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Thursday, May 16, 2013

196

Do You Need a Hug?

In a world where so much has gone horribly wrong, this outcry against hugging is just about the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen. Of all the things to take against! This is not to say that I would care to ask, let alone pressure, anybody (meaning, by "anybody,” anti-hug Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed) to hug, who is not comfortable doing so, though I can't help but wish everyone on earth could experience even a small fraction of the pleasure I do from a hug.

Those who do not care to hug need only preemptively stick an arm out for a handshake, if they wish to avoid it. About 99 percent of people will take the hint; the remaining one percent who will recklessly grab you anyway have got far worse in store for you than a mere hug, I daresay. For me, at least, I pledge no hard feelings about refusing my embrace. Not everybody was raised by a passel of excitable, unbelievably noisy, affectionate Cubans!—of this I am well aware.

"Everyone thinks hugs are soooo great," writes Notopoulos in yesterday’s post, "and if you don’t like hugging hello or goodbye, you’re some kind of socially deficient monster." No. No judgment. And please believe me, it is just as unpleasant to feel oneself to be too warm toward others as too cold. In short, there is no "right" way to cope with the hug. Ideally we want to take people as we find them, and try to understand everyone within the parameters of his own "comfort zone," in the old-fashioned but useful phrase. So for pretty much everyone, a calculation is taking place, the aim of which is to ensure that our own overtures are welcome, and not a matter for confusion, discomfort or horror.

Yesterday, in the wake of Notopoulos's post, many spoke of the awkwardness of that moment, when you're not sure whether or not a hug is expected or wanted: you look desperately to the other party for clues, you hit every kind of anxiety and panic. You may want to find a hole to crawl into for a while. The potential-hug-trouble bore additional complications, it seemed, among the XY. By the end of the day I had received the distinct impression that hugging is viewed as somewhat unmanly—is refusing them possibly a vestigial imperative of the Anglo flavor of machismo? So that the default male greeting is (must be? should be?) a handshake?

One male friend shared a terrible personal tale:

i hugged xxxxx xxxxxxxx last night because he was making an indistinct hand gesture

didn't know what he wanted to do so i hugged him

WHICH WAS INCORRECT

There is the issue, too, even when the die is cast and a hug is already on the runway, as it were, of how close a hug one may risk. To touch chest to chest is a faux pas for many among whom the chaster "shoulder hug" or "Christian side hug" would be admissible. Alternatively, the other party may go in for the full-body superhug, perhaps even appending an additional coda or "hippie hug." The correct level of closeness requires a careful and instantaneous calibration. Again—too much contact is quite as bad as too little! Or worse, even! One doesn't care to be seen as a sweating vulgar beast who is lurching in for unwelcome physical intimacy.

But the correct level, once found, is an immediate way of expressing friendliness and pleasure in the other's company, and other things, too: to show how much you have missed, or will miss, the other; to express one's feelings that a meeting has been successful; to indicate acceptance of a new acquaintance to a deeper level of intimacy; to communicate sympathy, or forgiveness, or happiness, or sadness, or (if accompanied by jumping up and down) elation.

Therefore, I write to beg of those who may feel pressured to accept an unwelcome intimacy: please don't! There is no pressure! Please indicate freely your unwillingness to hug, in terms as clear as you like, but please, please do not seek to take this harmless, conventional form of human contact from those of us who love and, indeed, may really need it. I am more than willing to offer you all the respect and consideration I can: but I ask that you do the same for us, who (you may not realize) are renewed and refreshed, who can perhaps even be recalled from unhappiness and loneliness, by this innocent, simple gesture.

The larger solitude to which each of us is ineluctably fated—Wallace's "skull-sized kingdom"—can sometimes come to feel very like a prison. The difficulty of escape at such times is very, very great; there's such a vast distance between one soul and another. It's not guaranteed that a hug will always pierce that veil of solitude, but then again, for some, sometimes, it might.

A hug, then, may even be a reminder that there is more to us than whatever bullshit societal transaction or business nonsense or idiotic role-playing is being forced on us in any given moment. A hug may in fact be a (literally) palpable indicator that we are not alone in the universe. For there is one other at least, right now in this moment, real, warm, breathing like oneself, willing, like oneself, alive, like oneself. Against all the world's cold calculations, a heart to beat, so improbably, against one's own.

Maria Bustillos is a Los Angeles-based journalist and critic.

Photo by tcmorgan/Flickr.



196 Comments / Post A Comment

Jaya

I'd just like to put it out there that anyone from the Hairpin who ever wants to hug me is 100% encouraged to do so.

Bittersweet

@Jaya Me too, although I'll warn everyone ahead of time that it'll be an upper body hug. The only person with whom I engage in "hippie hugs" (assuming that's the equivalent of what we used to call the "peepee to peepee hug"?) is Mr. Bittersweet.

mattewmc

the best !!!! @t

parallel-lines

OKAY FINE WITH HUG. But no cheek kissing. I am so bad with negotiating that and I've nearly smooched my own father in law right on the lips when trying to figure out which way I was supposed to go.

olivebee

@parallel-lines I just did the exact same thing last month. I went to hug my FIL goodbye, and he looked like maybe he was going for a cheek kiss? So, I was like "never done this with you, but ok!" and gave him one, and he nearly turned right into it. SO awkward.

lobsterhug

@parallel-lines My father in law always does the cheek kiss too! I just keep my head turned as far as possible away from so there is no chance of anything other than lips to cheek.

