Reprint – Learning to Hug

I wrote the following essay a few years ago. I was recently reminded of it after reading a status update on Facebook. Read on…


I’m an only child who, after my parents divorced when I was six, was raised mainly by my dad.

Highly intellectual and sort of aloof, the concept of hugging seemed rather confusing to him, and I will admit that it passed to me quickly. As a mom, I actually have had to remind myself to kiss and hug my children. It isn’t that I don’t love them, I love them INSANELY, but kissing and hugging are not something that comes naturally to me.

For years I managed to hobble along with few friends and a handful of acquaintances. Most of my family was far away, and there simply wasn’t much hugging going on to be perfectly honest.

And as my friend count has increased, and my social interactions shot through the roof (thanks in no small part to my extremely gregarious child) I have found myself suddenly exposed to many hugging situations.

Take for example, this morning while IM’ing a friend back and forth, I received this “See you later today? Be ready for a massive hug!”


Dealing with “huggers” has been a lifelong challenge. There is that short moment when you aren’t sure if someone is simply going to wave you on in their house, or press their body against yours, and you have to match this unknown custom. I typically wait for the other to initiate, because honestly I’ve been clueless for so many years on what “normal” cultural/societal norms are that everything seems alien.

Sometimes I wonder if I am an alien.

Don’t get me wrong. I LIKE hugging. After that initial inner monologue of, “Oh God, is this the point in which someone I sort of know but have just barely met (Christine, you’ve known them for months) is now going to press their body against mine in a non-sexual way. At least I hope it’s non-sexual because I’m happily married, damn it!” – after that monologue and the resulting hug, I’m fine. Really, really I’m fine. Getting hugged is nice even for this General Malcontent.

It’s just that weird “are we going to hug or not” prologue that gets me all weirded out.