It’s More Than A Hug…It’s Life

I like touching people.  It doesn’t have to be much – just a touch on the arm or hand, a pat on the knee, or better yet, a hug.  Most of us have heard of the health benefits of touching and how beneficial it is for the giver and the receiver – strengthening of the immune system, positive mood stimulation, reassurance, and comfort.  It is said that humans needs four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve hugs a day for growth.  How many of us actually get that?

Well, I try.  As my friends can attest, I hug just about everyone.  It takes me awhile to get through a room full of people I know, because giving a heart-felt embrace takes time.  I’ll even take a chance on people I meet for the first time.  They’re surprised for a second, but most of the time they open up and give as good as they get.

Aside from the benefits, I hug because it feels good.  I hug because I can.  For me, it’s a way of exchanging energy.  It grounds me and connects me to others.  I have a lot of energy and touching and hugging is a way to disperse it, keeping the flow going.  Without it, the qi can back up and turn rancid.

Like the moon and tides, I go through cycles where my energy runs high and I have more than enough energy to share, but then almost from one moment to the next, I’ll fall and I’ll fall hard.  It’s during those times when I’m drained, that hugs from others are life savers, helping me to fill up the stores again.  Very similar to long distance runners, with nothing to replenish the energy I put out, I bonk.

For the most part, I find people are receptive to hugging, but not everyone feels the same as I do.  Some people don’t like to be touched at all.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve hugged my mother.  She was one of those who just did not like to be touched.  That trait was apparently passed down to my oldest brother.  On the rare occasions that we see each other, I’ll instigate a hug, but as close as I try to stand to him, he makes damn sure there is plenty of space between us and all I can feel is a light tap of his fingertips on my back.  Kind of like air kisses.  Completely pointless and far from satisfying.

My son is sort of like that.  He’s generous with hugs, but when I try to touch his leg, knee, or arm, he’s quick to get out of reach.

“What’s the matter?” I asked him one day after trying to get his attention by tapping on his knee.

“I just don’t like being touched,” was his reply.

“Why?”  I reached for his knee again and he pulled away.  “What is it about being touched that bothers you?”

He thought for a moment and shrugged.  “It’s kind of like the backward kneecaps on a flamingo.  That’s just the way it is.”

*Blank stare*  Yeah.  Thanks, buddy.  You really cleared that up for me.

But, to each their own, and I totally respect other people’s spaces, but it’s all I can do to not give people like that a drive-by hug.

So what about you?  Are you the touchy-feely sort?  Do you make it a point to hug or is your personal space yours and yours alone?  Everyone is different and that’s why I’d love to hear from you!

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About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on September 6, 2011, in Friendships, Human, Personal, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. You know, Diana. I could use a hug right now. Another great post about feelings we need but so many ignore. I’m not much of a giver but when in the States I must have that– I need a hug look, because I get them from people I hardly know and they are good for my soul.

    I live in Thailand most of the time and touching is not common here. You only touch very close friends or family and it’s never a hug. A touch on the arm or hand is a true statement of caring. People greet each other with a wai– placing palms together bring them you the face with a slight bow. Height of hands and bow determine status or age.

    You are right about contact with others. There is something in touching that some people can’t deal with but most gain from the encounter. I knew you were a hugger when I started reading you blog. I’m glad I was right. Keep it up because you never know how much hugs help when they are given without expectation!

  2. Hugs are great! I’m very affectionate so touching is a huge part of my personality.

    I wish more people were that way:)

  3. I am sooo touchy feely! I hug everyone. I usually greet with a hug and say farewell with a hug. There’s something about it that’s comforting and grounding and makes you feel more connected to the person. I have sometimes found people who obviously prefer their space and I respect that but I always make the effort.
    Hubby and I are big huggers with a few throughout the day and evenings. There’s nothing like a warm bear hug from hubby to make my world perfect.

  4. My grandmother was a hugger, but my grandfather wasn’t. My mother is, but my father isn’t. I’m more of a hugger-oner, i.e. if someone initiates it then I’m okay. However, I rarely start the hug. Of course, you have the ever popular guy appropriate handshake hug, where you shake hands and then pat each other on the back so your bodies never actually touch.

    My wife always talked about how affectionate her great-grandmother was. She actually died two days before we married, so I never met her. Like you, it took her 30 minutes to enter a room. She not only gave you a hug though, she’d give you a full kiss on the lips too. A little disconcerting the first time it happened I’d imagine. Evidently, she was a corker. I would have liked to have met her. The world needs more hugs.

