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Gender Neutral Hugging Convention

May 19th, 2013
hugging

In the US whether you hug or shake hands depends on intimacy. If I'm greeting an old friend we'll hug but if I'm greeting a stranger we'll shake hands. It gets awkward somewhere in between where it's not obvious which is appropriate or where the two people have different ideas about their shared level of intimacy, but that's unavoidable in human interaction.

What I don't like about this system is that it also depends on gender. At the same level of intimacy two women are more likely to hug than a man and a women, who are more likely to hug than two men. If I meet a man and a woman who I know equally well, it can be normal to shake hands with the man but hug the woman.

We should have a convention for deciding whether to hug or shake hands that doesn't depend on gender. How can we get there?

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