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Dangers of Hugging

Know the dangers, and avoid hug-related death and injury!

Fact: Every time you hug somebody, you risk them coughing or sneezing on you at point-blank range, leading to potential disease or trauma to your head or shoulders.
Fact: Hugs are a major reason for the spreading of rashes and other skin conditions.
Fact: Hugs can make you feel better and most depression-related suicides occur after a depressed person starts to feel better and in control of their life.
Fact: Hugging in a car may prevent the driver from staying on the road or avoiding other vehicles, or in the event of an accident, a hug may place you outside the ideal location for an air bag or seatbelt.
Fact: In 2004, 1575 people died from suffocation as a result of hugs and other causes.
Fact: Hugging a romantic partner may lead to more intimate actions, such as sex which can cause HIV infection, herpes, pregnancy, and sudden heart attack.
Fact: Hugging strangers may result in awkwardness, enraged yelling, or physical violence.
Fact: Hugs can obscure your vision of where your feet are, causing imbalance on rough surfaces, and potentially fatal falls.
Fact: Every year people end up in the hospital as a result of the leap-hug, running hug, or various moving hugs.
Fact: Hugs for comfort in a dangerous situation may distract you, your loved ones, or various coworkers you've never confessed your true feelings to, when you really need to be concentrating on diffusing the bomb, avoiding getting shot, or trying to crawl out to the life rafts on a burning, sinking ship on the high seas.

Learn how to prevent hugs!

If you are fortunate enough to see the hug coming, you have several options:

  1. Run for it. If you're fast or tricky enough, you may be able to lose the potential hugger and survive to avoid hugs another day.
  2. Offer your hand instead. A good handshake, while dangerous in its own ways, may succeed in keeping a potential hugger at a distance. It's more formal, and you could still get a skin rash, but it minimizes many of the balance and sight problems you experience in a hug, as well as the risk of pregnancy and suffocation.
  3. As the potential hugger approaches, take a fighting stance. Most people will not try to hug you if you look as if you're ready to punch them in the head. If need be tell them explicitly that you will cause them harm if they come any closer. Be prepared to back up your threat, a single swing of your fist as they get close, whether you hit or not, may be all you need to keep them from hugging you.
  4. Tell the potential hugger "No!" as assertively as you can. If the person continues to approach with open arms, scream "No means no!"
  5. Say something awkward or highly inappropriate. As the potential hugger comes in to put your life in danger, a simple "I had a threesome with your mom and dad", "I really wish we could be more than just friends", or "Did you know that gorillas have small testicles?" can do wonders to stave off hugging. Warning: "I really wish we could be more than just friends" can backfire if the person you say it to has romantic interest in you. If the response you receive is "Me too!", begin to laugh, make it clear you were making a joke, and try to mock their feelings for you as much as possible.
  6. If it comes down to it, you may need to pull a knife or other sharp object and stab the potential hugger in the arm. Get both arms if you are able, but even one arm-stabbing will make it difficult for the potential hugger to get an effective embrace. Do not hesitate. They may bleed severely if you hit an artery, but this minor act of swift violence may mean the difference between life and death for you both.
  7. If you believe you are going to be embraced no matter what, be sure to take a deep breath. Swelling your body cavity will make it harder for a potential hugger to hold you, and it will delay your suffocation. Imagine yourself a puffer fish. Be the puffer fish.

If you are caught off-guard by a hug, or cannot prevent it from coming, there are several important ways of breaking free as quickly as possible:

  1. Ask nicely that the person release you. If they respond quickly and cease their hug on you, kindly point out to them the dangers of hugging, and your unwillingness to take such risks. If you're lucky, they will understand your point of view, and better yet, share it with others in your social group so that hugs become less of a frequent worry for you in the future.
  2. Bite their ear. It's right there. Tyson did it. Nothing says "let go of me" like losing a chunk of cartilage. This method may be difficult if you are hugged from the side or behind, as is often the case with sudden unexpected hugs.
  3. Burst into tears. While this can backfire versus some women, who find such acts of emotion a sign that you are sensitive, or require comforting (leading to additional hugging), many men will be instantly repelled, finding the situation highly uncomfortable and confusing. Be sure you know what the reaction will be before employing this strategy. Also know who you are. A grown man crying may make everything awkward, but a crying little girl may elicit lots of sympathy.
  4. Scream "Help" and continue to do so until you are released from the death trap. If that doesn't work, try screaming "Fire" unless you are in a crowded theater. If the person is not immediately taken aback by your outburst, you may find that people nearby will come to your rescue. Resist the urge to thank your rescuers by embracing them, as this would put you into further danger.
  5. Go completely limp. Going limp serves two critical purposes. Being limp can help prevent certain injuries caused by falls caused by hugs. Your muscles aren't tense, so your limbs may react more normally to forces when you hit the ground. Being limp also helps you break free from a hug as the other person will usually be unable to hold you up, and most will choose to let go rather than fall down with you. If they do let go of you and you are unable to prevent yourself from falling down, remain limp until your body is at rest, and then curl into a ball and play dead. Most huggers will grow bored quickly of trying to hug somebody playing dead, and will move on to a more animated victim.
  6. Begin rhythmically thrusting against the other person with your pelvic region. This will either make them uncomfortable and want to release you, or they will take it as a signal to engage in more intimate activities. If it's the latter, the next likely step will be to remove clothing, which hopefully will give you enough space and freedom of movement to run for your life while they begin to strip.
  7. If you think you are stronger or faster than the other person, you may wish to engage a rapid series of physical attacks on their more vulnerable areas. If your arms are free, gouge at their eyes. If your legs can move, hit them in the crotch or attempt to kick their kneecaps. Rapidly seek to incapacitate your opponent without hesitation or mercy. It is far better to blind or otherwise permanently maim a hugger than both of you slipping on loose gravel or sharing a rash. It is rare that a person will continue to try to hug you while getting their face clawed at or joints reversed. Overwhelming use of violence may be your only protection.