Here’s a confession that’s not going to win me any friends: I don’t care for hugging.
It’s not that I’m not into affection, friends or feelings. I’m an extrovert with a fondness for sprawling my legs over whoever has the misfortune of sitting next to me on the couch. I over-emote constantly, hold hands with my partner everywhere I go, and demanded piggybacks from my dad every day until the age of three.
But hugging? Just plain awkward.
What was once the special, sentimental domain of friends-foreverness has become tense and meaningless.
Now we hug random schoolmates we run into overseas. We hug other people’s sticky kids. We hug long-lost uncles — even though we have to name-check them with our parents first. Some of us even hug strangers on the street, who offer their service for free on large placards (as if that isn’t a bit suss).
I know I’m not alone in my desire for an urgent review of social situations in which hugs are permitted: several friends have confided in me that they, too, struggle with the airkiss-or-hug dilemma at the end of a catch-up, or torment themselves with the how-long-do-I-hold-this-sweaty-hug dilemma at family Christmas ‘dos.
It’s got to stop, people.
So I’ve written some rules that will help contain the over-hugging epidemic. Pass them on — because for non-huggers, the struggle is real.
Hug-appropriate situation #1: You know (and kind of like) the person.
To hug a person, you must know and kind of like the person.
This does not mean you have glimpsed the person peripherally before because they live on your street, or you were in drama club with them in Year Three. It does, however, mean you can comfortably have a ten-minute conversation with them, or would cross the street to say hi if you ran into them on holiday.
Hug-appropriate situation #2: It’s a boozy social situation.
If you’re arriving at a party to see your friends and everyone’s two drinks into their evening, I concede it’s a hugging free-for-all.