If you’re petrified of being hugged, the world can be a brutal and barbarous place. Someone you’re meeting casually could just come dangerously close to you, arms wide open, wanting to give you a warm sqeeze and giving the feeling of insects crawling all over you body.
As a person who doesn’t like this expression of intimacy, you have only two options: you can either dodge the gesture and show the entire world how awkwardly nerdy you are, or just stick out your hand for a handshake and pray hard that it deters the “inconsiderate aggressor”.
Actually, there is a third option as well if you ask me: just furtively roll your eyes and submit to the unwanted embrace unless you have haphephobia—an intense, irrational fear of being touched.
Origin of No-hugging Policy
So why is it that some among us embrace the idea a good hug, while others shun it? According to pyschologists, the answer lies in the way you were raised.
According to a 2012 study published in Comprehensive Psychology, people raised by parents who were frequent huggers are more likely to be huggers in adulthood.
“Hugging is an important element in a child’s emotional upbringing. As a rule, hugging may refer to physical sensations, a psychological sense of well-being, and often a positive emotional experience,” the study notes.
In fact, a 2014 study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University discovered that hugs help protect against stress and infection and helps us lead a heathlier life.
Similarly, an article on psychology.com also reiterates that affectionate touch is not only a powerful way to communicate intimacy in close relationships, but also helps with several psychological issues.
“The frequency of affectionate touch is associated with both physical and psychological well-being, and those who are deprived of it suffer from depression, anxiety, and a host of other maladies,” the article says.
Studies also point out that non-huggers who recoil from physical contact with others, even those close to them, report more psychological problems than the general population. Perhaps this is because they unwittingly deprive themselves of the affectionate touch they need.
I won’t get into a detailed phychological analysis here. You may read more about it by visiting the links given above. Here, we will focus on people who dislike being hugged or even touched by others, and relate the personality trait to a specific feature in their handwriting.
I realise it’s unlikely you will ever get to take a look at the handwriting of the people you intend to hug. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to at least know a few things about their emotional make-up in case you intend to you stick around in their lives and not just be a shoot-and-scoot hugger.
Handwriting of People Who Abhor Hugging
In handwriting analysis, the spacing between words shows how the writer wants to connect with the world around. For example, a girl who writes with wide spacing between words does not like it when someone she’s meeting for a quick coffee will approach her with arms open wide.
When someone maintains wide spacing between words, it indicates that the writer is a natural when it comes to maintaining distance from others.
Graphologist Sheila Lowe says:
The amount of space a writer leaves between words is a good indication of how much personal space she demands from others and the degree of self-restraint she uses in social situations.”
If the spacing between words (see pic below) in your handwriting is very wide, it clearly shows that the writer has developed trust issues and therefore he is unable to establish a steady relationship with fellow humans around him.
About wide word spacing, Miranda Cahn writes in ‘How Compatible Are You — Reveal the Secrets of Your Relationships Using Handwriting Analysis’:
This person [with wide word spacing] likes to keep others at a distance — both emotionally and physically. He or she prefers space and needs solitude, even if her or she has an outgoing nature. Sometimes, such a person dislikes being touched.
So, how should huggers interact with hug-averse people who see them as a pest?
The Emily Post Institute, a family business that has been promoting etiquette based on consideration, respect and honesty, writes in a blogpost:
“Unless you know someone quite well, skip the hug in business settings. You might be comfortable with it, but not everyone else—even those who might go along with it quietly—are. If you don’t like receiving hugs, be pro-active and extend your hand before a hug can start. (Huggers, take note! Don’t turn a handshake into a hug.)”
If you want to make a good start with someone who writes with a wide word spacing (and left-slanted handwriting that makes the writer more socially withdrawn), you must wait for clues before invading their personal space with unwanted, though well-meaning, gestures such as an innocuous hug. Else, be ready to be shunned.
Tell us what you think.