From time to time I meet people who say this. It’s a plaintive cry and a sad one, and it touches me because I’m human.
It also affects me because I like to help people, but ‘hugs’ is not something I do in my professional life (despite the current vogue). Besides, when someone says this, they are not requesting a hug from me, they are usually complaining about lack of hugs from another person, Needless to say, the other person isn’t generally in the room.
Expressing a need to the wrong person can be helpful in the short time because it brings acknowledgement on one’s situation, but it can also add to the sense of personal disempowerment. Commiseration and sympathy are vital tokens of support, but they can’t replace what’s lacking, and in some cases they become a poor substitute for action.
Actions might be things like:
- Giving affection instead of passively waiting for something that won’t happen by itself
- Talking to the other person empathetically about your needs
- Focusing on what’s right in the relationship and what you could usefully build on (rather than harping on about what’s missing)
- Finding out about the other’s needs
- Leaning how to gently persist in a conversation so that it doesn’t fail at the first hurdle, until you can hear the other person and are heard yourself.
There’s more, but this is a post, not a manual. I don’t wish to sound unsympathetic or harsh, but if I come across as helpless and frustrated than that’s a fair interpretation.
It’s because, with so much real distress in the world, that needs our attention, we (not us, you understand, I mean other people), still waste time by neglecting our understanding of each other and our relationship skills.
It’s hard to do, I know, particularly when you are in a struggling relationship, but you can turn the tables if you really care. And that sometimes means caring for the other person more than you do for yourself, in that moment.