Monday, 9 May 2011

Keeping it personal

When I was a child, one of the most exciting things that could possibly happen was to receive visitors to our house. My brother and I would make signs saying "Welcome" for any overnight guests and lovingly decorate them with our felt tip pens. I would very nearly implode with excitement when the moment arrived and the doorbell rang...and then I would freeze.

The terrifying moment would overwhelm me. I loved having guests to visit, and I loved the attention they gave us while they stayed with us, but I absolutely hated being kissed and cuddled by them in greeting or as a goodbye ritual.

It's quite strange really, I have no idea why I reacted in such a way. My parents were very good at showing affection and I was happy to held and kissed by my parents, and they were responsive to us children. In adulthood I have a loving demonstrative relationship with my husband and son. I am still uncomfortable with showing physical affection to anyone other than my immediate family. Although I recognise that there are times when other people would appreciate a hug and that this action, for them, speaks louder than any words. Anyone who knows me well, knows also that there are times when I have very much appreciated the physical show of affection, and I wish to thank them for their support at those times.

As a general rule my personal space is indeed personal. Now I am an adult I can choose who to keep at arms length and when. Thank goodness. I will always require my own son to be polite and respectful, but I will never insist he shows affection physically to anyone. If you are in receipt of a hug from my son or myself, you are highly favoured. 


  1. I know this feeling well, though from the opposite perspective of yours.
    From a family where affection was limited in all but verbal form, then on to a marriage where physical manifestations of affection were rarer than hen's teeth, I understand well the odd conflict of wanting desperately to be hugged but being almost physically incapable of offering hugs unless the need is such that it overcomes my initial shrinking. I couldn't let someone in really deep distress go untouched but even then it would never feel 'natural'.

  2. We are all so different in this as in so many things. I am a hugger, with a strong need to express affection physically, but would never hug where I know it wouldn't be wanted. My husband is very definitely not a hugger (except where I'm concerned) but his nearest and dearest are in no doubt of his deep affection for them. Our son is like me and our daughter much more like her father in this, and we respect and enjoy our differences :-)

  3. I just saw this,a few days late I know, but as a Rev's missus, I get hugged and kissed a lot,at my arrival at church and various metings. I come from a family of non-huggers, I knew my parents loved me with out them being too demonstrative. I now find that I brace myself on arriving anywhere.I tend to creep out at the end to avoid doing it all again!