  5. Ah, yes … to me hugs are food for the soul. Shared touches between folks are so important … think of all the ‘hands on’ alternative healing methods that are effective, especially massage. A friend once followed a “touch for healing” routine on her mother, and both felt it helped her back. Time may have taken care of it anyway, but they were able to enjoy those special sessions with each other and come away enriched.

    I am told I give great hugs … the extra weight makes them soft! Grin.

    If I have just met someone, I’ll ask permission, and occasionally, they will say “I’d rather not.” I have to initiate every hug from my husband, but he is willing once attacked!

    It is interesting that your son, being raised in an atmosphere of hugging, doesn’t welcome hugs. Is this something new with his teenage growth period, or has he always been this way? Backwards knee caps … now that I didn’t know!

    I am guessing that my father was raised in a hug-less atmosphere but he was always very affectionate, as was my mom. One brother is, the other is not. Kissing on the mouth in our family was always done in greeting and parting. I learned the hard way not to lip-kiss others … a friend once wiped his mouth in disgust after I kissed him Happy New Year … and after a silent “oh my God” moment, his wife said, smiling, “I guess my husband just doesn’t have public lips!” We all laughed and the card game continued!

    Thanks for this instightful post, Diana. And a chance to share our hug quotient.

  6. Lol. I love the way kids’ minds work. I don’t like to be touched either. There weren’t a lot of hugs in my house growing up, except from my mom, which was fine, but I remember the first time I went to a get-together at a friend’s house and these girls started hugging me. I was freaking out. It took about a year of hanging around them before I felt comfortable giving hugs to close friends. But I still don’t like doing it with people I barely know. I’m ashamed to say that I play dodge the official hug greeter at church. 😛

  7. I love hugs. I don’t get enough, so I guess I’m hug-deprived. Too bad we don’t live next door or something. Very nice blog!

  8. Hey, Diana! How are you?
    Great post. I, too, am a toucher, but I had never really had it explained to me the way you just did. I’m a Supervisor where I work, so very often I have to remind myself to back off a bit. I don’t need any trouble… However, I find myself patting my employees on the back or touching the top of their shoulder on many occasions. I’ve been there over twenty-two years, so I’m well known. For the most part, I think the folks “get” me; they understand my warmth – that I don’t want anything from them, but to simply be human beings together.
    Very enlightening.

    *hugs*

    -Jimmy

  9. I’m definately a hands-off no-touchy person. I’ve learned to accept that the “huggers” of the world can’t help themselves, but for me it’s an intimacy level thing. If I know you and we have history then you can enter the bubble of personal space that surrounds me. Otherwise, no. I don’t make a big deal about it, but all that personal touching and attention feels invasive and overwhelming and insincere from people I don’t know. Once, you’re in the circle, sure.

    Like Angela, I grew up in a house where exuberant greetings were not common and also had a circle of friends who taught me how to accept compliments, deal graciously with “touchers”, and understand we’re all a bit different. It’s an interesting thing. Like Dannie, I work with people from various parts of the world and in some cases touching is extremely taboo – being naturally restrained has been extremely beneficial.

    But I’d hug Diana. ; )

  10. I’m a touchy-feely person. I’m always hugging or touching someone. My mother was a huggy, squishy person with us as kids but mysteriously stopped when we became older. My Dad was not a toucher. Luckily I married a man who loves hugs and touches and I see my kids as young adults being affectionate with people.

    I think Marion might be on to something about your son. My daughter didn’t like to be touched when she was a teen. She had lots of issues (outside the normal teenage stuff) going on so perhaps this was a way of defecting my energy in an attempt to keep hers. Now that she’s in her twenties and the issues are behind her she just might be more touchy-feely than I am…

  11. Lovely post Diana. People can use a hug anytime. It doesnt cost a thing, but is so precious!

  12. I am so using that backward kneecap excuse the next time I can’t think of a reasonable explanation!

    I’m definitely a hugger. I have to say, I’m surprise Lesann isn’t. I would never have called that one – you just strike me as a hugger.

    My poor kids get hugged by me all the time and their friends. Oh, that’s a fun one. Whenever they have friends over, I have to remind myself that I’m not their mom too, so I have to keep the hugs restrained. Man, is that hard! I just love those little buggers and want to squish them up!

    Yeah, I like me some hugs.

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