Of course, people from different cultures have different methods of greeting each other or saying goodbye. Here in northern England I grew up believing that the correct way to greet another man was simply to shake hands and say, "How do you do." It was the same when parting, you just shook hands and took leave of one another: "See you before too long".
So when did the hugging start and where did we get it from? Nowadays it seems almost de rigeur for male friends to greet each other with a manly hug and to do the same when they part. This was once something that only foreigners did - like the morally suspect French or those lusty Italians. In England, we liked to keep a polite and proper distance.
I must admit that I still feel very uncomfortable about hugging anybody other than my wife and daughter. Even with our son Ian, it is my habit to just shake hands when we meet and to do the same when we part.
Another thing I am not too happy about is kissing. I am very happy about kissing my wife and the affectionate pecks on my daughter's cheeks are the same as the kisses I reserved for my dear departed mother. However, kissing female friends and acquaintances usually feels most uncomfortable. Sometimes the recipients expect two kisses - one on either cheek - and I am never sure if my lips are meant to make contact. Should I moisten them before the coming together of faces? Or am I just meant to feign my kisses?
Again, such quandaries didn't exist in the past. It would be so much easier if I could greet female friends with a subtle bow of the head, met of course with a dainty curtsy and the offering of a gloved hand. None of this awkward cheek kissing baloney.
Nonetheless, I guess that as more years pass by, we may reach a point where a man is expected to greet a female friend or acquaintance with a warm embrace involving the squeezing of buttocks and a full-bodied kiss on the lips including the intertwining of slurping tongues. This might prove awkward at first but with practice I believe I could learn to adapt.