Handshakes and Hugs

Confession of my soul: hugs aren’t my favorite.

I’ve never been a touchy-feely kind of guy. As an infant I recoiled in the arms of strangers. As a child I avoided hugs where possible. As a teenager I reluctantly accepted hugs as the currency of relationships. Male, female, older, younger, doesn’t matter. I’ve gotten better at giving and receiving hugs over the years, but given my druthers I’d prefer to shake hands.

I know there are some people out there who would find this shocking; to others it might make a lot sense. I should be clear about this. Hugs have their place in the hierarchy of physical expression. Family? To be sure. Close friends? Why not. Friends? Probably not. At least, for me. Acquaintances? No. Strangers? Definitely not. The thing is, I find hugs from the “friend” status down to be somewhat shallow and awkward, their too frequent use a product of modern culture. The philosophy is “I love everyone—family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, heck, even enemies—therefore everyone gets hugs, because that’s how you physically express your love.”

I only subscribe to half of that, and even that half’s a work-in-progress. I genuinely try to love everyone (it’s not always easy), and while I believe that Shakespeare was right when he wrote, “They do not love who do not show their love,” I also believe that hugs do not hold a monopoly on expressions of love. I have felt love through acts of service. I have felt love through kind words. I have felt love in shared jokes. And yes, I have felt love in handshakes.

I’m sure I’ll continue to give and receive hugs, simply because that’s the age we live in and at this point in my life hugging has become something of a habit. Perhaps in an alternate existence void of hugs I would feel differently. I can’t say.

Until then, I suppose I’ll embrace hugs.

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