Hugs Are the Best Kind of Magic

"How about a hug, instead? That's the best kind of magic!"  
- Merlin, Shrek the 3rd 

Cue much evil chuckling and rubbing of the hands together. It's one of those awkward topics again! The old "to hug or not to hug" argument is so widely debated between Christians that it has evolved into a full blown issue, often ingeniously and successfully dividing the entire Church into gender categorized boxes. No climbing out! So long as the distance between the boxes are just close enough for you to reach across the abyss and shake your fellow man's hand, you're safe. But beyond that - no way, no pushing, running or diving, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Why all this awkwardness?

Okay, I'll be serious now.

To be serious, I can understand the conflict between both of the hug or not-to-hug sides. There are many people who - plain and simple - are not huggy people. They may still receive physical touch well, such as a handshake, a pat on the back, a stroke on the arm, or even a shoulder charge from a friend, but not hugs. It's just not the way they communicate.

Other non-huggers may find the physical contact with people of the opposite gender awkward, uncomfortable or just plain wrong. Thus, girls will hug girls, but not guys, or vice versa. Which is also understandable, since different things effect our boundaries in different ways.

The still other non-hugger type is the kind that just don't know how to respond since they weren't brought up with it (in which case, it is possible for these types to warm up to hugs. No pun intended).

On the flip side of the coin, there can be weird huggy people. There are some who are just plain creepy, which makes it clearly understandable why non-huggers exist. Others are far too exuberant, and take the entire definition of "glomp" way too seriously. Whilst still others simply... don't know how to hug properly, and just make the entire manoeuvre very awkward.

All of these points are fine for the most part, but for huggy people like me, it's no end of a nightmare. Hugs to me are neutral. I'm aware that they can be perverted, however like most bad things in the world, they all originated from something good God created. Hugs are no exception, and I think a lot of Christians have boxed them up with the bad, (or at least labelled them out with a "better safe than sorry" motto) and thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. I beg to differ. I think hugs are wonderful, and are sorrowfully neglected these days.

This being true of me, greetings are never complete unless I've hugged you, simple. But since I always want to respect you in my greeting, I don't always do it because I'm not sure if you like hugs or not. I may extend a hand somewhat awkwardly, and shake your hand. You might smile back befuddled as to why I'm standing there tongue-tied and bent a little at the waist like a half opened pocket knife. Farewells are even worse, because I've gotten to know you better by now, and I wish to express my appreciation for you with a hug. My mind races around in crazy scared circles sometimes hours before anticipating a greeting or goodbye: Should I just go up and hug them to say hello, or would that shock them? I've spent some time with you, but I still can't work out how you'd react to a hug. Would you hug back, or would you freeze up, making me feel even more embarrassed and awkward? Would you take it as a forward gesture? Would others read things into this that aren't even there? But if I shake your hand and you're ready for a hug, I'll make things just as stiff and awkward, as though I really don't care about you. What do I do?! 

You see, hugs are a big part of the way I communicate. If I'm happy to see you, I hug you. If I love you, I hug you. If you're hurting, I gently hug you tight. If you're happy, I excitedly hug you. If I'm meeting you for the first time, a hug expresses my openness, acceptance and pleasure at being introduced to you. Hugs are inclusive for me, anything else is exclusive and translates - in my mind - that I simply don't care. This isn't to say that I'm all over you like a rash at any given moment, that would just be woefully out of place (not to mention creepy). But greetings and farewells, those are the biggies (or if I see you genuinely crying, sorry, I pretty much don't care who you are, you're getting a hug).

ENFP's answer to everything! And what we wish was other people's answer for us! :) < True!!

I sincerely believe that every human being needs physical touch (even you, yes, the one who's denying it right now). We are physical beings, and if you aren't familiar with the five love languages as pinned down by Gary Chapman, "Physical touch" is one of them. Though it may not be everyone's primary method for receiving love from another, it is still a deeply rooted need that I believe every person has, no matter how small. This is proven by the fact I know several people who came from rather loveless homes that have converted to liking hugs from being adverse to any physical contact growing up. I also recently heard of an experiment done in Russia some time ago that if a baby was raised with only their physical needs met, such as food, clothing, etc. without any affectionate touch whatsoever, they died. Makes me wonder how many teens and adults are out there dying for a hug. Literally.

