Monday, September 30, 2013

9/30/13 Falsely Intimate Power Plays

As an introvert with control issues (my therapist will write me a note), Amanda Hess' blog today, "Hugs are Falsely Intimate Power Plays" is right on the mark. 

Most loved: I am not an automaton. I can appreciate the experience of physical and emotional communion—on occasion. There are some bodies—boyfriends, parents, domesticated lions I’ve reintroduced into the wild—with which I will gladly entangle for a two-second count upon greeting.

My encounters throughout the evening at my 25th reunion reminded me of how much I take for granted being alone throughout most of my day. I walk with Evan alone in the morning. I work alone all day, almost never even speaking on the phone, much less face to face. I occasionally choose to go to lunch with a girlfriend, which is fine for a quickie hug when it's been awhile and/or she's a hugger who's heading for me with arms open at the front of the restaurant. I can handle those impositions into my personal space without much wincing. 

But to head into an atmosphere rife with what amounts to stranger hugging,? people I've not seen in two decades and know only vaguely via Facebook postings, who, at a pub crawl, are, naturally, anywhere from slightly to should-be-technically-dead intoxicated? That was a recipe for some seriously false intimacy. Don't even get me started on the cheek kissing people. As I was not drinking, and may have been one of perhaps only four people out of the hundred attending who abstained, the overly gigantic hugs were particularly cringe worthy. Add to this the this-was-awesome-thank-you-for-organizing-this effusive and repetitive huggers, and I was pretty much at the end of my tactile abilities when I slipped away before midnight without a word.

I'm sure if I were a kid, I'd get placed somewhere on the autism spectrum. 

Really, I actually deeply value physical contact from those people with whom I crave genuine intimacy. I am just not very good at feigning interest in what feels like, to me, cheap forms and/or shows of affection. 

On what is probably a related note, I have trouble with goodbyes in social situations and tend to want to just disappear without announcing any leave taking at all. I've sent far too many apologetic after-the-fact texts or emails that started with, "Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye, but..." _insert vaguely true sentiment/reason/excuse here_. (I'm sure that bears some time on the couch soon, too.) 

It's simply not in my nature to feel like anyone really needs, or even would want, to know why I'm leaving. And since I'm usually leaving early and am emotionally exhausted from fighting my introverted tendencies to sit in the corner and pet the resident cat or dog, any conversation that requires me to muster up a defense against protestations (so soon? can't you stay a bit longer? did you get to meet ______ as they turn to call someone entirely new over to start another conversation when I'm trying to bolt) is simply not worth it.

But, in general, societal pressure means people like me are the ones who have the problem. I would love to have some kind of agreed-upon signal, or even a sign, that would ward off the hug-lovers (many of whom, I imagine, would be very respectful if they only knew) without making me seem like the next incarnation of Rain Man.  A little black ribbon with tiny little whoa-whoa-back-off hands on it, maybe? 

Too much? 
Yeah. I'll just suck it up and avoid social situations instead. 


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