Among the World Cup highlights of game-winning goals, coaches losing their minds and flagrant fouls is a lot of celebratory hugging.

Indeed athletes have long been on the leading edge of what some are now saying is becoming a general trend — men embracing embracing.

Young millennials have "wrapped their arms around a long-term trend" of hugging, writes Samantha Melamed for The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's also triggering awkward moments, as hug-happy millennials encounter older men who have long measured their machismo by their palm-crushing handshakes."

She reported that more hugging between heterosexual men is tied to research that cultural homophobia is dropping at a rapid rate, according to Mark McCormack, researcher and author of "The Declining Significance of Homophobia."

And male athletes are especially comfortable embracing. "Watch ESPN for a few hours, and there's a fair chance you'll encounter lots of big men embracing, especially after a big play or a victory," Douglas Brown of The Denver Post writes.

Plus, a large body of research tells us that hugging has all sorts of benefits. We know that well-hugged babies are far less likely to be stressed as adults, according to researchers at Emory University in Atlanta and McGill University in Montreal, CNN reported. And lonely, hug-less people are more likely to develop heart disease due to stress, according to a study done at Ohio State University's college of medicine.

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As psychotherapist Virginia Satir famously said, "We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."

And if you're a man wary of hugging other men, wikiHow outlines the process. "Consider the occasion and the relationship in determining when to hug. Generally, the closer your relationship and/or the more monumental (like scoring a soccer goal) the event, the greater the likelihood that a hug will be appropriate," wikiHow helpfully explains.



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