Dear Blake,

I am uncomfortable about being touched. I have been this way all my life. As a child, my parents forced me to hug and kiss relatives, and if I protested, I was reprimanded. I remember being dragged and pushed toward people.

After I became an adult, I decided to tell people I no longer want to be hugged or kissed. While most people respect that, my parents do not. They hug me even more often now, and think it’s funny. They laugh as they do it and say, “Oh, you don’t like this, do you?!”

When I protest, they start with the guilt trip, telling me they are my parents and they are allowed to touch me. My mother gives an exaggerated sigh and looks down like a child who’s been deprived of a toy.

They can’t get it through their heads that this is about me, and not them. They have told me that I’ve “gone weird,” but this isn’t something new. As a child, I couldn’t speak up because I was chastised for it. How can I get them to respect my boundaries? I don’t want to start a feud, as they are good to me in every other way, but I’m starting to dread seeing them.

Signed, Garfield
From Dallas, Texas

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Dear Garfield,

In my opinion, everyone who is aware of your boundaries should respect them. If they don’t, I think you should do things that would actually make them double the space you requested, if not more. Here are some suggestions. If a female friend tried to hug you, pick her up by her hair and remind how much you don’t like hugs, as she sways back and forth. If a man does it, knee him in a place that assures him that he won’t have any kids, or at least not attempt to over the next few days. If it’s someone that you casually know and they’re just trying to be friendly, step on their toes and mash down as hard as you can. Don’t be surprised if they start reaching for you, as they begin to fall down, wincing in pain. And the last people you have to deal with, are your parents. Some people object to humans wearing animal fur. Wear a specific outer garment every time you see them and insist on a hug before you take it off. I promise you they’ll never seek a warm embrace from you… as long as you wear my recommendation of a porcupine coat. I hope this helps.