How To Say Goodbye Like A Socially Awkward Freak

When Robin came to visit – more accurately when she left – I started thinking more about hugs, Euro-style cheek kisses in the name a greeting, and other violations of personal space.

We had all kinds of fun during her visit, site-seeing …

… going out

… but like everything, it had to end. I walked her to the tube station and then we had a hugless goodbye that looked something like this:

No, we don’t look exactly alike although a few people seem to think we are either sisters or exactly the same person, as the Mayor of Terre Haute, Indiana thought when he came up to me at an Obama speech and started talking to complete the interview Robin had started with him only a few minutes before.

(The unreadable text on Robin’s suitcase reads: Robin’s Suitcase)

When I explained to Adrian that we didn’t hug goodbye due to reasons of awkwardness and violations of personal space he said, “I would have hugged  her, you tit!”

He makes a hug seem so simple!

It wasn’t that I don’t like her or that I wasn’t mourning the loss of a friend, because I was! After Robin left I went back to being a friendless loser in London. I’ve come to accept this because I have an otherwise great and fun life, but seeing what it’s like to have a friend again upped all my hopes and expectations about life.

So, the reason for no hug was the same reason I don’t want to hug anyone. I didn’t want to press my body against hers and have that awkward moment where our faces are close, because what if we accidentally made eye contact during this moment, or our faces happened to go in for the hug on the same side? I just couldn’t handle that, and I don’t think she could either. Robin also doesn’t like touching people.

I haven’t talked to her about this, but I’m guessing she in no way regrets not embracing me that day.

When she first came to London two years ago Adrian’s very English roommate tried to give her the double-kiss-on-the-cheek greeting, but she either didn’t know what was happening or was very much against it because she backed away quickly and awkwardly. It was hilarious.

What I’m getting at is that every goodbye is awkward, and it’s only made worse when Europeans try to throw in some kiss. Just awful. You never know if it’s a one cheek kiss, a two cheek kiss, or even which cheek they are going for first!!

So many times have I ended up stiff-necked, just waiting for a European to make his rounds on my cheeks before I can go back to normal and pretend it never happened.

All of this leaves me with the question of how to say a proper goodbye. I hate goodbyes. I’d rather not say them. What would be perfect is if two people could leave on a good, happy note but pretend like they were simply going to see each other again the next day. That way there would never be any awkward, sad moments.




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6 responses to “How To Say Goodbye Like A Socially Awkward Freak

  1. First of all, I love this. I think I will post the link on my blog. And I never regretted our decision not to hug. The cheek kissing is unnerving. I didn’t mean to be insulting or whatever by dodging it, my natural response is to dodge when strangers get close to my face. It’s reflexive.
    Also, don’t forget our nonaffectionate airport hello, either, where you looked up from your book to say ‘oh hey’.

    • I did forget about that. I prefer to pretend like we’ve been hanging out for months, and it might have started your trip off on a bad note if I had run and embraced you. I was very excited, though.

  2. Thank you for this post. Unless I’m close to someone, I prefer a simple handshake as a greeting and goodbye. It symbolizes our willingness not to kill each other during the time that we are together, but doesn’t imply anything unwarranted. I also cringe at excessive displays of affection. Some things need to be kept private.

  3. This is such a good topic! I have mixed emotions about this “hug-when-you-greet” thing. I come from a family of huggers, but that’s among family, so that’s different. I have trained my friends to be more okay with hugging when we greet because I just lean forward to let them know “I’m coming in for the hug so you better be ready because we ARE going to do this!” Now, I would say they are all fairly comfortable with it and even initiate it themselves sometimes.

    However, there are times when it totally freaks me out. Like when a complete stranger wants a hug when we meet for the first time. I don’t know them, and so it freaks me out a bit to have their body so close to mine. Although, I have learned through experience, if I see someone coming in for a hug, I lean with my head only and bend at the waist so our bodies don’t touch in any way whatsoever, except maybe a shoulder. This works for me.

    • That last statement was hilarious. It’s really interesting to hear that other people also have these concerns about what on the outside appears to be a simple greeting.

      I can totally understand the family hug thing, and I think if I had grown up in a family of huggers I’d feel very differently!

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