Don’t Stand So Close to Me

June 5, 2006    By: Kristen J @ 9:48 pm   Category: Life

I have always enjoyed my personal space. You know what I mean, that little foot or so of space that surrounds your body. For the most part I don’t like people to enter this space unless they have been invited by me either through word or gesture.

Occasionally I have come across someone that is a “close talker”. This is a person who stands in the previously mentioned circle of personal space and tries to have a conversation with you. I usually can’t concentrate on what this person is saying because all I can think is how this person is standing way too close to me, or how I really wish this person weren’t standing so close to me. If you want to tell me something important make sure you give me my personal space so I can listen to what you are saying.

I don’t always need a foot of personal space… sometimes I need a lot more. For instance, if you go into a public restroom and there are numerous empty stalls don’t use the one right next to me. Use the one that is farthest from any other stall in use. I know that isn’t always practical and sometimes you have to use a stall that is adjacent to one that is already in use. That’s fine, but for Pete’s sake don’t let your little kid peek up into my stall.

Another area where I need a lot of personal space is the movie theatre. If I’m sitting in a nearly empty theatre there is no need for you to sit in the row in front or behind me or the seats next to me. Please give me a buffer row or two. Now if the theatre is bursting at the seams then go a head and sit next to me. I’ll completely understand and I might even share my popcorn with you.

If you run into me somewhere and I’m pregnant just remember this one simple rule: No touchy! I know that pregnant people look cute and I guess they must look really nurturing which must make people feel comfortable in touching the pregnant woman’s stomach. You wouldn’t greet me with a little pat on the stomach if I wasn’t pregnant so you probably shouldn’t do it when I am pregnant (which I’m not in case you’re wondering).

Don’t get me wrong, I find people immensely interesting and fun to be around. I love to get together with friends, people watch when possible, and lend a hand or a hug when I’m needed. Maybe I just have a mild case of social anxiety disorder.


  1. My thing is people who crowd up behind me when waiting in a checkout line. I react similarly to when people tailgate me–I leave a huge amount of space between me and the person ahead of me.

    Comment by Susan M — June 6, 2006 @ 7:16 am

  2. I totally agree. The line thing drives me crazy but tailgating really makes me nuts. I always try to leave a big distance between me and the next guy but usually some other bozo zips in there because there’s so much room. Aaagghh!

    Comment by Kristen J — June 6, 2006 @ 7:20 am

  3. I always roll my window down when I see someone approaching like that and going to follow me too closely, in case they hit me and the car catches on fire and I can’t open the door.

    Then I get the heck out of their way.

    I never tailgate. If I ever feel tempted, I mentally rein myself in and make myself slow down, no matter how frustrated I get.

    I have to have hours of unscheduled time at home every day or I go bonkers. I need that much space.

    Comment by annegb — June 6, 2006 @ 8:07 am

  4. There is a sister in our ward who has this thing about shaking hands. Imagine that, a mormon who is active who doesn’t like the idea of shaking people’s hands.

    Maybe she has a point.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — June 6, 2006 @ 8:50 am

  5. Funny post Kristen. I’m the same way. I hate people too close. I was in a buffet line at BYU-Hawaii one time and left a foot of space between me and the person in front of me. Well apparently it was just enough space for some person to decide I wasn’t in line. ughh!

    Also I was just at an emergency preparedness fair and the guy was talking about what to do in the event of a bird flu epidemic. He said don’t get closer than 3 feet to anyone so the disease won’t pass to you. I thought I’d implement that right now! Give me my space!

    Comment by Jamie J — June 6, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

  6. So we were driving back from San Diego last year and some yutz in a Camaro decided to use me as his pace car. The problem was he was tailgating so there we were on the open Interstate 8 with no one around and this guy is tailgating me! When I moved into the passing lane he followed. I was so annoyed. I finally started coasting and once we got below 45 MPH he woke up and passed. Of course it wasn’t long before I passed him again (he had no pace car and all) and the whole dance started again. No amount of our dirty looks deterred this guy… Sheesh!

    Comment by Geoff J — June 6, 2006 @ 1:25 pm

  7. Kristen, I hear what you’re saying. There must be some mystic way to drive others away… calling upon the four watchtowers and opening a sacred circle of protection, wearing a t-shirt that says GO AWAY, or purposefully obtaining Doritos or Garlic-breath comes to mind. :) You could also dress nicely, bring someone else with you, and carry a bible and some slightly undersized magazines around with you wherever you go.

    Comment by Jeff Day — June 6, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  8. Well it looks like I’m not the only one suffering from S.A.D.

