I am one of those people. Not the huggy variety. The not so huggy variety.
I hate hugs. Well, most hugs. Especially those from strangers.
I do like the chocolate variety of hugs. And hugs from people I care about greatly. Very greatly.
The thing is, most people are, well, huggy. I have based this decision on the number of times people have violated my personal space.
Now, I am not saying I hate hugs. I love hugs. From people I know and care about. And who I know well enough to want to touch. Those hugs communicate the love and comfort hugs are supposed to communicate (at least what I think they should).
I like personal space. I have issues with texture and touch. So, hugs are potentially overwhelming and terrifying experiences for me. Especially when they come unexpectedly. A hug from the right person, however, is lovely and even invited. I hug my friends and family. I do not want to hug you if we just met. It is how I am. I think that is a social norm. But, it is not all of the time.
One of my best friends is an extremely touchy feely person. For years, she would hug me and laugh because I hated it. And we would have obligatory hugs. They grew more frequent. Eventually, I grew to like her hugs. And now I invite them. This took years.
For some odd reason, most of my church family at home is very huggy. Like prolonged hugs and touching kind of people. I don’t really know why. And it isn’t like it is just a few people. Many of them hug… And several are awkward about it. I love these people dearly. But, I don’t love hugs. My friends laugh when I come home because of the onslaught of hugs that comes my way. I appreciate it. I also appreciate when it is over and I can go on breathing. I have been to other churches and have been hugged a lot less. I like some of the hugs now. Others I still dodge. But, I have come to realize our hug to person ratio is high.
Weddings are a hug nightmare. At my own wedding, there came a point where I just started hugging everyone because everyone was hugging me, even people I swear I didn’t know. As a result, I think I creeped out a few strangers. In my mind it was like sweet space violating payback.
I thought about it and there are appropriate hug situations.
If you know a person well… Meaning you have conversations beyond saying how your day is going and the weather, then you can consider a hug. But, screen the person first to make sure they are receptive. And then, hugs are more of a hello/goodbye in the longer term sense.
If you are best buddies with a person, then hugs can be given as a sign of appreciation. Hugs should be doled out on special occasions… You know, weddings, Christmas, deaths to those who fall into the knowing well category.
I like to think that one does not need to hug strangers or not known well people in any circumstance, though apparently not all people agree.
Hugs are appropriate always between lovers, though they should be limited when others are present to avoid gagging sounds by onlookers.
Lastly, hugs should never be okay when you first meet someone. No matter how much you heard about them.
There are also different hugs.
The awkward hug… The person who doesn’t know where to put their arms or body or who tries to carry on a conversation or who puts some part of them in an inappropriate place.
The rubber… People who pat or rub your back, arm or other parts while trying to hug you. These folks are my least favorite hugging peple.
The squisher… The people who try to smother you to death with their body or squeeze your insides out like sausage.
The feather duster… The ones who brush up against you and are gone again.
The gymnast… People who do a combination of the squisher and some various twirls, twists or running starts so that you almost fall over when they hug you. These make for good reunion hugs… But only with people who meet the always allowed to hug you criteria.
PDA… Public displays of affection. If it would be on an R rated movie or if you wouldn’t want your grandma to watch you do it, please don’t do it to me or in front of me. Think teenagers in a dark empty movie theatre or that annoying couple at the concert who rarely come up for air let alone listen to the music.
Other… The hugs that are just plain normal hugs without any weirdness. These are rare, but highly pleasant.
I probably sound like a psychopath. I’m not. Again… If I like you and am comfortable with you and you don’t do anything weird like linger, hugs are good. If you breach any of those criteria… I am going to be uncomfortable and possibly look like a deer caught in headlights.
I think people should be aware of hug haters. Sometimes, the best way to show some love is to use words… Or a nice high-five or something (Pro tip: High fives are always awesome to hug haters like me, except in a place where total silence is expected, then you will disturb the peace). Something a bit less invasive. Until it becomes clear that both parties want to reciprocate hugs.
Hug haters need to create awareness. People need to know we don’t hate them… Just the feeling of their arms around us. Until we invite them on our own terms.