Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are You a Hugger?

Are you a hugger? Do you embrace embracing? I’ll admit it, I’m a full-fledged hugger. Not that I don’t occasionally find myself in awkward hugging situations. And yes, I suppose I, like most people, have my own set of hugging rules. For example, I don’t hug strangers. Well, unless we’ve somehow made an emotional connection, and then a handshake just doesn’t feel right, and a hug is just . . . well, perfect.

I don’t have a timer that beeps aloud when the appropriate amount of hugging time passes, but I do seem to have one internally. And when a person is a hanger-on’er hugger,(meaning the hug hangs on too long) I suddenly start feeling the need to pull away.

I have come in contact with over-eager huggers, people who seem to just want to hug everyone and most of the time they are also the hanger-on’ers and the too-tight-squeezers and the gotcha huggers. Gotcha huggers are the people who didn’t give you a pre-hug warning and then bam--there you are, with your body pressed tightly against someone, and if you’re really unfortunate, you’re wondering who they are, and why their hands are moving toward your ass.

Yup, especially in my younger days, I’ve come across quite a few opportunist huggers. Most opportunist huggers are of the male variety, and right after their arms wrap around you, you sense they are simply using the hug as a guise to cop a feel.

Unfortunately, when you open yourself up to the wonderful pleasure of hugging, you are prime bait for dirty ol’ men, or dirty young men. But I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s still worth the risk. Nevertheless, I’ve often found myself wishing I could call the hugging police.

Needless to say, I’ve never come across the huggers’ handbook, dictating the hugging etiquette, or the number to the hugging police.

Frankly, after enduring the smothering hugs of one of my great aunts as a child, it’s amazing I didn’t grow up to be an anti-hugger.

This aunt had boobs, huge boobs, and when she pulled me to her, I would somehow always get caught between Lucy and Ethel, and let me tell you, breathing while buried between Lucy and Ethel was not easy. Death seemed imminent. Now some men will tell you that’s the way to go. I’m not a man and I totally disagreed. To make the situation worse, the aunt was a hanger-on’er hugger and a squeezer. So whenever I’d see her coming, I’d always take a deep breath as if I was about to swim across the pool underwater, because once you found yourself between Lucy and Ethel, there was no telling when you’d come up for air.

Ahh, but even those oxygen-deprived hugs didn’t deter me from becoming a hugger. There is just something so comforting to wrap your arms around someone and squeeze. You are giving, you are taking, you are sharing.

Now I will have to tell you that like my aunt, I’ve been cursed with my own Lucy and Ethel pair. However, because I’m so short, few people are going without oxygen due to a hug from yours truly.

Nevertheless, the girls often do get in the way of hugging. Which can and has at times made hugging an awkward experience.

For people who know me, they mostly ignore my dynamic duo pair, but for those people who know me well enough that a handshake no longer fits the bill, but the relationship is new to the hugging stage, they tend to worry about bumping into the girls.

In addition to the boob issue, I’m short and that too can create awkward hugging if someone doesn’t want to lean down. I mean, my tiptoes only go up so high. Oh, and I often find myself with another hugging handicap. My hat.

You see, I wear hats at almost every writing conference, where I meet a lot of friends and therefore do a lot of hugging, and it almost never fails that when hugging I’ll get my hat knocked off. Ahh, but believe me, a good hug is always worth the scoop down to pick up the hat. And I always hope the lean down to hug my neck for my tall friends is worth the effort.

Now, while I totally believe in hugs, I know a lot of people who are simply hugging impaired or anti-huggers. I try not to judge these people. I even try not to push my hugs on them, because well, my hubby is one of them.

Hubby will never turn down a hug from me or the kids, but let anyone else open up their arms and come at him and he goes on all-panic mode. He becomes stiff, chest pulled in, butt out, and he stops breathing—and he’s not even worried about get stuck between Lucy and Ethel. It’s just down right terror of the impending hug.

