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What Does a Hug Mean?

Don’t get me wrong – I love hugs. There is no place that I would rather be than in the arms of my husband.  I love to hug my kids and my girlfriends too.  But I’ve been in a couple of situations in the past week where people have “come at me” with a hug and well…I’m just not ready for it.

I may be showing my age with this confession but I don’t hug everybody.  When I was growing up, I “caught” that the hug was reserved for special relationships.  It wasn’t for everyone. Some people received hospitable greetings, some, a kiss on the cheek or a handshake but not everyone leaned into an arm-entangling embrace.  These days, I think that the hug has been “cheapened.”  in two ways.


I have spent the past ten years teaching in the high school setting and it nauseates me when I watch young teen girls give meaningless, “fairy-fingered” hugs to each other one moment and stab each other in the back five minutes later.  You know those hugs when the arms hang loosely around someone and the fingers lightly tap the person’s back?  That’s not a hug.  It doesn’t communicate anything but a shallow, insecure “I-will-do–this-because-I-want-to-fit-in” survival strategy.  It happens too often with too many people and it’s phony.  Adults do it too.


You see it coming and there doesn’t seem to be any acceptable defense – you just get it over with.  This is where I recently found myself.  Left to my own decision, there would be no hug but what can I do?  The hugger has already invaded my personal space and there are few options left but to participate. It frustrates me because it lacks emotion and it’s just too casual.

This is how I see it – I hug because I am genuinely delighted to see that person and I want that person to know that I love him/her. Perhaps I’m spoiled because I am married to THE best hugger in this world. When Chris’ big arms wrap around me at the end of a day, I don’t doubt his sincerity and both of us  bask in that expression of love.  Of course, there is also the wonderful “group hug” that Chris, Phoenie and I have been doing since Phoenie was a little boy – you can’t beat that!

Just this morning, there was an article on the front page of the Star – “No hugs at the office – especially for Canadians.  Results from a new survey show the majority of marketing and advertising executives across Canada discourage full-body contact displays of affection.”

….maybe they’re onto something….

No Comments

  1. Danae

    or the best hug of all…The Group Hug with Phoenie I know you love that one.

  2. You’re right….the Group Hug with Phoenie is indeed one of my favs!

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