Please don’t hug me. Don’t ask me why – if I don’t feel comfortable enough to hug you, then I’m hardly going to sit you down for an in-depth psychoanalysis as to why – just please keep any physical displays of affection on your side of the invisible barrier between us. I don’t want you to mistake emotional aloofness as intentional bitchiness either – I do like you (probably), it’s just that there are a VERY limited number of people in this world I actually feel comfortable hugging, and, sorry, but you’re most likely not one of them.
Let me give you a little insight into hugging for people like myself: when we hug, I will become entirely enveloped by awkwardness. What if I turn my face the wrong way and look like I’m going in for a kiss? What if our arms knot and twist into a crumpled mess of limbs? What if I hold too loosely and feel like a limp, dead fish? Can they feel my discomfort seizing through my body? Eventually, these thoughts will combine and manifest into a hug that could range anywhere between almost-acceptable, to oh-Sweet-Jesus-how-did-I-fuck-that-up-so-badly? And, in the tradition of awkwardness, it’s these types of hugs that seem to stretch on beyond eternity. There are maybe worse things in life than being locked in the strange limbo of continuing-a-hug and pulling-away, but whilst I am clasped tight in that moment by its horribly awkward talons, I can’t think of any.
According to a very limited network of scientists, hugging is actually good for your mental health. Dr Love (yep, apparently that is the name of a real scientist) has results linking hugging to a spike in the release of oxytocin which can increase trust and, apparently, “morality” in people. So, according to this research, I’m an immoral bastard with deep trust issues. I’m going to be honest, no matter how many hugs I’m receiving, I’m never going to trust someone called Dr Love saying I need 8 hugs a day just to function as a happy moral member of society. Not everyone is great with affection. Not everybody is 100% comfortable with day-to-day life. And not everyone enjoys inviting people into their personal space. However, despite what Dr Love’s research suggests, that does not make us sociopaths.
I can appreciate our friendship from afar, I promise. So, keep that friendly affection to yourself, if you would so please.
[Michaela Barton – @lowkeypigeon]