I’ve only seen him turn down a few hugs, but watching him receive one from someone is downright comical because he comes off as about as warm as a concrete post in the Antarctic during a cold spell. And unfortunate for hubby, I’m not the only one who finds his awkward hugging skills funny.

We, hubby, daughter and I, were going out of town for a getaway weekend with my husband’s boss and his wife. When we arrived at the hotel, the lobby was packed with what appeared to be bikers--long haired, bearded, tattooed individuals. And oddly enough, they were all running around hugging each other. Not just one or two of them, but dozens of hugging bikers. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, but I’ll admit it looked rather odd. My hubby and his boss, whom I assume was also an anti-hugger, were more than perplexed. They even asked the hotel clerk what was up with the huggers. We were informed that a conference, “Hugs Not Drugs” was happening at the hotel.

Anyway, we get our hotel keys, get in the elevator and our daughter, only six at the time, leans up against the jeaned leg of what she thought was her daddy and . . . hugs it. Only problem was she was hugging the wrong jeans-covered leg. The biker dude just smiled down at our daughter. She looked up, and the man said, “Hi, I’m Steve.”

Embarrassed, she pulled away and then looked at her daddy and said, “He’s Steve, too.”

Hubby, being polite, held out his hand to introduce himself. The man, with a beard down to his chest and a snake tattoo on his forearms, looked at my husband’s outstretched hand, bypassed it, and gave him a big, an all encompassing bear hug. And you should know the guy was a hanger-on’er hugger and a squeezer, too. So there my hubby was, frozen with panic, butt held out, chest caved in, while being embraced tightly in an elevator in front of his boss. Hubby’s boss started coughing to cover his heehaws of laughter and even I had to bite back my giggles.

Poor hubby, not just because we laughed at him, but because he just doesn’t know what he’s missing. Below are some facts I found on the internet about hugging.

Hug for a healthy heart~ Hugging increases Oxytocin (a heart healthy hormone) and decreases the stress hormone Cortisol (the hormone that leads to high blood pressure and heart disease).

Hugs lead to a lowered heart rate~ Hugs also provide a calming effect. Those hugged are shown to have heartbeats five to ten beats slower per minute than those who are not hugging.

Hugs are good for blood pressure~ Hugging reduces blood pressure (good news for those with hypertension).

Full body hugs stimulate the nervous system~ Full body hugs have been shown to increase nervous system stimulation. This has been used as a physical therapy technique by some professionals.

Hugs release beneficial natural chemicals~ Who needs an artificial high when a hug has been shown to release dopamine—a natural “feel good” brain chemical.

In addition to the physiological benefits of hugs, hugs are purported to lessen loneliness, combat fear, increase self-esteem (Someone wants to hug me!), affirm relationships, diffuse tension, and convey appreciation.

So there are my thoughts, and my story on hugging. Are you a hugger? Do you have hugging rules? Have you hugged anyone lately? If not, do yourself a favor and go find someone to hug. It feels so good. And if you don’t have anyone around, consider yourself cyber hugged by me. Oh, and don’t worry about the girls.


Judith said...

Aghhh! Hugging! Where's a corner I can hide in?

Actually, I am much much better. It's funny you mentioned "hugs not drugs" because it was AA that got me more comfortable with hugging (although when I was deep into drinking, I hugged quite a lot too, but that's a whole different problem).

When my son was born, I also became something of a hugger with him. To his dismay, that hasn't changed much even though he is now 3 inches taller than me and 14 years old and mom doesn't care if his friends are around or it's a public place.

Oh, and I hug my husband.

I've noticed the last couple years that hugging has come a lot more naturally to me. I guess I am filled with a lot less fear than I used to be and I am also able to accept affection and kind gestures from others.

I must say, however, I was less than thrilled when one day I found myself as the only female at what was supposed to be a mixed AA meeting. Everyone wanted to give me hugs that day. They were all so proud of me, cute little sober girl.

