DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter you printed concerning all the wonderful benefits of hugging, I had to write to express a contrary opinion.
Except for my husband, small children and animals, I am a person who does not like to be touched, and I think I have the right to feel that way. There is nothing wrong with me, and I am sure there are others who share my feelings.
Granted, a great many people feel that a hug can make their day, but a hug can ruin mine. Occasionally someone I know only casually will hug and even kiss me, when I have given them absolutely no reason to believe I would welcome such familiarity. Not wanting to appear rude, I grimace and bear it.
I don't know how this problem can be resolved, since apparently most people don't object. But how is one supposed to know in advance that someone does not want to be hugged? However, once I inform a person that I don't like to be touched, I would hope that my wishes will be respected.
I have even thought of wearing a T-shirt with "Thank you for not hugging me" across the front. Any suggestions?
Just sign me ... HANDS OFF
DEAR HANDS OFF: Lest you believe you are alone in your aversion to being touched, let me assure you that you are not. When a known hugger approaches you, immediately offer your hand, inviting the hugger to accept a firm handshake. Your body language will signal that that's about as close you care to get. There is nothing rude about setting limits.