No, I don’t need a hug
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 3:45pm
Hugging is a bit of a touchy subject for me. I promise that I am not one of those weird germophobes trying to eschew all human contact. Rather, my hatred of hugging stems from some very rational, practical and philosophical reasons.
Philosophically, I think that the entire practice has been corrupted. Hugging is now so commonplace that it has lost all meaning. It has been corrupted from a pure show of emotions to a mandatory, awkward social ritual. In order to put meanings back into this routine, I suggest everyone joins me in enforcing the following rules:
- 1. Hugs shall only be issued for major life changing events or severe hypothermia. My boyfriend just broke up with me: Hug. I haven’t seen you in years and missed you every minute you were not by my side: Hug. I was just introduced to you and don’t yet know if you are a serial killer: No hug. I just got into college: Hug. I just failed at opening my soda and it exploded all over me: Laugh. My dog died: Hug. I just went to the bathroom by myself: No hug unless you are five. (I feel the need to specify this one because I have actually witnessed it happen. A girl came up to her friends and goes, “I just went to the bathroom all alone, by myself.” Cue group hug. Cue Jenny vomiting.) My general rule of thumb is this: if tears could be shed over an event then it warrants a hug. If not, keep your hands to yourself.
2. Hugs shall only be given by significant other, immediate family, and/or very close friends. Hugs are an intimate sort of full body press. They should only be given to people you feel close and connected to. Otherwise the meaning of your hugs becomes diluted.
Practically, I just thinking hugging is just awkward. The entire practice has always confused me. There are just so many questions. One arm or two? Over or under? Should there be space in between us? What do I do with my hands? How long should this go on? Does it look bad if I pull away first? Eyes open or closed?
What happened to the good old days when all you had to do is to look someone in the eye and firmly extend your right hand? I miss the old hardy handshake. Now there are so many ways things can go wrong. In my seventeen years, I feel like I have unfortunately been through every one of them, but here are my worst-case scenarios.
- A. Lingerers. Some people just don’t know when to let go. While they are hanging on too long, you are forced to spend agonizing extra seconds in their vise and even make awkward eye contact with passerbys. And then you feel guilty for pushing them off.
B. Grinders. Certain people take hugs just a little too far. Hands can slide and you can literally find yourself being pulled against this person. Suddenly the swaying seems dirty and violating, and you wonder where Kovacs is when you need her. Instead of getting a hug from these people, I recommend a restraining order.
C. Non-showerers. I know I claimed I wasn’t a germaphobe but this is a slightly different category. When you hug someone, you have the impact of being very close. This proximity could theoretically be a good thing if you were trying to communicate the depth of your feelings. But the only thing the hug ends up communicating is the last time you showered. When I hug someone, I can tell what deodorant you use, when you had fitness, what your backacne looks like, and whether or not you chose to wear that questionable shirt off the floor. If I can avoid it, I would rather not have to smack into your personal hygiene habits.
I think there are some people who genuinely enjoy giving and receiving hugs. In fact, I am surprisingly good friends with one of them. But I think the rest of us simply fall into this ritual because we don’t want to seem like a weirdo who shrinks when people touch them. So next time you feel like entrapping me in your arms and applying pressure while rocking back and forth, please think again.