Sunday, August 10, 2014

Will You Not Shake Hands With Me?

                      "Will you not shake hands with me?" ( Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.)

In this day of the "social gospel," the common courtesy of a handshake has fallen by the wayside. Everyone must be exhuberantly hugging, instead.  Will the handshake ever be recovered?  There was a time when a handshake was the sharing of something great and a high honor.  Today it seems to be considered too trivial, but how did the historical and dignified handshake ever become not good enough?

The titles of these two pictures, done on 1904, are "The Customary Greeting in Bulgaria," and, "The Customary Greeting in Norway."
Ladies,  I believe the handshake is a pure and dignified greeting.  I am very concerned about the amount of casual hugging that goes on in social circles.  Hugging is acceptable amongst close relatives and lifelong friends of the family, but it may be best to be reserved around others. 

 I have seen fragile old ladies, brought up on handshakes as the customary social greeting, overwhelmed and practically smothered by a big, hugging person.  One lady, caught by surprise, barely kept her cane steady while she extended her hand for the handshake, when the recipient chose instead to give her a big bear-hug.

When I was growing up, young, unmarried ladies did not hug any male person except her father, brothers, uncles and grandfather.  Young ladies actually preferred the propriety and safety of the handshake as a polite greeting.

Some of the "huggy-ness " between non-familial people was fostered in youth programs, both church and civic.  Youth were encouraged to have fun and to cast their built-in reserve aside in favor of hugging everyone. Hugging was considered more loving, and those who did not want to hug, were believed to have inhibitions and anti-social problems.  This attitude continued in other institutions and has become a societal norm.

The habit of young, unmarried ladies of hugging the young men and especially any handsome, married young men, is getting to be common, and I wonder if they know that it is better to shake hands with men they are not married to.  Hugs are more personal and can create a closer bond between people, and that can be a problem when close hugs ocurr between men and women outside the family who are not married to each other.

Some women are hurt when other women hug the the men but ignore the women. Why did that custom develop?  With the handshake, there is less distinction between male and female. No one seems to notice (or object) if a lady only shakes hands with men, but for some reason the hug seems too intimate for some people and can arouse suspicion as to motives.

Hugs between ladies seem to be quite alright, as ladies do not seem to object so much about this.  I have seen many hugs when ladies say goodbye at tea parties or Ladies Bible Classes and there seems to be no discomfort there.  I do feel a caution when the hugs become so casual that unrelated men and women begin using hugs instead of courteous handshakes.

Children should be taught to be reserved with their affection, in anything, in the name of safety, limiting it to their parents.  As adults have their "personal space" so do children, and no one outside the family should get too familiar or hug other people's children, especially if they can sense the parents reserve.  I know of children who have asked their parents not to let so many people hug them, because they are not comfortable with it.

I do long for the dignified handshake when I see that, in spite of this free and casual, lovey-dovey-ness where the majority of people embrace, there are some people squirming in discomfort under the unwanted hugs.  I have rarely seen anyone uncomfortable with a handshake.  A slight bow of the head might be an even more desireable common greeting if you didn't feel comfortable touching someone's hand, but in general, the good old-fashioned handshake is the most dignified, least intrusive and least offensive greeting.

In saying all this I am sure that those who are not keeping this subject in perspective will read this and make a quick judgement to the contrary.  Yet I do not object to hugs.  It is the constant hugging that is going on between members of the opposite sex that are not related, that seems to be a problem.

  I have seen really nice young boys and girls who are trying to be careful with their affections before marriage being caught off guard by impulsive, exuberant hugs from other young people who do not share the same sensitivity.

There are more ladies than the world realizes (because they are quiet, private souls) whose first hug with a man other than their own father or brothers, was their future husband.  I personally know several young ladies who want to wait and hug their future husband, rather than allow casual hugs from young single or married men to become the customary greeting. When I realized this, I considered that the common hug imposed on someone may not be received willingly.  We all have to be careful and not pull others into a modern trend that they are not wanting.

  Young girls have the right to be left alone if they want to save their man-hugs for their own man.  In a comment attached to this post, a lady writes that her husbands need for female hugs ended when they got married.  Whether people agree with that or not, it is wise to respect it.  A young man, also, may not welcome the familiarity of a female hug, wanting to reserve that affection for their future wife.

