hug etiquette

Hugs come in all shapes and sizes. I suppose a handshake is a very formal, limited contact form of hug and they move through to an arm around the shoulder, on to a full embrace, ultimately to a full-on bear hug. There seems to be an etiquette about hugs that you don’t exceed the hug that is offered. So a handshake is not reciprocated with a bear hug. A hand around the shoulder is not confused with a chest bump.

bear hugs come in different shapes and sizes

bear hugs come in different shapes and sizes

But then there are the moments when the huggee feels that the hug should be more or less than is offered. More is easier, they simply escalate the hug to the level at which they feel comfortable. Less is awkward as it involves potential embarrassment and a reduction in the level of hug.

I find it confusing perhaps because I am not a natural hugger. I happily hug my family, I will hug close friends, but I don’t find it easy to hug people outside of my inner circle. I suppose I am wary of the unwanted hug causing someone else to feel uncomfortable, and I am cautious about sending the wrong message.

But I have a sense that God wants me to step out of my comfort zone and into what is uncomfortable territory for me. I think he wants me to be more huggy. That’s because the unintentional message of someone who does not hug can be seen as disinterest, coldness, or even disdain by those who are natural huggers. I don’t want people to think that of me or experience that message (which is not true) from my lack of hugs. I also want to be able to affirm people in all possible ways and sometimes a hug is better than a thousand words.

So this is a public declaration from me. I am going to try to be more huggy. And I need your help. I want to give you permission either to initiate a hug with me if you would find that a blessing, or to say that it would not bless you (that’s fine if you are not a hugger). It is not something that should cause embarrassment or difficulty, but I recognise my own social awkwardness and feel that by ‘coming out’ about this it may make it easier for you and for me. And hopefully as others see me hug those who want a hug will also feel freer to do so too.

5 thoughts on “hug etiquette

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