You Crossed A Line

I got mad today.  Maybe mad isn’t the right word.  But it’s a word that might describe how I felt today.  Along with a few other words.

How do I say this kindly, without offending anyone….  I’ll just say it.

Someone hugged me today.

And I got mad.  I know, it’s inexcusable.

Do you need to know my entire history to know why this bothered me?  Maybe.  But for the situation that happened today, no, you do not.

I was sitting in a meeting at work.  With my co-workers.  We met with someone.   All work related.  Information sharing and gathering.   You know how that goes.  You listen.  You talk.  Thank you.  Amen.  Done.

Visitor stood up to leave.  As is habit, I stood up.  Visitor took a step.  I was prepared to shake hands.  But I looked up as I stood and visitor’s eyes grew large.  I knew what was coming.  There was only a matter of three feet or less between us.  It took everything I had to not sit back down and let the visitor go flying over my shoulder and into the filing cabinet.  Visitor literally lunged at me and I mentally and emotionally braced as  arms were thrown around me while visitor gleefully exclaimed “I’m a hugger”.

Very dead pan (in my opinion) I said “I am not”.

Co-worker remained seated and stuck out her hand for a shake.  I stepped in to the hall.

Visitor stepped out to the hall and carried on about hugging.

I was extremely uncomfortable.  Unhappy.

Visitor went on to say “everyone needs a hugger in their lives”.

I replied with a smile on my face “I married mine”.

Does this seem harsh of me?

I think it does to some.

I don’t mean to be rude.  I don’t mean to offend.

But I believe it is rude and offensive of anyone to assume they have the right to touch me.   If you don’t know me then it is an assumption.

If you and I know one another then we know our comfort level.   And that is between us.

Your being comfortable with hugging and touching others is perfectly fine.  I have no qualms with how you feel.    I actually understand people who are like that.  I find comfort with some people being like that.  But the people who I find comfort in?  They are respectful of others.  They do not assume because they are comfortable with touching others/strangers, that the other/stranger is comfortable being touched.  Humans, many of them anyway, find great comfort in touch.   I find comfort in touch.  But I find comfort in safe touch.  Comfortable touch.

Would it have been different if the visitor had said “can I hug you?”  In this situation probably not.  Because what was the need?  Why do you need to hug me?  Why do you need to touch me?  But we don’t know how that would play out because  the visitor  assumed they  had the right.

They.  Did.  Not.

In case I’m not being very clear here…. no one has the right to touch me.  Do not assume that I am comfortable with you, a complete stranger in my life, embracing me against your body.

Do I trust you?

No.

Why?

You don’t know do you?

You have absolutely no idea the anger, frustration and control you try to take from me when you assume you have any right to me and my body.   You crossed a line.  My boundary.  I have boundaries not because I am weak and a victim.   I have boundaries because I am strong and can outline them and live comfortably with in them.  Maybe my boundaries were developed because others assumed they had the right to touch me at a time when I was defenseless.  Maybe my boundaries were developed because I saw others hurt or abused.   Maybe my boundaries were developed out of insecurities.  Maybe my boundaries were developed out of respect for myself and others.

Whatever my reasons are when I say I’m not a hugger,  don’t look at me like I need your sympathy or your enthusiasm for hugging.  Your need to hug me does not in any way shape or form make you healthier then me.  For the record, I am not broken.  My boundaries are a very healthy set of life bumpers.

Never were my boundaries developed to accommodate you and your assumptions.

Just last night I was telling my daughter I don’t think her child should “have” to hug anyone.  My kids know how I feel.  I don’t think any child (or adult) should be made to feel obligated or guilted in to having to hug others, touch others, or let others touch them.  I think that sends a very bad message that could go very wrong.

My issue is not physical touch.  I am not revolted by touch.  I will hug those I love.   I will hug in celebration, in thanks, in mourning, I hug hello, I hug goodbye, I hug if we win and I hug if we lose.   If there is not a mutual understanding of acceptance I ask if hugging is okay.   What I am offended by is someone else feeling they have a right to touch me in an intimate manner.

Hugging is intimate.

It may be different levels of intimate.  But it is intimate.

I just met you.  I have no level of intimacy with you.   And this is work.  Not a social setting.  You aren’t my friend’s mom who has heard so much about me she just has to hug me.

