7 months ago

How Do I Stop Strange People From Hugging Me?

dont touch me

Dear Love Drive, 

I have a hard time setting personal boundaries. 

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than a man giving me a hug that I don't want. 

How do I set boundaries without coming across as a bitch?


No Touchy, W, 24

Where Did All These Huggers Comes From?

Burning Man, obviously. ​

The world is full of huggers and it can be challenging to live in this world if you don't love getting hugs from strange dudes. 

But it's not just dudes who come in for a hug instead of the more commonly acceptable handshake, women do this too.

Regardless of where it came from and why people think it's OK to hug complete strangers as a form of greeting, we need to learn to sidestep this awkward salute if it makes us uncomfortable. 

Unfortunately, we can't just point to our "NO HUGS" t-shirt whenever some sweaty beast comes in for a hug, so we'll have to use another tool that we've perfected and honed over thousands of years. Our words mixed with a little body language. 

Free hugs? More like Hug-Free

"Umm. No Thank You"

I learned a long time ago that "no" is a complete sentence. Here let me see what it looks like on it's own.


Yup. That looks good. Now let's soften it a bit, so as to not offend anyone. 

"No, thank you."

OK, that looks pretty good.

Now let's add a little explanation at the end to help clarify why you're not interested. ​

"No thank you, I don't feel like a hug right now."

That's What I Say

"No, Thank You"

If I see someone coming in for an unauthorized hug, I take one step back, give an open smile, casually raise my hand like so, and say, 

"No thank you, I don't feel like a hug right now."

Sometimes I mix it up. Here's a few more that work in most scenarios,

"No thanks, I don't hug strangers."

"No thank you, I don't want a hug right now, but pleased to meet you!"

And that's about as far as it needs to go. 

Hopefully your potential personal boundary offender will get the picture that you're not available for a hug and leave it at that.

Sometimes though they might say "c'mon, it's just a hug" in which case a firm "No" should deter even the most enthusiastic well meaning huggers.

Are You An Unauthorized Hugger? 

Don't worry about it, I used to be one too. I just assumed everyone wanted a hug. Turns out, they don't. 

I learned that whenever I want to touch someone, especially someone I don't know very well, I need to ask. I can't assume that they want my touch. 

When I want to hug someone that I don't know, or that I'm not 100% wants a hug from me, I ask, 

"Would you like a hug?"​

And then they'll either say yes, or no. 

Boom. Awkwardness avoided!

Have a question you want answered? Send it to shaun (at) the love drive (dot) com!

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Shaun Galanos

Shaun Galanos is The Love Drive. He believes we all deserve love and works to help men (and women) develop more intimate relationships through honest and playful communication.

He lives, writes, and makes videos in Montreal.

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