Hugging may seem simple, but it can actually be hard to give a good hug. Here are the steps to giving a good hug that is appropriate for the situation.
Check your hygiene. Make sure you are clean and have brushed your teeth recently. Don't hug when you are wet or sweaty, such as after exercising. Make sure the other person is also available to accept a hug.
Approach the person. Your approach should depend on the person's relationship to you. For example, for a family hug you should approach kindly. Make eye contact, although it should be brief if you are just friends. However, with a romantic hug there should be longer eye contact. Be sure that a hug would be appropriate for your situation; it may not be appropriate to hug an acquaintance, for example. If in doubt, at least make sure they don't seem hesitant going into the hug. Make sure the hug is mutual before embracing. If their arms are not out, they probably would not welcome a hug. If you don't feel comfortable giving a hug, extend your hand for a handshake as they approach for a hug. Follow the movements of the other person to avoid a clumsy hug.
Embrace. Lean forward gently, and wrap your arms around the person. Your arms can be positioned above or below the other person's arms. Press gently. Make sure not to squish the other person with your hug; be gentle. You may want to judge how tightly or loosely to hug by how hard the other person squeezes. If the hug is between two men, clap each other on the top of your backs, and keep the hug brief. Do not try to pick the other person up or swing them around in a circle; this can be uncomfortable.
Let go. Don't let the hug go on too long; this can make it awkward for both people involved. This does not apply to romantic hugs, however. These may take longer, or end with a kiss. On the other hand, don't let go too early. A short hug can indicate a lack of caring. Especially if the person you are hugging is upset or down, a longer hug may be appropriate. How do you tell how long is too long? Hug them until they let go or loosen their hold. If it is a hug between men, it is common to pat each other on the back before letting go.
Lingering eye contact. Afterwards, exchange a brief moment of eye contact. If this is a romantic hug, the eye contact may last longer. Do not confuse a hug between friends for a romantic hug, or things could become awkward.
Hugging is an often overlooked way to show affection, and an important part of nonverbal communication. Whether you are hugging an acquaintance, close friend, family member, or relative, these steps can help you give a good hug.