Is it just me? Or is hugging utterly hideous? asks JANET STREET-PORTER
One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic has been social distancing. I am not a hugger, so being ordered to stay well away from other people was something I could willingly sign up to.
Which meant I was disappointed when the two-metre rule was relaxed to one-and-a-half and then made optional, because that indicated the nation was back on the slippery slope of cuddling complete strangers.
Hugging is supposed to be good for us, say behavioural scientists who have studied its effect on our stress levels. After conducting studies with single and mixed sex participants, experts reckon a ten-second hug gives more benefits than a five-second cuddle.
Janet Street-Porter says the approach of a stranger with arms outstretched is intrusive and invasive (file image)
They’ve even prescribed regular hugs for elderly people to lower their depression. Can you believe that time and money (and brains) are being occupied with this stuff?
Surely a nice cup of tea and a chat would have the same effect.
A team from Oxford University claims that people being hugged said ‘it fulfilled a deep need’. Not as far as I’m concerned. I find the approach of a stranger with arms outstretched intrusive and invasive.
If they encircle me with an unwanted embrace and, horror of horrors, slap a kiss on my cheek, I am incandescent.
Naturally, I don’t let this show. I disentangle myself with a fixed smile, rush to the toilet or the safe space of my car, where I wipe down any flesh that’s been touched with sanitiser.
Hugging arrived when us Brits became ‘in touch’ with our feelings about a decade ago. Then Covid came along, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I cuddle those I love. But I draw the line at strangers and most workmates. Bring back social distancing this winter and I’ll be a happy bunny.