strange to some people.

  111. a good, long, meaningfull hug is therapeutic

    I DO!

    We portuguese like tu hug&kiss :-)

  112. It’s funny because I am half-French, half-American and have definitely fallen somewhere in the middle my whole life. I’m fine with the French “bise” (though always felt awkward not knowing quite when it was necessary/appropriate). But I also remember spending summers in France as a teenager and my friends would want to hold hands as we walked around, or drape themselves on me… it made me feel weird. I’m down with a hug to say goodbye, and a peck to say hello… but the draping and hand holding… meh. I also didn’t like how they would often touch or play with my hair.

    The same goes with nudity… my French friends and family have no problem stripping down naked to change, while I hide in the corner back turned awkwardly covering myself with a towel. I just cannot get used to it! I know how uptight and prude I seem in front of them, but I guess growing up in America really did rub off on me.

  113. Hi, here in Portugal we give 2 kisses (1 per side) to everyone we meet. Even if for the first time.
    The only exception if it’s a formal occasion, or your boss.
    And it’s quite strange when we’re abroad, because we need to try to remember that it’s not common :)

  114. I’m pretty touchy – feely by nature, so I’m all about the hugs etc with my friends, but I try to match that with my friends’ comfort level. I have some friends that I don’t hug much because I know it would make them uncomfortable, and then there are others that I basically cuddle with.

  115. I am a grade 8 teacher in Canada (not a warm, touchy-feely place!) and yet my grade 8 boys touch each other all the time- in completely non-sexual, puppy dog wrestling kind of ways. They’ll be sitting on the couch in our classroom, their arms and even legs draped all over each other, are constantly touching each other’s arms- and during our class trip to Quebec, the snuggling in the bus was constant! Apparently this particular group of boys has always been very physically affectionate, but my class last year was too! Oddly the girls are much, much less so. I really don’t think it’s sexual at all- it just seems to be the culture that developed between these boys- 10 of them in their grade, in a small school. Very interesting!

  116. Some of my friends are uncomfortable with this, but I’m always hugging and kissing them and telling them I love them! I’m just affectionate I guess. (Grew up in Oklahoma)…

  117. I’m American and my husband is from India. In May I visited India for the first time and among all the surprises, one I found most endearing was seeing young, teenage boys walk through the streets with their arms draped over each other’s shoulders, just chatting and laughing. In the US, boys this age would be teased for such a display of affection. I appreciate their different view of masculinity and thought it was the sweetest thing ever!

  118. As a Greek American I grew up with lots of hugging and kissing when it came to people from home- cousins, church friends, and even our priest- it would be strange *not* to offer a peck on both cheeks when saying hello or goodbye. But when I went to college that completely went away- I became very aware of a small bubble of sacred space around people after the first few awkward hugs and kisses hello and goodbye to my new roommates- whoops!

  119. I hug my friends hello and goodbye. I’m actually a super touchy feely person when I’m with people I’m comfortable that around but I don’t want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable so I just restrain myself. When I was working in a male-dominated industry (I was the only woman in my department) I had to be really, really self aware and keep my friendliness bottled up inside.

  120. in portugal you give 2 kisses everytime you meet someone, even for the first time – unless it’s a doctor, a co-worker, something like that.
    we’re physical people, for the most part. we kiss and hug and touch a lot. in my family we do it a lot a lot and i’m very used to touching. i usually find it weird when people don’t… :)

  121. Joanna!

    Oddly enough, I am constantly touching and hugging my friends, but wasn’t always this way.

    When I was growing up, my Mother was perpetually stroking my hair and scratching my back and leg.

    She had a sudden stroke when I was ten and never recovered, eventually dying five years later, which left me feeling beyond uncomfortable in my own skin.

    I hardly touched anyone for years, and thought maybe I would live the rest of my life like that. Yet, when I had my first child in 2011, a funny thing happened, I could not stop touching, hugging, cuddling, kissing on people!

    My husband is constatnly laughing me how much I touch my Doctor’s arm, or stroke a friends shoulder, for way too long. Like everyone’s my child! I love it, because I feel like my Mother’s presence has taken over part of me, even after all this time.

