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How to tell if a hug is romantic? 16 ways to tell

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It’s hard to tell if someone is into you or they’re just being nice.

But one way to find out for sure is by observing how they act when you get physically close with them—like when you give each other a hug.

Some signs are subtle, but some are impossible not to spot!

Here are some crystal clear signs that the hug they’re giving you isn’t just friendly, but is actually laced with romance.

1) It’s a bit awkward

If the hug feels a little awkward but you’re not on bad terms and you know for a fact that they don’t have any kind of social anxiety, they probably like you.

Maybe your noses bump or they don’t know where to put their hands so they just hold your upper arms in a bizarre position. It’s as if they’re from another planet and they’re learning how to hug for the first time.

What’s happening here?

Well, being in love can turn anyone into a bundle of nerves. Most romantic hugs are filled with tension as one or both parties have been waiting for that moment for so long, so they want to be their best…only to ruin the moment by being too self-conscious.

As a highly sensitive person, this makes you feel uneasy too, so your hugs are a nervous fumbling and bumping of hands and feet.

And no, of course they’re not like this to everybody.

2) They’re not breathing normally

When we’re with someone we’re crushing on, our heart beats a little faster, affecting how we breathe.

They may breathe too fast, or their breathing is labored. It’s also possible that they’d hold their breath without them being aware of it.

This is one of the clear indicators that you’re truly special to them. Otherwise, they would be chill as a cucumber.

The next time you hug, listen to their breathing. It will be too obvious.

3) You can hear a sigh

Sighing gives us relief. It’s a way for us to release physical and emotional tension.

When there’s a sigh during a hug, it’s usually an indicator of feelings—whether it be of regret, longing, happiness, or suppressed feelings.

You don’t sigh when you hug your mama on a normal day but you do sigh when you hug her when you haven’t seen each other for years. More importantly, you don’t sigh when you’re hugging someone who means nothing to you.

Maybe they sigh because they wish they could finally have the courage to tell you how much they love you.

4) They melt in your arms

This is like sighing, but with the whole body.

Maybe there’s intense sexual tension between the two of you but you’re both hiding your feelings in front of others, so when you finally lock in an embrace, their body quickly relaxes as if all the tension has been relieved.

It feels good to finally surrender in the moment…even if it’s something so brief.

Do you feel their tensed muscles slowly relax like they’re a deflated balloon? Then it’s a sign that they have repressed feelings for you.

5) It’s not rushed…at all.

When a hug is just friendly, it’s not rushed per se, but you both want to get it over with so you can do something else.

It’s just one of the starters, so to speak. You’re excited to go ahead and eat the main course.

But when someone hugs you in a romantic way, the hug is the main course—and it’s one big, juicy steak! The things you do afterwards pale in comparison to what you’re already doing.

Naturally, they don’t want to get back to reality because they just want to be trapped in your arms, possibly forever. So yes, they’ll hug you a few seconds longer…but not too long you’ll start to think they’re creepy.

6) They say something stupid

They could say a really bad joke in the middle of your hug that can make you cringe, or they’d say something too random that you’d go “whut?!”

This is once again, nervousness—their worst enemy (if they don’t want to get caught), but your best friend.

Hugging you feels so special to them that they feel that they have to say something and what comes out of their mouth is usually something pathetic.

They’ll replay what they said to you weeks and even months after the hug, and they’ll think there’s no way you’ll like them. Please be kind to the poor soul and try to not make a big deal out of it. You might want to change the topic to save them from further embarrassment.

7) They blush a little

When someone is infatuated, even accidentally touching the fingertips of their beloved could send shivers down their spine. A hug? It can kill them!

Having almost every inch of your body very close to theirs could give them a love rush and it will show in their face. Scientists explain blushing in terms of fight or flight response. Instead of running away when we feel self-conscious, it manifests directly on our faces.

Surely, they wouldn’t blush if they’re just hugging a friend.

Sadly for them, but luckily for you, they really can’t do anything about it.

If you’re getting impatient and you’d really want to know if they like you, tease them and see if they flush.

8) They put their hands in their pocket

They do this before and after the hug, of course. You might think they don’t like you because they do this, but au contraire!

Putting one or both hands in your pocket is a body language that sometimes indicates shyness. If they do this often only when you’re around, it could mean that they’re trying to appear cool but are actually trying to protect themselves.