There was a time when parents and churches discouraged members from attending modern dances. It was explained that it was not right for someone to be in close bodily contact or have their arms around another person's husband or wife. Look how the hugging custom has gotten around that!

To be safe, a handshake is always a non-offensive and sincere greeting, and if rejected, it is not too offensive.  On the other hand, if you attempt to reject a hug from someone you do not care to hug, you may end up in an awkward type of wrestling match.

If you ever want to ward off a hug in favor of a handshake, hold one arm across your body and slightly away from it, to block the hugger, put one foot forward and extend your other hand toward their hand.  You will find their hand goes into an automatic hand shake and no one is hurt nor is any offence taken. I have seen this in action and thought it was very well-taken.

As per one of the comments, another  way to discourage huggers that catch you unguarded and suddenly wrap their arms around you or squeeze themselves to you, is to refrain from automatically bringing your arm around to simultaneously embrace.  If you stand there with arms at your side and do not in any way return the uninvited hug, they will not enjoy it and wont seek you out again (unless they feel a personal agenda to break down your personal space.)

It is sad to think of the future generations never being able to experience the sincerity of the formal handshake.  There used to be classes where "how to shake hands" was taught.  Students learned how to avoid too firm a grip, or how to avoid a fishy, weak handshake. There was an art in it. You learned to read people's personality, their strengths and weaknesses and their courtesy just by the way they shook hands.

The handshake has been a western custom for centuries. People sealed deals, surrendered,forgave, greeted and said good-bye with handshakes. In the 21st century the handshake does not seem to suffice. As a preachers wife, I prefer the handshake.  It was part of my upbringing, and hugs were reserved for more intimate relationships.  

Since hugging has taken over as a common greeting, the humble handshake is seen as cold and distant.  Those people who do not want to come into physical contact (or hug) beyond the touch of the hand or a bow of the head, are seen as stiff and unresponsive. 

Have another look at some of the  films done in the 1980's and 1990's (jane Austen, and  Elizabeth Gaskell novels) and notice the bowing and the handshakes. They carry a lot more meaning than is seen on the surface.  If these films had featured a hug for every handshake or bow, the tenderness and sensitivity would be lost.  Though there is some enthusiastic hugging and kissing shown amongst old friends and relatives, the other touches are highly prized, especially by the viewers. There is a lot of warmth in a handshake.

This is not to target any one person or any personal situation. In writing this, I speak to myself also, and  am looking more carefully at my own ways. It reminds me to be careful about my interactions with people and to be more aware of the way things look.

I can certainly understand how even handshaking can become too much for a person working in the public always greeting people, but the average person probably would not have to shake too many hands. Therefore, the handshake can be revived as a customary greeting.

Another observation: Has anyone a memory of churches before this present hugging-campaign?  Here is what I have noticed:

The churches had more members and though they all shook hands as a customary greeting, there was far more hospitality in homes, more friendly interaction after church services, and they didn't need gimmicks and entertainment or a big production/ show  or hugs to keep them coming.  The handshake was an easy greeting that threatened no one.  Today the hugs cause some people to leave early or shrink away or just not mingle as much.   Simply said, some people do not want to hug, and it does not mean there is anything wrong with them. There was more trust and ease between people when the handshake was the norm.  I am sure there were other factors causing the larger membership in churches,but during the handshake era there was a lot of genuine love and generosity and helping one another in churches.  People showed their love by their service to one another.

Read more about the power of a handshake here:

Some has recently asked me if it is necessary to hold hands with anyone other than family during a prayer. Sometimes in a church when a special meeting takes place, the teacher asks everyone to join hands across the room. For those who are not wanting to hold hands, I would suggest this: hold the hand of your husband or child on one side, and hold your Bible or clutch your purse with the other hand.  That way, you are atill participating when your family is standing, but exercising your own privacy.


Miss Betsy said...

I miss the handshake, too! When I was growing up everyone shook hands but it seems that it was perhaps about twenty-five or thirty years ago that suddenly hugging became the "in" thing. I recall visiting a church about that time and the minister instructed all of us to "get up, right now, and hug as many people as possible." In the ensuing melee, a man stepped on my handbag which was on the floor beside me and I heard my glasses crack apart! I don't know if that was a regular practice at that church because I never returned. But yes, Lady Lydia, I miss the dignified handshake which always seemed so much more appropriate in social settings. Thank you for writing about this matter.

