Are you a hugger? Not everyone appreciates the physical contact. Howie Mandel famously prefers to bump fists rather than shake hands, while Jerry Seinfeld made entertainment headlines earlier this year following an awkward encounter with the pop star Kesha.
Though Seinfeld made no secret of the comedian’s aversion to physical affection, Kesha didn’t heed that as she spied him on the red carpet and made a beeline to where he was in the middle of giving an interview. She interrupted the on-camera interview and asked for a hug.
Seinfeld was polite, but his reluctance was visible. He said no thank you.
Kesha, who had yet to even introduce herself, persisted. She continued to plead for a hug. Again, Seinfeld declined.
The singer eventually slunk off in embarrassment, and that would have been that if the video footage hadn’t been released. I saw many people comment that Seinfeld had been rude, but I understood his dilemma. To him, this was a stranger approaching him out of nowhere and demanding a hug. He was under no obligation to comply. Also, imagine how this would have gone down if Seinfeld, or another male celebrity, had begged Kesha for a hug. He would have been seen as inappropriate and possibly even lecherous. People would have argued that her personal space should have been respected. Why shouldn’t he also have the right to his own personal space?
It’s worth noting that many folks are wary of physical contact for a variety of factors. It’s also not uncommon for people who have autism to resist social touch. It may be natural for you to greet someone with a hug, but you should ask, “Can I give you a hug?” first. If they decline, accept it with a smile and say, “I understand.”
This is a preference that is rarely about you. Don’t take offense; do respect boundaries.