I’m a hugger from way back. To me, hugs are like mini-cuddle sessions, acceptable for the public. And I love cuddling, too.
The BEST hugs are long, include a lot of body contact, and done with little to no clothing with someone I’m deeply intimate with, but even the runners-up can make my day better damn near instantly.
A few weeks ago, I found this image on Facebook:
I reposted it, mentioning I was not sure about the numbers, but that it sounded good to me.
And really, I posted it because I wanted to remind myself to go out and look for the numbers. Because the science of hugs as a topic for a writing had a nice ring in my head.
After all, as I said, I am more than a tiny bit of hug junkie.
Hell, as I retold this weekend (for the umpteenth time), I really NOTICED Pet on the night we met when he hugged me goodbye. He just felt so damn…right.
Up until that point, he was a cute boy-next-door type (not my usual type at all) sweet man at a FemDom party paying me some attention.
With the hug, though, it was as if suddenly my hormones were jarred awake, “Was that an explosion? Sex? Magic?”
He likes to joke he put a spell on me, and I like to joke it worked. I’m never sure we’re really joking, but I digress.
So today, after a weekend sharing hugs with my Pet, other loved ones, friends, and even near-strangers (maybe friends, soon?), I am still feeling a bit high (and horny, but that’s another topic) from all the feel-goody stuff.
And so, science it is! After all, I love my imagination, and I do believe in the placebo effect (It’s awesome powerful, y’all!), I also wanted to see what science has been done around hugs, and what it can tell us.
And I’m gobsmacked.
I’m already a hug addict. I admit this. Now, I just may become a zealot. Get this:
Hugs make you feel gooooooood, man.
Hugging boosts oxytocin, which bonds you to others, connects you, and makes you feel loved (more on oxytocin). Oxytocin also has anti-inflammatory benefits (source). Inflammation in the body has been linked to certain types of depression (MDD especially, although science can’t fully explain it all, yet: source).
Hugging also gets dopamine and serotonin production going in the body.
Dopamine is a hormone which is part of the brain’s reward mechanism, and makes you feel pleasure, like you did a good thing. The more dopamine you have, the less potential for addiction. (About dopamine.)
Serotonin is responsible for helping balance mood. It helps to make us feel happy, relaxed and confident. It also acts as an appetite controller. Too little serotonin is linked to depression. Hugging is known to boost serotonin levels. (About serotonin.)
Hugs help boost your immune system.
Conflict weakens your immune system through stress, and hugs connect us to others and reduce the effects of conflict. Not only do people who receive more hugs get sick less often, but they don’t get as sick and recover more quickly.
So, searching “average hug 9.3 seconds,” I get nada on that number. I think someone pulled it out of their butt.
The same thing happened when I tried to find information on how often people crave hugs per day. I’m not sure how scientific a number that might be, either.
As for the 20-second rule, it’s so everywhere online, it’s difficult to find the originating information. A study done in 2003 suggested that couples who held hands for 10 minutes while watching a romantic video, then hugged their partners for 20 seconds had better blood pressure readings than the control group.
Which is definitely something. However, it’s doesn’t determine how long a hug must be to activate benefits. And at least two articles suggest that 6 seconds and 10 seconds will do nicely, as well. (source, source)
Unfortunately, neither of those link to scientific studies, either.
So, in light of all this, I’m going to make a few suggestions regarding hugging, and perhaps you can find out what works best for you, with your own self-study.
Hug Often. Hug Long. Hug The RIGHT People.
I’ll start with that last bit.
Regardless of any other information, all of the articles I read, if they mentioned WHO you should hug at all, mentioned that the benefits of hugs come from people you want to hug and who want to hug you.
So, consent is a key.
It seems kind of obvious that being hugged against your will or by someone you don’t like will do more harm than good, but I think it’s worth saying, in case someone misses that idea.
Also, it was mentioned that because hugs can release these bonding hormones, choose who you hug carefully, in case you want to maybe not feel so close to someone who is not right or good for you, which is an interesting take.
Of course, because you are an amazing person who surrounds yourself with amazing people you enjoy, hugging the right people more often is going to benefit you through multiple chances for really good natural drugs/hormones, produced by your body and brain.
And as far as hug long goes… well, hug those you love as long as feels comfortable—and cuddling counts! Cuddles are just really long hugs, so take advantage of some health benefits while Netflix and chilling, or whatevs.
And those 3-second hugs? No need to turn up your nose or poo-poo them.
After all, even a 1-second hug done with warmth and sincerity can boost mood and happiness, and increase feelings of inclusion.
And for those whose love language is touch, even the quickest touch can make a BIG difference.
What are your experiences?
What are your experiences with hugs? Have you found that you crave them when you don’t get enough? Do you feel noticeably good or better when you get more hugs than usual or from specific people?
Have you done any of your own research into hugs? Anything I missed?
A conversation I had about people who “show it off” online and how some people think about it.
“But heres what i dont get ( and im not talking about you ) why would a woman post pics of her tits and ass and more on a sexual fetishes site and then complain about a guy writing her to chat about similar sexual interests, or for sex? It just doesnt make much sense does it?”
