One thing that bothers me when I’m with my family (well, only one thing that I’m willing to get into): a lot of them are huggers.
For someone who can’t stand having her personal space breached, this is most distressing. If I run into someone I know at a store, I cringe, knowing they’re going to grab me into a hug no matter how much I ask them not to. Other people like this, I gather, but not me. It sets off alarm bells in my head and makes me want to body check them, which I’ve been told is not an appropriate thing to do.
The point I want to get across is that just because someone doesn’t want to hug doesn’t mean they don’t like you/care about you/love you. And I can’t stress this enough, it is not a personal insult (unless you haven’t been showering). It means they feel incredibly uncomfortable when hugging. That’s all.
I’m really not sure why it’s a big deal, but I’ve been called rude for refusing to hug. But I have to wonder, if it’s rude to not hug, is it rude to force a hug? It seems like it should be. People wouldn’t like it if I went up to them and licked their face. Most people. I hope. The same principle applies, though. Others have different boundaries, and it’s important to respect them. It’s a lot easier not to hug someone than it is for them to recover from a hugging induced panic attack.
Alternatives to Hugging (from least to most awesome)
2. Using words (“Hey, great to see you!”)
4. Fist bump