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Wedding Wednesday – Bean Dipping Kisses

Hello E-Hell, I am totally stuck.

I have a big family wedding coming up in May, and I’ve learnt that our Auntie H is in attendance. Auntie H definitely does not get along with my family for reasons we have never been clear on. She’s made it clear to our faces and the rest of the family that she cannot stand us. Which is fine, we’re all adults now, and only see each other at large family gatherings.

My issue is that even though she hates us, she still insists on kissing and hugging us hello when we’re in public. We’re not kiss-y people generally,  and we resent being physically manhandled by this woman in what is effectively a display on how she’s certainly not the problem in the family (most evidence I have is far too identifying, but she’s dug herself a hole on more than one occasion.)

So, the question is, how do you ‘bean-dip’ a kiss? My sisters and I are long past the age where we can hide, and I don’t want to make a scene. I just don’t want to be kissed by people who would stab me in the back at the first opportunity. Any advice would be gratefully received.   0406-19

I think the best approach is to take the initiative to greet her with a stiff-armed handshake.   If you are seated upon introductions, it’s hard to hug someone in that position and a stiff arm stuck out in front of you with a happy “Well, hello there!” should be enough of a signal to even the most obtuse person that you prefer to not be hugged.  There is plenty of non-verbal communication that can be expressed in a handshake including the non-verbal statement “Don’t get closer to me”.

{ 25 comments }
{ 25 comments… add one }
  • doodlemor April 10, 2019, 3:53 pm

    I suggest a stiff armed handshake with both hands. It will look “warmer” to the innocent bystanders, and you will have two arms out to push her away, if necessary.

    • Wild Irish Rose April 11, 2019, 8:08 am

      This.

  • staceyizme April 10, 2019, 4:11 pm

    You don’t need to bean-dip. Being direct sounds like it’s a more sustainable option. Say “hello” from a safe distance, cheerfully and briefly. If she tries to move in, move back (or sideways or whatever). Other family members are no doubt aware that she doesn’t get along with your family. Don’t give her a platform on which to “campaign” about her message of being the “good one”. Being courteous doesn’t mean accepting unwanted touch of any kind, whether it’s a hug, a kiss or a hand on the shoulder. Stand up for yourself and straight-arm her, if you have to. You’re not the one causing a scene, your relative is. You also don’t have to explain. She has made her views well known. Let her manage her own awkwardness. You aren’t a prop for her comfort, you’re a person and have the right to be on good terms with those who would like to come in for a closer greeting. It also sets a good example for your kids, if you have any, as well as for other people who she may have victimized. She sounds like a hypocrite. If she’s so convinced of her own bad opinion of your branch of the family tree, let her fully “own” that choice.

    • Kate April 12, 2019, 11:44 am

      Simply taking a single step backwards and saying “I prefer not to be touched” has always worked for me.

  • JD April 11, 2019, 8:52 am

    I’ve seen some determined hugger/kissers, and I’ve seen them grab the hand offered at the end of a stiff arm and pull the other person toward him or her as the hugger’s other arm comes around to hug, then they can lean in and kiss. Some people honestly think everyone needs/wants a hug (or think that if the hugger wants a hug, he/she therefore is allowed to take a hug from whoever), and some people, like Auntie H, are just trying to show how loving/close/kind-hearted they are when the truth is far from that.

    OP, if Auntie is the kind to grab and pull, my suggestion is to yelp a little, as though you were caused pain in some way, and pull away abruptly. Then straighten up, smile, say, “Sorry — and how are you, Auntie H? Oh, look, there’s X, who I’ve needed to speak with. Good to see you, ‘bye.” This kind of tactic can especially be needed against the stealth huggers, who like to come up behind or beside you and grab a hug.

  • Michelle April 11, 2019, 8:55 am

    I agree with the stiff arm approach. I am not at all interested in putting on a display with/for someone who has on multiple occasions said she cannot stand me. Let her deal with any awkwardness that arises because SHE is the one causing it.

    Why would you want to hug and kiss someone you can’t stand? That is very bizarre to me.

    • staceyizme April 11, 2019, 9:56 am

      I agree, it is bizarre! But people aren’t always logical or even honest about their own issues and opinions. Some people put a lot of stock in the way they appear to others, without stopping to consider whether their opinion of how others see them is accurate. And that’s when you have weirdness like people who really dislike you trying to hug and/ or kiss you in a public setting, as OP has experienced. I would find that not only unwelcome but unpleasant. I hope OP will take stock of her options and stay out of Auntie H’s reach altogether. She shouldn’t worry about what others think quite so much as she does about her own comfort, in this instance.

    • Catherine St Clair April 11, 2019, 12:12 pm

      It’s the best way to check auntie for weapons.

      • WendyB April 14, 2019, 7:16 pm

        I love this!

