No hugging please, we’re Chinese! 70


It’s well known that I’m a bit of a cold fish. I don’t do “hugging” or “cuddling” much – especially in public! – whether it’s my husband, my mother or my dog, and I get really uncomfortable when people start kissing and groping in front of me.

As some pop-psychiatrist would probably say – I wasn’t hugged enough as a child. And that’s totally true. My mother hardly ever hugged or cuddled me. That doesn’t mean that she was a terrible mother or didn’t love me – it was just that she’s Chinese.

Chinese people don’t hug. In fact, most Asian cultures would be hesitant about physical displays of affection, especially in public. It’s just not done. It’s not that you’re afraid of doing it or are embarrassed (although usually you are! 😉 ) – but more that you just don’t think of doing it. It’s like it’s missing in our behavioural repertoire. I mean, come on – you’re talking about a culture where the traditional form of greeting was standing well apart and bowing to each other, hands kept to yourself!

So getting all touchy-feely just doesn’t come naturally to us and actual close bodily contact, such as hugging, can be quite alarming. 😉 My husband found this out the hard way. Coming from a very  touchy-feely English family himself, where the standard form of greeting was a kiss & a hug, he scared my mother to death the first few times he greeted her after we got engaged, by trying to hug her. She stood stiff as a board and leaned as far away as she could, as he attempted to plant a respectful son-in-law peck on her cheek. We’ve been married nearly 15 years now and she is only just getting used to “being hugged” by him when we meet up. But I still think she tolerates it more than enjoys it.

Then there was the time one of my best friends – a Taiwanese girl I had gone to school with in the U.A.E. but hadn’t seen in years – came to visit us in the UK. I was so delighted and excited to finally get the chance to see her again (and vice versa) – and we spent a wonderful week with her and her husband, sightseeing around Oxford. At the end of their stay, as we saw them off to the airport, my husband rushed forward to give her a kiss goodbye, and was completely bewildered when she stiffened and tried to duck away, a look of horror on her face. I pointed out to him afterwards that even my friend & I didn’t hug each other goodbye – and this was the reunion we had been planning for years. It wasn’t that we hadn’t loved our time together or weren’t upset to be parting…but just that we didn’t feel the need to hug & kiss to show it.

I know it can be hard for Westerners to understand. In fact, whenever I’ve mentioned my “non-cuddling” tendencies on my dog’s blog, I often get many readers urging me to “try it more – you might find that you like it”. They seem to think that I don’t know what I’m missing out on and that if only I could bring myself to hug more, I would find that I actually enjoy it more than I realise.

Well, to be honest with you, I find that attitude a bit frustrating and patronising. It’s not as if I haven’t tried it but it is just not something that comes naturally to me. It would be like me suggesting that you start bowing to everyone you meet because you might not realise how much you enjoy doing that! 😛

And I think one of the most important aspects of meeting people from different countries and cultures is learning to be open-minded about “other ways” and to accept that other cultures may do things differently from you but that does not mean that their gestures have any less meaning. To Americans, hugging & kissing may be the universal sign of affection – but it may not be for others and that doesn’t mean that we feel less affection, just that we have a different way of showing it.

In Chinese culture, we tend to do things for each other, to show caring & affection. My mother may never have cuddled me much – but she did things like bring me a home-cooked lunch to school every day so that I could have a “hot meal” and staying up till 3am the night before I left for university, to hand-stitch my name onto all my towels and sheets, so that I wouldn’t lose them in the college laundry. She didn’t even hug me or kiss me as we were saying goodbye and I was leaving home for the first time to go overseas – but I didn’t feel any less loved because of that. In fact, it would have felt very weird if my mother had suddenly smothered me in her arms.

And I guess we do repeat the patterns of behaviour we’re raised with. Because I don’t tend to hug or kiss my husband much – but I do things like get up much earlier than I need to so that I can make a fresh fruit salad for him to take to work; wake up in the middle of the night to lean over in bed and make sure he is properly covered (coz I know he tosses & turns a lot and ends up cold and uncovered) and organise elaborate, creative birthday surprises for him that take months of planning & research. But ask me to kiss him in public? Er…no way.

I’m like this with my dog too. Friends often comment that I don’t act like I love my dog much because I don’t indulge in the same ostentatious shows of affection many pet owners do – hugging and cuddling, kissing and cooing…But I spend a LOT of time on Honey – continually looking for new ways to enrich her life and devoting a large part of my day to making sure she has daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Yeah, my dog isn’t constantly cuddled on the couch – but I don’t think that means she feels neglected. I show my love by giving her things a dog needs (rather than what we humans think they want) – like letting her roll in “disgusting stinky stuff” to her heart’s content. And you could argue that letting your dog indulge in a natural canine behaviour she enjoys  – even if it means that I will have the hassle of washing her afterwards – is a better way to show love than just constantly wrapping my arms around her and squeezing tight.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I do hug my husband and my dog and my friends and my mother. Sometimes. Usually not in public (Physical affection is a private thing). I’m not saying that hugging is a bad thing – I know it’s been scientifically proven that physical affection is important for development in children and emotional well-being in adults, blah-blah-blah – and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t hug! Just that you shouldn’t expect it to be the only way or the better way to demonstrate love & affection.

In any case, I can hug with the best of them when the situation demands it. Growing up and living in so many different countries has taught me to adapt easily – so I  have no problems hugging & kissing my in-laws when we go back to the UK and I am comfortable with the traditional Arabic cheek-to-cheek kiss greeting back in the U.A.E….but these are just empty gestures that I enact, to fit in. The same way you might curtsy when you meet the Queen, because that’s the ritual. They have no meaning for me and I am not really showing affection when I’m doing them.

So – sure, I can do it. I can hug. I can kiss. I can cuddle….if it’s expected of me. But I don’t want to just “go through the motions” just to satisfy somebody else’s expectations. When I hug someone, I want do it because I mean it.

Still, having said all that, all those comments – especially the ones suggesting that I was neglecting my husband by not demonstrating enough physical affection – did get under my skin a bit. I started worrying and wondering if maybe I wasn’t being a “good enough” wife by not being touchy-feely enough.  My husband often hugs or kisses me and I do respond when he does it – but I hardly ever think of doing it by myself. And you know how they say marriage should be a compromise? So recently I decided maybe I should try harder – to get more “cuddly”, reach out to hug him, pucker up for a kiss, make the effort so that my husband wasn’t “missing out” like all these people claimed…

…so earlier this week, I hovered around the front door as I heard him arrive home, eager to put my plan into action. I put on my best touchy-feely smile, filled my mind with touchy-feely thoughts and launched myself at him as he came through the door.


“Huh -?” He hesitated in the doorway, holding his bag up in front of him protectively.

“HI!” I tried again, reaching around his bag.

“Uh…Hi…” he shifted uneasily, “…what are you doing?”

“Saying hello!” I beamed, grabbing his neck. Somehow I miscalculated and ended up with my face buried in his armpit. Hmm. Guess this ‘hugging’ thing wasn’t as easy as it looked. Never mind – practice makes perfect. I stepped back and let him come in and shut the front door, then watched as he took off his coat and shoes and stowed his bag.

He eyed me warily. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing!” I smiled. “Did you have a good day?”

