3. Hugging from behind

Depending on how this hug is executed, it could indicate a romantic relationship or a parent-child relationship. In a romantic setting, one person usually stands behind the other, with the hugger’s front touching the other’s backside closely, and wraps their arms around the partner’s chest or torso. In a parent-child setting, the parent can squat down, wrap their arms around their child’s chest from behind, and gently rock the child side to side or just hold them. 

What it means: According to Mattenson, this pose is bonding for couples because they can stay physically close while looking at the same view. Generally, the taller person in the relationship will be behind (similar to spooning, a common cuddling position). To give the “big spoon” a chance to be the “little spoon,” the shorter person can hug from behind. 

It can also be a great hug for parents to give to children. “It gives them that extra support behind their back that’s literally saying ‘I’ve got your back,’” Mattenson says. 

Illustration by Grace Lee