Hug me (during or hug me not (During COVID)?

There’s no denying that COVID-19 has wormed its devastation into the daily news, political discourse, and just about every aspect of human interactions. It lurks like a cloud over us, gripping us in fear and uncertainty.

But let’s talk about one area of human interactions, the implications of huggingduring these times of COVID-19.

Now the questions are many, among them:

What are the protocols that govern hugging before COVID-19 and now? And COVID-aside, what are the circumstances under which hugs in general are appropriate or not? 

What do you do if you find yourself in the middle of an all-out hug-fest where it’s clear that some are okay with it, others not? 

And perhaps the thorniest question of them all: If you don’t want to be hugged, how do you ward off that fast-charging hugger headed your way, arms stretched outward, lips puckered, without hurting his/her feelings? 

Before COVID-19, the workplace, parties, religious institutions, large family gatherings, etc., have long been sources for friendly interactions. But how do you balance the needs of perpetual huggers versus the “hug-me-nots?” 

But first this.

According to the dictionary, a hug is, “to clasp or hold closely.” We bond with a hug, find comfort with a hug, greet and separate from each other with a hug. 

In many countries people hug publicly without causing offense, and it’s accepted across different religions and cultures, within families and also across age and gender lines. 

In American culture, a quick hug is often a given. These hugs are usually reserved for close friends or longtime associates and can happen without permission or request. 

Although it is not unusual to witness hugging among professional athletes, outside of sports the modern world is a complex place for some men. The messages they get are they are expected to be in touch with their feminine side, but never to the point that it compromises their masculinity. 

Wow, some baffling stuff, huh? 

Now the truth is, some folks just look tantalizingly “huggable.” There’s a kind of “teddy-bearishness” about them. On the other side, others convey “hey, hands off” with their body language. 

Now to my huggers out there, be careful when sizing up potential “hug-me-not” candidates for your embrace. If you don’t know the person that well, even if they look huggable, or if you are otherwise in doubt, don’t hug them. It’s that simple. Otherwise, take their cues.

And above all, resist insisting on a hugWhen you want one, but the other person extends a hand – or elbow – towards you, duh, hello, read their cues. Instead, accept the outstretched hand…. or elbow!

Okay say that an unwelcome hug is heading your way. The cues are there: the steps forward, the arms open, the grin. Time is short. What can you do short of running in the opposite direction? 

The advice from this ex-hugger is to put your hand or elbow (your, “hug me not” sign) out early while taking a step back. If you extend your hand or elbow for a handshake (or “elbow-shake”), you avoid the rejection.

Okay, let’s keep it real. If you reside on planet Earth, it’s probable that someone will catch you completely off guard and stun you with an unexpected hug at some point. But before you make an uncomfortable situation worse, ask yourself if you can live with an isolated bout of discomfort. 

And keep in mind that knowing people want to hug you says more about you than it does about them. So suspend your discomfort. If someone offers you their elbow, the message is that they care about their health and yours.

In the end, we can reduce the possibility of awkwardness if we stay tuned into and respect each other’s personal boundaries. One way to do that is to share this piece with those you know. That way we raise awareness among our well-meaning huggers and “hug-me-nots,” the latter of whom will feel less pressure to have to convey an uncomfortable message or, short of that, to duck and run! 

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel,, The Echo World, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award. 


4 thoughts on “Hug me (during or hug me not (During COVID)?

  1. I would like to express my appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this type of difficulty. Because of browsing through the world wide web and obtaining proposals which were not helpful, I was thinking my life was done. Living minus the approaches to the issues you have resolved by means of your main website is a critical case, as well as ones that might have in a negative way affected my entire career if I had not come across your blog. Your main capability and kindness in touching all things was very helpful. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I had not discovered such a solution like this. I’m able to at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks very much for your expert and effective help. I won’t be reluctant to refer your site to anybody who would like care about this area.

  2. Thank you so much for providing individuals with an exceptionally spectacular chance to read in detail from this web site. It really is very superb plus full of a lot of fun for me and my office co-workers to visit the blog at least 3 times weekly to read through the newest secrets you have. And of course, I’m so certainly contented considering the outstanding guidelines served by you. Certain 1 points in this post are undoubtedly the most beneficial we have ever had.

  3. I am commenting to let you understand what a fabulous experience my princess developed visiting your site. She figured out some pieces, including how it is like to have a great helping spirit to let others clearly know several impossible subject matter. You actually exceeded visitors’ expected results. Thanks for producing those useful, safe, edifying and as well as fun guidance on this topic to Ethel.

  4. I truly wanted to compose a message to express gratitude to you for some of the wonderful secrets you are giving here. My prolonged internet investigation has at the end of the day been compensated with really good details to talk about with my good friends. I would tell you that we readers actually are very fortunate to dwell in a notable place with so many awesome individuals with useful tips and hints. I feel somewhat lucky to have seen the website page and look forward to many more fabulous moments reading here. Thanks once more for all the details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.