    Loved this post today, and hope everyone enjoys their 4th of July weekend!


    Shannon G. LeDuke, St. Augustine, FL

  122. Interesting! I’m a midwesterner and have always felt a bit awkward about being touchy-feely with friends other than the standard greeting or goodbye hug. Back when I lived in France for a year, my friend Celine would link arms with me when we’d be walking together and I thought it was so sweet, but I could never initiate that myself!

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  124. I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years. They are always touching while sitting together or conversing and always kiss to greet one another. It’s a way to connect with people and make them comfortable. That said, American greetings can get awkward. Should you hug, shake, give a cheek kiss, or a wave?

  125. I am from New Zealand and my family is super affectionate with each other but i am less so with my friends. I have to pretty close to you to give you a hug hello. I find the weirdest is having a work colleague who transitions into a friend – when do you start hugging?

    Last year I moved to Germany and I am still learning that you kiss on each cheek when you say hello and goodbye. It definitely feels weird to me to farewell someone this way after the first time I meet them!

  126. I don’t touch friends while we are talking or kiss them hello/goodbye, but I am a big hugger! I am from the south and live in NYC now, and I find that my friends from all over the country interact similarly.

    180 times – wow!

  127. I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years. They are always touching while sitting together or conversing and always kiss to greet one another. It’s a way to connect with people and make them comfortable. That said, American greetings can get awkward. Should you hug, shake, give a cheek kiss, or a wave?

  128. I’m similar to you, Joanna. I am very touchy with my family but less so with friends. I like a hug or a kiss for a greeting, but when it comes time to leave a party or gathering, I hate going from person to person to say goodbye! It’s so disruptive and is it really necessary?? I’ll hug the host and then give a larger, “Goodbye everyone!” to the group.
    – Jenny

  129. erin, how fascinating. and lara, i love that!

  130. I’m like you – I don’t touch my friends too much. But I sort of wish I didn’t feel awkward about it. I remember on a trip to Israel looking out the window of my rented apartment in Jerusalem and seeing two groups of friends meeting. They were young – mostly soldiers with guns slung casually on their backs. They all greeted each other with hugs and kisses, even the men. I remember thinking how happy they all looked. So different from the sullen young people I see in the States.

  131. mimi, that’s so sweet! my dad and brother sometimes walk with their arms linked, i love it.

  132. I’m a big hugger. Hugs hello, hugs goodbye, even with people I’ve just met, it seems natural. A wave goodbye seems so formal.

    A friend once remarked at how often I touched her in conversation, not inappropriately of course, but she said someone else might think I was hitting on her.

    I think physical contact is a good way of showing affection and interest in people you care about.

  133. I’m a hugger and kisser with my closest friends. Not at all with casual friends. It’s definitely a comfort level thing, my closest friend is a part of the family!

  134. I grew up in India as well, and while I rarely kissed my friends, it was very normal to walk hand in hand, or with hand around each other’s waists or shoulders. I have also noticed that after living in America for ten years I do this very rarely, even when I go back and meet my old friends. But I do hug my friends hello and goodbye here.

  135. I just returned this week from 2 glorious months in Paris, and at so many points throughout my stay I felt like a Puritanical American –all of the touching made me so aware how reserved we are as a culture!

  136. Of course I hug and kiss my friends! Be weird not to.

  137. I always hug my friends and sometimes a kiss on the cheek. Touching 180 times just during the time spent at a cafe seems like a lot though!

  138. In the Philippines, it’s quite normal too. You can see women with their arms linked.

  139. So interesting. I always went to girls’ schools and we were always very tactile (in a platonic way!). When I went to boarding school, even more, as the interaction you had with your friends replaced the contact you would have with your parents, so we were always hugging (for comfort, not just for greeting) or sitting side by side 6 to a sofa, so inevitably close to each other!

    Now, I definitely hug and sometimes kiss for greeting and parting, but also through the conversation for reassurance and support.

  140. i def. hug & kiss my friends. Growing up in India, that was so normal. It’s a way of showing our love and affection!