Lydia said...

LadyLydia said...
I do not like the hug-on-demand by command of a minister from the pulpit because it is not spontaneous. It seems like a gimmick, and I have seen people, including children, nearly squashed in the effort. I remember the days when it was a choice whether or not to shake hands. You did not have to extend your hand if you did not want to. But today,with the huggers, , people have no choice. They feel trapped and cannot escape the hug from the person they are not related to and do not know well.

Another trend I have heard people complain about,mis that in a church, there are women who will only hug men and they ignore the women. I find this strange and wonder if hugging has just gotten to be rather militant! People tell me they appreciate hugs but there are limits.

Anonymous said...

My husband has often said that he does not think it is right for any man to seek to hug another woman except his wife. I personally do not even shake hands with a man if possible. When a man approaches me I just keep my hands together and say hello in response to a greeting offered. Most men can sense when a woman does not feel comfortable shaking hands. I do hug women that are believers if we are friends. I agree, our society has bypassed sensible courtesies

J♥Yce Burrows said...

I'm familiar with "turning around and shaking hands" during corporate church worship/fellowship. And remember the dearest lady where we used to live that warmly hugged everyone telling them God loved them ~ it wasn't long before strangers and friends came to expect that from here in nearly all settings. She was named, Miss Honey and folks were genuinely loved in her presence. :-)

What have we done these days with the Bible verses today telling believers to salute/greet one another with a holy kiss? Ours is a very different culture of promiscuity where such could be construed overt familiarity and create plenty of kerfuffle and gossip.

Suzanne said...

Oh I miss the handshake also! And how I wish people would learn how a proper one is given. Women with that "fishy" handshake need to learn as well as many men/boys, that a firm grip conveys much, while that limp one tells me the person probably wishes they didn't have to shake. Yes, way too much hugging going on for my taste!

Miriam said...

Finally someone is saying it aloud! Thank you Lydia for speaking for us 'non-huggers'! I just can't understand this hugging-around-phenomenom which you can't escape even when doing business! If you don't want to hug it's like you are not serious, or you think you are better than others, or you have something to hide.

I really long for more decency in modern society.

Andrea R said...

Oh how I appreciate this!

First of all, I am constantly baffled why so many women at church see fit to hug my husband, yet if another man ever leaned in for a hug with me, besides my father, father in law perhaps (we are not close so it would be very strange) or of course my husband whenever he would love one, I would bristle and back away. When did women think it's fine to hug my husband?? He sort of stands there like, "WHAT?" because it's so strange.

Second, I've also been told that I'm rather cold because I'm not a big "hugger". I do not feel comfortable pressing my body on other people. I just don't. Even my close lady friends, I do not really have the need to press closely. Of course, there have been times when someone is grieving and it seems very natural and second nature to hold someone dear, but as for every day purposes and greetings of hello, what is wrong with a handshake?

Third, I do not see hugging as a reflection of someone's true heart and care for someone else. In fact, some of the most selfish and cold people I know are known to be "big huggers" thus giving the impression they are so loving and caring, but when you know their see they are doing it for a show. Ugly.

Lydia said...

Our culture did quite well in pre-cultural reviolution times with the handshake. The kiss on the cheek is still an eastern custom . The principle behind the verse was "holy" and is opposite of sensuous. Whatever the greeting,mit should be holy and pure in The church and Chriatian fellowship.. I remember a sermon on this back in the 50's, which said, "the holy kiss was a cultural custom of the area and today in our country , we shake hands" If you go to another country where the greeting is a kiss,mi suppose you would do that, but even in those places, people still shake hands. I suppose with women wearing lipstick,that some people would not appreciate a kiss on each cheek. again, the western custom of shaking hands fulfills the principle of the Bibles command to greet one anither in a holy manner. But the holy kiss was for church members to other church members, not necessarily for everyone outside the church.

Andrea R said...

Oh, and as an often pregnant lady, and a lady with an infant on the hip, I become very guarded of my physical self. I hope that makes sense. I am protective over my personal space.

