RelationshipExplained Logo

What Does It Mean When a Girl Rubs Your Back While Hugging?

When a girl rubs your back, it clearly signifies that she cares about you. It is an affectionate gesture that says she probably likes you too. If you feel the same, you, too, can rub her back while hugging to let her know that you are on the same page.Featured Image of What Does It Mean When a Girl Rubs Your Back While Hugging

Hugs can be formal or informal. The one we are talking about now is a particularly informal one. We have seen people hug so many times on screen and in real life. It seems like a pretty common thing that does not need much thought.

However, when someone you have known for a little while hugs you (informally), your heart starts pounding, and when she rubs your back while hugging you, be sure that something is going on in her mind.

Her actions can be voluntary or involuntary, and that depends on what she thinks while hugging you. You still have questions, and you need elaboration, right? Well, I am here with the answers.

I will take you on a tour of her mind and help you with ideas for reciprocation.

What makes her rub your back while hugging?

Hugging is one of the most affectionate and tender ways to show someone you care. When she rubs your back while hugging, it definitely means something. This “something” has got a range wider than you can imagine.

She probably has feelings for you, and that’s her way of letting you know. She loves the closeness and doesn’t want to let you go soon. Or, she likes the fabric of your shirt. What else? Read on to know.

#1 She is trying to comfort you

She rubs your back while hugging you to comfort you. Such a gesture can come from her, particularly when you are sad or upset. She wants you to feel safe within her arms and genuinely hopes that you overcome your problems soon.

She cares for you and will probably do anything in her power to help you. But this doesn’t necessarily mean she likes you. She is just being a good friend ─ a friend in need.

#2 She likes you

While hugging, she can might your back if she likes you. It is more of an involuntary thing here. She might not even know that her hands are rubbing your back. But, voluntary or involuntary, the gesture has done its job successfully.

Its success lies in your presence here. You have come here looking for reasons why she would do that. She may or may not admit her feelings for you right away. It will be best if you wait for her to confess.

#3 She wants you to comfort her

She is sad and probably wants you to comfort her. Her rubbing your back while hugging is a way of showing that she needs you to care for her in a moment of emotional distress.

She just needs a shoulder to cry on. She needs to vet out to a person who would listen to her worries unconditionally and without judgment.

That doesn’t mean she wants to be in a romantic relationship with you (it can be a possibility, though, but you shouldn’t just assume things like this). Her gesture is a friendly one.

#4 She likes the texture of your shirt

The texture of your shirt fascinates her. It feels good in her hand. Have you ever slept on a really soft satin pillow? That is the kind of comfort she obtains out of rubbing her hand on your back (to be more specific, on your shirt).

She might or might not like you romantically, but she definitely loves your shirt and would wear it all the time if she ever borrowed it from you.

#5 You remind her of someone special

She unknowingly rubs her hand on your back while hugging you because you remind her of someone special. This “someone” can be a lost friend or a lost love, a sibling she is no longer in touch with, or one of her deceased grandparents.

While hugging you, she thinks about them and the good times she had spent with them in the past. It makes her sad and happy at the same time. Sad because her favorite people are not around anymore and happy because she found you ─ the person who is exactly like a lost loved one.

She rubs your back because that’s what she used to do while hugging that special person who is no longer a part of her life anymore. She has rediscovered an old relationship with you and doesn’t want to let you go.

#6 She is being playful

She is simply being playful when she rubs your back while hugging. She is probably trying to tickle you. She is checking if you are ticklish.

She is a mischievous person who loves to indulge in messing around with people. By rubbing your back, she is trying to mess with you too. If you are ticklish, it will be a win for her as you will start rolling on the ground, laughing. That’s what she wants ─ harmless laughter and nothing else.

#7 She doesn’t want to let you go

She doesn’t want to let you go easily. She likes you and has found some kind of sanctuary within you in this big bad world. You are her source of comfort.

Hugging is a physical act that brings two people closer for a few moments. When the moment is over, the bodies, too, move apart. She doesn’t want that moment to come soon. She rubs your back as a gesture to let you know that she doesn’t want the closeness to end soon.