fondue with cheddar

@parallel-lines One time I hugged a male friend and for some reason kissed him on the mouth, and I was really confused as to why I did. I guess it seemed natural somehow? He was the kind of guy to not think of it as anything more than friendly, so I wasn't worried about what he might infer from that. But after that he would kiss me on the mouth every time we said hello/goodbye because he thought that was my thing, and I didn't know how to say, "Dude, I don't want to kiss you, I don't know why I did that one time." It became this weird, awkward thing for awhile until finally I said something. He looked understandably confused.

empathicalist

@parallel-lines - OH! So I have a question about parents more than in-laws, but...when I was growing up, we always kissed our parents on the lips before bed, goodbyes, etc. Then I hit puberty and it was kinda weird, so I stopped, but now I'm ok with it. I've noticed that others NEVER do this, though, and wonder what's typical. From watching old movies, I think it used to be more common, and has fallen out of favor in our age of sex-offenders-everywhere-panic.

empathicalist

@fondue with cheddar - Also, I totally kiss my super-close friends of either gender on the lips, and tell them I love them before hanging up. It's mutual, btw, I'm not that...special.

ayo nicole

@parallel-lines I ALWAYS MAKE THE CHEEK KISS AWKWARD so I try to be in the middle of saying something when I hug everyone.

Killerpants

@minijen I'm curious about this too! I used to do the kiss parents goodnight on the lips thing too, when I was a kid. I don't remember when it stopped but probably around puberty. We don't do it now, but we do hug.

ragesinggoddess

@parallel-lines My family is very huggy but never does the cheek-kiss, but my husband's otherwise very Connecticut Emotional Detachment family does, and it squicks me out EVERY TIME.

chnellociraptor

@parallel-lines Solid use of GIF response.

Verity

@minijen I did that with my parents growing up (and I'm only 23, so not hugely long ago). Just cheek-kisses/hugs now, though.

I am awful at social kissing in general, though. It is so horribly awkward. I feel stupid if it's just air-kissing, but actual contact is seemingly frowned-upon? What do you do?

Blushingflwr

@minijen I always kissed my parents on the lips too

formergr

@minijen We did this when I was growing up (at least my mom and I did-- can't remember if my dad too), and yeah, probably stopped around puberty. I obviously have no issue with it, but in retrospect it is kind of funny since it's not something you see much of with other people.

ALTHOUGH-- I recently saw someone's LinkedIn page, and her photo was of her and her little girl kissing on the lips. I mean...we both work in a very stuffy field (not lawyers, but close), and this is just not a professional image to put out there!

Miss Maszkerádi

@parallel-lines Oh lord. So, a large proportion of my friends and colleagues are from countries other than the US, and many of their home countries are big on physical expression of friendly affection - which is cool! I like it! The problem is, I can never remember which countries do which number of cheek kisses. Usually it seems that anything east of Poland goes for three (Eastern Orthodox thing, symbol of the Trinity, according to someone who may have been bullshitting me?), the Prague-Vienna-Budapest triangle stops at two and everywhere else just does one except the French who also do three or two depending on the region, the Spanish who are just all over everybody and the Germans who will go apoplectic if you enter their personal space by one too many metric centimeters. The point is I have miscalculated frequently and collided lips far too many times.

RNL
RNL

@parallel-lines I def smooched my tax law professor once on the lips in a cheek-kissing debacle. We were also pretty drunk. Whoops!

fondue with cheddar

@minijen My parents are kiss-on-the-lips people. Actually, now that I think about it I'm not sure about my mom these days. Maybe she's a cheek-kisser now? I don't really think about it. I think you're right that it used to be a lot more common. My dad is very old-school.

@Miss Maszkerádi That all sounds very confusing!

olivebee

I didn't even read the story yet - I just had to exclaim "goats!" Oh, they are so cute.

PistolPackinMama

@olivebee GOAT HUG

Emma Carmichael

DOX: Katie Notopoulos hugged me for approximately 16 seconds last night.

'riel

@Emma Carmichael WELCOME TO THE COMMENTS PLEASE STAY

parallel-lines

@'riel Quick, grab her and hug her super tight so she can't leave!

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@Emma Carmichael WAIT DONT GO I HAVE TO ASK IF YOU'LL GO TO PROM WITH ME

Jinxie

@parallel-lines

area@twitter

There is a libertarian Brony on my Twitter feed. I would very much like a hug. (And possibly a drink.)

par_parenthese

@area@twitter Jayzus. You're tough, because if I had a libertarian Brony on MY twitter feed, I would need elephant tranquilizers.

frigwiggin

@area@twitter One of my high school friends grew up to be a libertarian Brony. Maybe it's him...

Jinxie

@frigwiggin I don't know any bronies personally (which is, I take it, a good thing?), so maybe you can answer this: does the fact of a dude being a brony make him less annoying, if he's also (say) a libertarian, or worse, or neutral value? Part of me thinks grown men copping to liking a (sort of for) kids show about magic pony ladies is charming and part of me is just a little suspicious...

frigwiggin

@Jinxie I'm sure it differs between Bronies, but there's something about Brony culture that feels like, "okay, now that we men are here and profess our appreciation for this program, it can commence having value!"

area@twitter

@Jinxie For me, at least, enjoying and supporting a show that celebrates female characters and a lot of (I would argue) traditionally minimized feminine imagery and ideas make a subsequent turn to casual sexism or racism even more jarring. Particularly when the repeated and embraced Brony tagline is "love and tolerate everyone".

