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Air Hugging

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Male characters show discomfort expressing emotions, particularly affection towards another man. Often results in a "hug" with no physical contact, an obviously awkward hug, etc. There's also the version where females can hug with their bodies close but guys hug while their lower halves are far away, so they have to lean over more to hug. This has been referred to as "A-Frame hugging".

See also: Ho Yay, Real Men Hate Affection, Man Hug, The Un-Hug.


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     Comic Books  
  • ElfQuest uses the "lower bodies separate" version near the end of Fire and Flight, the very first graphic novel. This despite their Everyone Is Bi policy.
  • A particularly confusing But Not Too Gay example comes from Young Avengers, where Hulkling and Asgardian, who are a pair of boyfriends, are frequently shown hugging with 45 degree torsos.

     Comic Strips 
  • In a Dilbert book on etiquette, Dogbert discusses Air Hugging, saying that it is not the best time to reveal your sensitive side, and not to let people see you get the creeps afterwards.
  • Discussed in this Herb And Jamaal strip. They say that there is always lots of awkwardness and space when men hug and they are sure they don't do it, being secure, macho guys with close friendship and all. The last strip reveals that they in fact do it as well.
  • Zits had a strip (seen above) where Jeremy air hugged his dad on his birthday, with his mom commenting "Happy male birthday, honey.".

     Film — Live-Action 
  • One of the older examples in movies, Grease.
  • An excellent example is a 'hug' between Will Ferrell and Adam Scott in Step Brothers.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Legolas and Aragorn have a habit of placing one of their hands on each other's shoulder and looking at each other for a moment.
  • Parodied in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray turns his daily meeting with "Ned" into an extended and and quite uncomfortable hug.


     Live-Action Television 
  • Friends:
    • Chandler and Joey would almost-hug each other and pat themselves on their back on occasion.
    • Lampshaded in the finale that it was their thing. They decide on the "lame cool guy hand shake" over the "awkward hug", but end up giving each other a real Man Hug, anyway.
  • In Monk, Adrian and his brother Ambrose did this when they met for the first time in years in season two. Although, both those guys also just have a problem with physical contact in general.
  • In the episode of Will & Grace guest starring Matt Damon, his character (who is pretending to be gay) does A-frame hugging to Jack. He gets out of the suspicion by claiming that by having his pelvis away from Jack's, he can then check out Jack's shoes.
  • Horatio Hornblower, "Retribution": When the dynamic trio of lieutenants Bush, Kennedy and Hornblower return gloriously from a suicide mission, everybody is chuffed beyond words. Horatio comes aboard and Matthews welcomes him very cordially. note  He goes for a hug, but remembering his rank, he just grabs his arms with both hands and shakes them, and he laughs with apparent pride and relief that his young hero is back safe and sound. This trope is often played to feel awkward or express problems showing affection, but this particular Air Hugging is very sweet.
  • Drake & Josh have their "quick hug" which involves wrapping their arms around each other for a quick second before letting go since they're too embarrassed to hug in public.
    • Averted in later seasons as they would both hug openly with a great exclamation of "HUG ME BROTHER!" if they were happy, no matter the location or crowds around them.

     Western Animation 
  • On Doc McStuffins, Lambie is the Cuddle Bug. However, there have been a couple of instances where there was something preventing actual cuddling, so she gave an "air cuddle" instead.

     Real Life 
  • There's always the patent "reaching out patting each other on the back we're-not-gay-honest hug" which seems to be endemic to all males of a certain age when formality dictates some form of physical embrace.
  • There's a thing where guys look like they're going to shake hands, but they instead each put one arm between their bodies and get close while pounding on the other guy's back with the other hand. This has a habit of showing up in situations where protocol demands you shake hands but emotional/personal background demands you hug.
  • A related version comes from the infamous instance of the 'Christian Side Hug'. It's a rap. About how hugging frontwise leads to... y'know what? Just google it.
  • The following situations may require the use of "Distance Hug":
    • When a person is sick and doesn't want to pass germs.
    • If one person has a really nasty sunburn and the others want to show sympathy without causing pain.
    • In psych hospitals, where physical contact is prohibited, but patients wish to show support for one another nonetheless.
    • On webcam in online relationships or when partners are apart.
    • When one person Hates Being Touched, and the other is willing to accommodate when expressing affection.