To Hug or Not to Hug…..


Are you a hugger? If you are I think you are in the majority. At one time, at least in my family we only hugged our grandparents. And other relatives if we absolutely had to. We always kissed our parents goodnight, and gave them a light hug, but that was about it. Now, it seems, everyone hugs. And it is not as if this is not a good thing. Hugs portray love, affection, joy, and sometimes just general jubilation.

I am a convert of sorts. I hug now, but generally I do not instigate a hug. But neither do I stand stiff as a board when one is administered. I am, as they say, “getting with the program.” I went to a site I often use to find quotes regarding a topic I am writing about,, and I only found one quote that was a tiny bit sceptical of hugging—and even it was not full out critical. Actress and author Mindy Kaling (of The Mindy Project fame) said:

“You should never have to say hello or goodbye. Even at work sometimes, and I know this is very unpopular, is that if I’m going to work every single day, I don’t think you should have to hug people hello every single day when you come to work. I saw you Monday!”

I am getting over my awkwardness about hugging. But be forewarned that if you hug me and I am not expecting it, I will probably step on your foot, knock your glasses off, or do you some other slight damage. And for this, I am sorry. I am trying to be a better hugger.

Of course, I find hugging comes quite naturally when it comes to my family and now, friends. In fact several of my friends preface their prehug with “I know you don’t like to be hugged but I am going to do it anyway” then they hug me. And I am quite pleased, because I know the hug comes from a generous, warm place. I now like to be hugged—most of the time. But I still feel it should be reserved for those closest to you.

I am not sure why I am not a natural born hugger. Is it more ethnic driven? I don’t know. Perhaps at one time. But now it seems everyone hugs. Once in a while I run into people who are not natural born huggers and I can so empathize with them. We are the ones who stand back a bit and wait our turn for the inevitable hug—but by hanging back we are sometimes perceived as not being friendly. Just so you know, that is not the case at all.

I finally found a site with an article written by a non-hugger—or more appropriately a selective hugger. Grace Jennings-Edquist on the site gives some hugging etiquette advice after first admitting that she does not really like hugging except in the following situations:

1. when you know and like a person
2. when you are at a party of friends
3. when someone is celebrating a new job, birth of a child, an engagement…
4. when someone is in mourning
5. when you have not seen someone who is close to you for a long time

She has a couple of other rules but I did not really identify with them so I am using my journalistic prerogative not to share them. But this is what you huggers need to know—those of us who do not initiate hugs still enjoy them if handed out judiciously.

I have been on the receiving end of criticism for not being an all-out hugger. I have been accused of being a little too “Anglo”; a bit uptight; and not forthcoming. Not often, but often enough to doubt my own sense of warmth. But in my defence, I am someone who is not afraid to share a smile with strangers; to joke with someone who is in line at the bank or grocery store; and to the best of my ability I will help out anyone in need. I am a pretty kind person if I do say so myself and the fact that I am an awkward hugger should not quantify me as lacking in warmth.

I do not mean to sound defensive, but for all those of you out there who are learning to be a hugger, despair not. You will find in me someone who understands your plight. And if you are a hugger—know that you are appreciated, even if we step on your foot, or knock your glasses askew.

To hug or not to hug is not the real question for me. To do no harm when I do hug is the goal.

Are you a natural born hugger. Or, like me, are you still learning?

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm  Comments (30)