I took a shower when I got home. But I felt bad about it.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Vicariousrising!

I love your story. And hugging is indeed a healing experience.

It's also good to know that you can become more of a hugger. I wonder if my hubby will ever embrace hugging?

Thanks so much for sharing. And consider yourself hugged!


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I grew up in a family of huggers and kissers, though most of them have switched to skipping the kisses. That does become awkward when you go in for a kiss and hit the corner of their mouth or their cheek, then they turn and kiss your cheek. I'm slowly getting to know the ones who prefer just hugs now. :)

When my hubby (a hugger normally) gets really stressed, I automatically go to give him a long, heartfelt hug. He used to stand for about 10 seconds and then he'd get all twitchy. I try to tell him to relax and he's now got his time up to about 45 seconds to a minute before his impatience overrides manners. But I've learned when to recognize when it's time to let him be, too.

Hugging is just a great way to say Hi to friends--and even better now that I know how good it is for me and my huggee. LOL

Christie Craig said...

Hi Stacey,

It's funny how many poeple aren't huggers. I never thought about it, until I met my hubby and witnessed his inablity to hug other people. But like you say, they learn to soften a bit. He's a much better hugger than he used to be.

Keep giving your hubby hugs.



Jo Anne said...

I'm a hugger, Christie, and you know it. I've got 'girls', too, but you and I hug just fine. I bend a bit, we hug. It's not a problem it the girls bump, because that's not what it's about. Sometimes I even catch your hat. :-)

I do dislike the groper hug. An old acquaintance - a short guy - had arms that could wrap around and reach everywhere, and he started rubbing as soon as we started hugging. I did avoid his hugs.

Good huggers do have 'hug radar.' We respect non-huggers. I don't hug your hubby. I shake his hand, and if I want to share something more intimate, I pat his shoulder.

Shoulders are good. I've found arm-around-the-shoulder hugs sometimes work better with non-huggers. Then there's the old shoulder nudge, hip bump, which gives more casual contact, but still fulfills the touch need.

Because those of us who are huggers need that human contact. It connects us. Yep, I'm a hugger.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Jo Anne,

If you were here, I'd hug you! Yup, us huggers need hugs. And I think non-huggers need them, they just don't or can't admit it.

And my hubby absolutely loves you. I think a hug from you might not even bother him.


Wendy Roberts said...

LOL!!! Personally I've gotten better at hugging. I used to be hugging impaired but I'm finally getting the hang of it. Still not a fan of the hanger-on-hug though *snort*

Terri Osburn said...

I am fortunate to be who has received a hug from you in person. Girls didn't pose a problem at all. And I don't think the hat was either. :)

I'm not typically a hugger, but I think we are in the minority so I've gotten used to hugging in recent years. And I totally agree about the hugging being necessary sometimes. I really needed a hug this weekend. I never got one and I survived, but I so could have used one.

Terry S said...

I don't think of myself as a hugger, but if you were to ask my kids, they would say Mom's a hugger. I think it's because I use a lot of discretion in who/when to hug. I guess I'm more of a special occasion hugger. But kids always get hugs...no discretion there at all.

Hugs sure do make you feel good, though, don't they? Cyber hugs to all.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Christi.

I'm a natural born hugger. Been through them all. And while I like most, the ones I remember most were when my kids were small, probably around two years old. There's something precious about an innocent squeeze around the neck.


Tori Lennox said...

I love hugging. :)

Christie Craig said...


I'm with you. The hanger on hug gets awkward really quickly.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Yup, I enjoyed our hug, too. I needed a few hugs this week, too. So I'll send you one and you can send me one.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...

Terry S.

I think all moms are huggers to a degree. Nothing is like those little arms coming around your neck.

And I'm sending you a hug back.



Christie Craig said...


You are right, those hugs are the sweetest. I remember the first real hugs I got from my little guys. I think they were like a year and when you first picked them up they just sort of sqeezed you because they were so happy to be in your arms.

