I’m not much of a hugger anymore. I prefer the standard wave or perhaps the shoulder grab. Certainly there are people I hug- my friend Paul comes to mind. I can’t enter the room without him assaulting me or demanding I hug him. It’s cute really. The thing is, I’d kinda like to stop it there most of the time, but because we hugged, now others feel they are owed the honor. My aversion to hugging was recently called out and I had to think of how to respond. There are several reasons why I may not hug you:
1. I don’t know you.
2. I would classify our relationship as “acquaintances” rather than friends. The only acquaintances I may hug are related to me (and even then…)
3. Your personal hygiene is in question
4. My personal hygiene is in question
5. I don’t like you
6. I have a crush on you
7. I’m with someone of the opposite sex (that means a date) and I don’t want to confuse them.
8. I’m on a date with you and am confused myself as to how to end it so I’ll probably end up waving at you like the genius I am.
What I don’t understand most is this entitlement that people/we feel towards the actions of others. I don’t have to hug you. I don’t have to invite you to everything I do. I don’t have to and it shouldn’t bother you that I haven’t. Certainly, if you are the only one being left out, that would be mean or you fall into the #5 category. I would never do that. But I don’t like feeling obliged.
It’s like mandatory volunteerism that I spoke about recently with a friend. It’s not that I don’t like volunteering (or it is, can’t I just make a donation?); it’s more that I don’t like being told I have to do it. Unless you are a judge and I’m in trouble, keep it to yourself. If you want me to volunteer because it’s important to you or to the company I work for, fine. Just let me pick my own activity and schedule because, I don’t want to hang out with my boss. She’s a lovely woman and we have work happy hours and dinners sometimes and they’re great. But, she’s my boss, not my friend, and I don’t hug her either.
It all comes back to this social stigma I’ve spoken about before. I prefer to do a lot of things on my own and often by myself. Hugging is a physical connection and one that is reserved for those whom I want to touch. That may or may not include you and that’s fine. I don’t expect you to hug me (unless your Paul and then get over here!) if it is not something we normally do. And if it’s not, it is up to me to determine when and if we ever will. You are free to try to hug me, I am free to stand awkwardly praying for it to end.