People form an opinion on hugs based on what they mean to them. So, what do hugs mean to you? Think about it. Are they expressions of love, encouragement, appreciation, greeting, or are they awkward, uncomfortable, or threatening because of past experiences?

God created hugs, and I think they are an amazing expression of love and appreciation. It always saddens me to see people refuse a genuine hug, because they really don't understand what they mean in the way God designed them. I am often grieved that tragic experiences may have destroyed this intrinsic gift God gave to humanity. Whilst you're thinking about what a hug means to you, think also of how they could mean to you. Pushing past your awkwardness and/or fears, and embracing the full meaning of a hug the way God created them (also no pun intended) could help rewrite you some wonderful memories, and break down barriers that may have built up inside your heart. It may give you a release from your past experiences, or at the very least, teach you how to love others who desperately need physical touch.

In a world so based on text, voice and video, the actual physicalness of pure loving is becoming harder to find. Many teens and young adults express their feelings of depression and loneliness only through the safety of a screen, yet shrink from any open physical affection. On the other end of the scale, any physical touch under the label of "love" these days can be more accurately called "lust", as this immoral perversion of what God sanctified leaves people feeling all the more empty and unloved. Don't you think we may have taken our boundary markings a little too far? Are we protecting ourselves so successfully that we are neglecting to love the way Jesus calls us to? Could the gentle touch of a goodhearted person do more for someone than mere words?

So that was a bit deep. Though I am aware that this barely scratches the surface of reasons behind a lot of people's opinions, my main reason for this ranty post was to share my thoughts on hugs and perhaps raise awareness of humanity's need for this kind of love, especially within the church. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are going to spend eternity together! So whilst ever it's proper, why don't we practise the heavenly gift of greeting each other with a warm hug before we get there?

In conclusion, let it be known: this Aussie loves hugs! When you come visit me, come with open arms, because I won't have any awkward handshakes for you! Here's an e-hug for all you faithful readers -

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  1. Great post, Jas! :D I have had a few awkward hugs before... Awkward. It's not always easy to know when (and if) the person wants a hug. Especially if it's a guy. But he'll usually get one anyway. ;) Great chatting this morning! I hope your projects are going well! :) * hugs *

    1. Thankyou, Bek m'dear! I know the feeling. I've had some awkward ones with both girls AND guys, but generally they warm up after a while and you get to know them. :D

      And 'twas great chatting with you too! Looking forward to your coming up. ^_^ Nearly done my projects!!

  2. This. ^_^

    I completely agree... I know that personally, my primary love language is physical touch. I can't get through a day without at least /one/ hug from /someone/.

    And someday Bushy is going to get a real-life hug from Shawn. ^_^

  3. Wonderful article, BushMaid. :D

    I nearly can't wait for the day when I can enthusiastically hug my Twinnie. ^_^

  4. @Shawnie: Thankyou for reading, Shawnie dearest! I eagerly anticipate a Shawnie-hug all of my own. ^^_^^ xox

  5. @Mark: Thankyou, Twinnie! I can't wait for that day either. ^_^

  6. This is a very true post, and I agree wholeheartedly with all of it. :) I've been reading about the five love languages often lately, and I'm fairly certain physical touch is my primary one. Any of my online friends who meet me can be sure they're gonna get a huge hug.

    ...and with my good friends, I'll probably be clinging to them all day. XD Not hugging, per se, but I probably won't leave your side at all. That goes for you, too, Jasmine. :D Can't wait to meet you one day and give you a (teddy) bear hug. ^_^

    1. The five love languages are fascinating to study. Surprisingly physical touch isn't my primary love language, but is one of my secondary ones. I also think it's one of my primary methods of giving love. :)

      * smiles * I can't wait till I can give you a big hug in real life too, sweet Teddy. ^_^ Stay your awesome self. <3

  7. What a great post, and so true!
    I love hugs, giving and receiving them! I've had some awkward situations where I'm not sure whether to hug or not, especially around guys my own age. But all in all I agree that hugs are a true way to greet people!
    ( Love the vid LOL! )


    1. Thankyou Rosie! And totally agree! A hug is a true greeting. :) You're an awesome hugger. :D I'm glad you like the video too!