Yes, it actually does.
I might enjoy people looking at my body and STILL not want that to be the only thing they can focus on, or even the primary thing.
It’s a perfectly sensible thing.
Here’s an idea, ALWAYS approach people as HUMAN first. If you connect, you’ll get to all the rest: objectification, degradation, power exchange, sex…
If you don’t connect, it won’t matter anyway.
“Im not the type to flaunt money but if i posted pics of my watch and cars id expect a certain type of woman to write me , and id expect to scare of the better quality woman because those were the photos i shared first.”
That’s victim blaming and it’s disgusting.
Why not blame the people who are not being considerate and polite, simply because of some photos online?
Does anyone have to be a jerk to me just because you’ve seen my breast?
(HINT) The answer is:
“Well what do they expect, if they show it off like that?”
Why would anyone think that it’s OK for anyone to be rude to another human being or focus only on their sexuality or money or ugliness or fatness or whatever, just because THEY think they show it off too much?
Do you see how gross that is?
What do these people expect? They expect that other people will treat them like people—as a bare minimum.
I require that and more.
What do you think?
Do you think it’s OK to judge people negatively by their photos and treat them poorly as a result?
What reason is there, if any, to not just stay silent when you see something that you don’t like?
In your experience, have you gotten good results from treating strangers as less-than-human?
Is treating people with consideration and respect so much more difficult that any excuse is worth using to avoid it?
How do you feel about posting photos “showing off” what you have?
“A person who is nice to you, but is not nice to the waiter, is not a nice person.”
People who are mean to those who serve, those who have less, those
who they do not feel can help them, or directly benefit them are not
They are users.
They are self-centered.
Possibly narcissistic, and possibly socio/psychopathic, lacking empath and likely compassion.
(Which, in and of itself is not bad, but without compassion, it can be a nasty thing.)
“A person who has only mean things to say about their exes will probably eventually only have mean things to say about you.”
When a person has been the victim in every relationship they have,
and chooses to focus on only the negatives with their exes, or place all
the blame on others may not be that way to you right now—they weren’t
that way with their exes to begin with, either, I’m guessing.
(Sort of hard to get into a relationship by being overtly asshole-ish, although some manage it.)
However, if you have a falling out, know that’s how they will probably talk about you.
And that’s probably how they talk about you in their head, too. When they’re not getting what they want.
I love coconut oil as a personal lubricant. LOVE it.
It’s the only lube I keep around at all times.
I keep it in a small container next to my bed, available for massages and all other manner of sexy things.
I recommend it in my anal play class and books and in my orgasm class.
And I recommended it to someone in a Facebook poly group who has been
having trouble with staying wet. Many people had the same thoughts:
coconut oil was the most recommended single lube in the thread.
They say that is the sex is great, it’s 20% of a relationship, and if it’s not going so well, it’s 80%.
They have a point, although I’d modify it a bit.
It’s not so much about the number of orgasms, or the skillset—that can be learned.
It’s about the overall sexual compatibility.
Does it feel like a metric fuck-ton of orgasms raining down upon your body or at least like it has the potential to become fucking fantastic with practice together?
Do you have similar sex drives (from asexual to want-it-damn-near-every-minute-andwhen-i-don’t-want-it-i-want-to-talk-about-it-and-how-we-can-make-it-even-better-next-time)?
Are you at comparable levels of ease related to TALKING about and discussing sex?
Do you like a significant enough number of the same things related to sex that you have plenty of room to grow and explore together for however long you imagine your relationship to last, or to whatever level you’d like to attempt?
And most of all, are you lacking disgust or disdain for their sexual interests?
If you have all these, then sex and it’s related issues will likely be about 20% of your relationship compatibility.
If you’re majorly questionable on any of these, then the issues you have related to and around sex will likely become 80% of your relationship.
Not that you will necessarily mean it that way. Or that it will be obvious.
But that resentments, insecurities, fears, and hurt will color every disagreement you have.
Sure, people get around this.
Some say to their partner, “I love you and I want you to be happy. Do that, and let’s enjoy what we continue to have together,” and sometimes that works.
Often, it does not, because, well, humans are imperfect, and resentments, insecurities, fears, and hurt can still color our reactions and responses.
I know these cocks. Two wonderful, amazing cocks. Each owns a perfectly average guy.
One cock, let’s call him S, owns a 5’9″ Italian guy with a cheeky smile and a dad bod.
The other cock, B, owns a wiry 6’1″ Latino man with a slouch, a shock of dark hair and a twinkle in his eye.
Their people are very different. S enjoys hiking all over the world, eschews carbs and alcohol (mostly), while B is a bit anti-social and loves nothing more than playing guitar, smoking “hippy lettuce,” and drinking vodka.
And both cocks LOVE sex.
Like, a lot.
S is about 7″ long, of average thickness, and can be a bit shy around more than one woman at a time (although he’s getting over that!).
B is 9″ long, about 7″ around, and gets hard when the fan blows him. Even in awkward situations.
CW: This is a piece specifically about pathologies, NOT consensual play. Yes, there are self-identified roles within kink that use these terms… that is NOT at all what I’m talking about in this piece.
