The Best of LYWB: 11 Questions to Ask Before You Hug Him

From the We’re wrapping up 2017 with some of our most popular posts ever. We’re calling them “The Best of LYWB” because these are the posts that got the most attention from you, our readers, this year. We hope you’ll see some old favorites and love reading them all over again and discover some new favorites along the way.

Should you hug that guy or not hug him? Is a front hug or a side hug more appropriate?


One of you recently asked me what I think about guys and girls hugging. That’s not an easy question to answer!

I went to a school where hugging guys was no big deal. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Christian side hug years later—a “safe” hugging option designed to communicate affection while staying away from any potential sexual body contact.

Only, not every Christian is on board. For example:

  • One godly, married man I know wholeheartedly hugs women and unabashedly tells them he loves them, with his wife looking on.
  • Other godly men I know never hug any woman except their wives.
  • And then there are those who settle somewhere in the middle with the side hug.

So you and I are left to navigate this nebulous world of hugging. (Wouldn’t it be easier if we all wore tags that told whether we were open to hugging or not?!) Unfortunately, it’s not that clear-cut.

A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart.

That’s probably because there’s nothing inherently sinful about a hug. It’s just that behind our arms, we house a sinful heart that can pervert even something good into something not good.

In my opinion, hugging has less to do with your body potentially being pressed up against someone of the opposite sex and more to do with your heart and mind.

A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart.

First Timothy 5 is clear about how we’re to interact with each other in the church:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity (vv. 1–2).

We’re family now, if we have trusted in Christ and Christ alone to make things right between us and our pure, holy Father God. As family members, we are to treat older men as fathers and younger men as brothers . . . with all purity. Yes, we’re family, but we’re a holy, set-apart family.

That’s why it’s important to examine your heart before you reach out for that hug.

When You Hug Him:

  1. Is there a guy(s) you want to hug more than others? If so, why?
  2. What message are you hoping to send him with your hug?
  3. Are you purposefully trying to arouse him with your body contact?
  4. Do you hug him just as you would any guy? Like you would your dad or brother?
  5. Would you be ashamed if people could read your thoughts as you hugged him?
  6. Are you hugging him in public or in private? If the latter, what are you trying to hide?
  7. If he’s married, would his wife be comfortable with you hugging him like this?

When He Hugs You:

  1. Is this a man who cares for you in a pure way?
  2. Is there anything inappropriate about his hug?
  3. Is it a quick hug or a longer-than-necessary one?
  4. Does his hug make you feel uncomfortable in any way? If so, why?

When His Hug Makes You Feel Uncomfy

If his hug makes you feel uncomfortable, depending on the seriousness of the situation, here are some ways to stop it:

  1. Leave some space between you as you hug and quickly pull away.
  2. When he reaches out to hug you, turn and give him a side hug rather than a front-on hug.
  3. When he reaches to hug you, give him your hand instead. It might be awkward for a second, but he’ll get the point.
  4. Tell him you’re not comfy hugging him.
  5. Tell a trusted authority that you’re not comfy hugging him.

I’d love to hear from you. Has hugging been an unclear issue for you to navigate, too?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

  • * Requests or gives personal information such as email address, address, or phone number.
  • * Attacks other readers.
  • * Uses vulgar or profane language.
  • Vicki Holland

    Great points. I have to laugh at the reaction of my husband when women at church want to give him big hugs. He felt uncomfortable many times and has learned to do the side hug action.
    I also think it’s sweet when men hug me and only use the shoulder area leaving their bodies away from mine. I feel very respected.
    Warmest Regards, Vicki

  • Maria-Simona C.

    Since physical touch is one of my two main my love languages, I LOVE hugs, no matter what the relationship is (acquaintance, friend, family, or romantic).
    But I’m careful with physical boundaries. I ask the person if they’re okay with my hugging them, and I make sure I hug loosely and carefully. After knowing them a little better, I give longer and tighter hugs.
    When it comes to my male friends hugging me, they hug tightly but know to keep it short, as they respect my physical boundaries and comfort levels.

  • Gabrielle

    For me personally I hug everyone regardless, but as of the last few years I’ve decided to tone it down just a bit and observe the guy first because there had been a couple time where I had hugged someone and his face said, “what just happened?” He obviously wasn’t used to it, but generally I hug everyone and just kinda learn people.

    I remember one time there was this guys I had met and we kept in touch for a few months then I was finally able to see him again and while en route I was thinking to myself about to hug him or not to hug him, only because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, but he end up reaching out to hug me so that was great. But I think when it comes to hugging it is definitely a great thing to examine your heart for sure, and also understand that some families just don’t really hug and you’ll come in contact with all types of people – huggers, non-huggers, etc – and sometimes you can tell!

    • Sekela Mututa

      am a hugger too, but there’s just some guys who are scary to hug because they give the impression that they like me and they would really want that hug so I will avoid giving them that hug..

  • Tera V.

    I’m not much of a hugger, but I live in the South, so, yeah, everybody hugs. 😛

  • pee

    tell the police if someone tries to hug u theyll kno what 2 do

  • Shingie

    I can totally relate. These days however, hugs are given to everyone and thanks for clarifying how we can differentiate them. As a young lady it was a bit tough for me wen i moved to a “modern” congregation where everyone greets with hugs. After service the pastor stands by the door and hugs everyone on their way out. Cant imagine stretching my arm for a handshake while his arms are wide open for a big hug : ). At least noone complains.