I once read somewhere that for a well-balanced psyche, we should each get eight hugs a day. I’ll admit I generally operate in a deficit in that area, but when I get them, I want them done right.
“Right,” I know, is subjective. I’ve never seen instructions on how to hug. All I know is that I really (read that word slowly with emphasis) enjoy a hug done the right way.
Over the years, I’ve taught my relatives and some friends how I prefer to be hugged. It’s the type of hug that involves a strong embrace (almost a squeeze). It’s never the hug that includes a pat.
Pats seem insincere.
Pats with hugs, in my opinion, generally are reserved for people you feel compelled to hug but don’t really feel close to. Like that woman you hug at family reunion who says she’s your cousin but whose name and face you can’t seem to recall. Or, that person who’s overly affectionate and insists on hugging you, making you feel obliged to return the embrace in some form.
Hug. Pat. Release. Quickly.
Yes, that’s how I feel when someone pats me. Like a baby having sucked down too much milk too quickly and being patted on the back until the bubbles come up as burps.
Actually, that’s not how I feel, but it’s what I always tell the person I’m feeling at the moment to discourage a repeat performance.
Then, there’s the guy hug. Shake hands and hold the handshake at the belly or chest, and then, with the other hand, reach around for a this-can-only-last-for-a-second embrace. Guys seem to hug this way only with men they know very well. If they don’t know each other well, they don’t hug at all. They stop at the handshake.
A niece and nephew seem to have invented a new type of hug. The sideways hug. It’s almost like walking beside someone you’re intimate with, while your arms are around each others’ waists. Except you’re not walking.
I really hate the sideways hug. I’m told they get it from their father. Their father told me that himself, so I guess they didn’t invent it, but they sure have mastered it.
Maybe I’m being selfish, but a hug should involve both arms. It should not involve pats. It should make you feel special. It should be sincere.
Sure, my inside voice complains when I get a hug with pats, the sideways hug or any hug that seems insincere, but I would prefer a bad hug over no hug.
Even a bad hug makes me feel good.
A recent trip to Dallas gave me a glimpse into what it means to truly fall in like with someone.
Years ago, I realized that falling in love in something we have no control over. I’ve never heard someone say they chose to fall in love with someone. They just fell in love. I’ve often heard that the heart wants what it wants.
Love is something we’re also obligated to dispense. We’re supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We’re supposed to love our family and all mankind.
What I’ve never heard or read is that you’re obligated to like anyone.
Thus, “like” is a choice.
Like is what I saw in Dallas.
Every relationship is fraught with issues; my relationships with family and friends haven’t always been smooth, and I’m sure there were times when they didn’t like me and I didn’t like them.
On my last day in Dallas, as I told my friend how much I had enjoyed spending time with him and his wife, I told him the high point was seeing the interaction between the two of them.
They seemed to genuinely enjoy the other’s company. The spent time together cooking breakfast in the kitchen he dreamed of having, in their retirement home they designed together. They each made sacrifices to get “their” home, the one they see themselves living in until God calls them home. They complement each other in so many ways.
They talk. They laugh.
My friend’s response to my comment about their interaction was that he really likes his wife and has liked her since elementary school. Of course, they love each other, but the like I found impressive.
They like each other.
Like is a choice, and when I grow up, I want to fall in deep like with someone – for life.