There has been an outpouring of terror and dread since it has been confirmed that guidance would be relaxed to allow hugging.
Like most people, Mike has been delighted with the lack of forced, awkward, cringeworthy hugs and kisses over the past year: ‘It’s undoubtedly been the best thing about this pandemic. My life used to be ridded with hug-related anxiety and stress – is it a hug, a hug and kiss, kiss on both cheeks, a handshake? Now we just do a quick wave and get on with our lives and I wonder why on earth we haven’t always done it like that. The thought of going back to the hellish existence of having to potentially hug people or have any physical contact whatsoever makes me feel sick.’
Mike is not alone. Studies show that 99% of people have been caught in an awkward misunderstanding over greeting etiquette and feel that they will ‘never get over the shame’ of going in for a hug when the other person was going for a handshake, or visa versa.
Anna has struggled with this condition, known as hug-related-trauma for many years. ‘I remember it like it was yesterday. I arrived at a big meeting and went to shake hands with our client. But at the last minute, he went in for a hug-kiss combo and…my hand was in the wrong place you see…my life just fell apart. People would say I will look back and laugh, but I had to immediately quit my job due to the shame, then I lost my house and then I got into drugs quite badly, so I’m still struggling to see the funny side to be honest.’
Both Mike and Anna want to petition the government to make hugging illegal on an ongoing basis, punishable with a long prison sentence.