This is pretty much me, hugging Southerners.
(I'm the one on the left.)
Everything in me wants to stick my right hand out into the middle of the situation rather than wrap both arms around someone I just met. Which would not be good.
It's not that I don't like hugs. I do. I lavish them on The Writer, my grandsons, my daughters, my mom, and my dearest friends.
My sister and brother-in-law give and get side hugs. They look like this and they're very nice too. Supportive, comforting, friendly, welcoming.
What I'm having trouble getting used to is meeting someone for the first or second time and getting a full-force Southern hug.
They look -- and feel -- like this.
Me: "I've just learned your name. I want to see your face so I can recognize it next time. Why are you already squashing your body parts against mine?"
Yes, I know hugs are good for us. They raise oxytocin and seratonin levels. They are good for our immune system and happiness level. We need eight to twelve a day, etc etc etc.
I want y'all to know I'm working on it. Meanwhile, a two-handed handshake is a nice alternative, and one of my favorite greetings.
And the beauty of it is, when one or both feel sufficient familiarity you just pull in and there you are: in a hug!