When I meet someone (male or female) for the first time, I always shake their hand.
When I meet with friends (male or female), I always go in for a hug.
A real one. None of this side hug halfsies where only the top halves of your bodies touch. No.
This is as far as I am socially trained to do.
What, then, is the proper physical contact to greet someone I am only marginally acquainted with? A handshake seems too formal; I’ve already met them. I’m just not quite ready to commit to more engaging touch.
Men have it easy here. A handshake+pat is never not appropriate. Shake with the right hand, reach out with your left and pat your associate accordingly on his left arm or shoulder.
It connotes both respect and familiarity. It brings two people close, but not too close.
This, however, is not practiced amongst women. So as for me, I will wave my greetings from a furlongs distance and hope the other party won’t walk over and extend for an embrace when I have my arms pinched firmly down my sides.
I must have missed the day they taught the etiquette course: “How to Not Look Like You Were Raised In a Barn. By Wolves.”