Yes, the title is blunt, mostly because I have to be. You see, I’m not a social hugger. At. All. I don’t like hugging people that I’ve just met because I don’t. I usually extend my hand for a firm handshake and then choose where I go from there. I get joy from hugging my children, and my husband, my mom, and when he’s not asking for Salerno Butter Cookies, my dad. My brothers and I are huggers. However, in social situations, I’m a handshaker first, and then maybe after a few times seeing you, I’ll warm up to hugging. I might not.
After being at another conference (which was amazing by the way) a couple of weeks ago, I realized just how much anxiety I have over hugging new people. Yes. Me. The queen of random dancing, random laughing, and random stories of everything I’ve ever done, does NOT like hugging in a business that seems to thrive on it.
It’s SO uncomfortable for me. So, when I took to Facebook of all places to share the discomfort and was met with BUT YOU HUGGED ME!! I had another epic level anxiety induced meltdown, read: rolled my eyes so hard because it seems on this subject people want to completely ignore the wishes of the person who they are assaulting with a hug. I especially take issue with the folks that don’t mind invading my space but dare you to invade the space of their children by forcing them to give you a hug. Horrid, right? I also liken it to unsolicited catcalls from dudes and then you try to let them down to spare their feelings (imagine that?!) and they call you all types of names. I don’t think anyone has called me names (at least not for my hugging stance) so I might be good there.
Look, I’m not opposed to hugging folks that I know and love, and those folks have to have known me for YEARS. We come from a family that isn’t super huge on hugs of people outside of our immediate family. It’s like a privilege to get a hug from us if you aren’t directly related. Yes, we think that highly of our hugs. You will too if you ever get one from me.
I also have friends who respect my stance and don’t make me feel awkward at all for it. Lizz Porter from More than Thursdays even gives me a “Not A Hugger” button whenever she has them on hand. Melisa from Suburban Scrawl, and Janice also understand my stance. I love them for that. Then there are my other non-huggy friends who just GET me. I appreciate them more than they know.
There are times where I break my hug stance for people who I am not super close to yet. That’s during grief if they are looking for a hug because even then, I respect boundaries. It was something that I had to get used to as a Red Cross fire responder. Folks lost their entire homes and just needed comfort. I had to put my own discomfort aside to make sure that we’re leaving folks with as much comfort as possible. I know the power of hugs and yeah, it’s a connection. Humans thrive on it. I thrive on them…FROM PEOPLE I AM ALREADY CONNECTED TO. LET ME CONNECT WITH YOU BEFORE ASSAULTING ME IN YOUR BEAR GRIP! Whether you have thought about it or not, it really is kind of rude to MAKE a person hug you who has stated that they aren’t a hugger. Totally disregarding their discomfort of a situation can mess them up for an entire day, or longer. Or it can make them mad. Or it can tell them that their feelings and desires aren’t valid enough, and they become a doormat. Don’t be the cause of someone becoming a doormat.
I already know that the peanut gallery is going to come through with threats of idle hugs and while I don’t find them funny, I know some people just don’t know how to NOT hug folks. I just need them to know how to NOT get offended when I hold my hand out for a handshake and their stomach runs right into it. It’ll happen several times this year. I know it.
So, tell me. Are you a hugger? Are you a mass hugger? Are you not a hugger? How does it make you feel when people hug you without asking?