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Don’t Hug Me Unless I Know You

Seriously, get off me.

None of family hug, we never did. I have two brothers and two sisters, and I can’t even remember the last time I hugged them. It will have been at very least 10 years ago. My mother wasn’t an affectionate woman. In fact, I can remember two times when she hugged me as an adult. Once was a random new year and the other was when I moved out. So it pretty much goes without saying that hugs were not bandied about very often.

And that was okay. It was something the whole family understood and even my friends respected. I wasn’t one of those teenage girls who hugged someone every 10 seconds because they were my new BFF or whatever.

But despite my mother not being one for hugs, she insisted I hug other people as a child. I don’t know why. I guess she wanted people to think that she was more tactile than she really was, or maybe she was hugging people vicariously through us. Either way, we were the ones who had to suffer. We had a huge family that only tended to meet up at weddings and funerals. This meant that regardless of which one it was, there was drinking involved. And when it came time to say goodbye, we were forced to hug and even kiss (don’t even get me started on that).

And keep in mind we only saw extended family at weddings and funerals, so we hardly knew them. But we were forced to kiss the gangly, slurring drunkards that were so half-cut they could barely stand. I do remember my Uncle being so drunk that he tried to hold on to me for support (I was only eight), we both fell onto the floor, and I sprained my ankle.

Then there were the Aunties, the sherry smelling witches with their bony vice-like grips. Not nice for a child.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the main reason I hate being hugged. Not to go into too much detail, but I suffered sexual assault at a young age. This is something that made my fear of hugs and general intimacy even worse.

I can just about stand it if I know someone quite well, and I’m slightly more comfortable hugging a woman than a man, for obvious reasons. But a hug from anyone other than my wife does make me feel uncomfortable.

And it’s no reflection on you at all. It’s got nothing to do with any part of you, it’s 100 percent me. It’s my hangup, you’re fine.

I’ve been called all kinds of names for it: Rude, ignorant, stand-offish, and even impolite. But I can’t help it and I really don’t mean to be rude. When someone hugs me, I feel panicky, my heart starts racing, and I feel trapped. So, I’m sorry that hugging you, a total stranger, is not worth making me feel like that.

And it’s not just women who hate being hugged. Loads of men hate it, too. And just like women, they have their reasons. Maybe they were assaulted, maybe they have an obsessive fear of germs, or maybe they, too, had once been forced to hug and kiss their bearded smelly Uncles as kids.

My point is, if someone you know hates to be hugged, don’t judge them. Don’t make fun of them. Don't think that it's funny to try to force hugs on to them (I will hit you), please just respect their boundaries and start out introductions with a handshake—or better yet, a wave.

You have no idea why they don’t want to be hugged. But to be honest, that shouldn’t really matter to you. You should just accept it, they don’t hug, so move on.

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Don’t Hug Me Unless I Know You
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