To Hug Or Not


Usually proficient to a fault, an administrator at one of the venues where I teach was really having what Mama would have called a day a few weeks back.  We had never had a non work-related conversation before that day, but clearly something was troubling her and she was about to break down. When the session was over, I invited her into the room, locked the doors, sat in one chair and literally ordered her to sit in another and spill it right then and there before she totally lost it. Long story-short, she got it out of her system, and I offered advice, opinion and platitudes along the way. While the problem itself wasn’t solved that day, the pent of frustration affecting her performance at work and her over all mood was released and she was much better. I packed up and went on my way, thinking nothing of it. Anyone trying to suppress emotions to that degree will swear on bibles they were getting away with the subterfuge. Almost always the distress is transparent, it just needs an outlet. Surprisingly, it took me, a near stranger, to get it out of her. Then again, maybe not all that surprisingly. After all, we’ve all heard of how many will confess deep sorrows to a random bartender that wouldn’t or couldn’t be told to friends.

Returning to the venue again last week for another class she and I were exchanging our usual pleasantries when she suddenly reached out and bear hugged me. I understood she was grateful and was thanking me for showing care that day when even her co-workers could not have been so bothered, but having just shy of totally forgotten our last encounter I was not mentally prepared for it. In total opposition of my behavior the last time we saw each other, I was not gentle at all when I pushed away, just short of snarling for her to let go of me. She was understandably befuddled so I had to explain.

Now this is likely going to surprise some people, but here goes. I really do not like to hug or be hugged by every body. The expression of the black kitten from the above picture is me on the inside 90% of the time when being hugged.

Obviously, there are those with whom I give and receive hugs freely and willingly. With some other people, it could go either way as to who’s the top or bottom (< see what I did there?).  Nor is it a religious, germ-a-phobe, or I hate people kind of thing because none of that applies here. I do not get the urge to run off and wash head-to-toe when I hug, I just don’t like the contact. I do not like being mauled, you may call it being hugged, by just any and every body.  I am not even going into the whole cheek-to-cheek whether to kiss, to air-kiss or not to kiss  at all aspect. And yes, while I fully concede that for a self-proclaimed Social Mothra who is constantly milling around people, this is a baffling complex to have.

When I do the hugging thing, it is with people who I see on a regular enough basis to have become accustomed enough to let them within my personal space without cringing. I can, and often do, the one arm around the shoulder thing socially without a problem. It is, the full wrap both arms around the body and squeeze thing that is the problem for me. I feel that much physical contact should be reserved for close family, good friends and other loved ones.

As with most things there are exceptions. Though certain friends and I had known each other for years it was only online. As the opportunities arose for us to finally meet face-to-face individually and collectively the giving and receiving of hugs was never in question. I hugged, happily and joyfully.

This becomes a problem when in a heavy social setting where I am standing in a mixed crowd where some people I really know, those I somewhat know, but am not close to and the ones I barely or do not know at all. Those I barely or do not know are easy. They are not expecting to receive a hug from a relative stranger, and there is no reason to give one. For everyone else, rather than explain, one more time, yet again, that it is nothing personal, but I really do not like hugging. It really is just easier to grit my teeth, suffer through a series of quick hugs and just be done with it. For some reason it is okay for a seated person not to stand and hug.  And it is equally okay, if the one standing does not desire to lean down and give a hug, unless it is for close family, friends, loved ones. For that reason, I try to be seated, if I can.

Luckily, the venue administrator understood. Apparently she has a family member with similar view and thus took it in stride.  But for many it then becomes this but why? situation as though not wanting to be hugged by every one on the blessed earth must have been caused by some traumatic experience.  And even if it were the case, if they are someone I don’t want to hug, what are the odds they are someone I would share a traumatic experience with? Because, let’s be honest, not everyone who holds the title of a friend is also a loved one. There is no way to be honest and be kind in that situation.

Everybody has his or her thing/s. Hugging is one of mine. So depending on the person, the situation and especially my mood please don’t take personally if I don’t elect to throw my arms around you. In this case, really, it’s me not you, I promise.

That’s my two cents, let’s see how others are slicing it up for the week:

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5 thoughts on “To Hug Or Not

  1. I’ve not been on here in a while … but I must admit this was an interesting read. Ok. #NoteToSelf #DontAttemptToHugRai … I’m a hugger . … I CRAVE physical contact. … so this is good to know 🙂

  2. I so agree with you. I am not a hugger by nature. Hugs are for family and a very few, count them on one hand with fingers left over, close friends. In other cases a handshake will do. Some people just don’t recognize the fact that I don’t want my personal space invaded.

  3. I am right there with you. We weren’t huggers growing up and I have learned to roll with it when people grab me. I have one friend who knows me well and, on an occasion like my birthday, will ask to hug. I usually oblige.

  4. I am not a hugger either. I definitely get uncomfortable hugging total strangers, and I rarely even hug my family (with the exception of my daughters. Them, I squeeze daily.) I totally get it. If we ever meet, we’ll just shake hands. 🙂

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