Giving and receiving hugs are as natural for me as sneezing. All my life I’ve hugged countless living animals and just as many cuddly stuffed ones, and lord knows how many people I've hugged. I thought everyone liked to be hugged the way I did, and I always figured a hug expressed my affection and that it was a nice thing for me to do.
Well, we’re never too old to learn. I guess I failed to realize that hugs involve two people.....a giver and a getter. Just because I, the giver, thought it okay, didn’t mean that the getter felt the same.
Personal space is a right and privilege. We huggers stand a good chance of violating that space when we reach out to give someone a hug. Until this July 4th weekend, I never before thought of hugging as a violation, but I do now. My experience forever changed how I will approach people from now on.
There are basic rules to hugging like basic rules to everything else. I just wasn’t tuned in to them. I pass on these rules to others, like me, who intend to promote love in the world, but instead might be unintentionally crossing personal-space boundaries.
- Always respect another person’s space. Family background, culture, age, and gender all play a part in hugging.
- Ask permission before giving a hug.
- Follow the 3-second rule. Keep the hug short.
No matter what, I will always consider my natural tendency to show affection to be a good thing. Whether I continue to initiate hugs, well, that’s another story.