Time for a confession: I’m a hugger.
No, it’s not mind-altering or earth-shattering, but there it is. A firm handshake simply isn’t a full-body catch-and-release embrace. Hugs are more intimate and more empathetic; they offer trust and earn trust in return. There’s even brain chemistry science behind it, such as in this 2011 TED talk by Paul Zak.
The speaker mentions that some people are not affected by this, that perhaps something in them may be wired differently. People who have been abused or those otherwise mentally preoccupied may show no response to it; people who are closed with their bodies may have understandable trust issues. “Why would they want to hug?” “Why wouldn’t they want to hug?” Some argue that everyone wants to hug an attractive person, but even that’s no guarantee of acceptance.
But do we NEED it? Is there such thing as “touch deprivation?” Can it be harmful not to touch?
Ask yourself this: have you ever been consumed with the desire to touch? A person so hypnotically beautiful they don’t seem real? Someone so sorrowful and out of sorts you’re compelled to wrap them up safe from the world?
One of our staffers told me this joke: “What does oxygen and sex have in common? They both seem more important when you’re not getting any.” Cute and all, but there’s a nugget of truth there. Like Rogue from The X-Men (I used to love that cartoon), there’s a yearning for what others take for granted — to touch — coupled with the danger of doing so to themselves and to others. No one enjoys being turned away because others are afraid of them, even when it’s justified.
The worst part is feeling rejected.
My mother once told me “Never refuse a hug from a child.” She said there were all kinds of psychological reasons why children need ready acceptance in their formative years. Yet somehow, as adults, we’re taught to mistrust a touch, to suspect any caress intentional or accidental, that it is unacceptable behavior unless in the dark behind closed doors between consenting adults. There’s nothing sexual about a hug, but it’s still intimate contact: a physical connection.
So imagine being a Vampire, one who is especially enticed by the blood of children and prefers not to think of mortals as cattle to be bled. Imagine being afraid of holding another intelligent and loving being knowing how dangerous you can be.
Now imagine the elation when that offer is accepted, trusted, and embraced fully — two people connecting and intertwined for a tiny arm-wrapped eternity.
Have you hugged a Vampire today?
If not, just hug someone…and remember to keep your fangs retracted when you smile.
Keep each other safe.