Many times folks have moved in for a hug, and I sort of turn my non-baby holding side to them as if to say, "you aren't serious, right?"

My children have been the "victims" of this as well. Even grown women have exuberantly hugged my 17.5 year old son who is highly guarding himself before marriage, and I can tell by his face, is horrified. Ridiculous. My younger children all are children who love to hug me and their father and siblings and grandparents, but clearly do not like unwarranted hugging and touching.

Unfortunately, I have often had to make people upset by asking them NOT TO KISS or touch on my baby! I have no problem with an older lady or gentlemen at church touching their little feet and inquiring about them..they are sweet, and I get that! However, many younger people have asked to hold the baby (not something I do when I don't know them). My youngest son has actually had one lady I recognize from church but do not know, come right up in his face and then pinch his cheeks and then KISS them! I had to say, "Oh, no, no..we prefer our personal space", of course making me appear the rude one, when in fact, she didn't ask what I was comfortable with!

Lydia said...

Ladies I do aporeciate your comments. I do not hate hugging but I too have noticed the awkwardness created when women hug other people's husbands. Like you, I do not go up to a man and hug him in front of his wife., when a handshake will do. I do not mind when the people give a side-hug, and I did hear a lesson given by an elderly woman on that subject. Yet even if a side-hug is permissible, when oh when did we go from a polite handshake to a full-body hug?

living from glory to glory said...

Good Morning, My Husband and I were just talking about hugging others. I am a hugger as is my Husband. But we also handshake with many people! And if we do hug someone it is always a side hug...
Learning who is a friend and family in Christ is important!
I have learned through this post to reconsider who and where a hug may be not as easily accepted. Now I will shake hands more often.
But some will still get a BIG hug from this little lady!
Yours Always, Roxy

Lydia said...

Hello dear Roxy,

I have learned from my hugging mistakes...some people just don't want them, and prefer a handshake. Others are uncomfortable (especially my family) and are watching me carefully regarding who I hug outside the family. I try to be a little more cautious for their sake and also, there is the problem of personal reputation. The hugs can be misconstrued by suspicious people who are looking for fault. However, people I have known for 40 years and ladies I am familiar with will hug me. I do not mind at all, but I think the huggers can get too aggressive and make people feel like running away.

Katrinka said...

I'm reminded with mortification of me hugging a pastor shortly after I became a christian. I saw a lot of warmth and sharing among christians and quite a bit of hugging, so thought it was expected or appropriate. He reacted strangely, staring at me quite hard. I was embarrassed and kept my distance after that.

Several months later this pastor had to leave his post after confessing to having an affair with his secretary. I was a young, impressionable christian and I have wondered if I didn't have a pretty close call.

Lydia said...


Although church scandal makes the news, there is times more of this same thing going on in workplaces and colleges,. The handshake is so much safer.

Anonymous said...

What about people who you have just met, who are so enthused about you that they want to hug you in parting? It may be that a wonderful friendship is about to bud, but does an hour of inspiring conversation merit that warmth? Does it strike anyone else that seems a bit soon to display such deep affection?

J♥Yce Burrows said...

There is a book, The Power of Handshaking(Brown, Johnson), that speaks of 12 different handshakes. There are some folks that include body language beyond the handshake with that extended hand. Have been surprised as the lady of the house in dealing with business professionals in which the handshakes spoke highly inappropriate. Boundaries and prudence go hand in hand along with hugs. speaks that men are prohibited from handshaking with a women without a touch/lust barrier(gloves) ~ unless not shaking hands would put him in considerable harm or difficulty(and the unprotected handshake is only to be to the extent of necessity). I remember gloves being the norm in church settings when I was a young girl. Wasn't it a much kinder and gentler time and one of propriety between men and women in public settings not that long ago?

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Interesting to read of Queen Elizabeth, gloves, and handshaking, too.

Lady Lydia, all ~ am grateful for the very helpful post and comments! :-)

Lydia said...

I am for gloved handshakes. Some people refuse to shake hands because of colds and flu going around. I understand that. An amusing true story: a little boy who was wary of huggers, saw one of his parents acquaintances come to the door. He
said to his mother: Mama, is he coming to bond with us? (Referring to the hugging) If so, can I go to my room instead?