She might even tighten her hug, and things can even get a bit more intense. You are the only good thing in her life right now. No one wants to let go of the best thing that ever happened to them. She is only human.

#8 She missed you

She rubs your back while hugging you clearly because she missed you. You have been apart for a while, and this is the first time she has met you in a long time.

This kind of scenario mostly took place after the recent pandemic was over. Months of strict lockdown separated lovers and friends, parents and children. The meeting of loved ones after the lockdown was lifted at the airports and railway stations was a sight to behold.

The intense hug from her is nothing but a depiction of how much she missed you and the fact that she probably is in love with you.

#9 She wants to take things to a new level

She doesn’t want to stick to mere hugging. Rubbing your back means she wants to take things to a new level.

Have you kissed her yet? This might be your cue to step up and initiate the first kiss if you really like her and want her to get into a meaningful relationship with you.

But taking things to the next level doesn’t always mean that the two people (who are engaged in an intense embrace) want to be in love. They can act out of lust. Here, the back rubbing would translate into the girl’s gesture of pulling him closer.

She sent her message through her hand gesture. The rest is up to you.

#10 She will relocate soon

This hug is a sad one, the one that takes place before you leave a loved one to move to a different city across the world. You know there will be 1000 miles between you guys, but you hope that the love will still be there.

Remember when at the end of the tenth season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Rachel had to say goodbye to Ross before leaving for Paris? The hug they shared is the one that we are discussing now.

She rubs your back while hugging you because she wants to get the most of you before she leaves for a different city. She ardently hopes that your love will stay strong.

#11 She is attracted to you

Her hands moving around on your back while she hugs you means she is attracted to you. She likes you and would like to begin a relationship with you. But for some reason, she is not being able to convey her feelings to you.

Therefore, she has chosen to talk to you in gestures (her hands rubbing your back). She wants you to reciprocate.

How? That is totally up to you. You will have to work a bit hard here to read her mind and do exactly what she wants in order to reciprocate if you are attracted to her too.

#12 She is frisking you

She doesn’t trust you or anybody else. If you find her hands rubbing your back while you hug her, it is nothing to be happy about. She is not in love with you, and she definitely does not want to sleep with you.

Her sheer distrust for you is making her frisk you, and all that frisking apparently looks like a back rub. Don’t mistake it for affection, or else you will be in for a huge disappointment when your bubble bursts.

Things you can do…

When she hugs you and rubs your back, she, most probably, is showing her affection. She, ideally, would want you to reciprocate. But that doesn’t bind you to do so. If you don’t like her in the way she likes you, you are not obligated to reciprocate the affection in any way. Instead, you can make some gestures that will let her know what you think.

I will help you with ideas for dealing with this situation. Scroll down to know what to do when she rubs your back while hugging.

#1 Rub or pat her back to show that you are on the same page

Don’t experiment much on this matter, and do what she does to you if you want to reciprocate safely. Rub or simply pat her back to show that you guys are on the same page.

When she rubs your back while hugging, she is clearly showing a sign of affection (at least in most cases). Of course, she wants her feelings to get reciprocated. But that doesn’t mean she expects only a back rub from you in exchange for her back rub.

It’s up to you if you want to play safe during your first act of reciprocation of feelings. However, you can go for other gestures too.

#2 Comfort her if she wants that

Try to comfort her if you feel she needs that. She rubbed your back while hugging you because she was looking for a sanctuary in you. She is running from her problems, and you seemed like a safe space to her.

He wants to hide from all the messy aspects of life. You can comfort her by tightening your hug the next time she hugs you. You can also make her feel special by doing things she likes.

#3 Tell her to stop if you are not comfortable

Her hug might not make you feel comfortable. Ask her to stop hugging you if you feel uncomfortable in the embrace.

Tell her that the back rubs were a bit out of context, and it made you shudder. Make sure she knows about boundaries and consent. But, be polite while you say that.

Not feeling comfortable while hugging a person is perfectly alright. She likes you doesn’t mean you will have to like her back. You should always voice your discomfort, especially when it comes to something as intimate as hugging.

#4 Keep hugging her until she stops

Be patient and keep hugging her until she stops. She might be hugging you out of sadness. She finds comfort in you. Don’t take that away from her.