I’m not mean.  I’m not trying to be mean.  I’m trying to tell you that you cause anguish, discomfort and possibly fear or pain when you assume you have the right to touch others.

If you care, then now knowing this will help you be a little more aware.  Considerate.

If you don’t care, then you will continue to touch others without thought or concern for other’s.   You have no right.  Please don’t cross that line again.

Maybe mad is the right word.

51 thoughts on “You Crossed A Line

  1. Your “uncomfortableness” is surely transmitted here. Indeed, there is a personal zone around each one of us. Unfortunately, some – like your visitor – feel the opposite. Sorry you were in such an uncomfortable position. And I’d be freakin’ pissed.

    Like

    • More than uncomfortable, I think I was more angry than uncomfortable. Though the fact that I allowed it to happen added to the anger, the fact that it makes me uncomfortable added to the anger…etc….

      Thanks Koji. It actually kind of helps that others understand. I’ve had this discussion many many times with others. And there are some who are offended when I am not a hugger. Ah well. It’s just a matter of respecting one another. That’s what I would have wished for today.

      Like

  2. I understand the comfort of a hug, but it must be mutual. Forcing someone into an uncomfortable situation to satisfy your own needs is just wrong on a lot of levels.

    Like

  3. I believe if someone were to hug me in a work situation my response would have been more negative than yours. I am a hugger/touchy person but only with those with whom I have developed a relationship in which this is acceptable. Tomorrow will be better. If not call me and I will come take care of the hugger for you. 🙂

    Like

    • You always have my back. 😉 No worries. I resolved my frustration and anger when I wrote it out. And there won’t be a next time. 😉 Thank you!

      You are a hugger! ANd that’s okay! 🙂

      Like

  4. My husband is much like you. He holds people at arms length (except his family members). My love language, on he other hand, is physical touch. You are so right. I treat children. One of the unwritten rules with children is: Do not come into their space unless you are invited. You were able to write down your feelings so well! Hey! I’ve got an idea….you could make a plaque for your desk that says, “Don’t touch me…..no. Seriously, stay out of my bubble.” 🙂

    Like

    • Oh geez…what a GREAT idea! 🙂

      This is such a difficult thing to explain to others. Physical touch does not offend me. I have had and appreciated many hugs and reassuring pats and touches. But these are from people I trust. And even from strangers, who have touched me, a sense of trust has been built and created through circumstances.

      If I make the plaque I will share it with you! 🙂

      Like

  5. i think you know i had the same thing happen recently and i’m with you on that i hate when people do that. i also told the person i’m not a hugger. she saw my hesitation to hug which is why she said “i’m a hugger” and then proceeded to hug…ugh so uncomfortable! sorry that happened!

    Like

  6. I HATE being hugged by people, Colleen people need to know to keep their hugs to themselves. A person at work told me she was a hugger and I told her to go outside and find a tree. You are my hero today. Thanks for putting one of those irritating hugger people in their place. I don’t think I could have done it so nicely. I guess that is why my best friend at work is a hugger. When I see someone coming with that hugger look I push her to the front.

    Like

    • Haha! I think if space and time had not been so wickedly against us I could have physically, and kindly, stopped from being hugged. My boss would likely have taken the hit, I mean hug, for me. But it happened so fast. I saw it coming but couldnt side step it without knocking one of 2 other people down. Which would not have been nice. Thanks for understanding and sharing this! I now have some ‘lines’ to use in the future and some people to throw in the path of the lunging hugger!

      Like

  7. I think I am somewhere in between myself. I am not one to offer hugs to strangers (or co-workers) … but if someone offered me one I guess it would be okay. So … in the middle I think.

    Of course I hug my daughter a lot. But I think we all understand the family part.

    Actually … wait. Mabye I am not comfortable but just never say anything? Hmmmm….thinks now.

    Anyway, I am sorry that you were in that situation … and now I am also thinking … have I given you bloggie hugs? Ack!

    Like

    • 🙂 Bloggie hugs are rather safe!

      I was worried that this may seem like I am the one with the problem. I have no problem with “hug”. I do have problems with people who assume they have the right to touch me and that they’re right to touch me supercedes my right to not be touched. I hug coworkers. Friends. Etc….

      I even hug people I have just met.

      But I don’t assume anyone wants me touching them.