“So-so. Clinic overran again…I’m starving. What are we having for dinner?” He headed towards the kettle and switched it on, then turned towards the fridge but before he could open the fridge door, I swooped in front of him and lunged for his neck.

“What are you doing?” He reeled back.

“I’m just happy to see you!” I smiled, thinking that he wasn’t being very touchy-feely himself. Instead of putting his arms around me, he stood there looking puzzled.

“Er…OK. I’m happy to see you too,” he pulled my arms gently away and took some milk out of the fridge.

Hmm. This wasn’t going quite as I planned. I retreated to lean against the kitchen counter and watched as he made himself a cup of coffee, calculating my next move. He took his coffee to the dining table and sat down, flipping on his laptop. My eyes lit on his back turned to me. Perfect. Nothing like the element of surprise, they say.

I sidled over and snaked my arms around his shoulders, leaning down to kiss the top of his head. He jumped out of his chair, nearly tipping his coffee over.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He bellowed.

“I – I’m showing you affection,” I explained.

“You’re what?” He looked completely confused.

“I’m trying to be more affectionate. You know – ‘coz some of the blog readers said I don’t hug enough and they were sure you would be happier if I was more cuddly or something -” I tried to demonstrate by reaching up to hug him again.

He stood stiffly as I put my arms around him. Somehow, he didn’t look much happier.

“Wouldn’t you like it if I hug you more?” I asked.

“No! I mean, yes, of course, but – well, it’s just not normal!” He staggered back from me.”It’s just not you.”

“I’m trying to change,” I explained earnestly. “You know, to show more physical affection. ”

He sighed, then smiled and leaned forward to kiss me gently on the forehead. “Don’t. Just be yourself. Otherwise it’s just creepy. It’s just not you and it’s stupid. You’re fine the way you are. Just be yourself.”

I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Don't worry if your comment disappears - it's probably gone into Spam but I'll fish it out!)

70 thoughts on “No hugging please, we’re Chinese!

  • Liz

    Oh Hsin-Yi, you had me in stitches there, just what I needed after a hard day at work. Your husband is right, just be yourself. You sound so much like me, except where the dog is concerned, I love to cuddle Fizz and she loves to be cuddled.

  • harrispen

    Hi Hsin-Yi, I’m true blue American and I hate all the hugging and kissing. I think for me it is almost a rebellion from all the hugging and kissing I was forced to endure as a child from every relative. Fortunately for me I married a man that has the same feelings about PDA as I do so we get along perfectly and it works for us. I love your husbands response, “Just be yourself”.


  • brooke & darwin

    hahaha good story! Poor Paul. He must’ve been so confused!
    My family is similar… not much hugging or affection, but unlike you I LOVE a good hug. Im not into PDAs but I could hug nonstop! My pet peeve (one of them) is bad huggers… loose arm hugs. Id rather not hug than get a bad hug. :)
    I’ll have to remember if we ever meet up in Singapore not to hug! :)

    • Hsin-Yi

      Ha! Ha! Oh Brooke – now I REALLY feel an awful cold fish!! Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if you wanted to hug! 😉 But don’t worry – I’m sure Paul will more than make up for me in the hugging department – so you can hug him all you like! 😀

      You guys must be leaving Seattle soon – so exciting!! I really do hope we get a chance to stop by Singapore soon and finally meet you & Darwin (oh, and Jason too of course! 😉 )

  • sara

    Paul is a “keeper”.

    I often have to tell people, “I’m not a hugger.” It makes me uncomfortable. Not sure why, maybe in my previous life I grew up in China? Plus, I feel half the time people reach out to hug someone it isn’t even a sincere hug(most likely because they’re not a hugger either).

    I like the idea of “doing for others” as a sign of affection. Actions can speak louder than hugs.

    If you hate PDA, you must never, ever set foot in an American high school. Way too much going on in the hallways. Gross.

    • Hsin-Yi

      Ha! Ha! Sara – I can just imagine about American high schools! Actually, I think my original aversion to hugging, etc, was exacerbated by growing up in the Middle East (Dubai when I was growing up was a VERY different place!!) where modesty & conservative behaviour was the key! Maybe if I had grown up somewhere like America, it might have tempered the non-hugging attitudes at home and I might have gotten more comfortable with showing physical affection…

      But I was going to add that of course, everything I said doesn’t apply to teenagers, I think! 😉 I mean, I’m sure lots of Chinese teenagers are all over each other in public all the time…it doesn’t matter which culture you’re from – when hormones take over!! 😉

  • Vero

    I’m not a hugger myself. That bother my daughters, they would like me to be one. They don’t question my love for them. I’ve tried, but I don’t feel natural either. I’ll kep on trying…
    The last picture is very, very beautiful!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh Vero – really? That’s interesting, coz you’re French!! I thought all French people were very comfortable with cuddling & kissing in public, because it’s in your culture! 😉

      • James

        What a lovely post! Just reiandg it made me feel like I’d had a big hug. Loved the picture too. I must admit sometimes when I feel really fed up I go for a walk and make an effort to be pleasant by smiling, saying hello to strangers etc. It really lifts me.I like the idea that a hug doesn’t need to be literal, there are many ways of hugging.

  • Melanie

    Oh, Hsin-Yi, this post was hilarious!! And I loved your selection of photos :-)

    I could totally picture your attempt to be affectionate with Paul. He must have thought you’d lost your mind! He sounds like such a great guy :-)

    I’m sort of a modified version of you. I have no problem being affectionate with Allie in public — within reason, of course — and I do love a good cuddle with the critters on occasion. But it stops there. I DETEST being hugged by strangers or even friends just for the heck of it. I have a VERY short list of folks with which I will initiate a hug. Otherwise I’d just prefer not to.

    I’ve got people at work that will hug me especially ’cause they know I hate it. I put up with it as I know it comes from honest affection, but it does drive me crazy … Sometimes I wish I had a cultural explanation for it like you do, instead of just coming off as having serious personal space issues…. Even though that part is true 😉

    All that said, I do simply adore the sunset photos of you and Honey. The bond there is obvious :-)

    • Hsin-Yi

      Ha! HA! Melanie – your comment made me giggle. You know, maybe I’m just using the cultural aspect as an excuse and I just have a “serious personal space issue” too! 😉

    • Angi


      Maybe it’s just the way you worded it here, but I’m having a hard time imagining how your co-workers’ hugs could be because you don’t like to be hugged AND come from honest affection at the same time. If they know you seriously don’t like something and they do it anyway, that’s direct disrespect for your personal boundaries, NOT affection. I know that many little girls are told to accept unwanted types of contact from little boys because the boy is “just doing it because he likes you”. The adult who tells a child that is seriously injuring that child! Please don’t let people do that to you, convince you that unwanted touch should be accepted just because it comes from “liking” you. That’s wrong. Set your boundaries, and give your co-workers a message that might make them think the next time they want to do something similar to someone else who might be more hurt by it than you, and too shy to speak up. If they do not stop after you politely tell them you seriously don’t like it, take it up with human resources or your boss or whatever legal agency protects employees’ rights where you live. That’s harassment or bullying, not affection.

