My husband and I have dated since High School. I was a teenager when I met his family for the first time. Over the last 16 years they have become my family however I still cannot bring myself to tell them that I am not a hugger. Every time we see each other there is an obligatory hug at the beginning of the event and as leaving. To make matters worse, they also kiss but it is really the hug that I wish I could muster the courage to tell them I dislike.
It is true. I almost always hate hugging. Baby A and my husband are really the only hugs I can ever remember enjoying and make no mistake, I love hugging Baby A (she sometimes gets annoyed by my arms wrapped around her when there is so much for her to do). As far as my dislike for hugging, I come from a stable, traditional family so this isn’t a reflection of childhood trama- I simply don’t want to press by body up against yours.
I realize some will think this silly and please know this is not meant to offend any huggers. As we prepared for Baby A’s first birthday party, I was thinking about this and about the reasons why I don’t like hugging people. Here they are.
1) Smell. Some huggers smoke and some huggers wear strong perfume. Past this, everyone has their own smells from soaps, lotions, makeup, shaving gel, biology, etc. I don’t want to smell your body. I don’t want you to smell my body. I don’t want my face near your hair nor your beard nor your ear. My space is mine and your space is yours.
2) It is Awkward. Maybe coming from a non-hugging family plays into this one but recently when I arrived at a restaurant for dinner with the extended in-law family I was carrying a diaper baby, a baby, wearing a coat, and the restaurant waiting area was packed yet it was still expected I make a round and hug all the people there I knew. I bumped strangers and Baby A because fussy with so much going on at once. It was disruptive in this environment but it doesn’t work in others either. Even when huggers visit in my home my instinct is to help them empty their arms, get their coat hung up, introduce them to other guests so to add an unnecessary hug into the mix is simply unproductive.
3) It is a Gateway Action. Most huggers I have met are also kissers. I have never been made more uncomfortable than when kissed, on the lips, by my husbands uncle. There was moisture and I was mortified. As I have gotten to know these kissers, I am convinced their expressions are innocent on their behalf and instead an expression of family or acceptance but they are completely unwelcomed. Over the years I have built up the confidence to offer my cheek instead of allowing my lips to be the destination of theirs but it is amazing to me that kissers frequently make a move for lips. And can we talk about thie health issue here? I’d like to think everyone is as cleanly and healthy as I am but even so, your germs can stay with you.
4) I Don’t Know How to Hug You. I will never forget when my best friend lost her Grandma. At the funeral, I tried to give her the best hug I could. She needed it and I wanted to support her. Later in the day she was laughing it up as she teased about my hug. Too long, too short, to tight, too loose, I still don’t know what I did wrong in that hug but I assume I continue to make the same mistakes in present day embraces. I try to pat to indicate we are finished by I was finished before we started so what do I know!
5) My daughter will know. Most importantly, my daughter will know I don’t like hugging. It isn’t something I can hide from my children, kids pick up on everything, and I’m embarrassed for them to learn that even though I am not comfortable with this affection, I give it at the expectation of others. Yes, I do believe there is a benefit to doing something for someone else, just because they enjoy it and it makes them happy. I’m don’t find this to fit that situation, however, and I’m ashamed that I don’t stand up and speak out that this is not a welcome activity, that it makes me uncomfortable. I regularly ask Baby A for “Mommy Kisses” and when I get rejected I often reply with “you don’t ever have to kiss anyone you don’t want to.” Do as I say sweet baby girl, not as I do.
So what about you? Are you a reluctant hugger too or is there another behavior that is common in your life that you shy away from?