I am a social person. I enjoy company, conversation, personal interaction with others.
My enjoyment of others’ company is, however, indirectly proportional to their physical proximity to me.
That is, the closer you get to me, the less I like you.
I frequently encounter people who have personal space issues. Actually, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I have personal space issues, and those people (who I tend to strenuously avoid), have the opposite of personal space issues. These are people who by habit or design, tend to move in very close when they talk. Some even touch without invitation.
I don’t appreciate that.
Let me explain something to you. When you get all up in my grill, I stop listening to you. I am not enjoying our conversation, or your company. I am figuring out how to get the hell away from you. And it sucks every ounce of my attention from what you are saying.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a germ-o-phobe or suffering from one of the many pathological aversions to physical contact. There are people whose physical contact I very much enjoy. Those people I seek out. Occasionally.
But if I don’t know you well – if we have never slept under the same roof, or if you do not know something about me that no one else knows – I don’t want you close enough to be able to discern what you had for lunch by the smell of your breath. If I do not especially like you (or even if I do sometimes), it’s a safe bet that touching my arm for emphasis will result in an “accidental” foot-stomping.
Sometimes, the personal space issue can be an advantage. Most people, I would argue, have the same no-fly zone as I do, give or take a few inches. When someone is in my way, say, at the grocery store, I do enjoy the passive-aggressive experience of sidling up to them, encroaching a little, invading if necessary*. Almost invariably, they ease out of my way without so much as a move-your-cart-you-insensitive-jackass. It’s almost like pushing the south poles of two magnets together. They naturally repel each other. It backfires, of course, if you are horning in on one of those close talkers, the people who welcome interlopers into their atmosphere. They just think you want to make friends.
The moral of the story is that I have no interest in counting the number of pores on your nose. Stop dragging me into your inner sanctum. I would rather back off a cliff to avoid you than risk having to wipe your spittle from my glasses.
And hey, sorry about your foot. I really didn’t see it there. Your chin was blocking my view.
*The passive-aggressive thing can be fun, but I have been practicing the doctrine of “don’t give a f@#k”, which gives me license to politely ask anyone to do anything I want them to do. Interestingly, I have had a 100% success rate with that approach so far.