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I Don’t Feel Comfortable Hugging My Dad

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I have a step father who has been taking care of my family and I since I was 9 (I’m 19 now). At first I didn’t like him bc him not being my real dad and all, but I slowly got used to him and even started calling him my dad. But in these recent years I feel as if I’m distancing myself away from him. I don’t feel 100% comfortable when it was just me and him in a room or whatnot. I used to be able to give him hugs but now I don’t hug him at all bc I don’t feel comfortable anymore. However, I hug other guys. And I am able to hug my school’s counselor(male) who is older than my stepdad by age. My mom feels upset and disappointed bc I feel comfortable hugging my school’s counselor who is a male and mature in age but ‘m not comfortable hugging my dad. I feel guilty bc my stepdad has helped my family a lot, he really sees me as his own daughter and he does truly love me but I just can’t find the love in my heart to give him…I feel as if I’m a very ungrateful child. Please help asap.

I Don’t Feel Comfortable Hugging My Dad

Answered by on -


At 19 this is a natural progression. Once you have the capacity for emotional and physical intimacy there is a natural distancing from the opposite-sex parent. I wouldn’t make too much of this — know that distancing is natural as you get ready to look for a relationship. You don’t have to feel bad or make excuses for becoming a young woman.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

I Don’t Feel Comfortable Hugging My Dad

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). I Don’t Feel Comfortable Hugging My Dad. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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