Interpersonal Synchronicity: The Power of a Hug

Interpersonal Synchronicity: The Power of a Hug
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

A hug is a fascinating dance of connection. It is a bond between lovers, skin to skin, heart to heart. Friends show their understanding and children look for intimacy and security in a hug.

Picture a child sleeping on her mother’s chest or a baby dreaming on her father’s shoulder… it’s a way she connects with the people who are her roots.

Dance therapists believe that few things say more about you than the way you hug. There are short hugs and long hugs. There are awkward hugs, the kind where you don’t know where to put your hands or rest your cheek.

Hugs reveal so many emotions. Whether your body is relaxed or tense and your spine stiff or curved, every movement and gesture says something about you.

Watch a hug and you learn a lot of information about those involved. We get an idea about their insecurity, intimacy, and passion.

“Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.”


Whether you’re a master in the art of hugs, or you avoid them like Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, this fact will interest you.

A study published in “Neuroscience News” magazine reveals the power of a hug. The study demonstrates that a simple hug from a loved one can make pain feel less.

Dr. Simone Shamay-Tsoory and Professor Irit Weissman-Fogel, the authors of the study, call this “interpersonal synchronicity”.

It’s a term that you should remember. You’ll be hearing a lot about this concept in the next few years.

a lion and her cub sharing an intimate hug

A hug is puts you in sync with the people you love

Sometimes we forget that the skin is the biggest organ of the body. It is a fascinating and complex tissue. Three layers of cells called the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis make up the skin.

These layers act as a protective barrier and regenerate every month. Every second they send thousands of bits of information to your brain.

One interesting fact worth mentioning is that our fingertips, the soles of our feet, and our lips are where we absorb the most delicate, fine-tuned, and sensitive information from our surroundings. 

Therefore, we could say that a hug is an authentic union of the senses between two human beings. And this common social and emotional gesture has a deeper meaning than you might have thought.

When you hug, you are collecting and giving specific information. I hug you and you hug me to show affection, security, trust, love, or friendship. Not only that, but, as the University of Haifa in Israel shows, hugs put interpersonal synchronization into play.

To understand this concept better, you need to fix your gaze over a high-powered microscope. You have to forget everything you know about communication. Because a hug is so much more than a non-verbal language: it is an act of connection and synchronicity

When we talk about closeness and love between human beings, we are talking something that transcends us. It is a web of invisible particles woven together and connecting us. This web ties us together almost like an umbilical cord linking us to our social group… it exists to take care of us.

Two people sharing a hug

A group of scientists studied 22 couples over 32 years. Their studies showed that during a hug, respiratory and cardiac rhythms sync up. Not only that, but the brain waves of both partners also synchronize.

When you hug someone, you match their frequency, so to speak. You enter a state of calm in which emotions regulate biology. Physiological synchronization is able to reduce physical pain, suffering, stress, fear, tiredness, etc…

“The more empathetic the partner and the stronger the analgesic effect, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching.”

-Pavel Golstein, pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder.-

I’ll take care of you, you take care of me: interpersonal syncronicity

Interpersonal synchronicity doesn’t take place only in romantic relationships. When a baby comes into the world, his brain is still very immature. Nine months inside his mother’s womb are not enough to handle and relate to the world around him.

That’s when something called exterogestation comes into play. This is basically a second gestation period outside of the uterus. It takes place in the perfect refuge of a parent’s arms.

“It is said that each time we embrace someone warmly, we gain an extra day of life.”

-Paulo Coelho-

Here is where another type of biological connection takes place. This fascinating phenomenon is called thermal synchronicity. When a baby is cold, the temperature of its mother’s chest may rise up to two degrees. If the baby is hot, the opposite happens.

In essence, direct contact with the mother’s skin creates a shelter where biological needs synchronize. This refuge calms fears, provides warmth, and fosters the child’s brain development.

A mother and her son hugging: interpersonal syncronicity in play.

In conclusion, know that physical contact contributes to our survival in a meaningful way. Whether it be a warm touch or a true hug, this contact is important to our health and happiness.

Interpersonal synchronicity teaches us that physical closeness puts us on the same wavelength. We connect on a physical, emotional, and even energetic level.

And that’s where genuine, fascinating, and oft-forgotten power can unfold. The power of love and affection versus suffering, cold, stress, anxiety, doubt, and even pain.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.