The Anti-Hug

Well, now I’ve gone and done it.

When I say out loud what everybody’s thinking but not saying, it should occur to me to keep my yapper shut.

Right?

There’s a reason they aren’t mentioning it, and it has to do with good things like making people feel included and accepted and loved. Who’s not for peace and harmony?

Heavens to Betsy, I guess me.

I am so sorry! I didn’t mean it. I mean, I did, but I meant the word part, not the feely part. I mean, I love you and I’m super happy that the feeling’s mutual, and that we’re here in the same room together doing something really great, but…

(I am so sorry!) please don’t hug me.

Sorry.

I have so many awesome friends, male, female, and avian.

And we are constantly all getting together and being awesome.

And I don’t know who wrote up the personal space rules a million years ago, but they went overboard and I don’t know how to turn the tides, at least around my little fork in the road.

I kept my innocuous weirdness to myself for most of my life, thinking I was the only one who got the creepy crawlies once in a while from being accosted by huggers.

If someone came at me with open arms, it was fun to place a baby into them.

I perfected the casual side-turn that blocked most of the incoming body mass.

I am professional at entering a room with enough baggage to discourage it and leaving a party in ninja stealth mode. I don’t handle good-byes very well.

I offer hugs of sympathy at funerals and hugs of joy at weddings.

The rest of you have seen me before and you will see me again and I see no reason to mark the occasions with a body tackle.

This is not football.

And I finally cracked.

I made a beloved girlfriend who, frankly, is a hugging addict and shows no sign of recovery.

She will hug you to bits within five minutes of meeting you…and your spouse and your kids and your luggage. And do it again if you leave.

Even if it’s for the bathroom.

I sat her down one day and told her…the truth.

“It’s not you, it’s me,” I began, “I just have funky issues with my personal space. I love you! Can we still be friends, just without the touchy feely part?”

She was floored.

And kind of speechless and a little sad.

It had never once occurred to her, ever, that a person would not be pleasantly happy receiving hugs or holding hands or having someone’s arm thrown casually about her shoulders, like a faux fur.

This was a lady who probably let total strangers rub her pregnant belly.

**shudder**

Feeling like a heel, I talked with other girlfriends, and discovered that I wasn’t the only female with an Anti-Hug Buffer Zone.

“I don’t know,” said one, “it’s very casual, but what else would you do? Shaking hands seems silly. And you’re not going to curtsy to the queen.”

“Watch C,” said another, “he doesn’t just hug, he kisses, too.”

And you’d better believe I did the next time we got together, and sure enough, he entered the room and greeted the first person he met (a lady) with a hug and a kiss and a warm smile.

She seemed just fine with it.

I immediately placed a row of chairs between us.

Decision time.

I could hang out with this awesome person while circling the room at all times, or come clean.

I preempted his hug by going into his personal space first, my raised eyebrows leading the way.

We discussed the social norms and I was educated about the European expectation of hugs, kisses, and if you really want to get middle eastern, multiple kisses on both sides until someone gets exhausted and has to sit down.

He claimed to be only half European with a single kiss.

I told him So Cal is just fine with a fist bump.

We tried it out a few times over the course of the day.

He tried so hard.

He looked like someone who was promised a flying rainbow unicorn and got a stick horse instead.

I am so sorry.

3 thoughts on “The Anti-Hug

  1. pamela schlottman

    I actually like hugs but not by everyone. On special occasions and by people I am really close to . I am more likely to tap friends on the shoulder in a friendly way, as a way of saying I see you and I like you. I don’t like kisses except by my immediate family. We are all so very different. If I had a friend that did not like hugs I would feel very special if she trusted me enough to tell me what she did and did not like. I think if you can it is good to tell people something is “just not my thing”.

    Reply
  2. Michelle Juanengo

    I hate it too. My in laws are a group of huggers. Yuck. Didn’t grow up that way and I think it’s odd. Don’t touch me unless you ask first. God only knows where your hands have been.

    Reply

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