Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Can Hugging Be A Mistake?

I am a hugger! I love people and I love to get and give hugs. Hugs can fill me up when I am emotionally or physically running out of energy...when I have given and pushed beyond my reserves.

Just as it has been proven that physical touch is necessary to release the chemicals that allow an infant to thrive, not only survive. I am going to be just plain honest....I need hugs; all humans need some type of touch...even if it is a gentle pat on the back or a caring handshake.
Last night I was helping out at a very active and fun youth (6-8 grade)Bible Study. The lesson was on Ruth and Boaz. Part of the girl's-only discussion time was on what questions girls had for boys at this age. At the same time in a guy group, the guys were telling the male leader what questions they had for girls.
The girls asked why guys lead them on to believe they like them "in a special way" when the guy really may just want to be friends or part of a group of friends. Not every young person is wanting or needing a paired-off dating type of relationship. In fact, I personally, discourage "dating" until a college age. Dating is a separate blog topic, so I will not expand on the topic here. A lot of young people just want to enjoy their teen years doing fun activities and building relationships with friends.
A discussion about how girls and guys say and do things for different reasons also started. We talked about how a lot of what takes place is just miscommunication. Enough books and seminars have been given about how men and women are just different when it comes to communication (and everything else)! For example, if a lady says, "I know you love me, don't waste money on a valentine's gift" she means "I don't want to tell you to give me a gift, but it will break my tender heart if you don't and I will remember for years to come." Of course, the man hears, "I don't need to by a valentine's day gift", and knowingly appreciates how practical his sweetheart is... until the big day comes and he realizes there has been a major miscommunication!

The girls agreed that having a guy touch their waist, even to give a pinch or squeeze was too close for comfort. I found this interesting, and something I noted that I needed to tell my 13 and 15 yo sons.
Then the subject of hugs came up. Call me naive...I was called it last night...but I have hugged people (male and female) for more than 40 years and never dreamed anything was wrong with giving a caring, accepting hug.

The girls' leader started explaining that when a guy hugs a girl on the front they may being hugging to feel boobs ....so the girls were cautioned to give side hugs. The teens responded with a lot of "oooh...yuck...I'm never gonna do that again...I can't believe it!" talk about the "I want to feel your boobs mindset" of why a guy might give a front hug.

Being a mom of 2 teen boys and also being a big hugger, I spoke up and wanted it emphasized that not ALL guys give hugs to feel boobs! I know I never have felt hugged by a guy and thought he hugged me to get a "boob feel" except from my loving husband...and he should hug me that way!

At church and lots of other places, in friendly settings, when a male offers a hand, I occasionally will say, "I'm a hugger. Let me give you a hug!" I'm am just a bubbly, friendly, out-going, loving woman.

Wow! I never knew I was being "forward or sexual"...I just thought I was letting the person know that they were cared about and loved....that the friendship or relationship was loving, like a brother hugging a sister. I remember singing a song in grade school about being a Christian that said, "I am one in the spirit, I am one in the Lord, I am one in the spirit, I am one in the Lord and together will spread the news that love is in our hearts....and they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.... yes, they will know we are Christians by our love." Christians are suppose to show their love for one another.

When I got home and talked to my sweet hubby about it. He told me that my family not only hugs, but we will give kisses on the cheek. I don't think I am going around kissing everyone on the cheek...I am pretty sure I reserve this for ... brothers, sisters, in-laws, etc. I never even realized that we did that, but I wish I had my siblings right in front of me now so that I could give each of them a big hug and cheek kiss! We all live far away and don't see each other even once a year...sometimes once every 5 or so years! When I see my siblings I express my love openly. I know this is common to a lot of families.

With this new information (a guy may be thinking I want to feel her boobs), I hope I don't go around self-conscious ...leery of giving hugs because a guy may think it has a sexual feel to it! In my heart of hearts (my spirit), I suspect that males giving and getting hugs for sexual pleasure is few and far between. I just think a person would sense this in their spirit, if something odd/ extra was going on in a simple hug.

Let me end with a little explanation. My mental definition of a 'front hugs' is to be face to face but over to the side (as my son says 'touching shoulders' - not boobs/breast).
To me, a 'sexual/intimate front hug' is be face to face where the "private spots" (or as some youth have called it 'my special place') can possibly touch....I would NEVER hug anyone but my husband that way!!!!

And let me also clarify, that there is nothing wrong with teaching our youth (or even adults) to give side by side hug...to not mistakenly lead someone on or innocently stir up the natural biological chemistry God gifted us each with. Yes, it can just happen...physical/intimate attraction...but it can't 'just happen' if we set up proper boundaries, like not giving lingering or intimate front hugs to anyone but our spouse.

I totally agree it is probably the best for teens of opposite sex to side hug...just way too much hormones flowing... and a lot of new feelings emerging. It is best to be on the safe side, and remain innocent both in giving and getting hugs.

Matter of fact, just this Sunday... I asked one of our staff pastors (that had allowed me to attend a conference) if I could give him a side hug, and with his permission I side hugged him, as a way to express my gratitude. I did it in a way to honor him by asking permission because I am aware of how many pastors have stumbled in this area...but as I write this I realize...we all, in general, are vulnerable in this area of life, so maybe I do need to reconsider my hugging ways.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's a toughie. I'm a side-hugger on men (except husband.) My husband does not like it when our female friends hug him at all. He's just not a hugger-type (unless again it's me.)

    I've got to think about that more...


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