Greetings. They can be tricky.
If 2 guys are meeting for the first time, it’s a handshake. If you’re seeing a male friend, again, it’s a handshake. If you’re really good male friends or family, you might throw in a hug (being careful to give 3 pats on the back to exert your manliness.)
If a girl is meeting someone for the first time, either male or female, a handshake is quite acceptable. But upon meeting that person again, a handshake can seem really awkward or impersonal. So do you go in for the hug? Or a little kiss on the cheek? (i.e. in the air next to the cheek) or do you keep your distance and give a little wave? Or do you pretend you have your hands full with your baby/toddler and avoid any kind of contact? (No, I would never do that. Maybe…)
It can just be so awkward sometimes. Someone goes in for the hug and/or kiss and the other person isn’t expecting it, or they go to both kiss on the same side or there’s the one-arm hug which is pretty half-hearted but good enough for some.
And what happens if you haven’t seen a friend for a while and you go in for the hug, and then you see them the next day and then a few days after that. Do you keep going in for the hug or is it kind of done?
The Europeans have got the right idea. Hug and kiss (2 or three times!) every time. Male or female, old or young, every situation is covered because it’s always the same. This takes the guesswork out of it and I’m sure makes greetings go much more smoothly.
I think part of the trick is confidence. If you’re going to go in for the hug and/or kiss, go in with confidence and make it obvious that that’s what’s about to happen. And just hope that the person who is about to receive the physical contact is ready for it 🙂