  • Chris April 11, 2019, 9:26 am

    “Auntie H definitely does not get along with my family for reasons we have never been clear on. She’s made it clear to our faces and the rest of the family that she cannot stand us. ”

    I am curious as to how she got invited, since she does not care for you. Has she invited herself?

    • OP April 14, 2019, 6:28 am

      OP here. She was invited by the bride (my cousin) and groom; H is married to an uncle that Cousin and I share. There was no way not to invited H; my sisters and I were just crossing our fingers that H wouldn’t attend (as she intensely dislikes the groom.)

  • Catherine St Clair April 11, 2019, 12:11 pm

    If auntie is liable to make a scene if you stiff arm her, use the Kleenex bean dip maneuver. Hold a wad of tissue in your hand and, when she descends upon you, kisser at the ready, exclaim, “Oh! Auntie! Don’t get close to me!” If she thinks it is because you have a cold/flu/the Black Plague, so much the better. Since you don’t see her often, she may not even remember it the next time the clan gathers en masse. You can use it again.

    • Lisa April 11, 2019, 2:50 pm

      Add in a big sneeze, just for fun 🙂

    • Rebecca M. April 11, 2019, 9:14 pm

      It’s a good tactic in some situations, but it could seem jeuvenile and insincere if the OP plans to hug or kiss anyone else. It would feed right into Auntie’s narrative.

      I do it with close talking/touchy-feely customers all the time, though.

      • Catherine St Clair April 12, 2019, 6:48 pm

        Trying to hug and kiss me when she makes it known that she dislikes me strikes me as very middle school- juvenile and insincere. I am not a hugger and kisser on social occasions. If anyone wants to hug and to kiss me, I expect an engagement ring. Come to think of it, I may tell auntie just that.

  • Hey AnonnyNonny April 11, 2019, 12:40 pm

    An upgrade from the stiff-arm handshake is the handshake plus upper-arm pat or grip. It’s kind of a guy thing, but it helps with this kind of situation because it makes both your arms angle across their body, which makes it harder for them to grab you.

    It also gives you more control in case you need to hold them off. But it looks quite friendly and affable from the outside, if a little business-y.

    Here’s a photo: https://images.app.goo.gl/zoBGpg5Qde1WyzJa7

    • Rebecca M. April 11, 2019, 9:16 pm

      I thought for sure that link would lead to the Trump/Trudeau photo!

    • Iris April 13, 2019, 6:01 pm

      Unrelated, but just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your user name 🙂

  • Kat April 11, 2019, 1:56 pm

    Potentially useful:
    How to Avoid Hugs: https://youtu.be/KnLFSRjG2M8

    There are a bunch of other videos on this topic if you just search for that phrase.

    I’d take some time to practice BEFORE the event — the more you can do these in one smooth movement, the less awkward it will appear to others — but these techniques may be helpful in deflecting her hugs and transforming them into handshakes.

  • ladyv21454 April 11, 2019, 3:35 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, hostile relatives lose their right to be treated as family, and should be dealt with as you would any casual acquaintance. If you wouldn’t accept a hug from an acquaintance, you don’t need to tolerate one from Auntie Hag.

  • Margo Agatha April 11, 2019, 3:59 pm

    Wow. What a dreadful woman this aunty is. I like the suggestions here – might be an idea to have a few up your sleeve OP.

  • at work April 11, 2019, 4:04 pm

    The stiff-arm handshake is called for. After you do it a few times you will be confident when using it and will probably never again have to endure an unwanted hug. (every time I read someone say “stiff arm her” I think about a forearm across the neck, kinda satisfying, lol!) As for why she does it, let others ponder.

  • Lanes April 11, 2019, 4:44 pm

    Oh how I sympathise. I had one of these in my family.
    She was nice-as-pie in front of others, but the devious manipulation and talking behind your back was evident. Her husband thought the sun shone out of her rear end, so when I did happen to bring up her behaviour with him, I was viewed as the one causing trouble.
    She’s no longer part of the family and the now ex-husband thinks her the devil, go figure. If only someone had given him some kind of heads up…

    Unfortunately I have no good advice, just sympathies. Hopefully some elderly aunty takes up all her time chatting about times long ago and she never crosses your path.

  • Ask Kim April 12, 2019, 9:21 pm

    I just avoid these people at all costs. I intentionally make sure I’m never physically close to them in anyway. In my family, it was an uncle that i didnt trust. Never got near him. Hed come near me. I zig zagged away. He’d complain to my parents, I didnt care, I refused to be near him. As an adult, however, I didnt run–I’d look him square in the face and turn away. You can too!:)

  • MrTango April 17, 2019, 3:37 pm

    Offer a handshake. If she tries to go in for a hug, your arm is already extended so you can easily use your arm (elbow locked, palm open and out toward her) to keep her, quite literally, at arm’s length.

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