Aunty ji se poocho

My cousin’s hugs feel weird – am I overreacting?

By Auntyji Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 05:30
Q: Auntyji I am in a real quandary, I just don’t know what to do and what is going to happen. When my cousin hugs me these days… it feels different. What should I do?

We are a very demonstrative family and very used to hugging and kissing each other – it’s quite the done thing in my family. So it’s very common among us cousins also. But Auntyji, my first cousin – something is different with him now. He is a little older than us all, and is working, so is pretty cool and all.

But now I feel he is looking at me a bit differently and maybe even his way of hugging me has become different. He is very popular and so are his parents, in fact everyone looks up to them. Auntyji, I just don’t know what to do... if I say something, it may reflect on my parents and that will become a really ugly situation. So he hasn’t done anything as such but I am feeling a bit odd... maybe I am overreacting...? Sheetal, 19 Jaipur

Auntyji says... Bete Sheetal, I don’t know about the overreacting – but bête seedhe baat – this surely merits some reaction. Yeh jaan lo,  you have not done anything wrong or bad. Be confident of that! Now let’s get talking.

So you can feel it – its making you uncomfortable? Then it’s wrong for you, period. Conversation over. Do you get what I mean beta Sheetal? So bold and commendable of you to share your situation with us, you have no idea how many young people go through exactly this or very similar situations and just don’t know what to do and keep putting up with behaviour which is totally abusive.

So sabse pehele, you are a touchy-feely family, nice! Works for you all, or so we think.  Sure be warm and friendly, but at the very same time, equally clear and explicit rules and boundaries have to be established as well. More often than not the people who do it have to be adults who are watching and allowing this behaviour. They are the ones who have to be clear and. So while affection and its display is fine, it cannot be allowed to cross a line or sanctioned under the garb of, “we are a very demonstrative family”. Quite bluntly, no one, not even the closest of family’s, can take 100 percent ownership that “this sort of a thing will never happen in our family”.

Sexual moves

Now as for your cousin. Sheetal, it can be two things. First, he could be testing you to see if you will allow any more than you have, or will you make a noise and a ‘fuss’. If you don’t do anything and let him do what he is doing,  he will only get bolder. Maybe not only with you, but perhaps a younger cousin, a child in the family?

He could also see your silence as consent – “She is saying nothing so she must want it too.” So beta ji,  my question is what exactly are you waiting for when you say, “He hasn’t done anything as such.” What does he need to do to confirm to you that he is making sexual moves on you? You are very sure the complexion of the affection has suddenly changed, you are feeling it – then it’s there Sheetal. Don’t brush it under the carpet saying, maybe I am confused. No you are not. You know something has changed and you are uncomfortable, you just don’t want admit it because the family stuff is freaking you out.

It would freak anyone out – and it does. Within the family, matters like this can really blow up a storm and that is exactly the reason why cousins like this one try it. They know you won’t say anything because of the ‘family sanctity’.

Be assertive

So Sheetal, what do you want to do? Continue this way? Hide and scoot? Run and avert? You may be able to do that but there is no reason he will be OK with it. He may follow you or confront you: “What is wrong with you? Why are you avoiding me these days?” And you will be left defending yourself. Or if he is a little savvy and smart, he can be public about it, and yet again you will be left defending yourself, almost being encouraged to be your ‘usual’ self. Or he may get the message and tire of you and find another sister, maybe a younger cousin. You may never even get to know. He may even be doing it now. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to take that risk, Sheetal, however remote the possibility.

So beta, here it is. Don’t make a family scene. Confront him, directly or indirectly. Tell him you are finding something odd in his behaviour and you don’t like it. He won’t give up – he will pursue, be assertive and say, “Bhaiya , don’t hold or hug me – I don’t like it, something is weird, if you do it again, I will tell…” – and name a person you think he is a bit in awe of, whose opinion matters to him. Whatever you do, don’t back off Sheetal. Don’t back off saying, “maybe I got it wrong, I was a bit confused”. No, none of this. Just up front and straight. No family scene needed – let’s hope!

This is such a delicate issue Sheetal beta, and so many women and men go through it. It is very hard at so many levels, we completely understand. Be strong my dearest, may your conviction be your strength. Be strong and be prepared.

If you think you're getting a sexual vibe off someone, should you always trust your instinct? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook.  

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