The Great Hugging Debate

3 Oct

X’s & O’s – Kisses are great, but what about hugging?

Welcome to The Great Hugging Debate of 2012. (We only talk about the real issues here at P&P.)

This all started because Polly and Penny are of two completely different minds about hugging.

Polly loves it.

Penny hates it.

(And this is Ironic with a capital “I” because a criminal law professor once likened Polly to Genghis Khan and Penny has been referred to as a bleeding-heart liberal.)

So, we decided to lay out our arguments (and consult Circe and Molly, too).

May the best (or worst) hugger win!


Position 1: My personal bubble is the size of Texas… cubed. (Penny)

I am an equal-opportunity hater when it comes to hugging. I don’t care if we share DNA, routinely exchange bodily fluids, or met five minutes ago; please, do not touch me in this manner if it can possibly be avoided. (Which, it can. Always.)

This unmitigated loathing is starting to cause problems (again) in my love life. (Surprise evinced by precisely no one.)

Over the years countless potential hookups and boytoys and maybe even boyfriends have fallen victim to the dreaded double-pat. Gone. Poof. Over before they began because I hate hugging, I want this unbearably awkward physical contact over with and Zeusdammit, the patting is an involuntary reaction to discomfort – I swear!

Now I am faced with the difficulty of explaining to a male… acquaintance… that it’s not that I don’t like him touching me – in fact, I rather enjoy our other physical contact (and no, not just that – get your mind out of the gutter, jeesh).

But when it comes time to say goodbye, for the love of Zeus, Do. Not. Hug. Me.

I will inevitably do something super strange and not at all adorkable that will send mixed signals I didn’t mean to send and all because I wasn’t hugged enough as a child. (It really is a thing and my parents are great and I never felt unloved, but I honestly didn’t know until I got to college that hugging was something people did on a fairly regular hello-goodbye basis.) ((Eighteen is entirely too old to relearn something this fundamental.))

I’ve forced myself to get over the inevitable invasion of my personal space when greeting a friend I haven’t seen in awhile. I can even manage the occasional goodbye hug, so long as it’s quick and to the point. But the lingering, meaning-laden hug is just too much for me to handle… it gets me every time. Double-pat. Over.



Yes, this is a conversation we are going to have to have.

Position 2: Hugging: Great; Hugging with One Sweater: Greater; Hugging with TWO Sweaters??? GREATEST. (Polly)

I am a great respecter of space. If there are plenty of seats on the train I expect you to take the seat as far away from me as possible. All passengers entering afterward should continue to split the difference so that any close proximity is a necessity and not a choice. If you touch me I will become your worst nightmare.

But I am a hugger.

Penny might need distance and time to justify a hug of salutation, but I hug people I saw yesterday. I hug people I’m meeting for the second time. I hug people who tell me they aren’t hugging people. (Sorry, Pen! I just gotta.)

I concur, signals can get confusing when you’re in the transitory stages between acquaintance and… something more. I was recently kissed in the ear while I went in for the hug and he went in for the peck. Oops. But that’s what makes the hug so great for everyone who is clearly out of that ambiguous zone.

For some strange reason that can most likely be retraced to daddy issues, all of the menfolk in my close group of friends went away to pursue awesome careers/sow oats while the ladies are pursuing equally awesome careers in the metropolis closest to home. I have no romantic entanglements with these gentlemen because:

  • A.) We dealt with our feelings in high school and
  • B.) As previously stated, they all live far away.

The hug exists for those 1-5 seconds when you are allowed experience a tiny slice of “What if?” What if I got to see you more than once or twice a year? What if you didn’t tell me you thought of me as a sister that time in eleventh grade when I spilled my guts to you during lunch in the hall outside the band room? What if I wasn’t hopelessly attracted to someone else? We’ll never know and I’m not so certain we should. But we have this hug. So let’s enjoy it.

For the record, I do not and will never double-pat. It is the hugging equivalent of a dead fish handshake and is never acceptable. These are big, tight, squeezy bear hugs that usually incorporate some kind of movie-style twirly swingaround or side-to-side swaying action. Because these are love hugs. Not ooh-la-la-love hugs. But love hugs nonetheless.

Position 3: Kiss-hello (Molly)

Yes to hugs, except maybe not. USUALLY I want to hug everyone always. BUT there are some people I just never want to hug ever, and I would rather there not be an expectation for hugging. I guess you just have to set the precedent early – Zeus forbid you get on the Kiss Hello Basis like Seinfeld and that lady with the bad hair. Then Kraemer will kiss you on the mouth and you definitely don’t want that.

ALSO – KISSING AND HUGGING. They are not comparable. Kissing on the cheek and hugging are comparable, kissing on the mouth is not in the same family. (Aside: Mitch and Cam on Modern Family need to kiss on the mouth more. Just another thought. This whole ‘gay people on TV don’t kiss thing’ really makes me mad. Hugging is NOT A CULMINATING EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO THE STUFF MITCH AND CAM HUG ABOUT. MAKE OUT, MITCH AND CAM! I DON’T CARE IF AMERICA IS READY FOR IT.)

Position 4: The Hug as a Tension Diffuser (Circe)

I find myself somewhere in the middle in the to-hug-or-not-to-hug debate. While I have no problem hugging family and friends, I am WILDLY uncomfortable receiving hugs from strangers. If I don’t know you or if I just met you and you try to hug me, you will undoubtedly receive a classic ass out hug in response.

However, there are certain situations among acquaintances and new friends or potential partners in which a hug serves as a happy medium. For example, if I’m on a first date and the time has come to say goodbye, I feel like a stodgy prude or like I’m closing a business deal if I extend my hand for a shake, but I don’t want to seem like a floozie by going in for a smooch.

What to do? Hug! It is the perfect way to say hey, it was nice to meet you, I don’t cringe at your touch so maybe we should continue this (clearly I don’t have high standards for my dates), but I’m not ready to go in for the kill just yet (I’d like to hold on to my fantasy for just a little while longer before inevitably finding out that you kiss like a deatheater trying to suction all of the joy in my soul out through my mouth.

1 Yea
1 Nay
2 Sometimes
Comment to help us break the tie!


6 Responses to “The Great Hugging Debate”

  1. Can I Get ur Number?? October 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    I’m with Polly on this one… I’m known in every circle for being the best hugger they’ve ever hugged, it’s a gift really :) Love hugs!

    XX – S

    • Hippolyta (Polly) October 4, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      You rock, Sarah! Now I’m winning! Keep on huggin’!

  2. Sotorya (Tory) October 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m going to Jump in the debate, and say I AM A HUGGER. I am also, however, a double-patter. Because if the hug is not someone I am super close to , and they are holding on too long, it is my way of saying “I am uncomfortable and you need to release me puny human”

  3. Ephesos (Effie) October 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Yea for hugs!

    Also- Polly really is a great hugger

    • Hippolyta (Polly) October 8, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Damn straight she is.

    • Molpadia (Molly) October 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I can confirm this as well.

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