Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I don't hug

I'm not a hugger.  I don't like hugging.  It's not that I never hug.  It's just that it doesn't come easily for me.  I can hug my husband.  I don't do it often, and he doesn't ask me to do it often, but I can do it.  I can hug my mom and dad.  I can hug my son, but it is hard for me to do.  Weird, huh?  I read Emily's guest post yesterday at Nancy's blog, Out of My Alleged Mind.  So much of it broke my heart.  If you have an extra 5 minutes, click and read Em's story.

What is it about hugging that makes it hard for me to do it?  I know my answer, but it's hard to speak the words.  Maybe writing my reasons here will make it easier for me to understand them.  I can't believe how much my aversion to hugging has to do with my poor body image.  This is hard for me to share... here goes.  I don't like to feel the body of the person I hug and I REALLY don't want a person hugging me to feel my body.  There, I said it.  I don't like the feel of hugging anyone.  If they are overweight, I like it even less.  This is because I think they are thinking the same way I think about myself.  I hate the way my breasts feel, to me, when I hug someone.  I know my breasts are pushed up against their body.  I think to myself how absolutely horrible it must be for them to have to feel that part of my body smooshed up against their body.  The feeling makes me hate myself and my body because my body isn't what I wish it was.  I wish my breasts were small.  I wish my body was thin and athletic.  I am completely grossed out by the thought of someone's hands touching my back and feeling the indentation of my bra strap in my back fat.  If I hug a thin person, it isn't any better.  I think they think I'm disgusting.  My feelings of disgust of my body when hugging a thin person are equally overwhelming.  I feel as if I'm smothering them or crushing them.  They feel so small and fragile, I begin to feel like a giant and I can't get my hands off them quick enough.  I know these are just feelings and there is, most likely, nothing based in reality in them, but there you have it.  (who said ISTJ's don't have feelings?)

As I think about these feelings and thoughts I experience when hugging, I am reminded that it is much easier for me to hug someone who is wearing a coat or jacket.  It is much more difficult to hug someone wearing a tee-shirt or blouse.  I am absolutely sure I wouldn't be able to hug someone in a bathing suit or without a shirt.

I feel these same feelings when I am asked to hug children or hold a child.  I am uncomfortable touching or holding them.  I have an idea that the children want to escape my touch as quickly as possible.  I don't like the feeling of their chubby legs and arms touching my skin.  Don't get me wrong, I can push through this aversion and hold a child or hug a child, but if I don't have to do it, I won't offer.  It's just not something I'm comfortable doing.  While we were on vacation my husband's friend and his family came to visit.  They have two children.  We walked to a restaurant.  On the walk to the restaurant, the children held the hands of their parents.  (they are six years old and we were walking along a heavily trafficked road)  On the way back to the hotel, they must have felt more comfortable with us because the little boy wanted to hold my hand as we walked.  We chatted, but the whole walk I kept thinking, when will he want to pull away from me and not want to hold my hand anymore?  I was sure it would happen at any time.  I guess I didn't want to be rejected by a child.  Strange thoughts, I know.

At our church we "pass the peace of Christ" with a handshake.  (thank goodness there is no "holy kiss")  It is the MOST awkward time of the service for me.  Most of the time, hands miss or I notice I'm shaking the hand and wishing the peace of Christ to someone who is not even looking at me anymore.  The touching seems so forced and uncomfortable.  I really don't like this part of the service.  I don't mind shaking hands in a business situation, but I don't get all that excited about a handshake, either, it's just what we do in this country.

I think I was less uncomfortable with the greetings in Italy.  Even though I had to kiss both cheeks and have both cheeks kissed, there was a comfort in the way we grabbed shoulders and kissed and didn't have to embrace.

I shared this post today for a couple of reasons.  First, because I'm pretty sure I am not the only person out there with these feelings.  Blogging is such a great way to discover that other people have the same thoughts going through their heads that I have going through my head.  Secondly, I wrote this post to share that the reason I don't hug is all about me.  It as nothing to do with the other person.  The people I don't want to hug are completely lovable and huggable.  The other people are even people I like a lot.  I try so hard to make warm eye contact in place of the hug.  I try so hard to say the right thing and smile the right smile in place of the hug.  The reason you typically won't get a hug from me isn't about you, it's all about me. 