Someone asked me to write on this topic.
We usually think of sadists and masochists in regards to physical pain.
But there is the emotional variety, no doubt.
How can we identify this?
How should we deal with this?
Should we simply distance ourselves from it?
This is a great topic. Very tricky one, though.
Emotional sadists share many characteristics with people whose behavior has shifted over time to get what they want from those who are less responsive to others…
And emotional masochists the same, or it could be that they are battling other issues, like depression, that mimic many of the symptoms.
So, I’ll start by saying I don’t suggest that I, or any of you (outside the few who may be licensed and practicing therapists and the like) are qualified to diagnose anyone else.
What I will say, though, is that it’s worth knowing what the signs are in these kinds of disorders and the people who exhibit them, and to recognize them quickly, so you can make a decision about allowing them into your life, or about continuing the same behaviors, if you see they apply to you.
They get pleasure from others being in those states, and will seek to disrupt other’s lives to create those states in them.
A few signs someone might be an emotional sadist:
Emotional sadists continue behaviors that you have said hurt you.
This is the super-duper biggie sooooo-obvious one. You said that a particular behavior hurts you, and they continued. A lot. Some of the time, they even pile on additional pain by mocking your hurt.
Emotional sadists tell you that you are not good enough.
Remember, they love to see you sad and insecure or jealous. They will say whatever they can to get those feelings out of you. And it may not be obvious. After all these people are great at getting what they need out of your emotions. You’ll find, though, that just when you need uplifting, they’ll say something that will push you further down.
Emotional sadists will shift blame onto you, to make you apologize and feel bad about things that aren’t your fault.
Like the fact that they ran out of gas on the way to work this morning, since they drove when taking you out for dinner last night. Because your fault, duh.
And on top of that, they’ll also say things like, “I know you don’t care about my fractured toe, but I’m healing,” to suggest you should take blame for not caring enough for them to ask them a million times a day how they are doing.
Identifying Emotional Masochists
An emotional masochist not only enjoys misery, they seek it out. They derive pleasure from all the negative emotions they can feel.
And when I say pleasure, I don’t necessarily mean it makes them happy, LOL! That would ruin the emotional masochism. There is a certain satisfaction in feeling terrible. Maybe they feel like they don’t deserve to be happy, or that they need to be punished with emotion. I doubt any emotional masochist would ever admit to feeling pleasure about feeling miserable.
Emotional masochists a like dogs returning to their own vomit.
I always loved that line from the bible. SOOOOO excited I found a use for it in my writings!
That toxic person who hurt them, that they finally cut out of their life? Yeah, they picked up the phone to call, see “how they were doing, you know?”
Emotional masochists LOOK for something to go wrong.
When things are going well, they look for what could go wrong, or even manufacture things out of thin air.
Ever heard the phrase “borrow trouble”? Emotional masochists are world-class Olympians at that shit. Whatever is going right is not good enough. They are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, and usually obsessing about it, and trying on the pain for size, because they just can’t feel comfortable being happy.
Emotional masochists are often drawn to misery.
You’d think that they would be drawn to emotional sadists, and they are. However, they also tend to surround themselves whenever possible with emotional negativity, because misery loves company.
These people will seem to love you most when you are sad or angry or upset in any way, because they get to selfishly wallow in their own negativity with you.
Emotional masochists constantly put themselves in situations to feel pain.
They will start fights to show someone’s “true colors.” They will seek out cruel people who put them down. They will not stand up for themselves, but constantly complain about how they are treated. They’ll take the blame for everything, even things that not even remotely their fault, “I should have known that would happen if I was too sick to go to the party…”
How should we deal with emotional sadists and masochists?
The answer to this is going to be very individual.
I’ve know an emotional masochist for most of my life. I absolutely adore them. They are an amazing person, and I would never ever want them out of my life.
I have learned to understand their behaviors, and work around them.
Luckily for me, I am not an emotional masochist, so I found that I could separate my misery from theirs. Not only did I not have to be miserable just because they were, but I’ve also been able to shake them out of it now and again, and show them a better option in certain circumstances.
So, I count that as a win.
As for emotional sadists, I’ve learned a trick where I feel less hurt if I suspect someone is trying to hurt me, or if I sense a pattern of behavior.
Probably because I lived through an abusive relationship. He was not an emotional sadist, just a bi-polar alcoholic with narcissistic tendencies and an inability to take the blame for anything.
But that’s another story.
Anyway emotional sadists’ tricks don’t work on me the way they used to, so I’m not sure that I have any in my life. There is easier prey elsewhere.
Should we simply distance ourselves from it?
Some people you’ll love, and want to find a way to keep them around, learning to work with their quirks.
Many others will deserve to be cut out of your life. If their emotional sadism or emotional masochism in turn affects you, and bring negativity to your life, you have a right to decide that it is not for you, once you recognize the pattern of behavior.
And that is the key: a pattern of behavior.
Because whether someone is an actual emotional sadist, you have a right to feel amazing around them. And even is someone is an emotional masochist, you have a right to not give in when they try to pick a fight or share misery.
But recognizing what is happening is the first step.