How to hug a friend– sometimes without touching them


I was never much of a hugger when I was younger. I thought of physical touch as an invasion of personal space.

But I remember when the tide turned. It was after I was married and I was working at the Credit Union. I don’t remember who it was or why, but someone broke the touch barrier. I remember them putting their hand on my shoulder as they leaned from behind to help me with something. I remember thinking, “Wow, they’re touching me and it feels kinda nice. Like they are comfortable with me. And you know what? I’m comfortable with them too.”

welcome hug

(Note: There was the one guy who was infamous for his back rubs of the single ladies– it wasn’t him. I do remember that he wore great cologne. Really. Great. Cologne.  Note that single guys. Skip the Axe and buy good cologne– and don’t be weird and give back rubs to acquaintances.)

I’ve since learned how to kindly break that touch barrier myself. I’ve many times repeated the hand on the shoulder touch. I’ve perfected the “I’m trying to scoot around you and there’s not much space so I’ll touch my fingertips to your back to let you know I’m here.” I’ve jump hugged friends in their ecstasy and I’ve held friends while they sobbed in pain.


But one of my very favorite hugs is the “you’re sick” hug. No, it’s not that I’m rejoicing in someone being ill. I’m also not talking about the supportive, “you found out you have cancer” or “you have a migraine” hug. I’m talking about a good ‘ole “you’re contagious” hug.


Right. That’s why I love them. Because of your reaction right there.

No one gives “you’re contagious” hugs. But that’s the whole point.

When you’re sick you’re not feeling very lovable. You’re nose is red and/or your face is pale. You don’t feel like doing your hair or makeup and you wear only your comfiest clothes. You feel “blah” and “ick” and ugly on top of it. And then everyone avoids you. It adds insult to injury.

Everybody’s okay with it though. They understand how germs work and they don’t want to get their friends sick. I am the same way when I’m sick, but not when I’m healthy and a friend is ill.

I hug ‘em.

Call me weird, but I am willing to risk catching their germs in order to show that I’m supportive of them. I know that I may get sick. But I’m healthy and not afraid of the consequences. I know that germs will come (if not from this friend, from some random door knob or something) and I know that I may suffer for a time but I will conquer them because I’m a healthy person. I may as well catch the germs from supporting a person I love.

And because it’s so unexpected and at such a down time, it means so much more than a normal hug.

That’s what’s good about being healthy. It’s also what’s good about being financially healthy.

When you are at all financially healthy, you can take the risk and jump in bravely to risky situations. You can back your neighbor kid’s first foray into business by buying his lemonade supplies for him. You can lend your sister with no credit history the rest of the money to buy her first car. You can even buy the groceries of the old lady in front of you at the grocery store.

Will you lose money? Possibly. But it is good for you to take those risks.

Sure it’s good for that neighbor kid, that sister trying to get her first job that requires a car, that old lady on a fixed income, and that friend who’s achy with a horrible case of the sniffles. But it’s also good for you! The loss of income or the ability to breathe through your own nose for a time is a small price to pay for the feeling of human connection.

And then you build up immunity. Just as your body gets practice whippin’ those germs, you get practice on handling surprise expenses. You learn how to roll with the punches (to take a YNAB term) and you learn how to deal with the unplanned loss.

So if you’re not at a place where you are financially healthy right now, do what you can to get there! Open a savings for emergencies. Pay down that credit card. Cancel that cable. Drink that Vitamin C or do those sit ups.

When you are healthy you can do so much more—and you should!

Lifting hug

See, even if you’re not a hugger we can get that human connection. We can support and encourage others and it’s good for everyone involved to allow ourselves to suffer a little bit. We grow and improve and we do it together. So open yourself up. A little voluntary exposure ends up a win/win. Unless you’re a weird guy who gives back rubs. Um, no.

photo credit: <a href=”″>Civil – Débora & Matías</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”″>Hug</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”″>BAM!</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”″>Sick Me, Right Now</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;


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