I recently had a conversation with some acquaintances about my personal preference for not giving/receiving hugs. For the most part, the conversation was not serious, although rooted in reality for me and I think it is for others as well. Some of us just don’t particularly like to give hugs except to close family and friends. I have to feel close to someone, have a relationship with them and also trust them to be able to give/receive regular hugs. However, one person made a comment that stuck with me and got me thinking…. So, I’m going to share some of my thoughts and opinions on the matter.
Today’s society seems to fail acknowledge that there is evil in the world. We want all the problems fixed or to just go away and we think we are safe in our own little bubble. But we are not. I have been VERY uncomfortable in an environment where one might assume you could feel safe; I did not feel safe at all. In fact, I KNEW I had been touched inappropriately by someone NOT my husband. I felt very violated and shaken by the whole incident. It was scary. It was definitely a power play on the part of this other person, a man, and it shook me up. It still gives me some anxiety when I think about it now as I'm writing this blog post. When I took it to someone in authority (A man) I was brushed off. Excuses were made for this person. Predators are everywhere, even in so called “safe and non threatening” places. I don’t for one second doubt that those type of people will plant themselves in small groups, churches, home school groups and other social gatherings. They may be hunting or they may actually be seeking help, but until they come to themselves and are held accountable for their actions they can be dangerous to others. Men, you are especially guilty of dismissing the claims of your wives, daughters, sisters and female friends when they tell you a man was inappropriate with them and made them uncomfortable. STOP doing that. Women have been given an extra sense that you men don’t have. It’s not mind reading but we can absolutely sense when someone we meet is a person to keep at arm’s length, or further. I purposely keep some people out of my private life and that of my children because of the potential emotional harm they could do. Women live in a society where we can be targeted simply because of our physical weaknesses and because of that, we are “programmed” to pick up on “bad vibes” coming from others, even other women. To take it one step further, if you are married and your wife tells you to stay away from a particular woman—-DO IT. It means she’s bad news, has ulterior motives or SOMETHING that you need to stay away from—period.
So, how does this bring me to hugging? Hugs seems innocent enough, right? Well, yes and no. When I see my 10 year old daughter hug her friends, it’s very innocent, heartwarming and special. However, if I see an adult try to make my 10 year old daughter hug them—-well that’s a different story. Especially if it’s a male. But it really goes for anyone that they don’t feel comfortable with or are hesitant to let into their personal space. A hug does that, it let’s someone you may not feel that close to into your personal space, or bubble, and that can be VERY uncomfortable for people who are more introverted, those who have trust issues or who may have trauma in their past that gives them valid reason to keep physical touch to a minimum—or forego it all together.
I’m going to bet that I’d get a lot of agreement on not making kids hug people they don’t feel comfortable with or don’t know very well. I think a lot of people would agree that with all the child predators out there it’s important to teach children that it’s OK to say no to an adult who wants to touch you when you don’t want them to, right?
So, why are we different with adults? Seems like a double standard to me. A child has the right to protect their personal space but a grown woman does not?? And I make this subject mostly about women because we are often the ones basically being forced, or guilted, into giving/receiving unwanted hugs. Women seem to want to hug all the time and I’m not comfortable with it at all and recently the comment that was made to me brought up some stuff for me and while I don’t know the intention behind the comment, I don’t feel it was appropriate or necessary. Why would I be leery of hugging another woman? Well, that's complicated. Trust issues play a part, but really it is mostly the fact that they aren't my close friend. I don't have a relationship with them.
I’m not a big hugger. That probably won’t change in my life time. I have my reasons, that I won’t share, but I’ve never been a big hugger so it is partly because that’s just how I am. (My kids get regular, daily hugs from me. Just wanted to be sure and clarify that before someone accuses me of not hugging my kids) But I don’t need to justify my aversion to hugging everyone else to anyone and neither does anyone else. I am not cold hearted, unloving, unkind or unwelcoming just because I don’t hug everyone I know or meet. On the contrary, I recently had someone I had only met once before, briefly, stop by my home to pick something up and she told me later that as soon as I opened the door of my home she could FEEL the love coming from me. Guess what, I did’t hug her as soon as she walked in my house. I have online friends I have never met in person who would describe me as a loving person and as knowing I care about them too. Hugs don’t equal love.
To close, be mindful of others and don’t shove your agenda, or affection, on them just because that’s what YOU think it appropriate. You don’t know their story or where they are coming from for starters, but furthermore, you also don’t know their heart. Only God does.
Maybe send a virtual hug instead.