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 hand shaker first, and then maybe after a few times seeing you, I’ll warm up to hugging. I might not.
Please don’t hug me if I’m just meeting you. I don’t know you. You may look innocent, and loving, but I take a LONG time to warm up to people, and I completely own that. I also have to say that I’m TIRED of people feigning ignorance when I state this.
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. Michelle from Divas With a Purpose will put herself into the line of fire if she sees someone amping up for a hug and I’m not aware, and she’s serious as a heart attack with the interference. Amber and Sili from From Carpools to Cocktails and Sili from Sili Recio. 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, and don’t have to explain to anyone that they are recipients of hugs at times. It doesn’t need to be said. 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.
I will tell you that I miss hugs from my brother Daniel. His were tight. They were almost suffocating to a point. And he knew it. They were meant to invade the space of the people he loved, and because we loved him back, we allowed it. Well, I did. Those hugs meant something to me. I miss them a lot.
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?
Michelle D Garrett says
I’m a hugger but a hugger that respects people’s space because … common decency! I love this! It’s so important to remember. It’s the same with children. I NEVER make my kids hug someone they don’t want to. My daughter refused to dish out hugs until she was almost 4 and she still does so sparingly. It’s a matter of respect. If we tell our children to protect their space as children we should respect those who continue to do so adults. You should never make someone uncomfortable and induce anxiety because of your wants – that makes you the douche.
Natasha Nicholes says
You’re a wise one. My kids ARE huggers – well, outside of Nathaniel, because broody teen – and it amazes me that they don’t shy away from people. I still hover to make sure no one is making them feel uneasy.
Deborah Cruz says
I’m a hugger Natasha. I know I hugged you at mom 2.0 and I think you told me after that you weren’t a hugger. I feel really bad about that now. I never even thought about it. I come from a giant Latino family and we hug and kiss everyone. It’s my natural instinct. I guess I never even considered that it wasn’t everyone’s. Thanks for the perspective.
That being said,I promise not to hug you in SD in a couple of weeks but you can expect a big, happy high five or handshake!
Natasha Nicholes says
I think our families have a LOT to do with how we approach life. It’s one of those things that we’re ingrained with. Our immediate family is full of huggers and for the most part, there were people that I’ve always loved hugging, and those that I miss hugging so much, like my maternal grandmother. Hugs are SO intimate for me, and I’m guarded when meeting new people. Don’t feel bad, just use what you know for the future! Looking forward to seeing you in SD too!
Lynda @MommyPowers - aka: Sandy Gram says
I don’t hug folks I’ve just met, it feels fake to me. Hugs are very personal & I need to have a personal relationship with you in order to hug you. I’m also very much an introvert- painfully so in fact. I’d much rather hang back & observe, than be all up in the mix. (Unless there’s Prince music involved!)
Nicole Brady says
I’m a hugger, but have recently started extending a hand first. This past weekend at an event I know on more than one occasion I extended a hand, the shook it then told me they were giving me a hug. It was a happy medium, but had I been you, I can see how that would have caused some discomfort. I’m sorry that I’m one of those people who makes the assumption that a hug is mutually wanted. I hug people I feel like are my digital family because it’s like a long overdue family reunion when I see them in person. (Yes, I would have unknowingly invaded your space trying to give you an unsolicited hug if I found you at TBEX, but I didn’t.) Thank you for sharing your feelings about it. I KNOW I have seen you share it on FB before but always forget. Maybe one of these days I’ll remember, but I guess that only matters if I ever actually see you in person. 🙂
I wasn’t really raised to be a hugger but I am definitely a hugger now. That said, the only people I will hug at a conference upon very first in-person meeting are those with whom I’ve had meaningful interactions online. I don’t hug “cold”, as in when someone introduces me to someone brand new. Anyway, I adore you and appreciate every side hug I get from you, but I don’t ever EXPECT them. 🙂
I once hugged someone who wasn’t a hugger. Way back in 2007. She was a blogger I read, religiously, because her posts were so raw, so real, and felt like I really knew her. And I said so, upon meeting her for the first time. She took the hug, but all she could do was holler out “AWKWARD”! And I’m still feeling super-awkward, for her. Lesson learned.
I’m a hugger, but I respect personal space. If we’ve just met, no hugs for you but if we’ve met a few times and bonded…. hugs galore!!!!
I am not a hugger at first meetings or with acquaintances. I like to get to know someone or provide emotional support. Funny story – over 30 years ago, when I first met my husband’s family – his dad, mom, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces–they all hugged each other and even some kissing. I was like “oh, how long has it been since everyone has seen each other?” Him, “Yesterday.” Now my own grand-kids tease me about the hugging thing – even though I love hugging them. 🙂
Because I’m not a talker, I give hugs as a consolation, lol! I don’t want people to think I’m a bish because I’m quiet. I also feel like the world just needs more hugs. I like to give hugs as a way to show appreciation and welcome and to ease awkwardness, but I can see how hugging could create awkwardness too. I usually wait and read body language to make sure I’m safe! I am not here for making my kids give hugs because that’s just… nah son.