Lydia said...

Joyce I agree. The handshake was corrupted by some people and made I to something sensual. A lingering handshake or unnecessary squeezing could make someone just as uncomfortable as an unwanted hug. That is one thing you could "read" about handshakes.

The handshaker is often seen as unfriendly because
The hug has become the norm.

Lydia said...

And there are pop psychologists and self styled therapists going around analyzing people who do not wish to hug as a greeting. Then they are determined to loosen these people up and turn them into full-body greeters (huggers). I have a friend that says she feels she is forever running from these aggressive people who want to "help" her loosen up. They cannot stand any kind of formality or reserve. They do not recognize that everyone is different and that some people are more comfortable being left alone. I have had to learn this lesson too. We have to be careful to offend in nothing except the gospel.

Andrea R said...

Such insightful comments!

Interestingly, hugs come completely natural to me when I know someone's heart and care deeply for them...

For example, I have "real life" friends that I would not naturally hug. However, Lydia has been such a sincere and true friend of mine..and example..a mentor and a true lady that I admire, and count as a true friend. When I do meet you in person someday, Lydia, I cannot imagine anyone lady I would rather hug!

For me, it's all about the heart of a relationship. I just don't need to fake hugs with folks to "look" like a Christian!

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Just read concerning a Jewish Rabbi and the Queen ~ she was ungloved for a specific presentation event yet refrained from shaking hands with this gentleman as it would have been deemed inappropriate touch to him.

The story of that little boy concerning "bonding" made me :-) while remembering folks that nearly bond the breath right out of others.

Much to think on ~ concerning discretion and greeting others. A friendly countenance and kind words could be the most widely accepted and least offensive. Variables still abound depending on others.

Lydia said...

Does any one know any other techniques for avoiding a hug from someone they do not know well, without offending them? Sometimes in a church, people can create a big problem over a hug-refusal and chase a lot of people away.

Andrea R said...

I find if you carry your handbag in front of you, and grasp it with both hands (not in a panicked way, ha!) it creates a bit of personal space..

It helps completely when I wear my baby in front!

I also place my standing children in front of me when we are standing and talking for a moment. That way, I can reach across the shorter heads, and shake a hand, or pat a friend on the forearm, without allowing for the invasion of our space. I've found no one wants a group hug with all those kids :)

anonymous said...

I have heard that some people do not shake hands for several reasons. It is customary to bow or put hands together in a prayer position and bow to greet another person. It may be unsanitary because toilet tissue is unavailable to some.

Mrs. J.

Lydia said...

Private, reserved people are considered flawed and hateful because they have an aversion to too much familiarity. They do not want their life invaded. They are often put down by the more social types who think everyone should be on board with the familiarity and the hugging.

Lydia said...

Openness is considered "normal" while privacy is looked at as a fault.

Andrea R said...

"Openness is considered "normal" while privacy is looked at as a fault."

Exactly. This is the same reason my husband and I are not on Facebook or any social media. #1, we don't believe we are special enough that people want to read about everything us or our children are doing, or everything we think! #2, we don't really want to know all the goings-on of folks. We are not above gossip and what-not, so we must avoid it. I don't want to give others anything in which to evaluate me on, except for the way I live my faith in real life, not in the fake perfection of Facebook.

Hugging is the same thing to me in most cases. Hugs and private conversation and personal information (insomuch as one wishes to share) should be reserved for the closest of trusting relationships, not given away to every Martha and Harry simply because it's a social norm.

Anonymous said...

I know at my church COUNTLESS women converse with my husband, and never so much as smile at me. :) Many also attempt or actually hug him, stop him in the halls, and dote on him. He is handsome and takes good care of his many children, so I think women seek after him. Thankfully, he doesn't appreciate it, because his days of searching for affections ended when we married.

Lydia said...

Joyce I agree with you. In etiquette classes I learned that the lady always extends her hand first,which gives permission for a gentleman to participate in the handshake. However if a gentleman extends his hand and the lady refuses, it can cause hard feelings or give him a message it is not reciprocated. Notice the attempt by Mr. Thornton in BBC North and South after a disagreement with Margaret, to reconcile with a handshake. She refuses and he is offended. But both she and he did the right thing. They were each expressing their sincerity. People always have the option of avoiding a handshake. The queen knows the cultures of these people, and Her husband, prince Phhilip, has almost stopped shaking hands because after so long, it has made his hand sore.

