My dog did that to me just the other day. It was not a pleasant experience. He meant well. It was just his way of showing me that he was very happy to see me. It’s not his fault that I was disgusted by it.
It’s always kind of unsettling when the gesture that is given is not the one that is received. You go to hug someone, only to be told, “Please don’t touch me.” Someone shakes your hand a little too confidently, not knowing you have severe arthritis. Or you experience the ultimate culture clash: your Latino sense of personal space intrudes upon someone else’s Germanic sense of personal space. Or you learn rather abruptly that not everyone is ready to be comforted.
Is it any wonder that there are so many misunderstandings in this world? It’s easy to forget that the overtures you make are coming toward the recipients wrapped snugly in a blanket of their culture, orientation, current mood, mental health level, and past experience. You never can be completely sure what your gift is going to look like to them. And that goes both ways. No one should take it personally.
So, will I stop hugging my dog? No. But I’ll probably make an effort to do so with my eyes firmly closed from now on.
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