Monday, April 15, 2013

Man Hug Protocol


The Man Hug is a social convention by which men express affection. It should be reserved for use among male family members or other men whom you would trust to help you kill a guy and dispose of the body. Casual friends or acquaintances get a head nod upon meeting, while more formal associates get a handshake. Friends in a formal setting might get both a head nod and a handshake, and maybe a fist bump hidden from your boss if you're at work. To avoid accidentally straying from the bounds of heteronormative behavior, certain rules are followed at each stage of the Man Hug.

The Approach

Get the other man's attention. Usually this is done by calling their name and spreading your arms like a bear about to attack. This announces your intention to hug them and will either be met by a similar response on their part if they accept the proposed Man Hug, or an extended hand for a handshake if your proposed Man Hug is rejected. Grabbing an extended hand to turn a handshake into a Man Hug awkwardly forces things and will likely result in them avoiding you in the future. It's like when that guy you were talking to just to be nice tells you that you're his best friend. Don't be that guy.


The Man Hug involves very little actual contact, mostly at the right shoulder. Don't stand up straight; bend slightly forward at the waist and tilt to your left. Anything below the solar plexus should not be touching. Rainbows are straighter than two men hugging each other with full body contact. Arm position is important, as hugging another person with your arms above theirs is easiest when you are larger than they are, so there are implications of protectiveness. Women and children, having typically less height and a shorter arm span, find it easier to position their arms underneath when hugging a man. Because it is impossible for both men to hug with their arms in the typical masculine position, it is possible to unwittingly set off a power struggle for the position of alpha male as one of the men is forced to hug like a girl. To avoid inadvertently challenging another male for social dominance and to minimize physical contact, it is necessary to use a crossed position facilitated by the waist-tilting mentioned earlier. This allows both of you to have your right arm extending around the other man's back above his left arm, which should dangle unused after the attacking bear approach stance, or used to pound on the other man's back along with the right arm, like you are riding an imaginary motorcycle turning left. Grimace or otherwise wear a tough expression if you are hugging a man who is not a relative.


If one man ends a Man Hug unexpectedly before the other man is ready, it can make for an awkward scene where one man appears to be clinging to another who is trying to get away. Hugging another man is awkward enough as it is, so a non-verbal signal to break the Man Hug has developed: the back pound. This is typically done two or three times, either as an open handed slap on the back or as a closed fist if you want to be extra manly. If done properly, both men will disengage the Man Hug simultaneously, take a step back to reestablish normal personal space and begin conversing in a lively manner about topics which affirm their mutual heterosexual status so that nobody who saw the Man Hug gets the wrong idea. If you ever see a situation where one man is clinging to a second man who is repeatedly pounding on the first man's back while rolling his eyes, it's because the first man is ignoring the signal to break. He'll be getting a handshake next time.


  1. The worst is when they hold you in there close, and rub your back up and down and say "love ya". You only went in with one arm, he used both. And he just rubs. And rubs. And rubs.

    1. That guy will be lucky to even get a handshake next time. I don't care if he's my grandfather or not.