There are hugs…and there are hugs. In other words, there are genuine loving and giving hugs, and there are needy hugs and inappropriately sexual hugs. There is a world of difference between these.
While I knew this as a child – as most children do – I didn’t have words for the difference. I just knew that I loved hugging and being hugged by some people and I hated being hugged by others. Loving hugs felt nurturing and safe to me, while needy and sexual hugs felt yucky.
My mother’s hugs never felt good to me. My mother was narcissistic, and her hugs were needy. When she hugged me – which fortunately wasn’t very often, I felt like the life was being sucked right out of me. My mother was never a person I would go to for love or comfort.
Until I was twelve, my father’s hugs were wonderful – filled with love and nurturing. I felt so safe in the arms of my father. All that changed when I was twelve and my father became sexually abusive, which, of course, meant that he was no longer safe for me. I was confused and scared and crushed to no longer be able to go to my father for hugs. I protected myself by staying away from him as much as I could.
I’m a very affectionate person, and by the time I started dating I was so starved for hugs that I often found myself in difficult situations. What I wanted was loving and caring hugs but, what I mostly got was needy and/or sexual hugs from the boys I dated. It took me many more years before I could articulate the energetic difference between loving, healing, nurturing hugs, and needy or inappropriately sexual hugs.