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Romantic Hug vs Friendly Hug: How to Feel the Difference Instantly

Is it a romantic hug or a friendly hug? Hugs are simple acts of closeness, but they can be misconstrued or misinterpreted if you’re not careful.

romantic hug vs friendly hug

Hugs are exchanges of affection between family, friends, lovers, and even strangers and acquaintances. But is a hug just a hug? Here’s how to decipher the romantic hug vs friendly hug.

You’ve probably had different hugs in your life. A hug with your grandma, for instance, is different than a hug with your best friend. A hug with your lover is different than a hug with a childhood friend.

The difference between these embraces may not seem large at first thought, but it is.

[Read: How to surround yourself with positive people]

Why you want to know if it’s a romantic hug

You may be thinking, well, the difference between a romantic hug vs. a friendly hug is who gives it. If your lover is hugging you, it is romantic, and if a friend is, it is friendly. But, it is not always that simple.

For instance, not every hug your partner gives you is romantic. If you just need an embrace after a long day, this hug may be more friendly. And if a friend hugs you goodbye after a party, it may be romantic.

But, why do you want to know? Perhaps you’re worried your relationship is dwindling down to friendship. Maybe your concern is if a friend has feelings for you. Or, are you concerned your coworker or even boss is coming on to you?

When it comes to romantic hugs vs friendly hugs, these are valid things to worry about.

So, what are the characteristics of each? [Read: How to spice up a relationship that feels like friendship]

Romantic hug vs friendly hug

Hugs are not always just hugs. They can have a deeper meaning. Hugs can lead to a kiss, express mourning or empathy. They can be to say hello or goodbye.

But, what are the characteristics or signs you are getting a romantic hug vs a friendly hug?

Friendly Hug

A friendly hug will often be light in touch. It avoids being too severe or tight. Most hugs involve pressing your bodies together, but when friendly, it is about the act of the hug, not the closeness.

For example, if you hug a new friend, you may just touch shoulders, give a side hug, or pat than on the upper back.[Read: An insight into the rare platonic friendship]

Romantic Hug

When a hug is romantic in quality, it lingers. Rather than a quick hug you may give to a friend before sitting down to lunch, this hug lasts. A romantic hug is more of an embrace.

Friendly Hug

A friendly hug may include a pat on the back or even a few pats. Think about a hug between two college roommates who haven’t seen each other in a few years. This hug reignites friendship or even is congratulatory.

A hug a father-in-law may give to a newly welcomed son-in-law would be a friendly hug. It is meaningful but full of approval and almost always includes those gentle pats.

Romantic Hug

A romantic hug includes a lot of closeness and touching. This hug would include, not a pat on the back, but a rub.

This may also be a lower touch than would be appropriate for a platonic friendship. Also, during a romantic hug, your faces usually press together.

Think of hugging a partner. In this case, you probably press most of your body against each other.

Everything is touching from your cheeks to your waist. As opposed to a friendly hug, just one part of your body, like the shoulders, is touching. [Read: 18 signs a friend likes you romantically even if they’re hiding it]

Friendly Hug

When you’re involved in a friendly hug, the arms are crossed. This means your left arm may go beneath their armpit, but your right arm goes above and vice versa. There is something universally platonic about this form of a hug.

Something about the opposed interlocking of the arms signifies friendship.

Romantic Hug

Even though you probably cannot see the other person’s face during the hug, eye contact either before or after can insinuate romance.

Often, during a romantic hug, there is eye contact beforehand, and once the hug is released, eye contact turns the hug into a kiss. [Read: 11 types of hugs a woman gives and what they really mean]

Friendly Hug

A side hug is almost always friendly.

When a friend pulls you in with one arm from the side, it is a sign of affection, not usually romance. Think group photos or even family photos of everyone wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders.

Romantic Hug

Sharing a caress within a hug makes it romantic. It can also be a sign of comfort for someone upset but usually involves a gentle rubbing of the head or arm.

When this caress is made on the lower back or chest, it is likely romantic in nature.

Friendly Hug

With a friendly hug, it is common for your shoulders to be touching or even your faces. But, you keep your waists and hips apart. These do not touch in most friendly hugs, at least not on purpose.

These areas of the body are more intimate and personal. Therefore, someone hugging you and pressing the full of their body against you may be looking for a romantic hug. [Read: Friendly vs flirty – 12 subtle hints to read the right signs]

Romantic Hug

A romantic hug can involve one’s arms around another’s. This means the person being hugged has less control and is grabbed in a way. The person doing the hugging squeezes the other, and often the smaller person is beneath the other’s arms.

This shows a difference in power which can be, not just romantic, but also intimidating or seductive, which certainly isn’t friendly in nature.

Friendly Hug

A friendly hug is always consensual. If one person initiates the hug, the other person agrees to it.

A friendly hug has the respect that romantic hugs can lack when there is an abuse of power in the relationship. [Read: How a good friend sets themselves apart from the crowd]

Romantic Hug

Romantic hugs avoid the upper back, shoulders, and arms. These are places we hug friends.

In a romantic embrace, we reach around the face and neck if we are shorter and the waist and lower back if we are taller or the same height.

Now, there are more differences between a friendly hug and a romantic hug than just these. In fact, the differences may be endless depending on the relationship, person, and situation.

You can feel the difference between a romantic hug and a friendly hug

Even without noticing these particular signs of a romantic hug vs friendly hug, you can often feel the difference. It is not just the act of the hug that makes these two embraces differ, but the feelings the hug gives you.

You could go into a hug thinking it will be friendly, but touching this person could ignite more romantic feelings. You could also hug at the end of a date, hoping for romance, but feeling indifferent. [Read: 20 strong signs of sexual tension to know if you both make each other horny]

If you feel comforted and safe, it is likely a friendly hug. If you feel aroused or connected, it may be a romantic hug. But if you feel violated, overpowered, or not at all uncomfortable, this is an inappropriate hug to shut down.

This type of hug can be initiated by a family member, a friend, a coworker, a boss, and more. This hug is a sign of a bigger problem, a misuse of power, and a violation of your personal space and comfort.

This hug should be stopped, and the discomfort should be expressed and possibly reported.

The main takeaway from this should be that hugs are normal signs of affection shared between two people who care for each other on various levels, from friendship to romance, and even just a greeting.

Knowing the difference between these can be helpful when you are unsure of your relationship or someone’s feelings.

[Read: 20 types of physical touch and what each touch means]

As helpful as these details are, the best way to read the signs of a romantic hug vs friendly hug is by thinking about how it makes you feel.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...