This hug doesn’t necessarily mean she is in love with you. I mean, you will know the difference between a platonic and a lustful hug.

Read the situation she is in and provide the safe space she needs to vent out her feelings or the shoulder to cry on. She needs you right now. And if this has a romantic angle, you most definitely should keep hugging her as that can be your way of showing her that you care.

#5 Whisper that you like her in her ears

A hug brings people extremely closer to each other. When she rubs your back while hugging, chances are there she likes you. If you get the slightest cue that supports this statement, do something to ensure your position of importance in her life.

Whisper that you like her in her ears. While hugging, your bodies and, by extension, your mouth and her ears are closer to each other. The words that you whisper will very well be audible to her.

#6 Intensify the embrace

When she rubs your back while hugging you, you can hug her tighter to show your affection. She does what she does probably because she likes you. When someone likes a person, they hope to have their feelings reciprocated in the appropriate way.

If you tighten the embrace, she will get the message that you are in it too. The gesture will prove that you like her too. There is nothing more joyful than seeing the person you like on the same page as you.

#7 Talk to her after she stops hugging (about the nature of your relationship)

When you have stopped hugging each other, talk to her about what kind of relationship you have. Tell her that the back rub has made you feel things that you have never experienced before with her.

Ask her straightforward questions like: “Do you have feelings for me?” or “Do you know how I feel for you?”

You can also say assertive things like, “I like you. You do know that, right?”

The future of your relationship with her depends on her answer to these questions.

#8 Don’t let her go

Not letting her go can have two meanings in two different scenarios here.

In the first one, you keep hugging her. The meaning of not letting her go is quite immediate and literal here. That’s how you can show your affection for her. However, don’t make her feel uncomfortable with a creepily long hug.

In the second scenario, not letting her go refers to stopping her from moving to a different place. Remember the way Ross tried to stop Rachel from moving to Paris? Although it was totally her decision, Ross’s dream still came true, and we got the iconic line “I got off the plane” from Rachel.

However, try not to have high hopes. Life is not a dreamy sitcom full of happy endings. Your Rachel might not get off the plane, but it is always worth a try.

#9 Take the relationship to a new level

Do what she wants and take the relationship to a new level. You are already a lot closer to her with the hug and the back rub. If you get the vibe from her that she wants something more, go for it.

You can start with a harmless little kiss. However, if she feels uncomfortable, take the cue and stop immediately. Or, you can simply ask, “Do you want me to kiss you?”

If she goes with the flow, it’s great news and also probably the beginning of a new relationship.

#10 Run your fingers through her hair

Run your fingers through her hair while she strokes your back. If she wants reciprocation from you, you will know that from her behavior. Instead of mirroring what she does, running your fingers through her hair will be more thoughtful.

You can also play with her curls casually but be careful; you wouldn’t want to pull her hair and hurt her unnecessarily. That will be a huge turn-off, though.

#11 Ask her if she likes your shirt

You will know the difference between her affection for you and her love for the fabric of your shirt. If she likes your shirt, you can let her borrow that for a while. But if it’s your favorite, ask her to be careful about it.

If you don’t want to lend your favorite shirt to a girl you barely know, you can let her hug you longer the next time you meet. She can fall the smooth fabric of the shirt to her heart’s fill.

#12 Try to be playful if you can

If she behaves playfully while hugging and rubbing your back, you can be playful too. She is probably trying to find out if you’re ticklish or not. Try to find the same about her and beat her at her own game of mischief.

Being playful doesn’t always mean she likes you. She can do that as a friend. You need to get the cue early and act accordingly. Try not to make the mistake of crossing the threshold of civility.

To sum up

A simple hug can be the start of a beautiful relationship. Therefore, you need to be extra careful about your reaction.

By now, you already know that when she rubs your back while hugging you, there is a maximum chance of her being attracted to you. The attraction can be physical or emotional, depending on the situation you guys are in or have been in.

However, your appropriate reciprocation or rejection of that hug will determine your future with this girl. You must convey what you want from her through gestures and minimum words, just like she did with the back rub while hugging.

Nirajana Mukherjee

Senior Writer

Coming Up Next