  8. Well well. This sure made me think about my position.
    I have generally only hugged guys, and a few very dear older ladies who have given them out rather readily, with an occasional 'awkward' one thrown in here and there. I have generally stayed away from hugging girls around my age, because I agree that hugs are a great sign of affection, and I don't ever wan't to give anybody the wrong impression. Guy going around hugging girls = not cool.
    That being said, I like hugs, and I have often times wanted to give people a good ole' fashioned hug, just because they are close to me and a hug goodbye or hello or whatever would be an apt way to seal the scene. But then, there is always that socitally correct part of me that just stands there with my hands in my pockets and smiles, then waves from a safe distance, knowing, scared, that a hug might be taken wrong.
    Honestly, I am just merely scared to death of leading someone on in the wrong way, who hugs for more than just friendly reasons.....
    The one time I was given a hug by a girl my age I returned it, a tad lightly, not sure in the exact moment exactly how to respond. It was merely a friendly goodbye hug from a friend, but it still was not the norm for me.
    Anyway, now I am rambling. :) I really enjoy hugs, and want to give them to people that are really dear to me - but don't want to start, because I am not sure how it will be handled.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post!
    p.s. If we ever meet, a hug will not offend me in the slightest. :)

  9. Hey David, I wondered what stance you might have on this subject. Thanks for stopping by.

    I know what you mean, and I have to say that in spite of how awkward it might be, I often err on the side of handshakes rather than hugs when greeting/farewelling young guys for the sake of being proper. Likewise, I don't want to look like some girl who goes around throwing herself at guys. Not cool. :P I think that the biggest problem we have is what you said: being scared that a hug will be taken inappropriately. If everyone treated a hug as neutral as a handshake, there wouldn't be any problem.

    For me though, if I'm greeting your average Christian guy and he approaches me with a hug, it is a huge relief. Considering also, that very few guys actually initiate greetings with girls these days due to the very issue you posed, it puts a lot of pressure on girls as to knowing how to be polite in greeting without being out of line.

    We became friends with a family with sons around my age, and for a long time greetings were awkward hands-in-pockets "hellos", and awkward handshake farewells. Then when we were leaving once, I offered my hand and got a hug instead, and I was so relieved that it was much less awkward.

    So yes, I definitely see where you're coming from. I guess we could save a lot of trouble for ourselves if we actually communicated with the people we were hugging, as the video suggests. :D A simple "are you a huggy person?" Could clear up a lot.

    Thanks for reading and for leaving a great comment, David! Glad to hear when I come over there to visit someday I won't freak you out greeting with a hug. :D

  10. I would like to take a minute to say, that if I am ever to meet you, then I will DEMAND a hug, and I will hug you back, and it won't be awkward. ^_^

    I like hugs. Physical touch isn't my primary "love language" (that'd probably be Quality Time, at least in receiving it), but I love them. Though I don't get them much anymore. :(

    1. I will be ecstatic to receive - and return! - such a hug from you, Alexandra dear!! Funnily enough, Quality Time is my primary language in receiving also. :D I love hugs too, and I'm sorry you don't get many anymore. :( * hugs *

  11. Thanks for this, Jasmine!!! I'm so glad that there is another girl out there who loves hugs as well, and also finds it difficult to know when to give hugs - especially with new friends - cause I'm exactly the same :)
    Love you *hugs*

  12. Another thing, just like in the video, there are different types of hugs. There are hugs that are plenty appropriate for public use, and then there are the hugs that we more often envision, which is I think what turns us off - the hug more near an 'embrace' than a hug. Closer to that romantic or 'some strings attached' type of hug, coated in some sensual undertone, which I think we tend to think of in our overly media saturated world. So I think we might need to be pretty distinct when we discuss hugs, and be sure we know what we are referring to. Passionate romantic embrace = no way. Gentle, no strings attached hug = now we can talk.
    :) Just throwing that out there.

  13. You're so welcome, Bethany dear! Thankyou for reading!! So glad to hear that we are both alike in this aspect. :D Love you too. xox *hugs back*

  14. @David: Very, very true. This is why I mentioned that I consider a "hug" as neutral as a handshake (you'd be doing well to make a handshake passionate and romantic). Considering the fact I've only ever given/received hugs that are a simple greeting with no further intent, and compassionate and/or caring hugs for close friends or family, the notion didn't really enter my head as far as my own intentions go (and I've never caught wind of such an intention coming my way). I think we are worried people won't see how we intend a hug, and that they will translate it into something totally opposite to our intentions.

