The Case for Becoming a Hugger


Huggers and non-huggers are usually easy to spot. The verbal and nonverbal cues are obvious between the two with one emanating “come on in” and the other “don’t touch me”. The worst offender to the non-hugger is the incessant hugger, who requests…no, demands affection on more than one occasion per gathering, bookending meet-ups with “hello” and “goodbye” holds, plus the occasional opening up of arms again in celebration or consolation. While some less emotional friends and family may cringe or roll their eyes at this heartwarming act, they also may be unknowingly waiting for—and even seeking out—that loving squeeze. Deny it all you want, science confirms it feels good, if you let it.

“A number of studies show that when people touch you, your brain produces oxytocin,” says Paul Zak, Ph.D., a professor at Claremont Graduate University and director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies. “This touch helps you connect better to people.” Because of the great amount of contact, hugs stimulate a lot more touch receptors than a handshake or pat on the back. This makes the hug one of the most powerful ways to activate this touch-centric bonding response. If you’re open to a hug (as in, you’re not miserable and looking for a way to escape), this chemical reaction is almost guaranteed to happen for both the hugger and huggee.

The power of hugging is more than a…

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