      Thank you for asking the questions! 🙂 And for understanding. 🙂 🙂

      Like

  8. Oh dear, Colleen. You’re just the sort of person I’d love to hug! I hugged someone once, and she braced like you did. It was an awful feeling, a feeling of rejection, separation. All I wanted to do was show how I felt about something wonderful that she’d done for me. I’ve never forgotten how the sudden rigidity of her body threw the love back in my face. That’s how it felt, anyway. You’ve explained how you feel, and I accept that. We are all just so different. Love to you.

    Like

    • Yaz, I actually do understand what you say here. The feeling of your appreciation/love being rejected. Even more so if you knew the person (which I am gathering, since she had done something for you).

      Having a history of being molested as a child I am quite positive that this stems from that history. You learn early that you can’t trust touch. But even before i was molested I don’t recall being a huggy person.

      With my children/spouse/close to me friends I am very comfortable with hugging.

      And there is also that level of intimacy that exists between people. Or doesn’t. This person and I had absolutely no intimacy level. At all. There was not even that much communication between her and I.

      You and I have a level of intimacy developed with our communication.

      🙂 I appreciate your perspective. And though I would not want to have hurt her, if I did offend her, it was in defense of being offended. Does that make sense????

      Like

      • It makes sense because its your experience, Colleen, and you are entitled to feel how you feel. I just offer a different viewpoint, that’s all. Some people have different agendas with hugging and we pick up on it. I am not always comfortable with hugging strangers, but I know that it is my problem, not theirs (because it does go back to sexual abuse with me) and I am trying to be so much more open-hearted. This doesn’t mean everyone should follow the same path. This is just my journey. Thanks for a good article. It certainly makes us think about what we are doing and why.

        Like

        • I appreciated your view point. I especially took pause at the point where you felt like your love had been thrown back at you. I read that a couple of times. I do understand that others don’t have my experience (the abuse) and may truly have no idea the reasons for other’s discomfort. I had an experience with one coworker who happen to be a counselor who told me once when discussing this very topic that it was her job to “fix” me. Her exact words. I assured her I was not broken. Her level of comfort in touching me, and then trying to convince me I had to accept that, was infuriating. I appreciate those who ask. And I usually accept hugs, even when I’m uncomfortable, for that person’s sake. But this one, I truly felt ambushed and attacked. And uncomfortable.

          I always appreciate your feedback Yaz. You insight, wisdom and perspective are always a benefit to me. 🙂

          Like

  9. I’m not a hugger either. It’s ok that you’re not. The only person I do hug with abandon is my daughter. I kiss and hug her all the time, but if anyone goes to hug me whom I don’t know then I, like you, have to back away and keep my personal bubble. My mother and father have told me many times that I’ve been this way since I was a small child. I think it’s very ok for you to be angry that someone invaded your space. They need to know that it’s NOT ok to hug everyone they meet.

    Like

    • Thanks Ribbons. I don’t know that she even considered what I said. Maybe she did, later after walking away. Because she repeated it again. I know some people truly hug out of concern, love and wanting to comfort someone. But if told it makes someone uncomfortable, that should be respected. I do believe there are those who don’t understand it causes discomfort. But once told there’s that possibility, then I hope they consider it in the future. I don’t want to discourage hugging! Just be sure the other wants to be hugged. 🙂

      Like

  10. Being a hugger? Nothing wrong with that, as you wrote. Violating boundaries, disrespecting another, that’s not relating. Having one’s boundaries violated does create all kinds of emotional reactions that are contrary. Every living thing has its boundaries, my dogs sure do and if you get in their face they’ll bite you! We’re no different. They’re all different, not good or bad. Really liked this post. Have a good weekend, Colleen.

    Like

    • Thank you Paulette. I like that, that all living things have boundaries. We do. Even many plants have defensive abilities. It is disrespectful, isn’t it? I can’t help but wonder how many people are offended, uncomfortable, or quite honestly-freaked out- when someone hugs them and they don’t feel strong enough or safe enough to stop it???

      Like

  11. Hugger, is that a job now ????? I love your answer – I married one … I give hugs, but I must know the person and there has to have to be a click between me and the person I hug. As you say it’s a imitate thing – I’m totally on your side in this … hugging for the hugging, that means absolutely nothing … so why do it.???!!! What I would say about that person .. use my very personal expressions – both them … the person as … anxiously and tiring.
    I will save up some hugs for you … for that dinner date at my kitchen.
    You two have a great weekend now.