ETA: I should add that I have friends who are bronies, and I have great affection for the show. It's not the common ground I had hoped it would be, though.

area@twitter

@frigwiggin @Jinxie Oh Jesus, this dude is "same sex orientated" and vehemently against gay marriage. I was torn between being angry with him and sorry for him and now I'm just sorry for him. You poor dumb kid.

Gen. SmedleyT.Butler

@frigwiggin@area@twitter-

I play a decent guitar and can sing once bac> gets above.02: Please, please, will y'all start a band with me named Libertarian Brony?

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

i used to be very very anti hug for a long time until i realized no matter the weather i was cold all the time

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Oddly, I like to hug people when I'm offering them comfort, but I hate when people try to hug me if I'm in distress.

Bambi

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose yep, me too. When Mr Bambi hugs me when I'm upset, I only hug myself, I don't hug him back. It's this weird weird thing.

Helvetica

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose THIS.

PistolPackinMama

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose ME TOO

BoozinSusan

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Tried to rub my roommate's arm last night when she was hugging her knees and crying. Got swatted (swatted!) away. That was awkward.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

I am sufficiently anti-hug that I forget social hugging is a thing and never put my hand out in time to avoid unexpected embraces. In any case I'm too much of a people-pleaser to be all "DON'T HUG ME" (even if that's what I'm interior-screaming).

Oddly enough I can handle the French-style double-cheek-kiss, which paradoxically seems less intimate even though kissing is nominally involved?

Anecdote, anecdata.

fondue with cheddar

@Terrifying Wife-Avatar Yeah, but having your body pressed against another person (especially when you're a lady because boobs) is intimate, too. I'm a hugger myself, but I can see how that could be uncomfortable for someone.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@fondue with cheddar Definitely. Whereas it's possible, even routine, to "faire la bise" sort of at arm's length--you grasp each other's forearms and lean in from there.

Now to see what other questions of causality I can answer with "because boobs."

russell brandom

hug life

christonacracker

@russell brandom One of my favorite possessions is a tshirt with Tupac on it where his stomach tattoo is cut off just enough so it looks like he has a hug life tattoo

RK Fire

@russell brandom

I didn't choose the hug life, the hug life chose me.

BattyRabbit

So many appropriate Achewood strips but I guess I will just put this one here to start http://achewood.com/?date=03242003
(I love hugs soooo much. The last paragraph of this is why, I think.)

fondue with cheddar

@BattyRabbit huuuuugs

laurel

Somebody gifify Phillippe running with socks on his hands, please.

parallel-lines

When people hug me I secretly wonder if they're just trying to feel my boobs and see if they're real.

Linette

@parallel-lines I did not previously have this fear, but I suspect the future holds new terrors for me now.

lobsterhug

@parallel-lines I assume they are so I just smush my boobs right into their chest. They are real and they are spectacular.

parallel-lines

@lobsterhug (o)(o) <------- ;)

fondue with cheddar

@lobsterhug Mine are real and spectacular too. We should totally hug sometime!

lobsterhug

@fondue with cheddar We should! A pin up with the express purpose of exchanging hugs with other pinners sounds really excellent right now.

katekari

@lobsterhug Jugs hugs!

(Sorry not sorry.)

fondue with cheddar

@katekari Maybe some of us can bring along our small, snub-nosed dogs?

olivebee

I enjoy hugs. I'm not a hugger - as in, other people definitely wouldn't call me one because I don't just hug my friends every time I see them - but I like hugging/being hugged.

I have noticed, though, that when I do hug "socially," it's almost always on the goodbye and never on the hello.

ETA: Maybe this is a subconscious way of being sentimental? Like saying "I love you" every time I get off the phone with my loved ones just in case something bad happens.

Linette

@olivebee I do the incoming handshake, outgoing hug too! I think it's because hugging someone you've never met feels too aggressive, but often by the time you say goodbye you feel you know them well enough to at least make a sketch toward it.

This rule completely changes if I am meeting the close friend of a close friend and we have heard lots about each other. I do tend to presume that we are totally going to like each other enough for lots of future hugs and that therefore Hugging is Go.

hallelujah

Single cheek kiss, please and thank you. Get your outstretched bear arms away from me you monsters!

aphrabean

I used to be very resistant to touching people in general, then I sort of flip-flopped and went perhaps TOO FAR (see article's reference to hippie hugs) and now I think. . . I think I'm in a socially acceptable range. I do not hug work people, though, even if we're friends outside of work.

datalass

Is anyone else confused about the implicit assumption here that hugs transcend forced social interaction, that hugs are inherently a sincere and moving thing? Admittedly, I'm coming off of a recent string of experiences when professional acquaintances insisted on a hug when I went for the handshake, so I'm biased here. But I've had a number of hugs that just felt like an extension of the forced workplace/social interaction.

aphrabean

@datalass Why work hugs? WHY.

hallelujah

@datalass UGHH forced professional hugs happen to me all the goddamn time. I'll even have my hand out for a shake, and I get hugged anyways. JUST BECAUSE I'M A WOMAN DOESN'T MEAN I WANT TO BE TOUCHED, GUY.

EKPinc

@hallelujah Yes, this, 100X this! Please don't hug me just because I'm a woman. Work people, know this: I am judging you for hugging me.

fondue with cheddar

@aphrabean Work hugs are weird. The only time we hug here is at the end of our holiday dinner or when it's someone's last day. I'm okay with that.

Actually, one time early in my employment, my boss asked me if I was okay and I started crying, so he hugged me. It didn't feel uncomfortable, it was just thoughtful and I honestly needed it. I'm sure the fact that he's a the same age as my father and is a friend of his helps.

causedbycomma

@datalass I would have hugged the people at my last job if they hadn't thought it was weird. Here, I would definitely say that I would think it weird if anyone hugged me.