  • Carol

    Hsin-Yi, I am enjoying your posts so much. This one made me laugh and agree. We aren’t much of a huggy family. My own family was the same and so was my husband’s family although in saying that, as we have grown older we seem to hug more than we used to, especially myself.

    I too feel uncomfortable with public affection especially long passionate kisses (er, time and place please people). I don’t mind hugs in public but sometimes public hugs seem for show and not genuine.

    My oldest and dearest friend is a hugger. When we first met she would hug hello and hug goodbye and I was not relaxed with it, but, that was her way of telling me she loved me. Now after thirty two years if we didn’t hug I would think something was wrong. She is one of the few I actually love having a hug with because I know it is a true and loving hug.

    My husband always knows if I come to him for a hug, especially since mum passed away, I really need one. He is a great hugger but just with me. There are some special hugs I will remember for ever. My last hug with my mum. When my daughter went overseas. The day my mum died and my daughter’s boyfriend (who is a typical Aussie young man) and who had never hugged me, came up to me and hugged me so hard I thought he might possibly have cracked a rib! My husband’s hugs during times of despair and times of absolute joy. Hey, this sounds like we hug all the time but we don’t, I just cherish the ones I get from the people I love.

    Have you seen the movie Love Actually. The last scene, at the Airport, where it shows people meeting loved ones back from a trip, the pictures of hundreds of families and friends meeting and hugging is absolutely beautiful and gets me every time. I get a lump in my throat every single time.

    Take care and hugs to all (hehehe). No worries, and love, Carol

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh Carol – what you said in your comment was so beautiful. It was like an inspirational poem! Yes, I agree with you – as I said, I don’t hug much but the few times I do, it is really heartfelt (like your daughter’s boyfriend!) And I AM very lucky to have a husband who is always there whenever I feel like I need a hug…

      Yes – ‘Love Actually’ is one of my favourite movies!! (Colin Firth, enough said! 😉 ) – and I know the scene you mean. It always brings a lump to my throat too!

  • Zouk's mUmmie

    Again! I can totally relate! Love reading your human blog so much Hsin-Yi! I remember when my Aussie uncle visited my parents many many years ago back in Singapore, he hugged and planted a greeting kiss on my mum, my dad nearly had a fit :p Although I have been in Aussie-land for years now I still find that I haven’t quite mastered the hug and kiss greeting :p arkward moments are still occurring! :/

  • woolsnob

    I love this. I don’t hug much either….I hug bing a lot, and my kid, but my husband and I are very….”business as usual” types around each other. I think it’s part of living in Tokyo. I remember once having a japanese boyfriend that I scared away by wrapping my arms around him in a train station. After I never heard from him again, I figured out that I had to adapt…And after a while it became easy. I get my fill when my american or european friends come for a visit (my german friend loves to hug me, and pick me up and swing me around etc etc etc, and my spanish friends leave kiss marks all over my cheeks) but honestly, I don’t really miss the physical affection anymore, I’m at a point in my life when “over familiarity” is not something I appreciate. In short, I understand exactly how you feel. Keep being you.

  • hisqueen

    I love this post…I used to be a hugger but than I married a Syrian Muslim and that all ended. By no means did he make me stop, I just learned that it is how the Middle Eastern Culture is. I totally hug my parents and my husband has learned to hug them also, especially after my mother insisted on it. He doesn’t necessarily enjoy it but is rather secretly amused by it especially after I told her he doesn’t hug but she insisted that he give her one. She loves him more than me sometimes.
    I knew at the beginning of your waiting at the door to ambush Paul that it wouldn’t end well. I totally would have done the same thing as Paul….I would have been wondering what you did wrong that made you try so hard to all huggie..It’s nice to try and do something new but sometimes things just aren’t part of your personality. I think this is one of those things for you.

    • Gaylord

      Another lovely post Naomi and a buiatufel pic, just gorgeous :o)Yes, we are very affectionate and I come from a big family of huggers and communicators, which is a huge influence on how I turned out.I cuddle and kiss my boys ALOT and we all say ‘I love you’ multiple times a day to each other. My eldest likes everyone to receive a kiss at the same time… so he’s a good reminder to keep the love flowing :o) xo

  • Maya Asiandoodle

    Aw Paul is definitely a keeper! I’m not much of a touchy feely type either. That must be the Chinese in me, even though I grew up in Anerican society. I really don’t show my emotions either. If I get a special present for my birthday, I’m not going to be jumping up and down and screaming of joy. I will simply say thank you and smile. Sometimes I feel the need to say ” I’m really excited I just don’t show my emotions” because I don’t want them to think I am unappreciative. Just curious if you are like this too? Anyway I laughed when I read about you trying to hug Paul! Haha you are lucky to have someone who loves you for who you are. And I also like what you said about letting Honey roll around in stinky stuff! I am very affectionate with Maya, always hugging and kissing her, but she doesn’t even like that kind of thing. She would rather I just play with her or go for a walk or let her roll in stinky stuff! You obviously have so much love for Honey and Paul, there’s no need for physical affection. Oh geez I made this comment way to long. Oh and going to an American high school.. Definitely too much PDA.. So awkward! Have a nice day! I hope to comment more since I am almost out of school for summer

  • Nicki

    I am a hugger and then I’m not. I hate having to give affection to people you don’t know or like. However, if I like you enough I may hug you… if you are willing. I think it depends on the situation and the person.

    It drives me crazy to have someone tell you they love you when they barely know you and expect you to express the same. it just feels wrong!

  • Jenny Hickey

    Love this!! While on a trip to Mexico for a conference one night I discovered a side door to avoid being kissed on the cheek by everyone as we exited!!! I don’t mind a hug but the kissing publicly is not for me unless its one of my nieces or nephews sweet chubby cheeks!! I am sure Paul appreciates your efforts! I don’t think its just a cultural thing!

  • Laura F

    Haha I loved this 😀
    I am the opposite. I love to hug, or just sit on the couch with my friends with are arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. I hug when I greet/leave friends, or just if they say something funny. Haha I never realized how different Western culture is from the rest of the world. My friend is half Tibetan on her dad’s side, and even when she hugs him before leaving for school in the parking lot, he looks stiff and uncomfortable. I DO NOT like public kissing/groping as many people mentioned. It annoys me to no end. I go to an American high-school, and the PDA is outrageous. I see couples kissing before class, and it’s as if they’re about to go in to battle and don’t know if they’re ever going to see each other again. I grumble to myself like an old hermit whenever I see that in the hallways, and avert my gaze lol 😀

  • Mina&Maks&Mo

    Haha, I almost cried at this post! Can non-Chinese people also not like hugging in public or in most cases?? Because I sure don’t, at all … I don’t have the urge to go hugging someone when we meet, it just not in my nature … But am surrounded by people (friends, family, boyfriends ….) that thinks it’s normal and that I’m weird and don’t like them, or am ashamed of them etc. I had more then once argue with my parents about it, they sometimes got very mad if I just stood there when they hug or kiss me, but I can’t and don’t want to do it just because it’s “normal behavior”… I don’t give my dogs as much of affection as some people think I should …

    As you said, it’s the things we do for the loved ones that I like doing, and that I try to show affection through that … Ah, hope I’ll find somebody who won’t be shocked with non-hugging-and-kissing-rule as so many people are here …

    I really love this post!!

