Since most Christian young people are still Biblically forbidden from having sex, we are often forced to be satisfied by the next best thing, i.e. talking about it incessantly. Endless conversations swirl around titillating issues like: how awesome it will be, how often it will be, and, most importantly, how much can we get away with before we say “I do.” My dear frustrated friends, I cannot help but feel that with these questions, we are getting far ahead of ourselves.

We’ve got to forget about far-off, nebulous times like “when I get married” or “when I get a girlfriend/boyfriend,” I want to know how much I can get away with before I know her name. Fortunately, the evangelical mob has clearly delineated the bounds of appropriate physical intimacy among acquaintances. When a handshake or firm pat on the rear just won’t do, the physically inclined Christian has two options, the always effective side-hug, or the difficult, but popular butt-out hug (a.k.a. The A-Frame). Most youth group members are astute practitioners of these Biblically sanctioned embraces, but for those who need a refresher before navigating the touchless wasteland of the pre-dating world, the following jungle guide should be of service.

The Side-Hug

The beauty of the side-hug is its ability to establish physical contact while ensuring that no intimacy of any kind is accidentally created. The key here is to avoid eye contact at all costs. Although it may not seem like it, your faces are actually quite close, and locking eyes can destroy the comfortable distance you have worked so hard to create.

Other complications can arise if your arm is too short to reach the far shoulder.The best thing to do in this situation is to give two or three firm pats on the back.This serves to further remove any remaining shred of intimacy and, if done correctly, can also remove any perceived weakness associated with your stubby arms.While this is technically no longer a hug, you are touching and that should be enough. Don’t get greedy you perv.

The Butt-out Hug

This tricky little number is most commonly practiced by women, and is especially effective in ensuring that no more than 10% of your bodies actually touch. Girls, during the approach it is important to broadcast which side of his face you are going to put your face. Failure to do so can result in accidental kisses, awkward silences, and broken noses.

A significant problem with the butt-out hug is when it is attempted by a short girl with a taller boy.Inevitably, she will smash her face into his chest or stomach, and that’s just no fun for anyone.Truly, the only way to prevent this is to avoid contact with any man over six feet tall.

So there you have it. There are no other choices. There is no secret option C. If you want more, it’s probably going to cost you dinner and a movie. Otherwise, you’ll have to stick to these kid-tested, mother-approved touches. At least until we get a more favorable translation.