Yes, I know that's an unusual title and this is going to be an unusual post about hugging. Specifically, hugging among friends. I'm going to start at the end to explain why I'm writing about this and then go back to the beginning. There's a girl I know at work. She's in a different unit than me and currently works in a different location because our parent company has been unable to get everyone back to the same location. I've known her for probably 7 or 8 years, but we aren't what you'd really call good friends. We don't associate outside of work and we rarely communicate by email. When we worked in the same location we were always seeing each other in the hallway so we chatted often. I can remember two times when she has hugged me...when I went to say goodbye on my unit's last day in that building...and Friday. I was on my way home from work and stopped to get gas. There was a car at the pump in front of mine that looked very familiar, including the 'H' on the license plate to signify the driver is either deaf or hard-of-heari. Leslie is deaf and I knew she had a plate like that. The girl pumping gas looked like it 'might' be her, but her hair was so much longer than I'd ever seen it plus it was pulled back in a ponytail. Eventually she came over and I realized that it was her and she immediately engulfed me in a hug. A rather long one, too. The length surprised me, but I went along with it.
So, why do some people hug and others don't?
While in grade school, friends didn't hug hello or goodbye. It wasn't uncommon to see little girls holding hands or hugging 'just because', but that's about it. Hugging was usually reserved for family members. It's possibly because that's when you learn about bad people and the Boogeyman.
In junior high, my group of friends increased, but there still wasn't hugging. A friend I'd had since I was 8, we started to hug goodbye when I'd go with her family to drop her off at the bus station to go back home to Flagstaff.
So, why do some friends hug and others don't?
I don't think familiarity or closeness have anything to do with it. In high school I gained even more friends than ever before (thank you, Duran Duran!) and while we were all very close, even calling some of the other parents 'mom' and 'dad' (not all of them), we didn't hug unless someone was really down. We were always at each other's houses and spending the night, but we didn't all hug each other. The first time my friend Sherry's mom hugged me she said 'Boy, she's a hugger!' Because it was a firm one. The only kind I knew how to give since in my family we didn't do those fake, air hugs. When you hugged someone, there was a reason.
At my 10 year high school reunion, I reconnected with a couple of close friends and we started hanging out. One of them, we didn't hug at all. The other, she and both her parents hugged hello and goodbye. It was nice because my family had 'split up' by then...my brother living on his own, me with my own place and my parents having moved 90 miles away. They became a second family to me and I looked forward to the hugs. When I started getting into hockey and going to player appearances and practic, a married couple I hung out with were hungers, but another group I hung out with, did not. In fact, we were at a player appearance and I was playing street hockey with one friend and the other two were doing something else. The girl I was with, Amber, noticed the other two hug each other or hug someone else and Amber said 'I guess we're huggers now' so we started making a joke out of it. It was fine. It was the kind of relationship we had.
So, why do some friends hug and others don't?
As a general rule, I don't tend to hug people I don't know very well, so I was a bit surprised when one of the Shamu trainers at Sea World California hugged me for the first time. It was my birthday and I was doing a program called Dine With Shamu. She knew it was my birthday and had come over to say hi and wish me a Happy Birthday. When she hugged me, it took me by surprise, but I just went along with it. But then she started to hug me every time she saw me, when she was close enough to do so. One time, she even climbed up the stadium stairs to come see me and give me a hug. I liked it because I didn't have hugging friends anymore. A friend I ended up making because of Sea World turned out to be a hugger and a couple of others weren't.
Would you believe the last time I hugged my mom was when I took her to have one of her dogs put down...three years ago? We just don't. It's not a decision that was made, but we see each other daily so I imagine that has something to do with it.
But family aside...why do some friends hug and others don't?