  • Icelandic Ally from NYC

    LMBO … Paul is right, always keep being you 😀 That is the best you, you can be 😀

    I am a big hugger. My friends and loved ones all know that I hug, kiss, tell them I love them and what they mean to me on a regular basis. If I don´t, they wonder what is wrong. With that said, I DO NOT give affection to just anyone, and absolutely not if I am not “feeling it”. So I guess that is why my not-as-touchy-feely friends put up with me, they know I mean what I say and say what I mean.

    As for PDA, I have no problem with it – there are certain … uhm… actions that I am not interested in doing in public but it doesn´t bother me if others do. As long as the affection seems sincere, I see love and compassion as a beautiful thing – be it a romantic kiss between two lovers, or mother stroking the hair from her child´s face. (I must admit dry humping against a fence doesn´t really look appealing to me but what do I know…).

    With all this said, I can understand how not every one shares my view of the world, and I appreciate the difference :) Just because I am a “hugger”, that doesn´t mean that it is the only appropriate way to be (although many people tend to do the whole my way or the highway skid). I am a firm believer in doing what is right for you, that is the path to go. Some of my best friends, people I love with all my heart are.. as you call your self.. a bit of a cold fish…. and I love them for it because that is who and how they are. I dont want them to be any different. So I accept their ways, and they accept mine. Somehow, with mutual respect and communication, it works itself out in the end.

  • Elena

    Oh… this little love scene it’s so… ooooooow! In Italy we say “it warms the heart”
    Your husband is sage. Just be yourself!

    I think that in a society where everyone hug and kiss everybody else just to say Hi these gestures became meaningless. An hug loses its meaning if you don’t reserve it just for who you really love.

    I feel like to kiss and hug only my boyfriend and just if I’m in a cuddle mood. Oh and I hate to be touched (not only kissed and hugged, even touched). Am I Chinese?

    • Hsin-Yi

      Ha! Ha! Elena – well, that certainly isn’t the stereotype of an Italian!! 😀 But then I guess there are some Chinese people who enjoy hugging…so maybe stereotypes are always wrong…! 😉

    • Elena

      Oh…I forgot an important fact! eheh!
      When someone is insisting being too much touchy for me (even if he knows how I feel about it) I need to protect myself so I usually draw with my fingers an imaginary circle around me and say “Do you see it? This is my personal space, please don’t invade it”

      I know it’s weird and a bit unpolite in fact you have to do it just in case of emergency with people you do know well… but I assure you it works!

      • Ahmed

        My daughter is erxmetely affectionate, always curling up on my lap or bringing me a blanket so we can snuggle together. I love it, and I am cherishing every second because I know that one day I won’t be cool and she won’t do it anymore ;)My son isn’t a very cuddly baby, but I’m working on him! I have plenty of time to win him over hehe.I love this post x

  • Tiffany

    Don’t feel bad! Even us Americans don’t like being hugged! Mason isn’t a cuddly dog, which is great because I’m not a huggy person.

    Hug a child? No problem, I can hug a kid whole heartedly (which is good since I work with autistic children who love to hug!) Hug an adult? Weird, it makes me so uncomfy! I wasnt hugged much as a child. Now that I think about it I don’t think I was ever hugged!

    Maybe it is how you are raised?

    • Hsin-Yi

      Yeah, Tiffany – I’m really lucky that Honey isn’t a cuddly dog either. She likes being near me but doesn’t like me all over her – so we suit each other reall well! 😛

  • Zan

    Gosh, I love a good hug and a cuddle!

    The hardest thing i’ve done this year is to acknowledge that the dogs probably shouldn’t be allowed on the couch *sad resigned sigh*
    It was harder to train me than them… I miss pooch cuddles on the sofa so much that now I just cozy up with them on their big bed when i’m desperate 😉

    My partner likes a cuddle ‘in moderation’. Makes it tricky sometimes because I can go overboard resulting in a similar situation to the one with you and Paul, except he says “just relax would you!”

    Apparently my hugs are a dead giveaway if i’ve done something silly/spent too much money or have moved the furniture around again. He can tell before he even gets in the house. So much for having a poker face!

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh Zan – I don’t think there needs to be any hard & fast rules about dogs being allowed up on furniture. You should just do what you prefer in your household – as long as you’re consistent. Don’t believe all the myths about dogs getting dominant if they go up on the couch. Sure, if your dog has seen a behaviourist and has been recommended a “rank reduction programme” – then it might be a good idea to limit access to high valued resources (such as the couch!) until the dog shows that he respects your leadership – but aside from those specific cases when you’re working on a problem, I don’t think there is any issue with letting your dog up on your couch if you like that. As long as they don’t growl at you if you try to get on too or guard it from others or whatever.

      Similarly, don’t feel bad if you DON’T want to let your dog up on the couch. It’s your household & your rules! We’re constantly bombarded by other pet owners trying to make us feel bad for not letting Honey up on our sofas – especially other Dane owners, who typically let their Danes sleep with them in their beds! – but I just hold steadfast to our rules. It’s our house and how we like to live. None of their business. Honey isn’t less loved – and doesn’t feel less loved – just because she isn’t allowed on the couch. We’ve been consistent from Day 1 and it doesn’t even enter her head. She has a massive bed of her own which is practically as big as our couch and we cuddle with her on there – or on the floor and she is perfectly happy. It annoys me when people try to guilt us into letting her up on our couch and make suggestive comments about how she is missing out or would really like it – it’s actually not Honey’s thoughts at all – but them imposing their own prejudices and assumptions on others.

      Anyway, so just make your own rules for your own household – as long as you’re consistent and stick to them, your dog will be happy, They need consistency & routine more than anything else, to feel happy & secure.

  • Katja - Abby & Jacks human

    Oh Hsin-Yi, I love your posts!! I am a hugger, but my husband is very much like you. Luckily our little boy loves cuddles, so I hug him and the dogs regularly. If i really need a hug from hubby I just tell him that I need a hug and he gives the best hugs!

    I find it odd that your readers on your other blog have tried to convince you to hug more, although having said that, I am guilty of telling my husband that he really needs to hug more………probably because his hugs are really good :)

    Thanx again for such a great post.

    Cheers Katja

    PS: I love the last photo of you and Paul…. everyone is right – he’s a keeper :)

  • Lassie & Benji

    Mommy likes the picture of the cats doing the awkward hug. Mommy tries to do the “air hug” and “air kiss” sometimes butt she looks so silly sometimes.

  • parlance

    My family are not huggers, and when my brother married a hugging Italian she thought we didn’t love each other. (We do!)

    It’s strange how people who hug think it’s the way to show love, and how people who don’t hug see it as a bit of an act, without real feeling.

    My dog, Penny, is not touchy-feely, either. I think it’s not a natural dog behaviour.

    • Hsin-Yi

      Yes, parlance, I totally agree about it not being natural dog behaviour! I’ve read/heard several behaviourists say that hugging is a human thing that people like to think dogs enjoy but that most dogs actually don’t enjoy being hugged. They learn to tolerate it from their own family/friends but you’ll often see them still exhibit stress signals/calming signals while they are being hugged. They do like being patted & stroked – but not “hugged” close, with arm around them, etc. It’s why so many people putting their face up lose to dogs to “smooch them” end up getting bitten!

