When someone says ‘I love you’, you look at them out of the corner of your eye and reply: ‘That’s nice’
1. Any kind of physical contact bothers you. You live in an XXL shell and no one’s getting you out of it.
2. Even when someone says ‘I love you’. You don’t know how to react. So you look at them out of the corner of your eye and reply: ‘That’s nice’.
3. Unless you fall in love. That’s when you can handle as many ‘I love you’ss’ as they can dish out. Especially at first. After a few years, your partner learns not to expect too much from you.
4. The problem is that the vast majority of people are not your partner; they are people who still have faith in your tender side. And they tell you about their relationships. And they’re always sooooo boring.
5. Or worse: they burst into tears right in front of you. In these situations it’s you who suffers most as, once again, you don’t know what to say.
6. Nonetheless, for some strange reason, people still invite you to their parties. These are places where everyone is kissing and loving each other. And you don’t want to be the weirdo, so you make a pass at the desperate, no-hoper. That way no one gets left out of the hugging.
7. While you wonder: why do people hug each other so much? Some even look like they like it. When you hug people you look like a scarecrow with a painted smile. You’re scary.
8. Whenever you hug anyone or others hug you, you look like you’re suffering. As if you have a degenerative disease.
9. Because public demonstrations of affection make you so uncomfortable that you would never hug anyone if you didn’t have a degenerative disease.
10. You, not the other person. If they had one you’d give them a pat on the back and whisper a matter-of-fact: ‘Bad luck’.
11. That’s with adults. With kids it’s worse. Seriously, how do you greet a kid? Kissing them is forcing the issue and shaking their hand… no fucking way, you’re not about to shake hands with a 7-year-old kid as if they were your lifelong buddy. In the end you ruffle his hair, tell him something stupid and leave the room looking like a dick.
12. The other option is bending down to give him a hug. That would be completely normal.
13. Coming back to adults. Whenever you meet up with the gang you notice they always hug each other, and, knowing what you’re like, when they come to you, they shake your hand. If you’re lucky. You’re the grumpy one.
14. It’s a strange feeling. Although you don’t like physical contact, seeing them all loving each other like that generates a slight sense of envy in you.
15. ‘Slight’ being the operative word in this case.
16. Others think you’re a bit cold, which is just not true. You love implicitly. In a low voice. Hugging people with your eyes.
17. And you use metaphors that make you want to throw up to hide your inability to show affection.
18. Oh and have you noticed how some people kiss each other at the beginning and end of their working day? No fucking way.
19. We mentioned that your mates show their love for each other while you watch from the sidelines. You’re normally fine with this. However, there are moments when you also need affection. On those days you following your friends around trying to make it look obvious. Silently begging for a hug or a kiss; or whatever.
20. And you don’t know how to handle it. Realising this need for affection makes you feel a bit pathetic. And you feel sad. Even sadder than normal.
21. Then you think, what the hell is wrong with me? Can I really not ask for love?
22. And you pluck up the courage to take the initiative. You go for it. You grab your friend unaware and give them a great big bear hug. A hug that they like and return. And you learn. Little by little. You still can’t kiss children. You’re not a politician on a campaign trail. And you don’t kiss your workmates either because…. they’re your workmates. But you’re beginning to emerge from your shell. You put one foot out. Then the other. You stick out your head and…
23. Fuck it’s cold out here. Who told you to go out? You immediately feel vulnerable, so you back up, turn around and get back inside. Back in your shell. Where you feel safe.