MissCellaneous

@hallelujah OMG, yes to this. I'm frequently the only woman working on a small team of men and they hug me hello/goodbye at the start of every project (we don't work together between projects.) I don't feel sexually harassed or anything, but they all shake each other's hands and then hug me! I stick my hand out and they use it to pull me into a hug. Dude, just shake my hand like a professional.

Helvetica

@aphrabean Yesssss. At my workplace, it's a thing to hug people on their birthdays but I, as a person who doesn't like to even touch people I'm not quite close with, offer a handshake. It's mostly women here, so they assume every woman wants to hug/be hugged and I'm just NOPE.

fondue with cheddar

@MissCellaneous I've never had that happen but it would really piss me off! That's even worse than when men don't shake your hand. Hugging isn't very professional. Have you tried telling them you would prefer to shake hands?

paddlepickle

@datalass Oh man, working as a progressive organizer/activist means SO MUCH HUGGING. And standing in circles hand-holding and sharing of feelings. The number of times I've been at meetings and wanted to shout "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE PEOPLE I KNOW WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD OR WHATEVER BUT WE'RE STILL GODDAMNED ADULTS" is. . .a lot of times.

Jinxie

@par_parenthese Every time I come into this thread I have to scroll real fast past this gif because it makes me so uncomfortable it hurts.

swirrlygrrl

@datalass Oh god yes. And by that I mean dear god no.

astrangerinthealps

I grew up in a culture that limits itself strictly to air-kissing in social settings (or backslapping for men). Hugs are for children and/or intimate partners. Now that I live in the US I will accept a hug rather than look stuck-up, but I struggle to interpret it with the correct degree of intimacy.

christonacracker

Oh god I hate the limp back-patting hugs, the kind with hips all akimbo in an attempt to avoid any more contact than absolutely necessary to complete the transaction. If the hug is gonna happen, just go with it and fake the happy squeeze.

parallel-lines

@christonacracker This is my hugging style :(

Sorry, it's the only way I can show that I am beta and submitting myself to this unwanted hug. Ugh, is it over yet? You got what you wanted! If I pat you will you make it STOP?

A boyfriend once told me I hugged like, "A grandmother greeting her least favorite grandchild," and scolded me for the patting.

JessAndNo21

@christonacracker i awkwardly do the opposite like, hearty bro back-slap hug (to girls and guys, old and young). i've done this to more than one first date. oh my god i have to go hide in a hole of abject humiliation after admitting that.

packedsuitcase

HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGS

Please give me all of the hugs. If I don't want to hug you, I will make it clear, but that happens about 5% of the time.

noodge

I was the hug-crazed loud American when I lived in England. One year of dealing with horrified dodges from my potential hugees was enough to make me hug-confused for the rest of my life.

Hot Doom

@noodge errrrmagerd, this is the exact opposite for me. I'm an Ammurican hugaphobe and I tend to go for the handshake upon first meeting meeting and then lame waves thereafter, but since getting to England, there have been so many hugs! I don't want to be an awkward slamhole with people I've just met and be all weird about the hugs/cheek kisses, but please spare me the hugggssss. merrrrcymercy!

noodge

@Hot Doom hm, has it changed that much in... oh god, it's been 15 years? fuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Hot Doom

@noodge I don't know! Maybe your hugs touched a generation and I've found the one and only hotbed of English huggers carrying on a new legacy? If that's the case, then that'd be cool ;)

MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION

@noodge England's all about the half hug/1 cheek kiss, though I generally only got in social situations and after knowing people for a bit (or sometimes after you just met someone and everyone was a little drunk). Throwing French people in always made things slightly awkward 'what is happening? how many time are we doing this? Oh god we're going to get caught in some kind of cheek kissing loop!'

Hot Doom

@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION oh my god, the french kissing loop (not to be confused with the french-kissing loop, which ended for me in college) is so confusing! You are right about all of this.

AMS
AMS

@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION I once went to a party in Belgium with a bunch of EU folks, so the 1-kiss, 2-kiss, and 3-kiss folks were all mingling. The leaving bit was really awkward.

Scandyhoovian

I am one of those people who will hug and hug and hug, but only if I actually know you. Hugs from strangers make me all tense and nervous.

Cheek kisses are the worst, though. I did not grow up in a place where that is normal so when I occasionally come across people who do them regularly, they always make me panic a little on the inside.

juksie

@Scandyhoovian Cheek kisses make me more uncomfortable than any other thing. I will hug a stranger before i do the single cheek kiss to a close friend.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Scandyhoovian Once I spent a wine-soaked evening in Paris, and I was meeting my friend's other friends and one of them came in for a cheek kiss and I pulled away like, "Whoa, lady, at least get me another glass of wine," and they all laughed at me and my American sensibilities. But they did get me another glass of wine.

Kikimora

@Scandyhoovian My best friend's Mom is a cheek kisser. Sometimes it's one on each cheek and other times there's a surprise third. Ahhhh! I can't get into the rhythm.

Disco Sheets

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I am TOTALLY stealing that for future cheek-kissers.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

but i mean now that i do hug i have to be weary of the 'my face is getting close to being in their chest oh god what do i do stand on my tiptoes so this doesnt happen would that look really weird???' moment with anyone like 5'10''+

'riel

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood I'm 5'11" and single, let's hug.

mlle.gateau

I used to be a reluctant hugger, and then I did study abroad in a place where people are much less into bodily contact and realized that I was super lonely because no one hugged me for like six months. I mean, yes, high class problems, clearly, but it definitely made me appreciate the human contact of hugging.