      I know when I try to hug Honey, she’ll lean away from me and turn her head away – but the minute I ease off the pressure of my arm and move a bit away from her, she’ll lean back towards me. She is happiest if we’re both just sitting together, next to each other – she likes BEING with me – but not necessarily all over each other. And that suits me fine! 😛

      I’m sure if I was more of a “hugger” that she would probably learn to tolerate it more – but I still doubt she really enjoys it. Sometimes, I go over to her and cuddle her when she’s on her bed – she’ll tolerate it for a few minutes – and then she starts huffing & sighing & groaning and shifting and very obviously telling me she wants me to get off her. Oh, she’ll happily sit next to me and let me stroke/massage her for hours! 😉 – but not close hugging/cuddling/snuggling.

      It’s hard to convince people of this, though – because they’re so fixed on those actions being the only way to show affection. They keep telling me that Honey really wants me to hug her & cuddle her – they just can’t believe that she would be like me and enjoy close companionship without necessasrily having close physical contact. But having watched my dog a lot and knowing her well, I can hand-on-heart say that she would prefer I show her affection another way and does NOT miss being hugged constantly! Which suits me fine! 😉

      • Angi

        I think a lot of dogs like cuddling up close, though not necessarily the squeeze of a hug. I’m sure it varies by individual — some dogs are more snuggly or huggy than others, just like some people are more than others. And they don’t naturally *hug* each other, since they don’t have arms, but some definitely do snuggle with each other. And there’s a reason we call a bunch of snuggling people a “puppy pile”. :)

        Artos (my gf’s dog) is a professional snuggler. And he’s often pretty assertive about it, too! He’ll squirm up into your lap and into your arms, wanting to be up against your chest, or lie beside you and roll over and squirm until he’s got his head in your lap and his belly bared for a rub. He definitely likes hugs.

        Princeton will often come up to me and snuggle the top of his head up against my chest. One version of a hug. He and Lily also both know “hug” (coupled with patting my shoulder) to mean “put your chin here for a moment and have a little squeeze”. It’s adorable, and they do it on their own, too, not just when asked. With each other, they often stand with one resting a chin on the other — a doggy hug if I ever saw one — and they often lie together touching each other. And Princeton especially (and sometimes Lily too) loves nothing more than to lie beside me on the couch, snuggled up close or even with his body curled around my back, with his head on my lap where I can rub his ears and pet him. We’ll spend half the day like that, when we can get away with it. :) Or lying down together.

        They do also sleep with me/us, whoever will fit; most often it’s 2 (sometimes 3, for us) humans in the bed, Artos in the “big bed” if he’s here, and hounds on the dog bed until morning, then when the other humans get up and go to work, all the dogs join me in the big bed. Sometimes in the night even when we already have 2 humans in the bed, if we’re feeling snuggly enough, one of the hounds joins us, and then it’s definitely snug, full-body cuddles all around.

        So although some dogs might just tolerate and not really enjoy the actual squeeze of a *hug* (which only lasts a moment anyway), I think quite a few of them do very much enjoy snuggling and a lot of close physical contact. And I’m sure they all need and crave *some* amount of physical contact, too. But I’m quite sure they’re also happy to just be petted even if it doesn’t involve close snuggling, and they know they’re loved if you express that in other ways, too.

        • Marisa

          Lovely post Naomi. I am very atfecfionate with my kids and hub- my older son is in turn atfecfionate with us.Hub grew up in a family (and this is typical Japanese, not just his family) in which he never saw his parents show affection to each other, or to him or his brother. They do not kiss, hug etc. He has grown used to it since he has met me though I think.(On a side note- when I first met him he did not like to hold hands in public. He is fine now)I tone down my actions around his family at least towards him (never towards my kids- Noah comes for hugs and kisses and will glady give his Baba (grandma) and jiji (grandpa) cuddles and they seem okay with that (He is still young- it will be interesting to see what they are like as he and Shion grow)Noah will also give baby Shion hugs and kisses- alone on his own initiative and if I say “Give Shion a hug goodnight” etc.For me happiness is watching Noah show affection to his brother, his dad and to me just as much as I enjoy showering my boys with it as well.My parents were atfecfionate towards us and towards each other (they are now separated however) and I think growing up in that kind of environment certainly made me more open to being that way with my own family.

  • Diane Taylor

    Hi Hsin-Yi – another great post. I love learning more about you and Paul – and how different you are. And yet – 15 years of marriage says it all to me.

    OK – I admit it…I am a hugger. BUT, I am also a respectful hugger. If the person seems uncomfortable when I do it, then I try to remember that for future reference. I loved your point about how doing things for people really speaks to how you feel rather than a show of affection. My husband is not really a hugger – when we sit on the couch to watch some TV, we sit at opposite ends, usually with a dog in the middle! But even since my son died, he has made it a point to hug me – I mean REALLY HUG ME before he leaves the house – whether he is going to work or out for any reason. And it feels so good to be REALLY hugged, and to know the person means it in their heart. I treasure those hugs – I get alot of them from family and friends these days. They mean the world to me.

    A little story: in high school, I was into Drama. Loved being on stage and acting. My senior year I was in several plays at once: drama, musical, and my favorite, one act competition plays. The one I was doing was called “The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden” (Thorton Wilder). No scenery in the play, it was all pantomime. The entire play was centered around a car journey with a mother, father and 2 children, heading to visit the oldest daughter who had lost a baby recently. I played Ma Kirby and just loved the character – it was a comedy and I loved making people laugh. However the play turns serious when Ma Kirby gets to see her oldest daughter. There was a long hug between them – a long emotional hug. When the judges crituqued my performance, the said my hug was “limp and no good”. Me? Not a good hugger? No! It can’t be!!! I decided that day that my hugs would never be “limp” again!!!

    So…if I ever find myself in Sidney….and I see you…I promise to not lunge at you!! Now Indy – he will probably want a hug. Just sayin…..

    And to Carol – I LOVE LOVE that movie and always cry at the end…..yeah, Colin Firth is pure huggable-ness…..



  • Angi

    Haha! You really scared him! He’s right, when you try to change something so suddenly and do something so not like yourself, it probably just comes off as creepy! It sounds like he might genuinely like it if you were a little more physically affectionate (from the “of course” in his response, and from the fact that you felt that he might in the first place — I’m sure you wouldn’t *just* go by the nosy advice of strangers on the intarwebz, unless it fit with what you knew of him yourself, right?), but if you’re going to try that, you’ve got to get there gradually, and probably after giving him some “warning” that that’s what you’ll be trying to do, not all of a sudden and unexpectedly. You know? I think it’s also more likely to feel comfortable to you and more likely to “stick” in the long run if you do it gradually rather than trying to jump in all at once.

    Maybe just start with reaching over to initiate holding hands while you’re watching t.v., or put your hand on his thigh and just rest it there while you’re sitting together. Get used to that before you try the next level. Then try walking over when he’s sitting in a chair and giving him a little shoulder rub. After you rub for a minute or two, then you can lean in to kiss his neck.

