The Hug Factor

I am not a hug hater; I enjoy hugs, but only under the right circumstances, and from the right people.  When my baby boy comes home from college and wraps me in an embrace, it makes my heart happy.  When my youngest nephews run to greet me with hugs there is nothing I’d rather do than embrace their affection.  Each morning when I leave for work I hug my husband, and I do the same when I arrive home from work in the afternoon.  However, not everyone is welcome to hug me.

There are scientific studies that show frequent hugging makes us healthier, but what those studies don’t address is whom those hugs should come from.  Hugs from family show that we are loved and special.  Hugs from close friends show an investment in the relationship, but hugs from those with whom we are barely acquainted; I doubt those hugs bring the same healthful results.

I wonder if those who just love to hug everyone have ever stopped to consider the feelings of those whom they are hugging? While hugging does make some people simply giddy, that is not true for everyone.  If I am meeting someone for the first time, I do not feel a hug is an appropriate greeting.  Unwarranted hugs from those I barely know are a violation of my personal space.  Forcing yourself on someone else is also known as rape.  Sound harsh?  Perhaps, but hugging someone who does not welcome such behavior is a complete infringement of their rights, and if huggers are genuinely concerned about other people, those concerns ought to be considered prior to presentation of any awkward embraces.

Though many would like to deny this accusation, it seems churchgoers are the biggest violators of the “hug standard”  (AKA acceptable terms of hugging).  I recently visited a new church and was assaulted not once, but twice in the same five-minute period.   There was no way I could have subverted either as both assaults occurred while I was seated!!  One mugging was a full frontal, and the other came from behind.  Why either of these people felt an embrace would be welcomed is beyond me. Perhaps I looked lonely, but a hug from a stranger can’t change the season of life I am currently enduring.  However, taking a moment to chat with me might dull the ache, even if only briefly.

For those people with whom I have a close relationship, please do not stop hugging me, but for those people who know little to nothing about me, please save your hugs for distribution at another time and place.

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