Anonymous said...

I do wish women, married and not married, would not give my teen son and my husband full frontal hugs, but when I try to ward it off or tell the women, they treat me as if I am making a big deal over something normal. I am made to feel terrible because I object to a hug and a hug is a demo of love. When I talk to women who do this they widen their eyes and let their jaw drop, lean back in astonishment and say that no one else has ever made such an objection.

Lydia said...

You can reject and prevent a handshake, by refusing to extend your hand, but it is impossible to refuse a hug, because it leaves no room for choice. So when someone starts getting close for a hug you do not want, just say you are pro-choice and extend your hand instead.

Anonymous said...

Growing up as an American, hugs are not something I had considered odd...until my aunt from the Philippines came to visit. She is a widow, her husband was a missionary in the Church of Christ. She visited the United States and was greeted by her sponsoring church's minister, a middle aged man, with big hug. My aunt told me repeatedly that she was so shocked and offended...this coming from a woman who has travelled to the US multiple times and knows the customs here. I think perhaps when my uncle was alive, the American men would greet him first and know by his reaction that a handshake was all they were going to get from him. And so my aunt was "protected." Filipino culture is extremely friendly, a very affectionate culture. So I was shocked by my aunt's reaction to the preacher's hug, and since then I have been mulling over the inappropriateness of hugging acquaintances, and certainly about men and women hugging. Thank you for this article. It cements my opinion now.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Japan for a while and appreciated the courtesy of bowing. I prefer this over handshakes, so sometimes when I can see that a handshake or hug is coming especially from a man, I step back and simply do a short bow-nod. Thank you for the article.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I completely agree! I've never thought about it until now. I'm not a "hugger," and I've always thought there was something wrong or antisocial on my behalf. Why am I not as jovial and warm as the huggers around me? I have no problem with socializing, but I never understood why I could not bring myself to hug people "just because" when we say hello or goodbye. Even in my workplace, hugging was a sign of togetherness and team building, and I believe my lack of wanting to hug others when they arrived from other cities caused me not to have as close relationship with them. Thank you for posting this! :)

J♥Yce Burrows said...

How to avoid a hug without offending? A person with a bent on dominating another physically when such is uninvited, inappropriate, and unwelcome should expect to be met with disapproval. It is Biblical/loving to stop grief and scattering of fellow sheep. The world is upside down and has influenced the church ~ always time to stand and turn both aright.

Queen Elizabeth was on camera for global viewing with a rigid stance, stiff smile, and extended hand and then stepping on to another person when approached by someone in the family being out of order in desiring to kiss her in a specific circumstance. It wouldn't have been necessary for further discussion had it been me disciplined on the public record.

We should seek the highest good for others...saying no when warranted helps to avoid a snowball effect. Am grateful for the encouragement here!

Unknown said...

At our church hugging is discouraged with the youth. The youth pastor explained "side hugs," which is more like putting a hand on the shoulder. Also, hand shakes may become more scarce especially at flu season. My hubby, who has copd, has had so many folks shake his hand and then say how they are just getting over the flu, or a cold etc. Sure enough, a few days later he's very sick. No more handshakes for us! A pat on the arm works well.

Lydia said...

Jan Dennis, I am in agreement with this.

Lydia said...

Emmarinda writes:

Different men have refused my handshake (one being my father-in-law),
literally remonstrating me for offering it, and saying that they wanted a
hug instead. The hug that followed always included them (lewdly) pressing
my chest to theirs Ew. And even in church. Another, my husband's cousin,
will grab me up and almost crush me with this big, frontal hug whenever I
return to my hometown for a visit. This is all so boorish, and I detest it,
and yet, I have felt both repulsed and ashamed. And that I must look like a
fool for offering a handshake. But really, it is so absurd and wrong. To
make matters worse, I now see almost everyone going in for the smarmy
pseudo-kiss on one or both cheeks, where women press cheeks on someone, but
pull their lips to the side, in a grotesque gesture, in order to avoid
smearing their lipstick on said cheek. It used to be the purview of
celebrities to do this, but this silliness has now filtered down to the
entire society. I think people have plumb lost their minds.