    Build up to initiating the full-body hugs. And then try letting him get all the way in the door first! Even the most hug-hungry partners usually want a chance to put their things down, take off their coats, maybe even sit down and get their shoes off, before the full physical greeting. Just like people (try to) teach their dogs to leave them alone and not jump all over them until they’ve had a chance to do those things when they come in.

    That’s my 2c, anyway. Take what you like from it! :)

    Myself, I need a lot of physical affection from my romantic partners. My birth family was never very huggy, and in fact, I think I was damaged by the lack of physical affection from my mother — I don’t remember EVER being touched by her at all, other than the occasional spanking, and I craved the touch so much as a child! And I think that’s part of why I need it so much now, with my own partners. With friends, it really depends on the person and the relationship. Some are huggy and some are not. I love having cuddly friends! Some of our friends have this super-deep couch that is wonderful for snuggling — in fact, it’s basically a twin-size (also called “single size”) bed put next to an armless couch in an “L” shape, and covered in soft furry things and pillows — and when they have parties, we’ll have that couch full of people in one big snuggle-pile, and I love to be right in the middle! But I’m fine with the friends who aren’t so touch-y, too. I just wouldn’t be able to date them.

  • Grace

    Just found your blog after seeing “Honey and Lemon” on Wimp. No one who sees that could doubt your and Paul’s love for both of them…the whole video was about love being shown between the two 4-leggeds and the filmers..Thank you.

    • Hsin-Yi

      Aw…thank you, Grace, for your lovely comment! And how funny that you found this blog (my own) rather than Honey’s! 😉 I’ve only started this one – to have somewhere where I don’t write as a dog – ha! ha! – but Honey’s blog is much more popular than mine. Here’s the link if you haven’t been:

      Anyway, thanks so much again for taking the time to leave a comment and for you nice words – I really appreciate it! :-)

  • Angi

    Oh — you know the “love languages” thing, right? The different love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. (There may be others, too, I suppose.) Everyone has their own order in which they value these things, and what you most value receiving also might be different from what you most naturally give — one person might need touch to feel loved, but feel best when they can *give* love through acts of service, and another might feel most loved through quality time spent with them, and really like tickling people with gifts.

    It’s great when we can manage to match up with someone who complements us in love languages — who needs to receive what we most like to give, and loves to give what we most need to receive. But when we wind up with someone whose love languages are different from our own, we need to make the effort to learn what they need and communicate what we need to feel loved, and to learn how to give each other those things, rather than just go on giving whatever we think *we* want from *them*, or whatever we think *should* make them feel loved, when it obviously isn’t what does that for them.

    Touch is absolutely my own highest love language. I need lots of touch, above anything else. But for you, obviously, touch is probably lowest on your list of things that make you feel loved. Everyone should be able to understand that we’re all different, and just because one person needs and likes a lot of touch doesn’t mean everyone else does, or should.

    • Hsin-Yi

      Oh no, Angi – I didn’t know about the “love languages” – how interesting!! Thanks for telling me about that. It makes a lot of sense. And I agree – I probably don’t rate Physical Touch as one of my priorities – although I have to say (which is what I was trying to say in the post) – I think this may partly be to do with my cultural upbringing. I don’t think most Asian people rate Physical Youch highly – whereas they would rate Acts of Service more, I think.

      By the way, I’ve been meaning to say – I feel really bad that I haven’t had a chance yet to respond to your last comment in our “check chains” post on Honey’s blog – I’ve just been swamped and things get pushed down the list. But I wasn’t ignoring you! :-) And I also didn’t realise your personal circumstances – I’m sorry – and I wanted to say that you shouldn’t feel that you have to defend or justify your methods to anyone. If it works for you, that’s great – and that’s all that matters. Everyone’s situation is different and their needs are different.

      • Angi

        Oh, that’s fine, really. Especially when it’s gone into a deeper topic and a real response might want some thought and time, I don’t expect that you necessarily have the time any time soon (or at all) or even want to go any farther into it. And I also certainly agree that different things work for different people. I do like, sometimes, talking about what I’ve learned and even engaging in some friendly debate, but as long as we’re all doing our best, I don’t intend to come off as judgmental, either.

        Thanks, Hsin-Yi! Give Honey a scritch for me. :)

      • Angi

        Oh, yes — and I definitely agree that there’s a cultural aspect to how much we value touch, or anything else. And it’s not just Asian vs. Western, either. Even within one geographical area or larger culture, it varies by subculture, social class, racial subculture, religion, etc. You’re born with a definite individual personality — any parent knows that — and predispositions and preferences of your own, but then of course what you’re raised with has a big influence, too. So I would expect a lot of individual differences, but *in general*, I’d expect people who were raised in Asian cultures to be less “touch-y” than people raised in Western cultures.

  • lincolnandcie

    I loved reading this post, Hsin-Yi !

    I have to admit I’m quite a hugger – but only with people I know very well, my mum, my sister, my partner, ma grandma, my dog, my best friend. And that’s it.
    I don’t do kissing in public -nor hugging !

    I remenber being chocked when I went to England for a year when I was 18 and people in the family were I was staying or in the neighborhood would start hugging me thought I had never met them before, calling me “Honey” and “sweety pie”, and even in the restaurant or in the shops some used to say “thank you DARLING !”. I remenber talking about it all the time to my friends in France.

    And also, I thought they were saying ” love you ” all the time – In France, thought people think we are all comfortable with hugging and demonstrations of affection, we don’t really talk easily about what we feel – and saying “je t’aime” loudly almost never happens (at least in public). But it is true a lot of people here don’t mind kissing in the street ! hehe. Some of my friends even like holding hands in the streets though they’re just friends !

    Anyway, I loved the part when you described Paul coming home and you being different when saying hello :-) Too funny !

  • Kathleen Brown

    My family are crazy hugggers, and, when I was little, so was I. But, now that I’m grown, I’m not a huge hugger any more. I believe quality over quantity.

    My Dad is always bugging me for a hug, when I go to visit my parents. I find it makes me uncomfortable to hug for long periods of time. A quick hug, and I’m off.

    I don’t think my family understands that I’m not a huge hugger any more, but they’ll just have to accept, that I’d rather listen to you talk about something that interests them, or make them a yummy meal, than show affection.

    To each their own.

  • ann marie

    men and dogs. they both would rather be greeted at the door with a sandwich than a hug. the only difference is the dog wont notice if you are also naked.

  • Jaana

    I am a cuddly type. I love smooching with my dogs to the point of it being embarassing (the fact that I am not embarassed doesn’t mean that I don’t know where the line goes :D), I hug and kiss my kids and partner all the time everywhere (well, not the long slobbery kisses- these are reserved for more intimate surroundings where you don’t make everyone uncomfortable) and hugging my friends is a norm.

    But I do realize that there are people who aren’t as fond of it as I am and this sometimes creates aqward moments. It is mostly with aqaintances or friends you have met online but rarely or never in person- my instinct tells me that this is the moment you hug but then I take the moment to evaluate if the recieving end is as fond of the idea as I am. When the other person catches my hesitance, it makes both of us feel weird and it is sometimes hard to tell if s/he is thinking the same thoughts as I or “oh my god, she is not going to hug me, is she???” 😀 It happens very often around ringside at dogshows 😉

    • Angi

      In my community, it is common to just ask, “do you hug?” Or just “hug?” with arms out. And it’s just fine to say “no, thanks.”

