Saturday, July 12, 2014

Personal Space

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)
1. Nod

2. Using words (“Hey, great to see you!”)

3. Handshake

4. Fist bump


  1. Yup, I'm the same way. I hate my personal bubble invaded, even my loved ones. Glad I'm not the only one.

  2. Speaking as someone who was hugged and kissed by about 75 people last weekend at my parents' anniversary party, I feel your pain.

    I find hugging very awkward, and there were definitely a few people there I really didn't want to hug but did anyway -- cringing inwardly. It does seem a fairly intimate form of greeting from someone you hardly know.

    And this is reminding me of a hug I received recently at a retirement party from someone I know only slightly, don't care for much, someone I suspect is a swinger, who held me too long and too close while I tried to lean away from him. Ew.

  3. I used to hate to be hugged by anyone other than close family. But now I don't mind it.

  4. The problem you are facing is the same one that writers have:
    They are taking the rejection of the hug as a rejection of them and their affection. But it's just a rejection of the hug.
    It's hard to get people to see that, though.

  5. I have definitely had it with relatives I didn't want to hug at all, let alone see- my body language was pretty cold.

  6. I don't mind hugs so much, but not many people offer them to me. I always feel a little awkward about them, but as long as it isn't a student (touching students--big no-no), I try to reciprocate.

    But you're right, you shouldn't have to hug if you don't want to.

  7. When I was growing up my dad's family, being Italiam, were all about the hugging and kissing. Mum's side, typical uptight English, well. shaking hands was about as close as it got! I just got used to it. I must admit I am a hugger (did you know a 20 second hug releases all kinds of endorphins and stuff to make you feel good!) but can tell if someone isn't so keen and respect their body language clues :)
    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe

  8. Hi Jeanne .. sometimes it's alright - sometimes not - some people I'm definitely not happy hugging, though others I wish would be more family friendly .. getting older eases the tension! Dianne's 75 would be a little much, then her too long one - not a good idea .. and Suzanne's 20 seconds hug sounds way too much!

    Cheers but good thoughts on how to avoid or to join in .. we at times need to reciprocate .. Hilary


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