Sweet hugging memories.


Christie Craig said...


There really is a lot to love about hugging. A hug is a touch that can heal the soul.

Thanks for stopping in.


Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Christie,
Fun Blog! I tend to hug more than not hug, but I want to tell you about my favorite hug of all. I get it from my youngest son and I call it the "neverending hug" because after the conventional time alotment due a hug, I start to release him and he grabs on again and won't let me go, and then again, and again, until we are both laughing. He's done it this way for years--just for me (as far as I know!) It always makes me smile.

Christie Craig said...

Ahh, Kathryn,

That sounds like a perfect hug. My son, nineteen, and six-three, still comes to me at night for a hug. He's a hugger, guess he got it from my me.

Your ritual reminds me of a song I made up for my son and I sang it to him as a child every night. The other day while at my daughter's house, he heard me singing it to my grandaughter and he said, "Hey, that's my song."

I couldn't help but to smile.


Donna Marie Rogers said...

Christie, I can always count on you to put a smile on my face. :-) Lucy & Ethel? Too funny!

I wasn't a hugger growing up since my family wasn't big huggers. But I've become quite the hugger over the past few years, and even go running for a hug every time I see certain friends. And man, did I do a lot of hugging at the WisRWA conference this year! It was fabulous!

I'm short, too, so when we finally meet, our hug should be just right. ;-)

Christie Craig said...


Yup, our hug will be perfect. There's something about writing buddies that makes hugging feel right, too. I got so many great hugs at Nationals.

Look forward to hugging you in person some day.


Keri Ford said...

I'm a hugger too. But I try not to hug people that I know just because. Some people (coughnon-huggerscough) would find that weird.

I try to watch for clues to see if arms are opening and so forth.

And my eyes are crossing on me, so I really hope this post makes sense.

catslady said...

When I was a kid we had the old Italians that would kiss and hug you to death (on the lips if you weren't fast enough). My mom hated it so we all kind of learned to try and do nothing. But lately I have some younger relatives that like to hug and I like it. When my daughter moved away but came to visit we did lots of hugs but now that she lives nearby it doesn't happen as much. I have to work on that lol.

Christie Craig said...


Yup, you have to be careful not to be an over-eager hugger. Of course, anti-huggers think any hugger is an over-eager hugger. But I'll admit, hugging is contagious. Someone hugs someone and then you find yourself hugging the person next to you and the person who was hugging the other person is hugging you. It's like a hug-a-thon.

Have a great day. Keep those eyes from crossing.

Thanks for popping in.


Christie Craig said...


Hugs are good for anyone, no matter how far away we live from each other. But I know what you mean, when we see someone often, we don't feel the overwhelming need to hug as much, but we need to remedy that.

Hugs are too good to turn down.


Delia DeLeest said...

I wasn't a hugger, until I moved to Hawaii, then I had no choice. EVERYBODY hugs here. After church, instead of handshakes, everyone hugs. It's not surprises to see buff surfer guys hugging at the beach of big ol' Samoan guys hugging at Walmart. It's just the way of Aloha. Now, when I go visit the mainland, I have to remind myself to not hug people - I also have to remember to not take my shoes off in church, but that's a whole 'nother issue.

Christie Craig said...


Too funny. (Shoes off in church?) Ahh, the traditions and cultures of other places always intrigues me.

Thanks so much for posting.


Anonymous said...

Too funny, Christie. I'm picturing your hubby preparing for a hug now. LOL.


Unknown said...

Thanks Faye.

Poor fellow. I try not to give him a hard time about it, but sometimes, we just gotta laugh. With him of course, not so much at him.


Sandy said...

LOL Christie, I'm a hugger. My whole family hugged everyone. My sister and hubby reserves their hugs for family and close friends. lol

Thanks for the fun post.

Christie Craig said...


Huggers makes great relatives. Even with the Lucy and Ethels.

Thanks for stopping in.