Also: I have a mini-crush on a guy friend because he is basically the best hugger in the entire world.

frigwiggin

@mlle.gateau I have a guy friend who is a really excellent hugger too! Part of it is his technique, and part of it is his build and body temperature. He's like a cuddly body pillow. (That sounds creepy. He's gay and in a loving relationship, and I make no designs upon him. He's just an excellent hugger.)

Jinxie

@mlle.gateau Oh, man - pretty much the only thing I still miss about one of my exes is that he was THE BEST hugger I have ever encountered. His hugs had magical healing properties.
And, conversely, one thing I never liked about my most recent ExManFriend is that he was a TERRIBLE hugger. He could cuddle just fine but he hugged like a dead fish. (Or, like he thought the hug recipient was a dead fish.)

zamboni

@mlle.gateau This dude I was wildly infatuated with for years, but have not been into for almost as many years now, gives the best hugs of anyone I know. I'm not sure if this is a new-ish ability he has developed, a pre-existing ability he deployed after our interactions changed, or if I was always so lost in the suffocating hormonal fog occasioned by his general proximity that I never noticed he was a really good hugger before.

Verity

@mlle.gateau I know what you mean - I don't think of myself as a very huggy person, but when I went to university I really missed physical contact.

up cubed

@mlle.gateau Sometimes when I'm lonely, I'll get on a crowded bus and let myself get squished into someone who looks like a good hugger. Bonus points if they smell nice or have big puffy jackets.

swirrlygrrl

@Jinxie I AM NOT A HUGGER. I feel the Bloggess got it right with Copernicus the Homicidal Monkey's catchphrase that "A hug is a strangle you haven't finished yet." But there's a funtimes friend that is so good at it. He's the perfect height and build and temperature and has just the right amount of squeeze, and often times there is a kiss on the top of my head during. Those are amazing.

But all you people I work with or go to dinner parties with once every few months or otehrwise are just not very close friends, lovers, family members or experieincing extreme happiness or sadness: keep your hugs off of me.

Kikimora

i never realized i had so many hugging stipulations until i sat down to comment. i think hugs are great but they need to be well timed, i guess? and preferably from someone you at least like enough to get a hug from. and not painful, but not too limp either. my boyfriend's dad hugs me and then slaps me on the back so hard it practically knocks the wind out of me. but my own brother gives the WEAKEST hugs ever, i'd rather he just didn't if it's going to be so forced and half assed. there's also this guy at work who i know wants to hug me and i've been lucky to be able to thwart him every time..but i sort of just want to say to him, "you will never hug me. you will never think of hugging me. i disgust you." wait, that would be the world where i'm a vamper and i can glamour someone. nevermind.

melis

PLEASE CONFIRM/DENY "MALE FRIEND" WAS NOTED SOCIAL INCOMPETENT MAX READ

barnhouse

@melis DENY

frigwiggin

I don't think I know too many huggy people, because I am not frequently put in this situation. I do, however, have coworkers--one in particular--who do casual touching (coming up and putting a hand on my arm, touching my sweater, knocking me on the arm while talking to me) and I DO NOT APPRECIATE IT but do not know a way to convey that without looking like I'm freaking out. It seems to be an older-women thing. They're so grabby! Don't bro me if you don't know me, ladies.

frigwiggin

@frigwiggin See also: standing too close while talking too loudly. I'm a loud talker too, but I give people space.

frigwiggin

I actually could use a hug from someone I like, though. Mike doesn't hug me unless I ask and IT'S NOT THE SAME IF I HAVE TO ASK

Blushingflwr

@frigwiggin My boss has a tendency to touch my shoulder in a way that is very mom-like. It is awkward but I just let it slide, because she is my boss.

toastercat

I do need a hug, thank you. It's been a rough day.

empathicalist

@toastercat - {HUGS}

fondue with cheddar

@toastercat HUUUGS

Jinxie

@toastercat {squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze}

toastercat

@all Thanks so much you all. It means a lot to me to know you are here. I'll try to talk about it in the FOT if I can get my words in order. Thanks for the lovely hugs.

YoungLeafedJune

Social hugging, not so much. However, a (I realize) dispiriting number of my "sexual" fantasies just involve really good hugs. Mmmm, baby, you have a really well-positioned chin, nestling-wise. Yeah.

lobsterhug

@YoungLeafedJune It's the worst when your bodies don't line up like they should.

Saskquatch

@YoungLeafedJune There is not a GD thing wrong with that, you just quit dispiriting yourself and go dream about perfect hugs. Someday your Member of Royalty will come.

TheLetterL

Can we talk about hugs and height differences? Because as a Short, I get what I feel is more than my share of shoulders to the windpipe.

fondue with cheddar

@TheLetterL Me too! I tell them to stand up straight and I wrap my arms around their ribcage like a tree. Shoulders to the windpipe hurt and it's a super awkward hugging position anyway.

Kikimora

@fondue with cheddar Yeah..but, when you're tall like me there is a boobs to face risk to consider. It's all awkward.

TheLetterL

@fondue with cheddar Yes! The koala hug! I know it well, although in my experience, it ends up with the Tall not knowing where to put his/her hands (awkward upper arm embrace seems to be a favorite).

Only one tall friend has figured out how to position her shoulder. One! Other than that, it's like getting asphyxiated.

