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Hugging at Meetings

Old 04-28-2013, 02:23 PM
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Hugging at Meetings

Hello Guys!

I have 1 year clean and have been going to NA meetings twice a week over the past 5 months.

I enjoy the meetings and I feel like I do get something out of them, so I keep coming back, but I have always struggled with all of the hugging that occurs before and after the meetings. This may seem odd, but any type of physical contact with another person and especially with a stranger makes me extremely uncomfortable. I am fine with a handshake, but a hug causes immense anxiety and feelings of being violated. At the same time, I am able to "fake it till you make it" and go along with this gesture out of a desire to not appear like a weirdo. And at the end of the day I know that a simple hug will not cause me any great harm. But it is still extremely uncomfortable for me, and I feel that I have to subject myself to unwanted physical contact.

My question is how is the best way I can let people know this, that its nothing personal, but I would prefer not to be hugged. I have been trying this by extending my hand to do a handshake, but people do not get the hint and will hug me anyways. Its not that I am an antisocial psychopath, and I do desire to make friends and build relationships, I just feel uncomfortable when people hug me. The only person who I enjoy having physical contact with is my girlfriend of 7 years.

I would hate for this to be the reason I stop going to NA, but I cannot fake this anymore and I am risking my recovery because of all the anxiety and stress that I get from receiving unwanted physical contact.

Thank you for any advice.
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:30 PM
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Have you discussed this with your NA sponsor?

All the best.

Bob R
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:42 PM
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Totally hear you! My first time going to an AA meeting felt very strange because there were two things going on. First, I "got it" that these are people who are in similar situations to me that maybe our loved ones don't really understand. But second, I don't know you from Adam, I just met you, don't touch me like we're best friends! The hugging thing is totally weird, and you're not weird to be uncomfortable with it. I found another group. No hugging - woo hoo! Have you tried finding other groups in your area? Or even non-secular ones? Sometimes it takes a bit to find the right group for you. Could be an option?
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:45 PM
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Tell people that you have a communicable skin condition... I'd bet the hugging stops.

Seriously though, maybe try leaving the meeting a few minutes before the meeting is over. I used to do that right before the non-religious AA meeting went into the Christian Lord's Prayer.
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:29 PM
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Hey BladeReaper, I totally hear ya too. I haaaate physical contact. My first time at an AA meeting where they hold hands to say the serenity prayer, I didn't know that was going to happen and I was absolutely mortified because I'm not even very good at holding hands with complete strangers, especially the ones who hold onto your hand a few seconds longer than necessary and squeeze it so hard it almost breaks your fingers, lol.

And yes, people come up to me at AA meetings and hug me without asking. Luckily it's mainly fellow women who do that, although men I've never met before will sometimes come up and touch me on the back or elbow for whole seconds at a time just to say "good share" or whatever. I know they all mean well and aren't preying on me but I'm honestly the kind of person who jumps if you accidentally brush knees with me, so it's all a little weird for me.

But I'm not weird because of that and neither are you. If it's potentially a stumbling block in your recovery, you absolutely should let people know what your boundaries are and that you expect them to respect those boundaries. When someone starts shaping up for a hug, try putting on a big smile and saying something like, "Hey man, I don't do hugs but I'd be honoured to shake you by the hand my friend." in your own words. Then gently take their hand and shake it firmly, whilst looking them warmly in the eye.
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:15 PM
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put it on your 4th step.
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:26 PM
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Nice work on the year!!! Next time you share tell them a crazy old story that happened to a guy that hugged you.. kudos on your year!!
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave42001 View Post
Nice work on the year!!! Next time you share tell them a crazy old story that happened to a guy that hugged you.. kudos on your year!!
Lol Dave!! That is awesome!!
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:45 PM
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Check out this article:

No Hugs Please, I'm Sober! | The Fix
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for the Support Guys. Its good to see I'm not alone with this issue. I do have a sponsor, and I am going to talk about it with him today. I know that people mean well, but I must also stand up for the way I feel and for my own personal boundaries. The biggest thing holding me back was worries of offending someone or getting rejected by the group or being looked at as a weirdo / psychopath. "I mean its just a hug right, whats the harm in that", etc.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:00 PM
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Lots of people don't like physical contact with strangers. I certainly wouldn't call that being a weirdo by any stretch.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:09 PM
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BladeReaper, 1 year clean? You are FANTASTIC. Congratulations. When its your chance to share make it clear to everybody that you don't like to be touched. You are under no obligation to participate in behaviors that you feel are inappropriate before, during, or after meetings.
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by soberlicious View Post
Lots of people don't like physical contact with strangers. I certainly wouldn't call that being a weirdo by any stretch.
Me neither. I have my personal bubble and I appreciate people staying out of it. I even have issues with people standing too close to me in line least of all trying to hug me.

Congrats on 1 year!
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:32 PM
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Maybe this is a regional thing I dont see people hugging in the meetings I've gone to, especially men.
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