Some Thoughts on Hugging

Few things are better than a genuine hug shared with someone you feel comfortable with; a partner, a good friend. I’m not someone who objects to being touched on sensory grounds (I know some Aspies are). But hugs can be so awkward. If I’m in a room full of people all hugging each other, I usually make my excuses and leave as fast as possible. Why?
Hugs are part of the unwritten social code that I haven’t yet managed to learn fully. In my teens, I don’t recall ever being hugged, except by my mum and one or two other family members, and that was awkward – as a teen it was the last thing I wanted, and none of my family are touchy-feely. It was the time when most girls were getting cliquey, and hugs showed who was in and who was out. None of my peers offered to hug me as I didn’t have any friends. There were a few girls I felt warm towards, but if I’d tried to hug them the reaction would have been at best a cold robotic hug in return, or at worst an “Ugh get off me you lezzer.” Best not to try. As an adult, most of us are more mature in that we don’t sexualise all hugs, but there’s still an awkwardness especially with other women. If you hug too tight, it implies over-familiarity. Not tight enough, and you’re seen to be cold. How firm to squeeze? Grab the shoulders or reach right round behind the neck? What happens if bosoms bump? And what on earth does one do with one’s head? Touch cheeks, or look out behind the other person? Do people hug because they genuinely feel for the other person, or because they think it’s just an acceptable greeting? I never sussed it. I’ve made a mess of it a lot of times. So, if someone does hug me now, I will take the lead from them. I prefer the way men hug each other – a slap on the back and a brotherly handshake. Why do even hugs have to be gendered?
I’m not lacking in hugs now. I get plenty from my partner, and a few from genuine friends. But it’s still a puzzle to me 😳 🤔

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