RK Fire

@TheLetterL The koala hug! What a great name for it. It's how I hug my husband. Lately I've been working on trying to squeeze all of the air out of his lungs for kicks.

ragesinggoddess

@TheLetterL YES. And then I'm torn between "Aw, nice hug!" and "ACK OOG HALP AIRRRR."

chnellociraptor

@fondue with cheddar THOSE ARE THE BEST KINDS OF HUGS.

par_parenthese

@TheLetterL OK, so my short-person solution is the one arm up, one arm down hug? Like diagonal-armed hug? And then they do the opposite, and your faces are near the same height. It works for all my friends of all heights.

causedbycomma

@TheLetterL OH YEAH I have this one male friend who is 6'2", and loves to give hugs but also loves to wear his sunglasses hanging on the front of his T-shirt so I am constantly stabbed by them. It got to the point where I would cringe when he came in for a hug. then he started dating a girl and I basically never see him anymore, so I am much less stabbed than before, but I still cringe when he is about to hug me...

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@TheLetterL As a Tall, I take plenty of faces to the boobs during hugs.

flanhoodles

@TheLetterL I am A Tall and I really dislike getting hugged around the ribs. So basically I only hug people taller than me?

TheLetterL

@par_parenthese I'm totally trying that!

@all There seems to be a lot of face/boob action here. I'm confused. Do you mean all your short friends just smoosh facefirst into your cleavage? I sort of automatically turn my head, which makes me look like a toddler seeking comfort, but cheek/chest seems less awkward.

Saskquatch

@par_parenthese Diagonal hugs! You're a genius par_parenthese! *trundles off to try it out*

fondue with cheddar

Multiple replies to multiple people...

@Kikimora @TheLetterL I've only ever had the boob-to-face problem with a couple people, and I think they do the bending over thing. I don't hug many tall women, I guess.

@TheLetterL They could just put their arms around your shoulders and their hands on your upper back. That's how I hug kids and it works just fine. Yeah, most tall people don't know how to position their shoulder. It doesn't feel uncomfortable to them so they often have no idea. If I know the person well enough that I'm sure they wouldn't take offense, I sometimes make a chokey sound when they do that, and then try to show them a more comfortable position. My boyfriend's brother is very tall and just can't get the hang of it so I do the koala hug (that's a great name for it!). I think he secretly likes it because it means my boobs will smoosh against his belly.

@par_parenthese The diagonal hug works for some people, but if the height difference is too much it doesn't work because I just can't reach if they stand straight, or I get the shoulder to the throat if they bend over.

@causedbycomma Why don't you just move the sunglasses out of the way first? You know what else sucks? When people have a zipper that stabs you in the face, or in the winter it's super cold. Or when guys keep stuff in their chest pocket? Paper crinkles in your ear and pens stab you. Being short is hard!

@flanhoodles I'm sorry for being a rib-hugger! It's sort of weird for us Shorts too because it feels childish, but as mentioned above the shoulder to the throat is extremely uncomfortable. As long as you're aware of that and put your shoulder in the right place, you should be able to bend over to hug short people without issue.

TheLetterL

@fondue with cheddar Hee hee, yeah, I've done the chokey noises before. I, too, sympathize with any weirdness for the Talls (I wouldn't want people boob-height either), but please remember that if your shoulder meets resistance that feels like a throat, adjust!

And to be fair, while koala hug works much of the time, my most terrifying hug was from koala position. I looked up to make eye contact just as the hugger went in for a closer squeeze, and I ended up with my chin and throat making a straight line, getting smooshed into his chest...closer...AND CLOSER... I thought I might die.

Caveat hugger, I suppose.

fondue with cheddar

@TheLetterL Ha! Yeah, I've had that throat/chest problem before. My last boyfriend was 6'8" and I'm 5'0", so we had awkward hugs all the time. I actually injured my neck by looking up to kiss him for two and a half years.

Valley Girl

Jinxie

@Valley Girl Aw, I want that bear to hug me.

PatatasBravas

NO YOU DON'T

Jinxie

@PatatasBravas But he looks so squishy! :(

the roughest toughest frail

@Valley Girl ha! I actually had someone say "I'm a hugger!" to me when we were first introduced. I am very much anti-hug (unless we are very close), so I immediately took a step back, said "I AM NOT. UP TOP" and then awkwardly high-fived him.

Dirty Hands

@the roughest toughest frail I AM STEALING THIS.

fondue with cheddar

@the roughest toughest frail That is awesome. I'm a hugger too, but I never assume anyone else is a hugger. I try to take cues from the other person, and if I'm not sure I don't do it. It's important to err on the side of the person who does not want to be hugged.

My boyfriend's kids' mother taught them that hugging and other affectionate touching is sexual and dirty. Like all people that don't want to hug, I respect their bodily autonomy, but it makes me sad.

katekari

@the roughest toughest frail As an enthusiastic-but-respectful pro-hug person, I would find that response awesome!

It actually reminds me of being told about a group of kids' camp councillors who, at the end of the day, would ask each kid "Hug, handshake, or high five?" This means that even the anti-hug kids got a bit of interaction and validation, and asking every kid every night acknowledges that sometimes our boundaries change from one day to the next.

swirrlygrrl

@katekari *love love love* this

Valley Girl

@katekari Oh my gosh, you've totally jogged my memory of my Girl Scout camp counselors asking the same question as they put us to bed each night! Obvies I always picked hug.

fondue with cheddar

We are a huggy family on my dad's side, but I have an aunt who started giving uncomfortably long hugs to everyone after her husband killed himself. It's really awkward but I feel like such an asshole when I break first.

hallelujah

@fondue with cheddar D:

fondue with cheddar

@hallelujah I know! But what else can you do in that situation? You just stand there and hope she's almost done. And then you feel terrible thinking that because she really needs hugs and you should stop being so selfish. Uncomfortable.