      We are (self-identified) geeks. Direct asking works for us, and is the etiquette for any kind of touching. Guessing or trying to “read” what someone wants leads to too many mistakes, though there are also nonverbal ways of getting consent, like approaching slowly and watching closely for the response as you do. We generally consider it safer and more polite to just ask, though.

  • Monica

    Oh How funny imagining Paul totally bewildered and almost scared, when all you wanted to do is hug!.. Haha… But so true, just be yourself, that’s the perfect way. Here in DK we hug, in my husbands family more that in mine… i try do adapt, but ever so often experience the akwardness to choose to hug from the wrong side, and so almost bang noses instead… It would be much easier if we could just settle for shaking hands or such… Love the romantic and oldfashioned picture of the two of you… You are such a beautiful couple, both on the outside and the inside..

  • Jed & Abby in MerryLand

    Was just going to read past posts to catch up and comment on the most recent, but this post really clicked. [In case you wondered, have spent the past 3 weeks mostly off-line with family wedding prep, wedding activities, and post-wedding recuperation.]

    As far as dogs go, agree that most dogs don’t like to be squeeze-hugged. But they are as individual in their need for physical affection as people are. Jed seeks much more physical contact than Abby does. As a rule, the dogs are allowed to initiate and almost always receive pets and snuggles when they ask. Abby is satisfied sooner and will walk off; Jed asks more frequently and for longer durations. When I was younger, we had Danes who would lie by the sofa and rest their heads on my dad’s arm or shoulder, just wanting the contact. We had some Danes who liked to lie on top of my dad on the sofa; entirely his fault for encouraging them to do it when they were puppies, but he let let continue until they hit about 180 lbs. The Danes we reared from puppies were mostly more physically affectionate and demanding than my rescue Danes, although not always. Some of the rescue Danes had been so starved of affection when young that they soaked it up like little sponges when it was available. Other rescue Danes remained more reserved, although all liked to be patted and praised, of course. Like people, a combination of natural preferences and life experiences [and culture, for people] seems to dictate the amount and kind of physical affection dogs desire. Cats, too. I’ve had velcro cats and cats that barely tolerated being briefly petted.

    Not all Americans or all Westerners are touchy-feely, as the comments above confirm. I suspect we’re culturally more tolerant of physical contact when we meet because we tend to have more physical space around us than Asians do the rest of the time. For America, especially, which has only become a majority urban culture in my lifetime, most people lived such isolated lives – on farms or ranches, or in small towns made up entirely of single family homes – that just seeing another person outside the immediate family was cause for joy and gathering close. I suspect if one lives in a culture where one’s physical space is crowded by the sheer numbers of other people living practically on top of one, one defensively develops a need for mental space just to keep one’s sanity. I seem to remember reading once that the average personal space around an American is more than twice that around the average Japanese. Americans are very uncomfortable if people, especially strangers or casual acquaintances, stand or sit “too” close – closer than our preferred 24 – 30 inch minimum. A friend who served in the Peace Corps in Morocco once commented that Arabs were familiar with this American discomfort and when standing in line, would deliberately crowd in too close so the Americans would back away and the Arabs could move up in the line faster.

    In closing… cannot imagine anyone having the chutzpah to comment on your blog that you don’t show enough physical affection to your spouse! Good grief!


  • Jacky

    Not sure it’s cultural. I do not like physical touch much (the rest of my family are very expressive!) unless you are a kid, dog or special person. So I have been called ‘cold’ and other nasty terms. South Africans are big on the hug and kiss-on-the-mouth thing. Many nightmarish family events with old aunts/uncles with soft wet lips trying to get a slobber in …
    I have a Chinese friend who really needs to be hugged and touched all the time (to make up for lost years I suppose) and I make a point of doing this with her. But I try to avoid hugging even my mom or sisters.
    In public hubby & I do hold hands, more than other people and I do like a cuddle with him. He is a great hugger with other people, really takes them in his arms, squeezes not too tight but with meaning, takes his time to greet them – makes up for my stiff peck on the cheek.
    With the pups it depends: P-boy is a definite chin-hugger and loves to rest his chin on the closest person/dog, Zena adores full hugs, spooning (with a leg over her waist) and any good wrapped-around-the-chest type hugs. She also gives hugs, wrapping her long legs around my neck. I suspect P does too but he is more difficult to read as he is a growler – growls when he plays, greets, gets hugged, is angry … but I think he still likes the hugs as he stays for more and leans in.
    I think the hug debate has to do with invasion of personal space, that is why I don’t mind more ‘honest’ hugs (kids, dogs) but dislike ‘professional’ hugs.

  • Kat

    I don’t like to be kissed or hugged by strangers. Funny thing is, I live in a country where when strangers are introduced to you, they immediately kiss your cheek. I’ve had to put up with slobbery kisses and a hint of bad breath for years – well, at least until I became an adult. That is when I decided to stretch out my hand and give them a firm “Nice to meet you”. Ha! The look in their faces is priceless. Of course, this has earned me a reputation of a “cold fish” but I only want hugs and kisses on my cheek from my family. Sorry! I am a strong believer in “personal space”.

    I wonder if I were Chinese if my life would be easier ;-P

  • Pat Costa

    I’m not a touchy freely hugging kinda of person either, and I’m American. When I was growing up my family wasn’t a touchy freely bunch on either side , mom or dad. So I understand how it is with you. Affection was and can be shown by remembering special events , doing special things for my husband. Making the things he likes best for supper and so on. Problem is that his family likes that hugging , kissing stuff and I’d rather not be touched AT ALL. I learned how to stand back and just kinda wave Hi and duck when I’m approached for hugs and kisses. It doesn’t make them happy but I don’t have to walk around all day smelling oh their perfumes and after shave colognes . Yuck!
    I do however love to hug my dogs , Bea who us gone now, but was my very first dog. She was half Great Dane and Lab and Pit bull. She was a stray that was living under your backyard shed when we bought our house. She trusted no one and had been on the streets for over one year. She was big , blackness,white and gray , and had a watch eye that some Danes have. I loved her to bits and was lucky to have her in my life for 8 years. I miss her every day of the 9 years she’s been gone now.
    I also show affection for all of my cats, they get hugs and kisses all the time.
    That behavior in front of the mother in law has caused her to actually Pout because I don’t hug her. With such childish behaviour isn’t obvious why I don’t hug her.
    After 33 years of marriage it hasn’t done our relationship any damage otherwise I doubt we’d still be together.
    No one should expect any one to be who and what they aren’t .
    Thanks for letting me rant a bit . Take care and I’m glad that Honeys blog led me to yours.

  • achieve1dream

    Oh my goodness!!!! That story about you trying to hug Paul had me laughing so hard my husband wanted to know what I was reading LOL!

