Non-hug­ger finds po­lite way to keep oth­ers at arm’s length

Woonsocket Call - - Amusements - Jeanne Phillips


I am not a hug­ger. In fact, I pretty much al­ways hate it. But peo­ple think I’m rude when I don’t open my arms to hug af­ter they’ve opened theirs. And they also think I’m rude when I tell them I’m not re­ally a hug­ger. It hap­pens with friends, fel­low church con­gre­gants and au­di­ence mem­bers (I’m an en­ter­tainer) all the time. Although I let the hugs hap­pen, I’m usu­ally hold­ing my breath the whole time.

Once I’ve “Hey girl’d” some­one and of­fered my warm­est smile, what more can I do? I don’t want peo­ple I like to think I don’t like them, or I’m not happy to see them. But I’m fed up with fak­ing it and par­tic­i­pat­ing in this rit­ual that makes me so un­com­fort­able. If there’s a po­lite, clear way to con­vey this to peo­ple with­out seem­ing cold or un­ap­pre­cia­tive, please let me know what it is.


DEAR BRAC­ING: You are not alone in feel­ing the way you do. Not ev­ery­one is com­fort­able with be­ing hugged. I think you should sim­ply be hon­est about your feel­ings and tell the hug­gers that you be­come claus­tro­pho­bic when peo­ple hug you, and to please un­der­stand that your re­luc­tance isn’t per­sonal. If you make it about you rather than them, it shouldn’t come across as re­jec­tion.


My son and daugh­ter-in-law are split­ting up. I’m dev­as­tated for them and my two young grand­chil­dren, with whom I’m very close.

They live in an­other state, so I stay with them when I go visit. Although we’ve al­ways had a great re­la­tion­ship, I’m ter­ri­fied that my daugh­ter-in­law will not want me to visit her af­ter the di­vorce. I’m heart­sick and don’t know how to pro­ceed.

What can I do to main­tain a good re­la­tion­ship with her, while stay­ing on good terms with my son? My grand­chil­dren mean the world to me. — HEART­SICK IN THE WEST

DEAR HEART­SICK: The last thing you want or need is to get caught in the mid­dle of the di­vorce. Try your level best not to take sides and be sure to give your al­most-ex-daugh­ter-in­law her space.

As­sure her that you care about her and that you deeply re­gret that the mar­riage with your son didn’t work out. (It’s true.) Tell her you have grown to love her as a daugh­ter and hope that, in spite of the di­vorce, you will al­ways be close. Do NOT dis­cuss any in­ti­mate de­tails or as­sign blame, if you can pos­si­bly avoid it, and try to keep your vis­its up­beat while con­cen­trat­ing on your grand­chil­dren.


My wife and I will soon at­tend a week­end wed­ding. We will be meet­ing a large num­ber of peo­ple for the first time.

My prob­lem is I have a hard time re­mem­ber­ing peo­ple’s names. I sug­gested to my wife that I carry a pocket-size note­book and write down names fol­lowed by a brief de­scrip­tion. She thinks it’s a great idea as long as no one catches me do­ing it. I think, in ad­di­tion to be­ing prac­ti­cal, it will pro­vide a bit of hu­mor to the oc­ca­sion. What say you?


DEAR SEN­SI­BLE: I agree with your wife. Be dis­creet, if you can. Rather than carry a note­book, it might be less obvi- ous if you en­ter or dic­tate the in­for­ma­tion in the notes sec­tion of your phone.

Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069.

For an ex­cel­lent guide to be­com­ing a bet­ter con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist and a more so­cia­ble per­son, or­der “How to Be Pop­u­lar.” Send your name and mail­ing ad­dress, plus check or money or­der for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Pop­u­lar­ity Book­let, P.O. Box 447, Mount Mor­ris, IL 610540447. (Ship­ping and han­dling are in­cluded in the price.)

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