Dear Abby: I am not a hugger. In fact, I pretty much always hate it. But people think I’m rude when I don’t open my arms to hug after they’ve opened theirs. And they also think I’m rude when I tell them I’m not really a hugger. It happens with friends, fellow church congregants and audience members (I’m an entertainer) all the time. Although I let the hugs happen, I’m usually holding my breath the whole time.
Once I’ve “Hey girl’d” someone and offered my warmest smile, what more can I do? I don’t want people I like to think I don’t like them, or I’m not happy to see them. But I’m fed up with faking it and participating in this ritual that makes me so uncomfortable. – Bracing For The Embrace
Dear Bracing: You are not alone in feeling the way you do. Not everyone is comfortable with being hugged. I think you should simply be honest about your feelings and tell the huggers that you become claustrophobic when people hug you, and to please understand that your reluctance isn’t personal. If you make it about you rather than them, it shouldn’t come across as rejection.
Dear Abby: My son and daughter-in-law are splitting up. I’m devastated for them and my two young grandchildren, with whom I’m very close.
They live in another state, so I stay with them when I go visit. Although we’ve always had a great relationship, I’m terrified that my daughter-in-law will not want me to visit her after the divorce. I’m heartsick and don’t know how to proceed.
What can I do to maintain a good relationship with her, while staying on good terms with my son? – Heartsick In The West
Dear Heartsick: The last thing you want or need is to get caught in the middle of the divorce. Try your level best not to take sides and be sure to give your almost-ex-daughter-in-law her space.
Assure her that you care about her and that you deeply regret that the marriage with your son didn’t work out. (It’s true.) Tell her you have grown to love her as a daughter and hope that, in spite of the divorce, you will always be close. Do NOT discuss any intimate details or assign blame, if you can possibly avoid it, and try to keep your visits upbeat.
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