    Like

  12. Hugging…I’m a hugger – of people I love and know will be comfortable with it. But I don’t go round hugging everyone, especially not at work and with people I just met. I think it’s all right to feel the way you do. Your personal space was crossed, without permission, and I would be mad or uncomfortable too. I do hope you’re all right now 🙂 maybe a Mamo bar will help? 😉 just kidding…I’m still ingredient-hunting, hope to get it made this weekend…

    Take care Chatter Master Colleen and have a happy weekend!

    Warmly,
    Mary

    Like

  13. Very powerful post! I get this! It’s very important for people to understand this and you explained it very well. Hugging is something that is almost earned in my book. I don’t give them out on a whim. They mean something.

    Like

    • They do, don’t they. Need to be earned. And yes, they can be earned in very short order in some situations. I have hugged strangers, sometimes just because the stranger needed a hug and asked for it. But there are some people I’ve known my entire life (or so it seems) who I have never hugged. Because there was no need for it. Thank you!

      Like

  14. Had to brace myself for this one. You don’t strike me as one to get mad easily, so it had to be something of meaning. Then I saw ‘hug’ and saw it wasn’t welcomed and yep, I understood totally. TOTALLY.

    And no, it isn’t ‘inexcusable’ to be mad at this.

    I saw it all unfold by the way you told it, and I can see them in the hall fluffing away about being a hugger – and I love your ‘I married mine’.

    I think you handled all this extremely well, Colleen. I STILL do not like ‘having’ to hug my sister when we meet – and she always insists on a hug when she leaves. She is family, Colleen, and I’ve said before I don’t want the hugs and she has insisted and she has one.

    So on a regular basis, I am thus invaded. Well, not that regular, but a definite every time I see her (like for my birthday). I just want to say “No more: I don’t want your hugs, I don’t want to stand there and avail myself to you so you have the fulfilment you get at sisters hugging on arrival and departure”. But I can’t, can I Colleen? Feelings hurt, family expectations. I’m telling you, I’m so isolated in all this inside.

    I applaud your handling of this, and hope that person learned from it.

    Like

    • My friend and I were discussing this after it happened. I told her that there are instances where I will let hugs happen, even when I don’t want to, because I feel the need of the other person is greater than my discomfort. But that isn’t very often. It has taken me many years to get to the point where I will stop it (given the chance). I like the word you used .. “invaded”. Yes, that is how it feels. Not every unwanted hug is as much an invasion as others. There are levels of that too, for me.

      My friend liked the “I married mine” as well.

      With this hug, I did feel invaded. Thanks Noeleen. For understanding.

      Like

  15. I’m a hugger, but I have to have a relationship of some sort with whoever it is. And unless I know them really well, I ask first. As you point out, not everyone likes to be hugged and it’s none of my business why they feel that way.

    And when I say I have to know them well, I know the names of their children, seen pictures, and they know my family by name and how many dogs I have. They’re the people I worked with 25 years ago and who I still see or talk to at least once a year. It’s friends that I go out with and who have heard the ugly parts of my life. But someone I met at work for the first time? No way. Not professional at all.

    Nancy

    Like

    • Thanks Nancy. I like your very clear definition of “knowing” someone. 🙂

      I have one friend at work, who we only see each other at work. She specifically makes a point to not hug me, knowing it makes me uncomfortable. She fist bumps me and says “we matter” when we talk about things that others might end with hugs. 🙂

      Like

  16. I’m a hugger, but I check first before I give someone a hug – and only even suggest/offer if the person is a close friend.

    Hmm . . . maybe your office “hugger” has other issues to be sorted out?

    Like

    • She might….she was a “nice” person. And when I reflect on these things I wonder. Because I don’t want to hurt the other person. I just want them to understand that their “assumption” they have the “right” to touch me is the problem. It is an aggressive intention, which is a threat to me. She is not the first, nor I doubt the last, who will think because they are kind or comfortable with their hugging, that it’s still okay to inflict it on me. Even if I don’t know them. Or have any connection to them. Oddly, I guess when I look at what you and other’s say, I can be considered a “hugger” as well. But it is a thing I do, not a statement of what kind of person I am. 🙂

      Like

Comments are closed.