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Old 01-28-2009, 08:56 AM
Sylvia A. Wall
Posts: n/a
Default Hugging

Greetings! I just survived my first day at Drew. My classes are great and I am excited about this new journey. Yipee! I have a problem and I would appreciate some suggestions on the best way to handle it. I do not want to be hugged in chapel. It seems that saying "do not hug me" isn't effective.

There are many reasons why people do not want to be hugged. There are some people whose immune systems are suppressed and hugging during the cold and flu season puts them at risk. There are people who have been abused, and hugging can be retraumatizing. And, there are people for whom hugging may cause physical pain. I can remember hugging one of my mother's friends. She had shingles and it was very painful for her. I serve as a church organist; I have had parishioners shake my hand so hard that I never thought I would be able to play a note again.

We teach our children that they have the right to say "no" to anyone who wants to touch them. Is this rule abrogated in the church setting? Too often when one says no to a hug in church, the response is, "aw, come on, give me a hug. Suppose that was the response to a sexual advance?

I assure you that there will be some people who will not return to your congregation if they are too enthusiastically hugged. How has this subject been handled in the Craig Chapel? Thanks for your input.

Christian Century has a blog on the subject: "To hug or not to hug." http://www.theolog.org/blog/2007/10/...-or-not-t.html
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Old 01-30-2009, 01:30 AM
Stephanie L. Garbarini
Posts: n/a

Well I think a polite why to reject a hug is: when some is coming towards you to hug you take a step back from them and bow your head with a smile. This way you have already greeted them in a respectful manner and no further greeting is warrented. Its kind of like a preemptive strike.

Or you could just cross your arms. That's a pretty clear signal that you don't want to be touched, though that might be a stronger statement than you want.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:23 PM
Tammy Auber Tammy Auber is offline
Young Squirrel
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 5
Default A Fellow Non-Hugger

Hi Sylvia,

Welcome to Drew. I am also a non-hug person. When I was little, I handled it in a very inappropriate manner by either screaming or yelling 'Stop touching me." Now that I am grown, I usually yell silently, 'Stop touching me' but not out loud. It would, afterall, be rude.

When I first came to Drew, I was well aware of the 'hugginess' all around. It is really a lovely gesture, but, as I said, I am a non-hugger. However, Drew is a small place and for the most part people don't want to offend each other.

So, my approach was multi-pronged.

First, it is usually helpful to have something in your hand that would make hugging really awkward. This is a short term help. Another method is to step back out of hugging range when you anticipate it is coming. If you are the first person to wave goodbye, then they are less likely to hug.

Second, if I get caught in an unexpected hug, I live. It was done out of love, sort of like a slobbery dog kiss.

Third, I am vocal about it. As I said, Drew is a small place. I simply say, "I'm not a hugger." People catch on quickly and Drew is a very accepting place. They are not going to fail you in Christian Love for saying, 'I prefer not to be hugged.' Moreover, honesty makes everyone more comfortable. People generally don't want to make you uncomfortable by hugging you, afterall. And you are setting up your own personal ground rules for how people interact. You are not a hugger and well I am usually grumpy. So, we can accept that and move on.

My final piece of advice is that it will get less and less anyhow. Once you see the same people all term in chapel or in SemHall, and once exam week strikes and no one has had time to shower, the hugs get substantially less. You, my friend, are new, huggable, welcome you by hugging you, meat.

So welcome to Drew, and I hope this helped a bit.

ps, when you meet my dog his rule for everyone is that you have to scratch his bum. And he was not afraid at all to make that known. So, if you consider my dog walks around SemHall sticking his bum under people's hands so they will scratch, your request not to be hugged is hardly rude at all.
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