The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Hug

I admit it. I am a hugger. I like to give hugs. I like to get hugs. Leo Buscaglia was my hero. Yesterday, at work’s senior staff meeting, I hugged my co-workers. One guy pulled me right up off my feet and gave me a bear hug. What is so unusual about this is that I supervise him in the workplace. He either was saying that I’m a good supervisor, or he wanted to crush me as a giant python would.

When I go to visit friends, I greet them with a hug. If they come to visit me, I welcome them in my home with a hug. When they leave, they get a hug goodbye. That touch is very reassuring.

I believe that all of this touchy-feeliness started in childhood. In my family, we were huggers. We had individual hugs and group hugs. The group hugs usually wound up with my sister, my mother and I having a fit of the giggles. My father gave reassuring hugs, and the occasional bear hug, on request.

But I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone is as touchy-feely as I am. You can tell when someone doesn’t like to be hugged. They become as stiff as a board and avoid as much body contact as possible. One of my sons is this way. Maybe he doesn’t think that hugging is very “manly.” My husband would disagree with that. He loves to hug. Of course, his hands roam right to my rear-end, but that’s beside the point.

You can tell a lot by the way someone hugs. A full on body hug means love, affection, and a strong bond. A neck hug with little or no body contact means “I like you.” A sideways hug means “I like you” but is safe when you aren’t sure how the other person feels about hugging. Hugs mean reassurance. They reinforce verbal messages. I think all world leaders should have to hug each other when they have meetings to decide the fate of the planet. It would be interesting to see which ones become as stiff as boards and which ones try to crush someone like a giant python.

posted by Melanie O. at 12:08 PM -
  • At 3:40 AM, Blogger Kanani said…

    Hug history

    I made the huge mistake of marrying into a family of non-huggers. They all fall into some mental illness trap of either massive depression or autism, and I can't recall any of them ever hugging each other or another person. Sadly, my son is autistic, too. You can't even touch him.

    Interestingly enough, my own family wasn't big on hugging. Maybe it was the influence of my family when I was young, though I've noticed as he's gotten older he hugs whereas he didn't when he was younger.

    My mother's side...ohmigod! Hugger, kisser, people for whom tears come easily! Lovely people, and because of their hugs when I was young, I know I'm always welcome.

    But for my Dad's side? No way. Cold, manipulative and very self serving.

    You learn to correlate warmth with certain people when you are young. That's why I always make it a point to hug kids if they'll let me.

  • At 8:28 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    K - that is so sad. It's just so alien to me to not want to be hugged. When I see you again, no doubt it will be a hugging fest!

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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