Lydia said...


Your comment landed on the previous post.

I agree these full-body hugs can be imposing,domineering, aggressive and downright militant. ,there are a couple of ways to block these people but in doing so, expect to be treated as though you are the unloving one.

Lydia said...

I believe the hat-tipping and slightly bowed head was even more ancient than the handshake, but have not done the research. If gentlemen wore hats they could just lift the hat or tip the brim, and no need for a bone-breaking or unwelcome sensual hug. I am for the head-nod or slight bow on the part of the woman.

Lydia said...

A friend just wrote to me regarding married men and hugs from other women who use them as a common gertting:

Your need forphysicsl affection from women ended the day you married your wife. Now you have your wife, daughters, mother and grandmother to bestow hugs on.

I agree with her. We all have to have some reserve and it good to be selective about who we hug.

crunchycon said...

I'm a hand-shaker myself, and find it very useful to break the ice when two people are just standing around trying to figure out the next move. I sometimes get (at least they're people I like) the command to "oh, c'mon, give me a hug", but I don't always want to do that. And I'm married to a really loving, extroverted guy who is a hugger!

Lydia said...

I cannot recall the excessive hugging until very recently. I do not remember hugs being the common greeting at church or in public until the last few years.

Ladies did not meet men for coffee unless they were a relative. That has changed in recent times. Men would normally not hug another woman unless she was a relative, and especially would not receive a hug from a young unmarried woman.

So when I see it, it makes my heart sink for both the man and the woman. Young unmarried girls cannot say their future husband will be the first man outside the family that embraced them.

Of course since all this hugging is now considered so normal, any rejection of it results in the objector being treated as though they were cold and hateful and not loving.

We had no trouble in the past, being loving with only the handshake. But now we are judged because we don't hug just everyone.

Anonymous said...

When a man cannot prevent a woman hugging him, he ought to just stand there with his arms at his side and not automatically reach up to hold her or return the squeeze.

Andrea R said...

I agree, anon..what an uncomfortable place to put men!

In fact, when women and girls are called to not stumble their brothers, there is a lot of talk about the manner of dress to not stumble them (which I would say is largely ignored anyway) but little to do with "conduct".

We as women are often naturally given to seductive persuasion. It is not a far cry for us to use our female appearance, bodies and demeanor to garner attention from men. Batting eyelashes, excessive closeness, such as hugging, and sauntering by can clearly demonstrate to a man that a lady is "interested", when these affections are laid on him.

Unfortunately, most men who are not in the market, are also somewhat blind to these tactics, therefore placing them in a dangerous place of being embroiled.

Women who do the excessive hugging with men must forget, that is how highly intimate moments between husband and wife often begin, and therefore should be reserved for those circumstances only.

The appropriate side-hug (which is more of a shoulder pat) is perfectly acceptable for male-female relationships that are appropriate, done in front of others and in a non-body touching manner, AND when both people are comfortable with it!

We should all teach our daughters to refrain from lavishing physical contact on males, and how to deal appropriately with married men in general. With all the fatherless homes and absent feminist mothers today, it's no wonder many young ladies exhibit these jezebel-like, inappropriate behaviors.

Lydia said...

Andrea and others who have commented: you have really good insights and I hope you will continue to leave your thoughts about it. I would like to hear from more people on this subject.

While I do not object to the elderly men iand women in church giving hugs, I think that the young women need to be careful, especially in hugging young men already married . It simply is not fair to the wife.

Susan said...

In the old days if you were ill you stayed home from church and school as to not spread your illness to others. Today everybody feels there is something wrong with staying home if you are sick. You are supposed to take your medicine and keep going. I am bringing this up in relation to hugs because they spread disease very quickly. I have always been a susceptible person and so refuse them in public. I simply stand back and say I am not feeling well. I generally only shake hands for a business transaction. It is also an easy way to spread disease if someone is not sanitary with their sneezes which is also common today. I had terrible experiences as a young woman with hugs such as hands on my backside and close, tight hugging. I don't like it. When I meet someone new I nod my head and smile. It's the best I can do.

