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3 Types Of Hugs All Women Experience (& Why Certain Ones Are Red Flags In Relationships)

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3 Types Of Hugs All Women Experience (& What Hugging In Healthy Relationships Should Feel Like)
Love, Self

Not all hugs are created equal.

There are hugs — and then there are hugs. In other words, there are genuine, loving, and giving types of hugs ... and then there is needy and inappropriately sexual hugging.

There is a world of difference between these, especially when it comes to healthy relationships.

While I knew this as a child — as most children do — I didn't have words for the differences between these types of hugs. I just knew that I loved hugging and being hugged by some people, as well as hated being hugged by others.

Loving hugs felt nurturing and safe to me, while needy and sexual hugs felt yucky.

RELATED: What His Hug Reveals About How He Really Feels About You

My mother's hugs never felt good to me. My mother was narcissistic and her hugs were needy. When she hugged me — which, fortunately, wasn't very often — I felt like the life was being sucked right out of me. My mother was never a person I would go to for love or comfort.

Until I was twelve, my father's hugs were wonderful — filled with love and nurturing. I felt so safe in the arms of my father. All that changed when I was twelve and my father became sexually abusive, which, of course, meant that he was no longer safe for me. I was confused and scared and crushed to no longer be able to go to my father for hugs. I protected myself by staying away from him as much as I could.

I'm a very affectionate person and, by the time I started dating, I was so starved for hugs that I often found myself in difficult situations.

I wanted was loving and caring hugs, but what I mostly got was needy and/or sexual hugs from the boys I dated. It took me many more years before I could articulate the energetic differences between loving, healing, and nurturing hugs from the needy or inappropriate sexual hugs.

Here are 3 types of hugs all women experience, and why some forms of hugging are red flags in relationships.

1. Needy hugs

When a person is abandoning themselves in various ways, they create an emptiness inside. The emptiness is like a vacuum trying to suck the love out of others — trying to get the love that they are not giving to themselves.

In an unhealthy relationship, while the hugger might have a warm smile on their face, the energy of the hug doesn't feel good. If you tune into the energy and feeling of it, you will know instantly that the person hugging you is trying to take from you — rather than give to you or share with you.

Before I understood this, I allowed myself to be taken from and it felt awful. Now, I deal with this totally differently. I understand that the pull is from the other person's abandoned little child and I feel compassion for that child. Instead of allowing myself to be taken from, I generally freely give my love to that inner child in need.

This feels much better to me than pulling away. When I decide to give my love to someone, I don't end up feeling used. I even reached a place where I was able to hug my mother and give her needy little girl inside my love.

RELATED: I Hate Hugging People (Because Your Definition Of Love Is All Wrong)

2. Sexual hugs

There is also a kind of neediness in inappropriately sexual hugs. The hugger is trying to get filled through sexual energy.

I experience this a lot with many of the men I meet, but not all of them. Occasionally, I meet a man who hugs from his heart full of love. What a gift it is to me to be hugged by a truly loving man — as well as by a truly loving woman.

Perhaps this is why many women love to have gay men as friends — they don't hug women with sexual energy that is inappropriate for a healthy, non-romantic relationship.

3. Loving hugs

Loving hugs are a sign of healthy relationships — there is much healing power in them. When two people hug each other with hearts full of love, the energy that passes between them is healing.

We all need these loving hugs — and frequently! So, seek them in your life — with a partner, a friend, a child or a relative.

Loving and healing hugs are a balm for the soul and a cornerstone of healthy relationships, whether they're romantic ones or not.

RELATED: 15 Beautiful Reasons To Ditch The Kiss And Get Your Hug On

Margaret Paul holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, noted public speaker, workshop leader, educator, chaplain, consultant, and artist. Start learning to love yourself and heal your relationships with her free Inner Bonding course.

This article was originally published at Inner Bonding. Reprinted with permission from the author.