Why do some people hate hugs?

Why do some people hate hugs?

Chances are you have encountered a tricky social situation where you weren’t quite sure if a handshake, a hug or even a friendly fist bump was the right move. It’s important to read body language, but ultimately, maybe we all need more hugs.

According to a study published in Comprehensive Psychology, the emotional experience of a hug can positively affect the levels of oxytocin and cortisol levels in the body. Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone”, can create a feeling of relaxation, while cortisol is a “stress hormone” that may be reduced by a hug.

“Just about everybody seems to like hugs—giving and receiving them,” says Dr. Kevin Krippner, a psychologist with Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Ill.  “Yet there are some people who do not enjoy touch. A lot of this has to do with a person’s sense of personal space, as well as who is inside of their personal space.”

What might be the reason behind a love or hate of hugs?

The study found that huggers beget huggers. Experiences of parental hugging in early childhood may make hugging more prevalent in adulthood. As for non-huggers, according to Professor of Counseling and Counselor Education Suzanne Degges-White, it could also have to do with self-esteem.

She recently told Time magazine, “People who are more open to physical touch with others typically have higher levels of self-confidence. People who have higher levels of social anxiety, in general, may be hesitant to engage in affectionate touches with others, including friends.”

Whether you enjoy hugs or not, you might want to consider making them more of a priority. A 2014 study showed that individuals who were stressed and received hugs were less likely to get sick. Hugs have also been linked to a healthier heart.

“It is very important to know the comfort level of the person you might hug, as some people may not be comfortable with the physical touch,” adds Krippner. “But for those people who do enjoy hugs and personal touch, sharing this behavior can be an experience that provides great emotional benefit to each person.”

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  1. “Just about everyone seems to like hugs”

    Wow, that’s a pretty broad statement. So just about everyone would like a hug from John Wayne Gacy or Brett Kavanaugh? Male, female, stranger, friend, whatever, everyone likes hugs???

    Maybe it has something to do with *who* is doing the hugging? Maybe we are biologically primed not to let strangers or otherwise threatening people into our personal space? Maybe there’s a survival advantage to that?

  2. Thanks Dienne. I second that notion.

  3. We might have a healthier society if people would keep their hugs to themselves.

  4. Dienne you wrote a stupid statement. Brett was not convicted of a crime. Innocent until proven guilty. Don’t put him in the same comparison to Gacy. It makes you look really dumb. Think before you type…

  5. Dienne,
    Had you actually read the article, the author does discuss the topic of who is doing the hugging. But you are clearly out to simply argue about anything, so enjoy your short, hugless life

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.