Q. I have a friend, a woman I have known for many years, who is a serial hugger – and I mean full contact hugger. Every time I see her, she hugs me, whether we see one another at a Christmas party or in the grocery store. She has even hugged me when we were both in sweaty workout clothes! We live in the same neighborhood, have children at the same schools, attend many of the same events, so I run into her frequently. Last week, we met for lunch. She hugged me when we arrived at the restaurant and, when we were leaving, though we were outside of the restaurant and I had deliberately stepped off the curb and away from her – in the hopes of avoiding another hug – she stretched out her arms and cupped her hands toward me, waggling her fingers at me as if to say, ‘Come on. Give me a hug before we part.’ She clearly cannot ‘read’ me very well. She is driving me nuts!
I like hugs. I think they are a nice thing to give and to receive. However, I don’t feel the need to hug anyone every single time I see them. Sometimes, I think a hug can be inappropriate given certain situations. My friend’s hugging is beginning to offend me. I feel violated (yes, a this is ‘space’ issue for me).
I do like this woman and want to remain friends with her. However, I am growing increasingly reluctant to get together with her knowing that I will have to suffer her hugs. How can I convey to her I don’t always appreciate her hugs or feel they are necessary every time we see one another?
A. If the effusive greetings of your friend really make you uncomfortable, you may have to explain your feelings. Be tactful; let her know that you enjoy her company but that physical displays are difficult for you.