I consider myself an open, outgoing and friendly person. I can engage in a healthy and interesting discourse with the best of them. I’m not one for small talk and simple discussions about the weather or how the local sports teams may be faring. I hold doors for women and put others before myself. I was raised to mind my manners, speak clearly and be cordial towards others.
Yet there is this one thing that, no matter how cool I am with every meeting or connection I make, I am awkward when closing this one particular deal:
I am a terrible hugger.
I, honestly, cannot hug.
Well, I can hug, just not without feeling awkward. I’m likely conveying it towards the person receiving/ giving a hug as a bit cold and kinda weird. I’ve had this problem since, at least, high school.
I only realized it from then because I had several friends around that time comment that they wanted to “teach me how to hug”.
My awkward embracing was brought to ugly light again recently when my sister’s mother-in-law came in at me for a hug and quickly backed away while giving me an awkward glance, turned to my mom and said: “does he always hug so weird?”
I was outed. My secret escaped and there I stood exposed. I kinda needed a hug at that moment but it would have been mercilessly awkward.
“I think we need to show you how to be a good hugger.” She said with a promise in her voice.
“I don’t think that can happen, I’ve been so bad for so long, I think it’s in my DNA” I retorted.
“Oh you just need to squeeze more, come in for a full one and don’t be afraid to get close.” All this said as she held her arms extended as if I was expected to come back in for a second worthless hugging effort.
I did, and it was just as awkward. I returned the hug in the ass out, two taps on the shoulder blades “there there” type of hug.
“What the hell was that?” she said
“A hug?” as my voice cracked nervously
“That was terrible” she said
“You’re terrible” my inner voice interred “yeah I just don’t hug” is what I spoke.
I’m not sure how many terrible, verging on awful, hugs I’ve landed over the years or why exactly I am so bad at them. It could be the compressing of bodies as I sense every inch and curve and meandering of another warm body pressed against mine and squeezed in a manner that, were apples left between us, cider would be procured.
It could be the feeling of their body with your body. It’s somewhat intimate in a way that, despite the millimeters of clothing between you, there they are smooshed against you. You feel their warmth, you sense their heartbeat and sometimes if hugged hard enough there’s the crotch bump you didn’t anticipate.
I blush if my crotch brushes the wall and I’m trying to squeeze between people in a crowded area. I feel this deep sense of regret that I should apologize incessantly to the wall, perhaps buy it dinner or hope that it didn’t really notice the jean covered form of my manhood awkwardly slipping past it.
Maybe it’s just juvenile silliness to feel such a way when another body crosses my body in those “bikini areas”. Maybe it’s silliness to resist “bringing one in” for an embrace of shared affection. It’s just a hug right? No one is trying to get fresh with me; no one’s hands will slip onto my rear end trying to cop a feel, right?
I think it’s just that I wonder what the intent of the hug is. I’m emotionally defensive and dislike the artificial emotion sometimes bundled in with hugging. It’s an overused gesture and to me should be reserved for close friends and is sometimes exploited/ abused and often misconstrued for a deeper friendship when it is used.
Am I alone in resisting the awkward embrace? Should I create a support group for those like myself who can’t hug? Sometimes this worry is a bit much to handle.
I think I need a hug.