Pet Please #119: When You Remember a Friend’s Preferred Physical Greeting

A few weeks ago, I was at a meetup when a friend came over to say hi. I stood up and extended my hand, and at the same time he opened his arms into hug formation. Of course hug trumps handshake, and handshake looks a little silly when a hug is being offered.

A week later, I happened to be going to a dinner party at this same friend’s house. This time I remembered his preferred physical greeting, so instead of holding out my hand, I went right into hug mode. Much less awkward.

For some reason this always feels like a win to me. It’s part remembering what someone else likes and connecting with a fellow human on that level, and it’s part avoidance of awkwardness.

Have you experienced this with any of your friends? Perhaps someone who has a very specific way of greeting people that just happens to be different than your default mode?


3 thoughts on “Pet Please #119: When You Remember a Friend’s Preferred Physical Greeting”

  1. It’s definitely an expression of familiarity and – to me – perhaps a validation of friendship. If someone I knew well offered a handshake and I knew they weren’t really adverse to physical contact, I’d be offended. On the other hand, a hug isn’t appropriate for a relative stranger, let alone a lift, unless circumstances are exceptional.

    I think it goes:

    hi & wave
    handshake (‘warmth’ can differ depending upon enthusiasm of handshake)
    kiss on cheek
    hug (ditto)
    hug & kiss on cheek
    hug & lift, (possibly spinning them as if they were a child)

    But as I say, some folk don’t like physical contact, some hugs are warmer than others, and some handshakes can be ‘warmer’ than some hugs.

    • Hi Behrooz: I like the way you described it in your first line: familiarity and a validation of friendship. I don’t think I know anyone who does the hug & lift (much less the hug & kiss, which I think is more common in other areas), but now I kind of want to meet that person!


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