This says “I’m cool whatever happens” because they’re probably defensive that you’d show any sign that you don’t like them back.

They could also do this as a way to distract you from the other obvious blunders they commit when they’re around you, like the things mentioned above.

9) They look at you in the eye

Before they hug, they look you in the eye. They do it right after the hug, too.

And while this is completely normal for most people, it becomes something else if they give you the look of love. You know, that kind of stare that speaks a thousand words.

They do this not only because they can’t help themselves, they’re trying to send you a code and hoping that you’ll get their message, which could be something very mild such as “I like you” to something more intense such as “I will marry you someday.”

It’s frustrating that they won’t blurt out those words exactly, but that’s seduction—or shyness— for you. If you want to make them feel the same way, look at them the same way too, and hold their gaze for as long as you can.

10) They wrap your waist

Pay close attention to where their hands go when they hug you.

The lower they place their hands, the more in love they are with you. And if he goes to your waist and wraps his arms around it, well…that definitely is something a little more than friendly!

If you like them too, it’s impossible you won’t get goosebumps when they do this. Show them you like them back by leaning closer and whispering something cute in their ear.

11) There’s hair-touching

Someone who adores you would take every opportunity to touch your hair especially if you have long locks. They might even try to smell what shampoo you have because they want to know all about you.

Of course, they won’t do it in a very obvious way so they’ll touch for only a second or two. They might even pretend they didn’t do anything.

Maybe they’ve always been curious how your curly hair feels and now that their hands are so near them, they can’t resist touching your locks, even for a brief second.

Again, they’re completely aware that it could be a little bit too much, that you’d finally know how they truly feel about you, but they’re just taking their chance. They really wish you wouldn’t mind.

12) There’s no such thing as “too close”

Yes, they probably won’t get too close at first because they’re scared you might think they’re taking advantage of you, but show any sign that you want them closer and they will do it with 100% willingness.

They let you take the lead and set boundaries but if it were all up to them, there’s no such thing as too close because that’s all they want.

And because of this, you’re certain that there is no way they’ll push you away if you wrap yourself around them.

13) They close their eyes

We tend to close our eyes when we experience something good—when we take a warm bath after being out in the freezing cold the whole day, when we kiss, when we listen to good music.

Psychologists explain that we close our eyes to focus on the task in hand. When one of our six senses is deprived of its function, the attention to the other senses—in this case, our sense of touch—is amplified.

This makes us “feel” the hug more, which is what someone who’s in love would want to do.

14) You’re feeling each other

You can tell when two people are in love because when they hug, it isn’t just a hug, they’re feeling each other using all their senses.

It could be purely physical like when your hands explore their back, their nose smelling your neck and hair.

But if you have romantic feelings for each other, it’s definitely something more than that.  You both try to feel each other on a deeper level—as if you’re trying to feel each other’s souls.

You can sense if they’re your soulmates or twin flame through a long hug.

15) They double-hug

In the middle of a hug, they pull away to look at you and smile, then they hug you again.

Or let’s say you have a goodbye hug at a party. They give you a big hug and then just when you’re about to leave, they’ll call you again to give you another one.

Isn’t this just friendly? Well, possibly. But it’s more like a little bit friendly, a little bit flirty…a little bit romantic because it says “I can’t keep my hands off you.” If they don’t do or say anything sleazy, it’s definitely not just friendly or flirty—they like you!

It’s clear that they can’t get enough of you. And you know what, if they can have their way, they’d do it one more time or fifty.

16) No one wants it to end

Let’s say they’re so good at hiding their true feelings for you. Let’s say they don’t show any of the signs mentioned above. Good on them for being so discreet.

But don’t let them fool you.

If they show any sign that they don’t want your hug to end—like if they keep you locked in their arms, or they’re always the one waiting for you to pull away and they sigh when you do— then they’re clearly into you.

Being close to each other feels so good that being apart and going back to reality feels a little painful.

Last words

It can be challenging to differentiate if someone is just being friendly, flirty, or if they’re truly into you.

But if you notice most of the signs above, I guarantee you that you’re not just imagining things—they actually DO like you!

So the question now is…what are you going to do with this fact?

If you still can’t find your answers, at least enjoy each hug for now, knowing that someone you like likes you back.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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