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Why Do I Freak out When Ex Tries to Hug Me?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From a young woman in Azerbaijan:  Hello, First of all, thanks a lot to give me this opportunity. I just wonder one thing that I can’t figure out and it bothers me a lot.

I had a relationship 3 years ago and it had a very painful end which also caused me more trust issues than I had before. The breakup was calmer than the relationship itself and we stayed friends but after 3 years this person showed up again and apologizes over and over again and proposes me.

During all these years we have met some times like a friend and sometimes more than friends. Actually, I believe that he has become a better person but I do not want him in my life anymore. But my problem is whenever he tries to get close me like a normal hug or anything more than a simple handshake freaks me out and I start to have something like a mini panic attack.

Whenever I feel bad or angry I can not breathe well and this also happens whenever he tries a physical contact (a hug or a kiss). The problem is I have never felt this way before about him. I was the one that always hugged him but now I feel kind of threatened and do not know why. And it bothers me because I literally freak out as if someone is harrassing me (he is definitely not doing it).

I do not understand what is wrong with me and why it causes me mini panic attacks to talk about our past. May be I am exaggerating but I just needed the urge to talk to someone professional. If you could tell me anything I would be grateful.
P.S. I have never sexually assaulted before.

Why Do I Freak out When Ex Tries to Hug Me?

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing. I wonder if your unconscious is helping you. You broke up with this guy for a reason. You say you don’t want him in your life. Yet you continue to see him now and then, sometimes as “more than friends”, despite your history with him.

Your unconscious seems to be stronger than you are. Since you won’t say “no” to getting together, your inner self sends you a resounding message of “noooo” by giving you a panic attack. Deep inside you know that a hug can lead to closeness that isn’t good for you.

Listen to yourself. You want to move on. Do it. Stop seeing him. You are giving him false encouragement. You know that you shouldn’t pursue a relationship with a guy you don’t trust — even though he may have changed.

There’s nothing wrong with refusing to be friends with an ex. Sometimes it’s a really bad idea. I think your inner voice is telling you this is one of those times. Make yourself available to someone you can trust and who will cherish you as you deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Why Do I Freak out When Ex Tries to Hug Me?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Why Do I Freak out When Ex Tries to Hug Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 Feb 2020 (Originally: 14 Feb 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 12 Feb 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.