Have you ever thought about how your actions impact someone else? If you haven’t, maybe take some time to contemplate that. What we say and do can really affect someone. That being said, how often have you asked someone if you could give them a hug? The action of hugging someone or touching someone is an action that can have a great impact. It can either make someone’s day, or make them feel uncomfortable. It’s an action that we should think about more, and an action that we should ask permission to do.

We have taught people from a young age that hugging is expected, and that’s not healthy. For instance at family gatherings when everyone is leaving, parents often tell their children to go hug their loved ones. A perfectly normal action, right? Well the thing is, even if it’s just family, some people may not want to hug them goodbye. When we tell children to do this, we are teaching them that hugging is expected and that it isn’t their choice. We should ask children if they want to go hug their relatives goodbye, because then we are teaching from a young age that they are in charge of who touches them. This may sound a bit strange to do, but it’s important that we start teaching people early on that they shouldn’t assume that someone wants to be touched and that they themselves can say no to being hugged/touched.

I think we often forget that hugging can actually be an aggressive action. Although it is often an action made with the best intentions, when we hug without asking permission we are essentially saying that the other person’s personal space isn’t important. We are going into their space without considering the fact that they may be uncomfortable, and that is inconsiderate. Granted, it’s because we have made hugging as normal as simply saying hello, so we assume that by doing it we aren’t doing anything wrong. We aren’t in the wrong if the other person gives permission to hug them or if they go in for a hug at the same time you do. We are in the wrong if we assume someone wants to be hugged, especially in a situation that wouldn’t garner a hug. For instance, if someone is sad or stressed, you shouldn’t assume they want to be hugged or even touched. That may make them feel even worse.

Perhaps you are reading this and think what I have written sounds ridiculous, heck maybe you think I’m joking. I assure you it’s not ridiculous, and I’m not joking around. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Permission is important. Respecting someone’s personal space is important. You should consider the fact that there may be reasons why someone doesn’t want to be hugged/touched. You may adore hugs, but just because you do doesn’t mean others do. It’s possible that you can’t relate to this article, because your friends and family like hugs. If so good for you-hug away! However, try and get in the habit of asking anyway, because when you meet someone new you don’t know what they are okay with. Treat others how you want to be treated. Would you want someone to ask you before they touch you? Are you always okay with being hugged? Think about that