MilesofMountains

Oh noooo hugs! My family doesn't really do hugs, but a few years ago my brother said a couple of his friends had told him he comes off a bit cold, so he decided to become a hugger. I was so confused the next time I saw him and he gave me a big hug. I think I whined "what are you dooing?!"

par_parenthese

@MilesofMountains Hahaha!! My folks and I are pretty affectionate with hugs, but bropar_ was NEVER a hugger until he got married. His wife is like Captain Physical Affection and I think he just absorbed it? So one Christmas I came home and was cooking, and he came and stood next to me and put his arm around my shoulders and his head on top of my head and just stood there, like, "Hey, sis, how's it going?" It was weeeeeeeeird. Sweet, but weird.

swirrlygrrl

@par_parenthese Oh god. That kind of contact with anyone other than a lover would just feel so wrong to me.

Why yes (half) my family could be described as WASPs!!

meetapossum

I have a group of super affectionate friends, so I love random touches and hugs. I have also been told that hugging is my drunk "tell," because when I drink I just want to hug everyone all the time.

Flies in my eyes

@meetapossum That is my drunk "tell" too! Also I like to tell people how wonderful they are. It may be annoying, but I like to think it is better to be an affectionate drunk, than an angry drunk.

meetapossum

@Flies in my eyes Same! I used to be a sad drunk, and I think huggy drunk is preferable.

whizz_dumb

@meetapossum That's me, but usually only with good friends. Likelihood to initiate hug increases exponentially with each drink. See also: handsyness.

Bittersweet

@meetapossum "You know I love you. I love you." "And you, I've never met you before, but I love you very much indeed."

"Ignore her. She's drunk. At least I hope she is. Otherwise I'm in real trouble."

par_parenthese

@Flies in my eyes @meetapossum Oh man, this is me. "I juss think tha' (whatever we're talking about) is sooooooooo great. Sooooo, so so so GREAT, you know? I mean, I LOVE it. I juss LOVE it. *gets tears in eyes* No, I MEAN it, you guyss."

Flies in my eyes

@par_parenthese Oh I literally laughed out loud at that.

meetapossum

I see you all have been following me around to bars.

swirrlygrrl

@meetapossum Yup! I wonder if I am scretly a hugger, because drinking makes me do it. But I think it's just I drink with awesome people.

chnellociraptor

I feel like I am a pretty regular hugger, in terms of understanding cues and wanting them a normal amount. But I also work in theatre, on both the tech and administrative sides of things, and oh my god actors are making me hug-phobic. Actors want to touch you ALL THE TIME. Actors feel like there is no social situation that could not be improved by MOAR PHYSICAL CONTACT, regardless of how long they have known you. My attempts at handshakes have been actively rejected by actors as insufficient. Actors WILL hug the crap out of you against your will. They are like taller, louder, drunker, more sexually active toddlers.

Seriously, if you do not like hugs, NEVER KNOW ANY ACTORS.

Jinxie

I was raised by NonHuggers and am thus not a naturally huggy person, but I've been working on changing that because I realized a few years ago that I really really like hugs. Generally I tend not to instigate a hug unless I know or can sense the other person is amenable to hugs, but I will pretty much always accept a hug when offered. I still have problems interpreting the meaning behind or motivation for hugs, though. Like the other day, a friend brought an out-of-town-guest to a dinner party; I thought he was attractive and we were mildly flirtatious; and then at the end of the night as we all stood around and said good bye there was some hand shaking with the out-of-towner and when I extended my hand to him he said "Oh, no - YOU, I'd like to hug" so we hugged and it was nice. But this is the first time I've found myself even mildly attracted to an Actual In Person Male since ManFriend and I split so I'm having all of these "He insisted on a hug! What does it mean??" thoughts which is stupid because a) he lives on the opposite coast, and b) I don't know his sexual orientation or c) his relationship status.
Long story short: I think this hug just told me that it's time to consider dating again.

swirrlygrrl

@Jinxie I am now singing Roxette's "Listen to your Heart" in my head, but have changed the lyrics to "Listen to that Hug."

Flies in my eyes

I love hugs! But totally understand about the social awkwardness that can entail with hugging. Moving to Montreal opened a whole new door of social awkwardness of the double kiss, six years in and I have yet to quite adapt. I always almost makeout with inappropriate people. WHY CAN'T EVERYONE LEAN THE SAME DIRECTION YOU WOULD HAND SHAKE? WHY?

Anyway, just because I went on a downward spiral in youtube yesterday (avoiding working on my thesis defense)and found this...I will post. The power of a hug (in a dog...no social awkwardness to worry about). Warning: It's five minutes long and may make you cry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtnb1dap1Is

barnhouse

@Flies in my eyes aaaaaahhh she was adopted!! yay
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOmDmSrW33w

Blushingflwr

Someone I didn't want to hug put his arms out the other day and I just responded with "I'm good". Which was perhaps not appropriate, but I don't know where this dude got the notion that we were on a hugging basis.

Apocalypstick

I don't mind hugs so long as we NEVER have to do the cheek/air kiss thing.

Kinksville

I used to be part of what my friends in college called the "Hug Mafia" in that (if we knew you) we would give you a hug pretty much any where or any time.