379.  Warm smiles
380.  Kisses on the cheek
381.  Words of affirmation
382.  Kind eye contact
383.  Kind words

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursdays


  1. I know you said you can hug your parents, but I'm curious: were you hugged a lot, when you were a child? This is another interesting post. I'm a chubby hugger. I've never had any thoughts related to these, although I will admit that sometimes I hug a woman and think her perky breasts are uncomfortable. In moments like those, I'm glad for my pillow boobs. You're a loveable wonder.

  2. I've never thought about this from this perspective. I've always been fairly thin, but regardless, I get this. Of course, I also "get this" to some degree because I'm not very affectionate either. I grew up without much affection shown to me, so it's kind of uncomfortable for me now. But I show affection anyway--especially hugs, because I feel like it is a tangible way to express my love for my friends. But with your words here, I'm feeling like I should be a bit more sensitive to this in others. Don't know how I'll do that, but this certainly has given me food for thought.

    By the way, I'm so sorry that you struggle in this way. But I think that being open and vulnerable about it can only help and move you towards healing. I will pray that's the result anyway! :) 

  3. Interesting.  I am a hugger because that's what we do in our family.  I tend to do the sideways hug with people I'm not sure about.  And it's pretty evident when someone isn't a hugger at all - I totally back off in those cases.  

    I'm on the worship committee at my church and we've had many discussions about passing the peace.  There are definitely some people that don't like that.  

  4. you know of course my instant reaction is to want to hug...smiles...only because i am mean and nasty like that...smiles...nah, i hear you...and i never really thought about it this way honestly...and i appreciate your honesty in sharing it...

  5. i know people like you :-)  and like Brian, it brings a bit of the ornery out in me.  makes me want to invade their space a bit.  but you've given me a different perspective.  some food for thought.  not sayin' i won't still push the limits a bit, but maybe i'll stop and think first next time :-)
    thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly.  this is what is so good about these spaces, yes?

  6. I believe there needs to be concessions on both sides.  This was a difficult post to write.

  7.  It's rare to meet someone with your sensitivity.  Often I'm forced to hug, as this is the way some people can only understand compassion or joy or whatever.  Seems limiting to me.  :)

  8.  Nope, not hugged much as a kid.  I'm told my feet didn't hit the ground until I was 15 months old.  That's when my brothers, twins, were born.  I think my life changed drastically after that.  Totally happy you understand the breast thing.  :)

  9. Do you think this is an OCD trait?  Do you have any OCD traits at all?

  10.  I don't think OCD is an issue for me.  I think it has more to do with being an introvert.

  11. I don't mind hugging people who are big or small. All I care about is feeling that I'm clean and that the other person is clean too. Like if someone is all sweaty... just say hi to me, don't even shake my hand please! And I do the same for people. I don't even get close if I'm sweating.

  12. i LOVE the honesty here, girl. love it.

  13. RsherbalcreationsJuly 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I feel the same way but people and especially my own sister wonder what is wrong with me since I don't even hug my nieces. I am now thinking I need therapy since I can hug people but most people will just run up and give others a hug while I stand back. Should I get therapy to see what is wrong with me?

  14. I would never presume to recommend or discourage anyone from therapy.  In my case, I can hug, when necessary, but I tend to hang back and avoid it.  I don't think there is anything wrong with me.  I'm just not a touchy/feely person.

  15. Hi.. I don't think this is an OCD trait.. I don't like hugging my Dad .. I would still maybe hug my Mum.. but she is dead so hard to say.. I just don't like hugging my Dad.. he keeps trying to even though he knows I hate it and I have to keep saying I don't like this.. I didn't grow up in a hugging family why they think I would want to now I don't know.. I do however love hugging my own kids.. I think for me its all about connection.. I am strongly connected to my kids and not my Dad.. phew.. there I have said it! xx It's ok to not hug.x

  16. Most of my adult life was in a uniform and Hugging in my mind is ashowsheated with death. Jesus Christ, was not a huger from what I have read. Hugging is a bimbo thing to feel good about her seld. Don'T touch me please thanks for this small request.


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