When I made a decision to change my mode of dress to modest long skirts and dresses for everyday wear, I saw a difference in how I was treated and approached. I have men open the door and nod their head toward me all the time now and I have not had anyone attempt to grab me in an embarrassing manner. I expect I look like I would not tolerate such behavior. A woman's appearance and respect for herself has a huge affect on how others are willing to approach her.

I would love to see the day when we go back to a nod and a bow. I love the romance and respect associated with that. We need more respect in this world today.

Thanks for bringing this up. It's very thought provoking.

Lydia said...

I do not wish to imply that everyone is hugging, but that there can be one person in a social group that pushes the hugging a little much on a reluctant guest.

Lydia said...

Susan, good point about how modest dress makes you look like you would not tolerate any foolishness.

Lydia said...

The kiss was the cultural custom of the land before Christ even came. In other countries there were different ways of greeting. In the west, the handshake, the bow, the hat tipping sufficed until there was a deliberate attempt to change all that and make us drop our natural modesty and natural privacy and hug, hug, hug. I like hugging my friends and family but do not agree with it being appropriate for all social situations.

Anonymous said...

Body contact in certain kinds of hugs can be a substitute for real substance in communication. Look at the meanings of handshakes. They portray a lot of things such as agreement and loyalty, a promise, and so forth. Modern hugging is devoid of all the meaning that a handshake symbolized.

Instead of real dedication and studying the word and living it, there is this hugging going on, and the hugger might not even believe anything you believe. A handshake in former times sometimes indicated a common bond or common belief.

I just do not see the same substance in a hug

Anonymous said...

Modern hugging as a common greeting , though not always sensual, is not always appropriate. Things do not have to be sensual or even sinful in order to still be inappropriate, unwanted or give off the wrong impression.

Lydia said...

I like hugging but do not think I owe it to everyone I greet. Hugging is reserved for those I know well.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the holy kiss should be a tradition we carry on today is not clear in Scripture. Whether or not our salutations to our brothers and sisters in Christ include the holy kiss, the important thing is that our greetings spring from real love and friendship, be characterized by sincerity, and represent true Christian fellowship.

Read more:

Lydia said...

For all intents and purposes, this article was not written because of a problem of too much kissing as a greeting, but because of the uneasiness that too much hugging is causing. That is why I did not address the greeting of the holy kiss pro or con. A kiss on the cheek is not necessarily more personal than a hug, nor does a kiss necessarily entail more bodily contact.

I was simply showing that there was an era that many people remember when church members and society freely shook hands. As one reader told me, look at the official photographs taken of presidents and dignitaries shaking hands. Compare that to today when it is more hugging. A handshake is more dignified and makes it easier to pose for a picture; a hug, not so much. It's up to a person whether they want to maintain their custom of handshaking,but I do not think hugs should replace the handshake.

We do hug all those dear to us but I know there are people that are very uncomfortable with it.

Shani said...

Oh, thank you, Lady Lydia! I have never felt comfortable with hugging all and sundry, and have not even felt comfortable shaking hands - especially with other women. For me, a handshake is a masculine gesture, and I associate it with men doing business or sizing a new acquaintance up. I recognize that my way of thinking does not reflect general society's, and so do push myself to graciously shake hands with others (especially if the alternative is a hug!), but my preferred form of greeting is a genuine smile and head nod. It is my belief that it is appropriate in all circumstances, no one is insulted, and germs are not passed around. As one previous commenter said, people are too free to gad about spreading illness wherever they go. In my home, when one person is ill, the whole house is on quarantine. We especially consider functions where there will be older people and young children in attendance, those being the more susceptible of society.

All of this to say that this article and these comments have liberated me and given me the freedom to be comfortable, instead of me letting others' comfort and judgment come before my own. Thank you!

Baptist Acre said...

Thank you for your insightful thoughts. So now I do not feel so alone. I have always felt a good handshake can be a blessing. I try to encourage our young folks as they shake hands on their way out of the auditorium to look me in the eye & give a firm handshake - no fishy handshakes.

Anonymous said...

it is sad that today young men will not even hold open a door for a lady.
Praise the Lord our son both shakes hands with men,and hold the door open for ladies.