    My mom is not at all a hugger (in fact doesn’t display any signs of affection), but my dad is definitely a touchy feely person. I was around my mom more as a kid (dad worked a lot) so I think she rubbed off on me in that department, but I also think it’s one reason I crave hugs from my husband. I’m very reserved when meeting new people and it takes me a long time to let people into my personal space (I don’t even like to shake hands which is a very common greeting where I live), so I don’t hug much. It always feels awkward to me. With my husband and pets however I am very cuddly. I enjoy hugs, laying my head in my husband’s lap, leaning against him when we sit next to each other, etc. I also enjoy cuddling with my dogs (which neither one of them are very big on anymore…. maybe I smothered them? I think they would prefer your kind of showing affection lol) and hugging my horse. I’m weird hehe. Oh and I’m not into PDA (public displays of affection) at all!! Holding hands is about as far as I go in public, unless I’m excited or upset about something. Then I enjoy a hug of celebration or consolation.

    P.S. Wow that last picture of you two is gorgeous!!!

  • Anne

    My Ozzie partner has the same confusion!!! He was shocked or surprised or disappointed when I failed to kiss him good bye at the door in the morning or evening or at the airport when he was leaving or arriving. Hahahahaha!!!! Another thing is, if we ever hug or kiss in the public, people or passers by will look or stare at us which made me really embarrased, if you know what I mean.

    Like you, not that I do not love him or miss him, it just does not appeal to me to show my affections in the public when people do not hesitate to stop and watch. Haha!!

  • dawn gallagher

    I loved this blog. I was a bit shocked you weren’t hugging and kissing Honey all the time. The videos show you giving Honey a big squeeze. I don’t Hug Mikey aka Monkey because my back is fused. But, I do spoil him by petting him for hours and massaging his paws and putting lotion on his paws to they will be soft, telling him how handsome he his, taking him for walks and just loving him when I visit him at my mom’s house several times a year. Monkey knows very well that I love him even without the hugs. I wonder if I could hug him would I do less for him and because I can’t give him affection in the conventional way I figured out something else that works? Monkey doesn’t complain about not getting hugs from me. I know he is happy by his long wagging tail and that is good enough for me.
    I will say in this day and age with new and dangerous super germs I would be happy to be a person who bows. I am American and we shake hands and it doesn’t matter if I just wiped my nose before you walked up I am still expected to shake your hand. Lucky you. I appreciate your perspective on hugging despite appreciating and needing a good hug. I do think it is obvious Honey is the most loved dog on the planed and the most mentally stimulated. You are showing her love all the time. It is obvious how much you love Honey by all the time and care you put into taking care of her and making sure she has what she needs. (I still love the picture with your arm around Honey). The photo of you and Paul is really beautiful and I don’t think you would have lasted fifteen years if he wasn’t getting his needs met, and only you two get to define what those needs are.
    Thank you for the great insight into our human differences.

  • Stella

    Hilarious, this story of obligedly trying to hug Paul. Obligational behaviour make things strange. It’s the “See me do” & “No I never want to” mixed up. So for a loving and beloved husband it must be creepy indeed.

    My family is not hugging. So when I arrived somewhere for a fast week, I stopped when the greeting appeared to be a big hug. Then the host explained it was custom, so I let him :o) Must agree, there was a warm atmosphere of attention for each other. However, the closing ceremony was a shock: each hugged each broadly. Well, it appeared an activity you can learn to do. So the next weeks I joined in if the atmosphere was very well en when not stand aside, with the absolute defender on the corridor (who a moment feared I’d chase him).

    I’m not good in cooing and I don’t pick up babies in attendence of wittnesses any more. Once I had a baby on my lap and the baby felt fine, but after a failing tour of self control the mother exclaimed I had to do jolly things with him when having him on my lap. So she got her baby back immediately. With a little dog on my lap no one expects a performance from me, so we can sit in peace.
    To me a baby is 0-1 up to 0-1,5 year, 2-3 is a peuter and 4-5 a kleuter (this is Dutch). I am better with peuters and kleuters who understand some of your sayings and interact with their charming childrens thoughts. Once I attended a visit where a “big” dog was one of the guests. No one tried to introduce the dog to the awed little daughter, so after some time I took the girl and pointed to the dog. Did she see him? Did she like him? After a short talk I took her near the dog, showing how to say hello. Since we sat on the floor, I played with her with the toys laying around and we drawed dollies. Later the host told, she never wanted to be token by foreigners, so they were really surprised that no howling aroused. Well, I think she had seen me as a guest materializing into a teacher you may not negate. But this blog made me think – maybe she was a no-hugger too and had bad experiences with foreigners who want to take her and cuddle her and kiss her pretty face, claiming to be kissed back.

    Affection can be in the handshake too. Here often is thought the Swiss are cold because of detached shaking hands and saying Sie instead of du (like the French vous and tu and the Dutch u and jij, it’s all you). I have been in Swiss and seen lots of hand shakings full of appreciation a/o affection. Sie ist the polite form of you. Both can be said/done appreciating a/o affectional. Polite is not synonymous to cold. I didn’t see less affection than in my own country, but I saw lots more politeness. As I was not used to so much hand shaking, I often had to look quickly: oh, where did I put my right hand. Often in a pocket or with things in it or with things in it in a pocket. Sometimes things fell in rushing the hand to a waiting handshake.

  • suzanne cyr

    me too, it has always alarmed me when people give me a hug, except small children, but men and even women giving me a hug creeps me out, i have been doing it and now i am going to stop being talked into it,

  • Kden

    I know this is an older post but I just googled the subject and your blog came up. My step-son will be marrying a Chinese girl in a few weeks and when they lived in town she stopped coming into the house and waited in the car. We finally got out of our son that she is uncomfortable with the hugging. My husband is Italian—-and they love to hug!! We visited them recently and our son actually texted us to say that the no hugging rule is still in effect. We felt like lepers! But your post really helped and made us feel better and realized it’s not us personally (I hope). Thank you!

  • gretchen Van Lente

    I feel sorry for the husband and I hold out little hope for this marriage. My Chinese boyfriend was passionate until a year ago, He decided that there would be no more hugging and kissing at all because he was Chinese–no other reason.. He chokes on “I love you.” He slaps me on the ass once in a while and he thinks that’s his quota of affection. He was fine when we met. Mine is a lonely home. I can only eat so much food, thank you.

  • gretchen Van Lente

    My boyfriend made me read this. I don’t educate myself by reading highly manipulated and sentimental blogs, and I don’t avoid serious problems by talking about dogs. I do research. This idea of not touching and showing affection has more to do with patriarchy and Confucianism. But if that;s how you like it. You’re not doing women any favor.

  • fipplepop

    I’m an American, and I hate it, too. How and when (was it the 50s?) did this damn custom catch on here, and who is responsible? The Froggies? the Ruskies? the Camel Jockeys? Whoever it was, they have a lot to apologize for. Fashions do change, but I think I’m too old to catch the next cycle.I’ll just have to try to live with this unAmerican and unmanly custom as best I can, dammit! Oh, and the air kisses. Where will it end? For me, when I reach the grave.

  • Lorraine

    I’m a bit confused, while attending English Chinese Church. Only 2 guys side hugged me and don’t know if its because they may have been born in Texas and not China. When I hugged my Chinese Pastor the other day it was a cold one sided frontal hug. Won’t be doing that again. Oh am hispanic woman born hugging everyone. just confused is all.