Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Man Hugs Creep Me Out

According to information from the Worsley School, personal space is defined as an invisible bubble surrounding you. (And, yes, I am in the camp that finds "personal space" an annoying term.) If people move inside this bubble when they are talking to you, it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Men and women are different. (How's that for stating the obvious?) A woman meeting an unfamiliar woman will have a smaller bubble than a man meeting an unfamiliar man. Men will only shrink their bubble around people they know very well -- such as a brother, a close friend, or a spouse. Whew! I'm glad I'm not the odd man out.

Churches might want to consider this information when greeting visitors. Pastors who habitually greet all people, including visiting men, with a robust hug might be better off shaking hands. A visiting guy might prefer a simple head nod and smile, instead of a handshake. Invading the bubble too soon can cause problems, especially for guys. (Don't want to invade anybody's bubble too soon!)

If your church does the "sharing the peace" thing, be aware it's likely a time of angst for guys, especially if they're visitors. Being surrounded and converged on by people with handshakes, hugs, or embraces can be plain creepy. We like our bubbles big, ya know?

You prefer a friendly head nod, handshake -- or the "man hug"?


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing most guys don't much like holding hands to pray, either. I was at a church recently where we were invited to "all join hands--across the aisle, too" and I just wasn't all that comfortable holding hands with a stranger.

Anonymous said...

We're all at different comfort levels. God calls us to be at times un-comfortable in the fellowship and helps us realize some times how comforting it is to come through and process those feelings and grow through them. More importantly, it may trigger a later conversation as 2 strangers took the courage to hold hands and pray or just to great each other with the peace of Jesus Christ. This is more than a thing. It's a calling that we have, ie. to break bread together on our knees, to share a hand shake, and to with fellow members of the body of Christ to come to know one another and to pray and encourage one another in this broken world. In Christ, we can do all things with his help. Have fun and let go. God loves you and helps us a strangers become fellow sojouners with Christ and friends in Christ!

Fred said...

I suppose a lot has to do with your heritage and up-bringing. My family was close, but not a lot of huggin' was happening. The church we belong to now has a moment of 'Sharing of the Piece" and for all of the men, it's a good firm handshake. The women of course handle it differently. Now the church we came from, I had a close friend that we did exchange the short slaps on the back with the other hand in the shake position and we were OK with that. For the visitor or new-comer, it's best to let them warm up to you until you find their comfort level.

Al Toenniessen said...

It's just my opinion that a handshake and a kind word offered in the name of Christ is how the Holy Ghost is shared (Acts 8)... of course you know what Dirty Harry says about opinions (Dead Pool) "...everybody has one";-)

God Bless you and a hardy handshake,

Pastor Matt said...

I'm a pastor and the "man hug" is way uncomfortable. I helped out at a church while going to the seminary where everybody tried to hug after the service. I just wanted to get out of there before getting caught in an embrace. I'll take a solid handshake any day.

Anonymous said...

Handshakes-( they need to be manly and firm- no wimpy "dead fish" )
these are alright. A friendly nod and a "howzitgoin!" works too.
I think greetings are cultural- Norwegians and Germans from the midwest tend to say little and emote less... folks from more casual sunny places tend to be more expressive.
Be yourself and respect others- and in time you can determine the right "space" that individuals desire for themselves.
Remember- in Jesus' time, men greeted each other with a "holy kiss" - aka Paul to: Romans (16:16),Corinthians (I 16:20,II 13:12), and Thessalonians(I 5:26).
- to each his own. Whatever you do, be real and genuine- giving respect to those you meet and greet. ( And save the rump pats for winning the World Series and the SuperBowl !!!)

Len said...

A head nod, a howzitgoin, and good handshake are ok for starters. After time goes on and brothers get to know one another more truthfully (dropping their guard and "manly outward appearance") they certainly would each appreciate a genuine brotherly hug. "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Would you hug Jesus? Would you let Him into your space to hug you? I for one would appreciate a show of brotherly love with a hug when I am feeling low.

Below Zero Joe said...

I'm late on this one, but a handshake is great. I agree that wimpy handshakes aren't any good. My family was not a huggy family and I can only bring my self to hug on certain occasions and only with particular people. It's nothing personal to those whom I do not hug. I'm just not there.