Wikimedia Commons photo Big or small, some people aren’t partial to hugs.

Wolf: Are you a hugger or an anti-huggite?

Debating the merits of being all about that hug life

So, are you a hugger?

Who doesn’t like a good hug? Happy hugs, sad hugs, therapeutic hugs. Morning hugs. End-of-the-day hugs. What’s not to like?

Apparently for some folks, lots.

The notion of hugs came up in the office this week, as a colleague (identity thinly protected to avoid any potential hug shaming) worked her final day on the Island before heading across the pond.

Another co-worker innocently mentioned all the hugs said departee was about to receive and you could feel the recoil from across the newsroom.

“I hate hugs,” came the response.

“What? How do you hate hugs.”

“I just don’t like them.”

“How come?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t.”

What followed was a mild but fruitless probe into the mind of an anti-huggite. In the end, she just didn’t like hugs.

“What about that commercial, you know the one (everybody sing along here: ‘we all need a hug in the morning and one at the end of the day… and as many as possible squeezed in between to keep life’s troubles at bay…’) with the babies?”

“Yeah (laughs), I hate that commercial.”

Well, then.

“OK, what about puppies. Do you like puppies?”

“I love puppies.”

“Would you hug a puppy?”

“Oh, I’d hug puppies all day.”

“But you hate hugs.”

(prolonged silence)

“Just people hugs.”

I come from a family of (mostly) huggers. I embraced the hugging heritage. Interestingly, my son, who loved hugs as a youngster, now shuns them. So, of course, one of my favourite things now is trying to get him to give awkward hugs. His little brother, luckily, still actively seeks them out, so that’s a plus.

Now, as much as I enjoy a good hug, there’s still that internal clock we all have. We all instinctively know how long a hug should last. If it lasts too long or is a little extra squeezie (squeezish?), it can be odd. Most of us also understand the unwritten rules of hugs – when to apply the bear hug, the air hug, the bro hug, the mild backpat hug, the side hug, the congratulatory hug, the sports teammate hug, the consolation hug, the once-a-year-at-Christmas hug, the reunion spinaround hug, the ‘oh, I didn’t expect to see you here’ hug and so on. And I accept standard limitations as well. Family, friends or longtime acquaintances? Sure. Strangers? Definite grey area, unless you’re an unabashed freehugger. The kiss hello? Hard nope here, but that’s another topic for another day.

So where do you stand? Keep your distance or all about that hug life?

Philip Wolf is the managing editor for the Vancouver Island Free Daily. He can be reached at 250-905-0029, via email at or on Twitter at @philipwolf13


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