  15. Gotta say that I really enjoyed reading this. I tend to fall in the "enjoy hugs, but scared of them" category. I greet and say goodbye to all of my girlfriends with a hug...but NEVER young guy friends.

    That said, we have a dear friend who we met over the internet (young man) and when we finally met him in person, he said hello with a big ole hug. It was AWESOME. And so totally pure and unoffensive in intent.

    In reality, it comes down to the heart. And, honestly, for's a fear of being judged by other people. That if I hug a young man, others are going to turn up their nose at me no matter how harmless my intentions were.

    Thanks for writing this...maybe someday I'll close my eyes and just hug someone I'm scared to hug. And it'll be amazing :) :) :)

    *hugs* :D

    P.S. If we ever meet, I *expect* a hug
    P.P.S. My mom always says that a person needs 7 good hugs a day :)

  16. Isn't it amazing how other people effect our actions? I hate being the kind of person that allows the opinions of people to sway my decisions. :P Because how awesome are pure and affectionate hugs? ^_^ And you nailed it: it's all a matter of the heart. If one's heart is in the right place, the right actions will follow.

    You're very welcome, Lisa. Thankyou so much for reading! I was eager to hear your thoughts. At least when you and I get together we can close our eyes and hug and *know* it will be amazing!! :D

    P.S. Your Mum is a smart lady. ;)

  17. Great post, Aussie! It's so nice to see someone who likes (and does!) hug. :))

    I don't have a problem with hugging girls or guys. For me, it's more of a sign of friendship and trust. I'll hug my close girl friends and I'll hug my close guy friends. I think the important thing is that they know the way I mean it--a way to express that they're my friend and I trust them. I'll gladly return hugs if I'm offered them. Otherwise, I'll probably only hug close friends, but in those situations, I'm glad to really hug them. :)

    I should say that my thoughts and my actual practice are often different...because I'm too shy, generally, to hug even if would ;)

    And whether or not I'm un-shy enough to initiate a hug, if we ever meet I would *want* to hug you. :)))

    1. Yay! A fellow hugger! ^_^ I know how it can be to be shy, but I have learnt to push past that shyness as I've grown older, and it becomes easier to initiate a greeting. Don't worry, when we meet, I'll give you such a big hug you won't have time to be shy! xo

  18. I totally agree.....I hate being controlled by the fear of other people, but many times, I am.

    Thank YOU for pushing me out of my comfort zone :)

    LOVE Ya :) :)

  19. Thankyou for doing the same for me, Lisa! Love ya heaps. <3

  20. Well, it happened. :) Got hugged by two of my dear sisters on my graduation party, and overall went pretty well. Thanks for the post!

  21. Awesome as, David! ^_^ Good for you! I'm glad God used this post. :)

  22. Great post. :D I'm one of the people recently "converted", but still don't really initiate them, simply because I...I don't know anyone in person that I'd feel like initiating them with. o.O I have gotten to where I appreciate and therefore respond to them better though. Now I'm like you and wondering sometimes when it'd be acceptable and how it'd be taken. O.o
    Quality time is also my primary love language, with words of affirmation coming close after. Physical touch is second from the bottom, according to the quiz I took. :rofl:

  23. *grins* I'm glad you've been 'converted', Jeremiah. :D Initiating them without feeling awkward is the next step to learn, methinks. Plus, I've noticed the more confidently you hug someone, the less awkward it can be. And if Physical Touch is so low on your list of love languages, it's admirable that you've been able to learn to receive hugs so well. :D

  24. Awesome, awesome post dear Jasmine! I'm a hugger... XD actually, to be more precise, I'm a 'big bear hug round your waist, coz I'm too short to reach your shoulders in the conventional way' hugger ;) :P Thankyou for sharing these thoughts - they were a blessing!:) God bless you lovely! * hugs * :) xo

  25. Thankyou so much for reading, Emily dear! I'm so glad you're a hugger. ^_^ And I reckon those kinds of hugs are even more special and way cuter!! :D So glad you got something worthwhile out of this post. :) Love you! xox *hugs back*

  26. Let's get this straight, Aussie. I'm huggy. No awkwardness involved. We can just hug. =)

  27. Wouldn't have expected anything less from you, Kaitlyn dearest. :D xox


Please feel free to share your thoughts. I would love to hear your perspective. Let's learn from each other.