top of page

To Hug Or Not To Hug, That Is The Question

President Biden declared the Covid Pandemic over and, while folks may or may not agree with him, one thing we have all clearly been seeing is the return of “gatherings.” The NFL, and the rest of major league sports are all back in full swing, along with concerts, family gatherings, barbeques and of course, the WWE. By extension, we’re also seeing people return to hugging as an acceptable and safe greeting. As an empath, I tend to be careful about who and how I hug so for me, Covid has been terrific in that regard. No more awkward “should I hug or not” moments, no feeling pressured to hug strangers because they are friends of friends or worse, enduring unsolicited hugs from folks with whom you’d rather keep your distance. But it wasn’t always that way for me.

Growing up, I was more extroverted, and certainly more fearless. I would often hug everybody, not really understanding the toll it was taking on my energy-body, anxiety levels or even my health. Nowadays I’m a lot more cautious about who and how I hug. Chakra-to-chakra, heart-to-heart? Go in for a long squeeze or just a little “off to the side” pat on the back? For most of us, it depends on the situation; who is the person receiving or giving the hug and what is my energetic relationship with them? It’s not just about a physical connection but also, is their energy “safe” for me to put on like a coat? Are they an angry person, depressed, anxious?

As an empath, it can feel very much like stepping into another person’s clothing, I can feel the emotions and energy that may be churning inside them. Their energy becomes mixed with my own and now I’m left carrying whatever it was that they were stewing over and that’s not good for anyone. The more proximity the more intensely empaths can pick up on the energies of those around them and setting personal boundaries is essential. Before I decide to hug, or allow someone else to hug me, I ask myself, “How do I feel around this person? Is it energetically safe for me to connect with them?”

I recently attended a reunion with beloved friends. We hugged and danced and had a wonderful time and, energetically, it felt very safe, until we sat down to play Cards Against Humanity, the anti-trump version. I am aware that the friend leading the game is about as anti-trump as they come but, the cruelty of the cards was difficult for me to handle. I do understand that’s the point of the game. It’s called Cards Against Humanity for a reason, but the energy evoked from the game left me feeling uncomfortable and drained, even as I delighted in being around some of my dearest friends.

Last week, I attended a gathering of psychics and mediums, people with whom I work. Some I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic; some I’d met only on Zoom and others were completely new to me and, with every greeting the refrain played in my head. Do I hug or not hug? Even taking a case-by-case basis approach, it not hard to get caught up and find yourself hugging everyone, or no one, and the thing I keep coming back to is boundaries.

How often do we feel some sort of obligation to hug or greet others more warmly than we might want to or feel safe to do so? One evening, during our gathering, while waiting to be seated at the hotel restaurant, I addressed a young girl I had seen playing in the pool with her family earlier in the day. I had chatted with them before but not with her, and when I asked how she’d enjoyed swimming, daggers shot back from her eyes as she relocated behind her mother. The adult family members admonished her to not be rude or disrespectful, encouraging her to speak, but to her, I was a total stranger. Why do we teach our children not to talk to strangers and then accuse them of being rude when they do as they’ve been taught?

I smiled and acknowledged that she was one hundred percent right to have her boundaries. It’s confusing enough to be a kid, and encouraging our young people to talk to strangers, especially little girls can open the door to a lifetime of people-pleasing and I was so impressed by this child’s boundaries! She knew she didn’t want, or need, to have my energy enmeshed with hers. How I wish I had that awareness at her young age! I don’t know if she was empathic, but she was certainly wise beyond her years and the example she set has stayed with me.

At another recent professional gathering, a woman I had not seen in several years came rushing up to me. “Oh! I haven’t seen you in forever! I have to hug you!” she fussed, and every fiber in my being screamed “No you don’t!” For a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is she’s someone I barely know, and to whom I have no affinity, other than we work in the same industry. I know from past encounters that her energy is not something I want to engage with but, not wanting to embarrass anyone, I greeted her kindly before continuing the conversation I was already involved in.

As we return to a more “normal” post-Covid life, it feels like there’s an expectation of overly warm greetings, like we’re trying to make up for all the lost time. If you’re an empath, personal and energetic boundaries just became even more essential. Especially in group situations, they can be a life preserver around so don’t toss them aside for the sake of appearance or wanting to fit in.

As we continue to emerge from this time of global pandemic and isolation, some things feel familiar or even the same while others feel uniquely different. It’s essential to take the lessons we’ve learned with us as we resume more communal life. Hold on to the rules and boundaries you set to keep yourself safe, es from Covid, and also energetic contamination. Hug who you want. Hug your loves ones even tighter or don’t hug anyone at all. You’re not obligated to do any of it. No matter who it is, or what the situation may be, if it doesn’t feel right to you, you are 100% free to thrust out your elbow for a bump! Covid has given us the best excuse to keep our distance when we feel uncomfortable. It’s still out there and likely will be for a long time to come so, have at it, blame Covid! It’s your health, both physical and energetic. It’s your response to what’s going on around you, and a global pandemic! As we say in my family, “if you don’t pay my bills, you don’t get a vote” so do what feels right for you because it is your energy and you’re the only one who can decide how best to protect it.

Learn more about Becoming An Empowered Empath at


Join our mailing list

Never miss an update

Recent Posts
bottom of page