I'm still very physically affectionate, but I do sometimes have those awkward moments with other dudes where we're too close to part with a handshake but not necessarily close enough for a hug. Sometimes this produces an awkward chest-bump sort of hug.

Angry Panda

The world would be a much better place if people just waved each other hello and goodbye and saved the hugs for special occasions for close friends and family. I am not a natural hugger, and for a while I even managed to convince everyone it was a cultural thing, till my family blew my cover. What's worse than hugging is the cheek kissing. I am never sure when to stop and I always stop after the wrong number, and oh the awkwardness of it all!

adorable-eggplant

@Angry Panda Oh god I went the wrong direction cheek kissing fiascos are the worst.

Angry Panda

@adorable-eggplant Right? I haven't kissed anyone on the lips by mistake yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Dirty Hands

Hugging, eh, I roll with it. My new boss just met my mom and when she (boss) was saying hi to me she hugged me, so my mother tried to hug me when we said goodbye, and we're just not huggers, agh horribly weird! I feel like we shouldn't have to fake being huggers for the sake of the hugging world. Ohhh well.

Also, what's up with people saying "how are you" and if you say anything less than "spectacular" they demand more? Like, if I'm having a bad day, I might say, "okay," but then they'll say, "JUST okay?" Um YEAH, with a side dish of DEPRESSED! Let's now move on?

par_parenthese

@Dirty Hands See this is why I always reply, to casual acquaintances, with something cutely-anachronistic-but-inscrutable, like "Swell," or "Groovy," or "Peachy." Those words basically mean nothing in that context but elicit a chuckle that gets me that much further down the hall away from Oh Please Elaborate territory.

Dirty Hands

@par_parenthese Excellent solution! "Peachy" is today's semi-seasonal word. :D

Diana

This whole thread is weird to me. I love hugs, I love giving hugs, I love receiving hugs, all my hugs are sincere and full of affection and I have no secondary motive except to demonstrate that whoever I'm talking to is delightful and worthy of a hug. I've never had any of the thoughts written up above me. Rather than change my hug approach I'm just going to consider it a filter, as people who aren't into hugs probably won't make very good friends with me. Not saying you're bad people, not at all! Just saying, if you don't like hugs we are probably deeply incompatible as human beings. If you need a hug, though, step right up. I'm essentially a kindergarten teacher. Hugs all around. You're wonderful, have a hug.

Jinxie

@Diana We'll have to have a survey before our regional pinup to determine who is ok with hugs and who just wants a high-five.

flanhoodles

My general rule is that if you haven't seen me naked, I don't want to hug you. This works well for romantic partners and close friends.

I am also (the world's only?) fan of the awkward side hug.

swirrlygrrl

@flanhoodles Yess!!!! My list is a bit longer (and now I will elaborate!).

If you can answer "yes" to one of the following questions, you may have a hug:
- Are we related?
- Have I purposely let you see me naked?
- Have we been friends, continuously, for five years or longer?
- Is this a very happy (engagement, wedding, birth of child) or very sad (cancer diagnosis, death of family member including pet) ocassion?
- Have I been drinking and am in my super happy place?

Michelle LeBlanc@twitter

@swirrlygrrl @flanhoodles my people.

Michelle LeBlanc@twitter

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Also I would add:
- you are a dog

beanie

Anyone who has tried to hug me more than once and who has felt my awkward, robotic response knows that I am Not A Hugger. It is honestly one of my big fears for my upcoming wedding that I will have to hug large quantities of people. People that are ok for hugging: my dog and fiance. Everyone else...no thank you.

The funny thing is, when people know you dislike hugs it seems to make them want to try and do it more. Same with tickling. C'mon people, get it together!

BornSecular

@beanie Yes this! I have gotten better at hugging but my in laws & high school friends found my younger self's discomfort amusing.

PistolPackinMama

@beanie Unwanted tickling= grounds for being dumped/yelled at/bitted/assassinated, in my book.

adorable-eggplant

@beanie Wear a spiky boutonniere or some elaborate silk something on the front of your dress. Then be like, "AIIIR HUGS ONLY!" Gesture sheepishly at whatever can't be 'crushed'.

iceberg

My favorite type of hug to witness is the bro hug where they slam their shoulders into each other's chests and hug really hard with the other arm. i don't know, something about the violence of it is like, this is how we are allowed to show emotion and it is pouring off us in waves.

Favorite type of hug to be involved in, natch, is the baby hug. a sweaty little arm around your neck and sticky fingers patting you on the back.

par_parenthese

@iceberg I love watching those kinds of hugs too! It's like all their brosephly emotions come raging out into each other's sternums.

And ohhhhh the sweaty baby hug. Little kid hugs are the greatest. My favorite variation: when they've been playing outside and they're really sleepy and smell like sunshine.

iceberg

@par_parenthese Sometimes when a Bergy Bit is having trouble getting to sleep, they want me to lie in their bed with them (they have very sturdy toddler beds); the tiny fingers gently, sleepily patting the pillow are heart-swellingly adorable.

BornSecular

Reading these comments made me happy. It makes me miss the Pin now that I have a new job and can't read it at work all day. But hooray for new job!

fondue with cheddar

@BornSecular Congratulations! Catch up when you can, we'll be here. :)

BornSecular

@fondue with cheddar I did read them while I was supposed to be participating in a committee meeting so the suppressed-laughter snorting was rather awkward. It was like old times.

fondue with cheddar

@BornSecular Haha, awesome. Just don't get fired!

monday

Who would not need a hug, hug for sure can relieve stress. - The Balancing Act

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