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I have some friendships where, whenever we see each other, there are big smiles, big hugs, and general excitement to see each other. I have other friendships where we greet each other with much more reserve, no physical contact, smaller smiles, quieter conversation. Large smiles and excitement will occur only if there is some exciting news or something, and hugs are a rare event. And of course, some friendships are somewhere in between.

I generally prefer the hugging model, but I'm pretty easygoing about it and try to pick up on cues from others on what they are comfortable with. What I didn't really realize to myself until recently is the fact that the hugging friends aren't necessarily closer friends than the non-hugging friends. I used to assume that the hugging friends were closer friends and liked me better than the non-hugging friends, unless there was some major cues otherwise. But when I heard a friend say she "wasn't really a hugger", something clicked into place in my brain and I started thinking differently.

For example, when I ran into the former accountant from my work at IrishFest last year, she and I had a typical "hugging friend" greeting, even though we barely know each other, and had never worked closely together or had much personal conversation. She greeted me that way because that's the type of person she is - it doesn't mean we are close friends. On the other hand, when I ran into another former coworker and her partner at PrideFest, we did the "non-hugging friend" greeting, even though we had worked much more closely together and had much more personal conversation. She greeted me that way because that's the type of person she is, not because likes me less or feels less close to me.

Some people just aren't really huggers, or at least tend to reserve hugs for special occasions or people they are very, very close to. Other people like to hug everyone they like, even if they barely know them (though, when they encounter people who are similarly free with hugs, they may form close friendships easier than the non-huggers).

I have realized that I know several people who are probably closer friends than I thought they were, because I had assumed no hugs meant we weren't that close. But when I look at all the other details of the friendships, I realize that some people just aren't huggers and that sometimes the hugs don't really matter.

If you want to be my hugging friend and you're not, it is probably because I've misread your cues. It happens. But it is easily corrected - just start giving me hugs and I will respond likewise. But if I've read your cues correctly and you're just not much of a hugger, that's cool too, I know now that it doesn't mean I'm consigned to some outer ring of friendship.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
bertine
May. 29th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
I am a non-hugger. They only people I hug willingly is Zach and Kethry. I don't hug my siblings, my parents or anyone else. I'll return a hug if the other person is a hugger but I feel weird about it.
grenacia
May. 29th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
Yep, you are one of the people who made me realize there are huggers and non-huggers and that some people who don't give me hugs are still my good friends. :)
bertine
May. 31st, 2013 01:24 pm (UTC)
:)
eatsoylentgreen
May. 29th, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC)
I love hugs but I never get them so it feels weird.
grenacia
May. 29th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
You can have Bertine's share of my hugs!
grenacia
May. 29th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
Though, really, I can always make more hugs.
eatsoylentgreen
May. 29th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
that's good, it'd be sad if you had to turn people away because of some quota
mle292
May. 30th, 2013 12:24 am (UTC)
I love this post so much I could hug you.
(Deleted comment)
flwyd
May. 30th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC)
There's a cultural correlation, as well. Within the Pagan community, hugging friends in greeting and parting is so common that many folks meet new people with an offer of a hug.
grenacia
May. 30th, 2013 12:48 pm (UTC)
The _offer_ of a hug is a wonderful thing. It gives someone a chance for a hug, or also to say politely that they aren't huggers or whatever. When in dobt, "can I give you a hug" is a great thing to say.

And yes, there are definitely cultural differences. And pagan culture can vary regionally and by what other cultures individual pagans belong to.
darkknight9
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
Considering you give some of the bestest hugs in the known universe, lets keep it a hug type greeting. :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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