Moderately Essential

“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.” ~Diane Ackerman

I have a problem with people invading my personal space. No, really. I don’t like to be touched. Rephrase: I don’t like to be touched by people who have no purpose or invitation to touch me. At all. On more than one occasion I’ve had an acquaintance move in for a hug only to find me recoiling in… not disgust… but something akin to it. My kids are allowed to hug me, jump on me, punch me in the arm… whatever. I’m also fairly huggy with my parents and other close family. Most of my friends will ask. Sometimes the conversations go like this:

Friend: “Do you need a hug?”
Me: “No.”
Friend: “Can I give you one anyway?”
Me: “Why? Do you need a hug?”
Friend: “Maybe.”
Me: “OK, then.”


Friend: “I need a hug.”
Me: “And you’re looking at me why?”


Friend: “You look like you need a hug.”
Me: “I do.”
Friend: “Can I give you one?”
Me: “No.”


Friend: “You need a hug and you’re going to get a hug. This is just a warning.”
Me: “OK.”

The notable exception is when I find myself in a culture where personal boundaries are breached during a greeting and every moment of acquaintance after that. But that’s cultural. I grew up with that. Here? Uh… no.

Inevitably, I end up offending people who think they are “close” enough to me or “know me” well enough for me to allow them to embrace me without invitation. Obviously they don’t know me well enough, huh?

The weird thing: I really am a very, very… very affectionate person. At one time in my life I was the hugger. Pinpointing the moment when that changed is likely impossible but obviously I flipped a brain switch somewhere along the way. I like human contact. Often I crave the touch of another person. I just prefer to be the one who initiates it. Sometimes the craving is strong enough that I ponder standing on the corner with one of those “Free Hugs” signs. No, that’s too generic. Mine would read: “Hug me. Resistance is futile.” But see… that’s still me initiating first contact.

Hell, I don’t even mind crowds… so maybe it isn’t a general personal space issue. Maybe I am just thoroughly annoyed by people assuming I need, welcome or want being touched.

Or not. Or… this is another issue entirely, but I feel like venting about it, so here we go:

I also get highly annoyed at those people (and there are many of them) who seem to have no regard for stranger to stranger public spatial management. You would think that once a person reaches adulthood they would learn to walk into an almost empty 400-seat movie theater and not sit directly beside or directly behind or in front of the only other two people in the room. “Excuse me, asshat! You have 398 seats to choose from and you feel the need to be close enough that I can hear you breathing even during a battle sequence. What the hell is wrong with you?” Crowded theater? No problem. Empty one? Sit. Somewhere. Else. This applies to a self-seating restaurant, an office waiting room, a hotel lobby, a beach… any large public space. I am not your I-have-to-be-near-another-human security blanket. Back off.

OK. That tangent is finished. Back to my original topic (sort of)…

Truth is… today… I need a hug.


  1. So in other words, you want and enjoy hugs, but only when you want them and under your terms.

  2. Exactly. I don't like to be ambushed. Only my kids... or a lover (Bwahahaha! Sigh.) have that freedom.

  3. Lady Beth- Is a virtual hug ok?? if so {{{{{ }}}}}..consider yourself hugged!

  4. Feel the love....haha

    The theater thing is so freakin' strange isn't it? I actually have a variation on the theme - which is whenever I'm in the south, everyone seems to be very friendly and they tend to over share. You can go to a restaurant and by the time you've left, the waitress has told you about her husband's recent knee surgery/fishing trip or hobby and you know all the names and ages of her children. Up north, we're crabby and just want to get on our way. We don't share. The only info the waitress is likely to solicit from me, is my food order.

    I will however give her a hug on my way out. =)

  5. May I give you a hug? ((hug))

    Ugh. I hate, hate, hate when people just plop themselves right next to you when it's not necessary. On the treadmill, in the movies, anywhere...

  6. Unsolicited touching...ugh...

    Churches where people hug everyone? I keep that handshake with a stiff-you-are-not-about-to-pull-me-into-a-hug straight arm. Oh, living in the south is so much fun.

    Fair warning...when I see you, you're getting a hug. Maybe a couple of cheek kisses. Oddly enough, a Spanish custom I never really minded.

  7. joemamma ~ I like the virtual hugs. They are good. (((Hugs))) back to you.

    Lisa ~ Yeah... come visit sometime. Chronic oversharing is a religion down here.

    Finn ~ ((Hugs)) to you too! What is wrong with humanity? Don't answer that.

    Dori ~ I would expect nothing less, my dear.

  8. I'm a hugger but only because I am "nice." But I find it awkward trying to determine whether or not to hug. I think you will agree with a post i did on this subject circa 2009...I think we should start a movement.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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