So I hug people. A lot. I used to not hug people, and shrug off people touching me in general.*
Now, however, I am quite a physical person. I always have been, on reflection. There was a few years when I didn’t like other people touching me, but even then I’d still hug people. They just couldn’t hug me back/start the hug.
Anyway. I’m quite a physical person, and so are my group of friends. We’re the ones who go to parties and end up sitting and lying all over each other. We’re those people who end up in massive dogpiles in the park, who think nothing of grabbing one another by the hips and pulling each other onto our laps, regardless of gender and relationship status.
We’re the ones who greet each other with hugs, and thus take five or so minutes to either arrive or depart a place because everyone needs to hugs everyone else.
There is a lot of hugging, is what I’m saying.
Which is very good for me, because otherwise I’d be very touch starved.
Not that my family doesn’t hug, or have physical contact. We do, I just get different things from hugging my family and hugging my friends (and hugging strangers).
Hugging my family is...well, it’s hugging my family. I may not like them very much sometimes, but they’re my family, and so I have** to.
But hugging my friends is so much more than that. Hugging between us can be an expression of greeting, of happiness, of sympathy, of support, of farewell, of comfort, of strength or weakness or platonic love or gratitude or encouragement or...
We say a lot with our hugs. We say a lot with our bodies, actually, which is something I find fascinating for all sorts of reasons. (Even my guy friends are remarkably free with their bodies, both with us girls and with each other. I’m not sure how many heterosexual teenaged guys would willingly hug multiple other guys, let alone sit on their laps/ lie on them/hang off them. I’d be willing to bet not all that many.)
We say a lot, and I’m really grateful to all my friends for doing so. I’m grateful that not only will they put up with me hugging them or grabbing them or lying on them or cuddling up to them, but they will also seek that out with me. I’m grateful that, when someone in our group hugs someone else, everyone will (usually) make no comment. I’m grateful that, if someone from outside the group was to make a derogatory comment about how physical we are, I can be confident that the group will not act ashamed, but tell the haters to STFU. And then indulge in some more hugging, probably while lying on each other (and cracking jokes).
I’m grateful that, amongst most of my friends at least, I can indicate that I wish to cuddle them and it will not be taken in a sexual manner.
That, from my experience, is really rare.
And I’m not sure why.
I don’t understand, exactly, the societal pressures and decisions that say “this is not acceptable. You may not do these actions with these people. “ To me, it all seems to be saying “You see these things? These things you really enjoy, which hurt no-one and can actually provide comfort to others and/or yourself? You can’t do them. Why not? Because we said so.” And the ‘because we said so’ seems to be the only reason people can give me when I question them on why, exactly, it is ‘unseemly’ for me to be hugging a friend of mine, regardless of gender.
I’ve never dealt well with not being given what I see as valid reasons, nor with being told what (not) to do.
Besides that, if I followed the ‘rules’, which seem to be “You may hug for under a minute anyone who is your own gender, or your family (if you are female, if you are male the only person you may hug is your SO, or possibly your mother). You may cuddle with your SO (and no one else). You may lie on your SO (and no one else). You may hold your SO’s hand, and that is the only person who’s hand you may hold, excluding those under the age of 10. You may only kiss someone else on the cheek if they are either A: your SO or B: an adult whom you are greeting (assuming you are an adult, if you are not you are to be expected to kiss anyone related to you as soon as they proffer their cheek.) You may not be physically affectionate with anyone whom you are not either related to or intending to shag.”, I’d be totally unable to touch anyone I wasn’t related to.
And then I’d be more than mildly touch deprived, and touch deprivation isn’t a good thing.***
For me, at least, being that physically close and that free with myself and touching other people is also a gesture of trust. Every time I hug one of my friends, I’m trusting them with whatever my emotional state is at the time. Sometimes, that’s not hard.
Sometimes, I think Hercules had it easier.
*yeah, another issue of mine. This one I got over though. Now I’m possibly one of the most likely people to hug anyone. Weird how these things work, isn’t it?
**well, I don’t have to. I could not, and then cause lots of ‘discussion’ and hurt feeling and resentment and stuff I don’t want to deal with. Hugging them is easier. And most of the time I like hugging them.
***Seriously. Google it.