hugging

Some Thoughts on Hug Protocol

I like hugs, I really do, but I’m also very confused by them.

See, I understand there are times when it’s obvious to hug and times when it’s obvious not to hug. But then there’s all this middle ground that is hard to read and makes my stomach hurt.

Take for example the “to hug” situations:

Hi, hello, it’s nice to meet you, let’s hug.

I’m so sorry your bird died, let’s hug.

I love you! I missed you! I just want an excuse to touch you! Let’s. Freaking. HUG.

Sometimes our bodies have no idea what else to do except hug, and so without even thinking twice we’re walking in for the kill with our arms wide whether the receiving party is ready or not.

Wait, stop right there. This is where a grey area comes in.

See, my sister is a BIG hugger. She’s all about showing love with a body glove. So much so that I sometimes refer to her as an “attack hugger,” which she—unsurprisingly—does not care for. She believes hugs are always important and will benefit all parties involved.

They break the ice. They show affection. They often provide you the opportunity to not-so-casually sniff someone’s hair. I get it. But am I the only one that wakes up on some mornings with zero hug toleration?

As in, Do. Not. Touch. Me.

I mean, is it so much to ask to let me dude it up from time to time and shake your hand or maybe just wave to you from across the room?

I don’t know, maybe this makes me antisocial. Or emotionally distant. Or some other string of big words that a psychologist would use to overanalyze me, relating it all back to the moment I realized my parents put me down and never picked back me up again.

But anyways, back to the grey area.

Say you walk into a room of 20 people you know, 15 of whom you genuinely like, and you start your circuit of “hello hugs” even though you know that your relationship with a few of these people is very “non-huggy”, either because you barely know each other or because you know each other too well and have too much of a wonky past. Do you still hug them?

Or what about when you’re talking to a friend whose kids are standing nearby and even though you know of all of them, you’ve really only gotten to know the oldest one through sports or church or something, so when you are getting ready to leave you only hug your friend and their oldest kid. Should you hug the rest of the children knowing they’d probably feel just as weird as you do about it, making the hug they actually do give you this weird hand pat on the back thing, which tempts you to make some sort of joke about how they should really hug people, even though you don’t want to hug them and they don’t want to hug you and now you’ve made quite a show about what type of hug you expect from them, even though you didn’t want one in the first place? Should you still hug them?

Lastly, say you arrive late to a family dinner so you walk in quickly, waving to everyone and apologizing for your tardiness, anxious to get to your seat so your family can order because they’re already complaining about how hungry they are. But when you get to your seat, you notice that your sister, who walked in behind you, stopped at each individual seat to hug everyone over-the-shoulder style—the act of which you hate because of that one time you accidentally put your hand in someone’s arm pit—and you wonder if you should have done the same thing. But now you’re already sitting down and you’ve taken your jacket off to try and cool yourself off, and you know that if you got up to hug everyone now someone would almost certainly put their hand in your arm pit by accident, which by this point is flooded with stress sweat. Do you still get up and hug them?

Jeopardy-style answer: What is, I have absolutely no idea.

Can someone just invent an app I can sync with my Fit Bit that will make it vibrate once whenever I should hug someone and twice whenever I shouldn’t?

Yeah?

Good. Great. I would so appreciate that. Honestly. I mean, if you could really figure that out I’d be so thankful. No, you know what, I’m already thankful just because you’re considering this. Thank you, you are such a gem. Really, you are. Bring it in, let’s hug.