The space between us and other people

   This space I’m talking about is the distance we like to have between us and other people and which makes us feel safe. Have you noticed the fact that we keep a smaller distance between us and our friends compared to the one we keep between us and strangers?

   Based on the type of relationship we have with other people, there are several zones. These zones are also influenced by our core beliefs. For example, if we are insecure about ourselves (low self esteem, the lack of confidence and so on) we like to keep a bigger distance between us and people compared to us feeling strong and confident.

   The first zone is the intimate space which is between 0 and 50 centimeters. In this space only our boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse can reach. I’ll call it the love zone. The second zone is the personal space which is between 50 and 150 centimeters. Here is where our good friends and family can come (excluding the spouse). Ok, we can let the spouse in too. We’re not that selfish. I’ll call it the “I accept you, but don’t f*ck it up” zone. The next one is the personal zone which goes from 150 centimeters to 350 centimeters. Here is the space we like to keep between us and people we barely know, but not complete strangers. I’m naming it the “Don’t come closer or I’ll bite” zone. The final one is the social space where we would like for strangers to be. It goes from 350 to infinite centimeters. It’s the “F*ck off” zone.

   These distances are only the theoretical distances we feel the most comfortable with those types of people and we can test them. They differ from one person to another, as I said before. When an acquaintance steps into the “I accept you, but don’t f*ck it up” zone, we can feel some level of anxiety. Because these zones differ from a person to another, we are constantly trespassing into the wrong zone without realizing it so we can create some anxiety for other people without actually doing anything wrong.

   I find this interesting because we sometimes notice when someone feels anxious around us and we’re starting to wonder why because apparently we did nothing wrong. We can make infinite stupid scenarios when actually it can be just about the fact that we went a few centimeters too close to that person.

   Have you notice this happening for you? If so, in what circumstances?

38 thoughts on “The space between us and other people

  1. For me what is more noticeable is people who don’t appreciate space; I wouldn’t do it to others yet some people feel it’s acceptable to be almost breathing down your neck.

    In these cases, if I can’t move away, I’ll just reverse this back on them and put my elbows/bag/whatever into their space.

    Maybe I’ll bump into them…I’ll take control of the situation and be the one who decides what happening because clearly they don’t understand the concept of personal boundaries 🙂

  2. Fuck off zone… Lol. Do it all the time with people who disappoint me. They don’t get to be in my personal space anymore.

  3. It depends on every person, I think. I’m an innate clingy person, even strangers, and so if the stranger is somewhat really uneasy around strangers (like me; I’m a stranger to them). I guess my love language is “Physical Touch”, even just like a pat in the back, hugs or holding hands make me feel loved and it’s already natural to me (touches in private or sensitive areas are not accepted, tho).

      1. When I shake hands, my hands stay longer with theirs (while talking). I like hugging people even with just acquaintances and I kiss the cheeks (just the opposite sex tho). It feels like I’m a total creep but if they’re friendly enough and I feel it’s okay with them, I get very clingy.

      2. The best thing is to say it straight to our faces (in my opinion) since one person honestly told me about how she felt when I’m being too clingy. After that incident, yes, I was hurt, but now I was more aware than ever of my surroundings. You can also maybe use milder words so you won’t hurt someone, maybe say it in a joking way just to be not too serious. The important thing is, you let us know.

      3. And with an additional: “If you get any closer, you’d need to give me a ring or something.” Maybe sarcasm will do the trick.

      4. Yes, I believe it may, without making those people feel too bad. Let me know the reactions if you try it.

  4. I find it interesting that the same distance can feel different depending on the density of people in a public space. On a packed subway I might be able to tolerate a person being in physical contact with me, whereas on a non-crowded subway if someone came and sat right up against me I would find it very invasive.

    1. Yes, that’s interesting. I think in situations like these we try to “express” our discomfort differently because it’s not like we have a choice in a packed subway. We usually avoid eye contact with any cost and we try so have a neutral body posture to keep a psychological distance since the physical one cannot be kept.

  5. I do like a distance between me and people. In the past just being within a mile of other people freaked me out and I hated hated hated for anyone I didn’t know to speak to me for any reason. It would absolutely put me in a tailspin because I never felt comfortable around anyone. I can speak to people now if I absolutely have to but I still don’t appreciate those people at the grocery store who stand right next to you like I’m paying and you would think they are part of my group because they can see me enter my information. I don’t care how much I heal I will never like people like that.

  6. I’m with Ashleylia. Public transit is the worst – especially when there is no barrier between you and a seat mate, and they’re budged up closer than your spouse usually gets. I don’t like crowds at all – because personal space you either pay through the nose for – concerts and the like; or people are just pushing and shoving. It’s not worth it. I try to leave a HUGE bubble between myself and others.

  7. I died laughing reading this because it just happened last night at an event. I don’t think the person meant anything by it but I was like ummm why is this person inching closer I’m obviously scooting away as they get closer and I was trying my best but to be rude 🤷🏽‍♀️ then I was just like ok whatever it’s only for 1 minuet as long as they don’t touch me the wrong way I’m good lol

    1. Events are full of these kind of situations. I went to a wedding two nights ago and personal space is just a beautiful dream at these events.

  8. I’ve never thought about it before, but now realize this is why I’m so anxious all the time.
    I put everyone in the fuck off zone, except lovers, and acquaintances are always getting too close.
    Hmmm… How to fix it?

      1. Good question. Right now, I have strangers, acquaintances, and lovers.
        Since I’m just getting back out into the world, I have to make friends.
        I’m gonna have to think on it.

      2. I believe that once you’ll figure out how would you like for things to be, you can start making a plan for the change.

  9. I have so many mixed emotions about this one. Really it depends on my mood. On a productive day peeps be flashing looks like, “Okay lady with the plate of bread chill out, let me get my bagel” and on my lowest points peeps are peeping into the kitchen like, “Can we have some bread please?” I’m working on evening things out. Just take a breath and work on that dignified way. ;p

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