    I don’t think I’d do well in certain cultures because of the personal space issues. One time I was in a store with people that were clearly tourists from Japan. A bunch of them were standing very close to me and I felt like pulling my hair and running screaming from the store. Someone later told me that personal space wasn’t a big issue in Japan because it was just a crowded place. I don’t know if that’s true but it made sense to me.

    The funny thing is I’m not claustrophobic at all. I’ve been spelunking and loved every minute of it. It’s not tight places but close people that bug me I guess.

    Comment by Kristen J — June 6, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

  9. Geoff, that’s why very bright lights are useful.

    Comment by Clark — June 6, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  10. First of all, what are the chances of me running into you pregnant… again!?!

    Secondly, I think when your pregnant belly sticks out past the one foot, normal body space, it is considered fair game to all gravitating paws!

    Anyway, there is one sure way to keep people from getting too close- I believe it is called “screaming toddler in arms” Works for me every time!

    Comment by Cat Redinbo — June 6, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  11. So what are you saying Cat? Are you trying to say that I’m super huge when I’m pregnant?

    Just jokin’, I loved your comment, the toddler thing is too true. It usually works for me too. It gets people to stand about 15 feet away from me and either give me dirty looks or say, “My don’t you have your hands full!”. People are so cute and funny when they say that!

    Comment by Kristen J — June 6, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  12. Toddlers are great for that. They are also great for handling phone spam. Don’t recognize the phone number on caller ID? Give the phone to your toddler. They love to talk on the phone anyway. It works even better if they don’t speak any English at all yet but love to bable.

    Comment by Clark — June 6, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

  13. Too funny. I’m going to have to try that one out.

    Comment by Kristen J — June 7, 2006 @ 8:18 am

  14. Since my wife became pregnant with our first, I’ve wondered often what it is about pregnancy that:
    1) makes others think it’s okay to just touch a pregnant woman;
    2) gives license to all sorts of extremely personal questions directed at the expectant mother that would never be considered appropriate when posed to other people.

    The spontaneous, “Oh, let me feel it kick,” really bugged my wife, too. Fight for that space! What was that Safety Kids song about personal space?

    Comment by Justin H — June 7, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  15. My wife and her missionary companion in Sweden had a major issue with my wife’s lack of personal space. My wife had no idea that it bothered her companion. It was clear that my wife bugged her and that she was simply irritated by her. But my wife didn’t know it until the Zone leaders came to work with them. Finally it came out. Her companion said: ” can’t stand it. She doesn’t give me any space. She is always in my space, invading my space, taking over what I need to function.”

    I really adore the fact that my wife invites me into her personal space. My personal space is different. I found out about a week after we were married and she walked into the bathroom while I was … ahem, occupied. I was discombobulated, discomfitted and just flat out stunned. How could she do that? I have demanded since then that she respect me personal space — the man’s prerogative to be left alone at certain times in his cave where ever it may be.

    You see, she grew up in a house where there was only one bathroom. Peaceful co-existence demanded the ability to tolerate others in this very privagte space and private time. She didn’t know anyone felt like I do. We had four bathrooms — and the notion that someone could just walk in wall … well, unthinkable. It was beyond insult. It was downright perverted.

    There you have it. I have dragged this wonderful site down to potty humor.

    Comment by Blake — June 7, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  16. No, I understand exactly what you’re saying although if you have a lot of little toddlers running around and you are their mother than you can just forget having privacy in that area.

    Anytime you lock that door it drives them absolutely crazy and they scream and pound on the door until you are done. Now if you leave the door open during these private times (I never do that when other adults are in the house) than nobody cares what you are doing in there.

    Comment by Kristen J — June 7, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

  17. Since I started my new job, I’ve been taking the (Washington DC) Metro to work and have become acutely aware of my need for personal space. Specifically, if I can’t have both seats in a row to myself, I would rather stand. I notice I’m not the only one. Yesterday, I was in a car in which there were plenty of empty seats, just no two empty seats adjacent to each other, and there were still several people standing besides me.

    I also find people are less likely to sit next to me if I’m reading The Ensign or the Book of Mormon while I’m riding.

    Comment by V the K — June 14, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  18. That’s good to know. I’ll have to bring some BoM’s when I need some personal space.

    Comment by kristen j — June 14, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

  19. Kristen,

    I’m with you on the personal space thing. The one that gets me is the leaner. You can be talking to someone who is otherwise far enough away from you, when he leans in close to emphasize a point. I’m not sure if I should hold my ground or step back.

    Incidently, this doesn’t seem to bother me if the leaner is female. I’m sure that means something.

    Comment by Bishop Rick — June 21, 2006 @ 10:04 pm