Oh, Hey! It’s Alyssa #47: Touch

“Oh Hey! It’s Alyssa” is a biweekly webcomic by Alyssa

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A. Andrews

A. is a totally complete incomplete paraplegic and thirty-something hanky-in-the-pocket cartoonist weirdo!

A. has written 69 articles for us.


  1. I can relate to this so much. I’m in a 12 step program where people hug each other as a regular greeting. People take it so personally when I don’t want to hug them. I’m not a bitch, I just have boundaries and I really get tired of feeling like I have to explain myself. I’m not responsible for your self-esteem issues but I am responsible for taking care of myself and keeping my boundaries.

    • “I’m not responsible for your self-esteem issues but I am responsible for taking care of myself and keeping my boundaries”
      Perfectly put and worth repeating

  2. This is so relevant to me too. I’ve been moving away from the handshake and/or hug as a routine greeting, and it’s such a relief. Also in my cultural milieu I have the cheek-kissing to contend with, that one’s been harder to break people out of. Occasionally I cite my concern about spreading germs and that seems to do the trick with those who are overly affectionate at first meeting.

    I save my hugs and kissy-face for my really close friends.

    Have a great time at camp Alyssa !


  3. Just the other day, I said ”no thank you, I don’t want to hug today” to a roommate – and they had a crying fit? Fair enough, they had had a death in the family (I didn’t know about), but this situation really made it clear to me that I probably have to start looking for new housing. It’s incredible how clueless people can be about these things, or how unwilling to accept boundaries stated to them clearly and calmly.

    • I would ask you to wait until she’s not greiving until you make that assessment. Grief makes even small things very hard to handle.

      • I am very experienced in grief and have seen it close by a lot, so this is not new for me. Disrespecting boundaries is unfortunately a pattern for this roommate (which wasn’t apparent from my comment without context obviously). So, I am wishing strenght for everyone grieving, and still reminding everyone that you have a right to your boundaries even among grieving people < 3

  4. How do other people turn down hugs from someone you’ve already hugged before? I’m embarrassed that I’m not better at this. I have no problem turning creepy people down but when someone seems genuinely affectionate in an appropriate way I just go “erg ok.” Looking to step up my boundary game (at work, anyway)

    • I had a situation where a friend had a tendency to really want to hug, and would sometimes come up behind me and hug me. She meant well, but sometimes I was uncomfortable with the first, and would panic at the second. What worked for me was to talk to the person, and say “Hey, I have times when I like hugs, and times I just don’t/can’t do hugs, so I need you to check in with me before you hug me, and I’ll tell you if it’s a hugging day or a non-hugging day,” so now she asks me beforehand.

  5. I’ve dealt with some minor annoying gendered social interactions where hugging is precived as a feminine greeting and handshake as a masculine greeting.

    I dislike hugs due to a dad who couldn’t respect boundaries, so I usually opt for a handshake when greeting. Being butch it feels more fitting anyways. I end up in these awkward standoffs with guys trying to force a hug just because I’m female and the other women enjoyed being hugged so I must too apparently. My father even reprimanded me and called me a cold hearted bitch for not hugging a female friend back. My female friends are respectful of me not wanting to hug people back, but cis men seem to get really indignant about hugging me.

    • The one exception to the guys is my anime loving nerdy guy friends who are pretty accepting of personal boundaries, but everyone else is bleh…

  6. i’m not super huggy outside of my small circle of hug-approved folks, but if I can anticipate the situation I’m okay with touching/hugging new people. Like, if I’m invited to a colleague’s home, I know they’ll probably go for a hug and that’s fine, because I’m prepared. But…

    I was in a very large meeting at work (dozens of people) and the consultants running the meeting had us all stand up in a circle around the room, turn to one side, and rub the shoulders of the person in front of us, while the person behind rubbed us. I was completely appalled. I was standing between the president of my organization, and another administrator whom I had just met. I looked for any opportunity to decline, but felt it impossible without causing offense. I sucked it up but said something afterward to a few “in charge” folks – enforced touching, especially in professional environments, is not okay!

  7. I saw where folks wore colored tags to express how they were feeling.

    Think visual consent here. A red tag with a big X is a hard stop, meaning hands off or dont get in my personal space.

    A yellow tag meant caution. Like I may be ok with you violating my personal space but definitely have to ask first and listen for an enthusiastic “yes” before encroaching into anyone’s personal space.

    And Green obviously meant your a touch addict and you’re openly inviting people into you personal space for “meet and greet” touch and non-sexual touch like a pat on the shoulder (not the butt)

    And in all cases enthusiastic consent must be required for personal touch. Period. And rules were printed on both sides of each color card as a reminder. Folks were given one of each color and a clip to go on their name lanyard and that way folks could change them with the their mood.

  8. “Physical touch is not about niceness. It’s about intimacy. It’s not owed, it’s considered.” hello i needed this all my life and want to tattoo it everywhere so i dont forget thank youuu

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