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#30905 - 08/24/05 06:20 AM Don't touch me guys!
Grunty1967b Offline

Registered: 07/28/05
Posts: 861
Loc: Australia
I was in a staff meeting the other day, and another male colleague entered the room, was pleased to see me and came over, placed his arm around me and gave me a hug. FREAK ME OUT! DON'T TOUCH ME I THOUGHT!

That same week, I visited my parents. As I entered my father (who is no touchy-feely guy) came over to me, shaked my hand (which I can cope with) and then HE HUGGED ME TOO! What gives? Is this a invade my space week?

What am I going on about you might ask? Well, it's not that I don't want to be liked or have that conveyed, it's just the whole thing of me hating it when other men touch me. Guess where that comes from?

My struggle is what do I do in those instances? It took all my strength to not react physically at that staff meeting. Probably the fact that it was in public helped constrain me to not react, but I cringed inside like nothing before. I was hurt and felt angry that this person would violate me and instigate such a close, intimate embrace without my consent. On the other hand, I also thought immediately that he was only trying to be welcoming. Perhaps that thought, and the fact that it was in public was enough to help me say and do nothing (externally at least).

I thought of saying something to him later, like please don't do that because (some lame excuse would follow - not the real truth), but then he probably wouldn't get it.

So there's probably no magic fix here, but I'd just so much like it if people didn't invade other peoples' personal space and thrust themselves physically on you. I never do it to others out of repsect - and a personal experience of being sensitive to others. Why can't they? Can't they just say they're glad to see me?

#30906 - 08/24/05 08:00 AM Re: Don't touch me guys!
Dewey2k Offline

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 3069
I think the reason people invade other people's space is that they don't have the same experiences we do, and they are taught, at least to some degree, that touch is how appreciation and/or friendship is expressed. This is why our fear of contact seems just as foreign to them as their desire or need of contact is to us.

When I run into someone who violates my space, I back off and ask them politely to step back a foot so I don't have to look at them cross-eyed, or that it makes me uncomfortable. I don't go any further than that, because anything more is none of their business.

#30907 - 08/24/05 08:16 AM Re: Don't touch me guys!
willtobecomplete Offline

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 51
Loc: IL
I totally agree, i am learning spanish, and I switched to a spanish congregation to help me along and in the Spanish Culture the men are just really touchy, putting their arm around you, hugging, feeling your tricep muscle in your arm, patting your stomach, i like you was just freaking out at this and I came to two conclusions.
One that it is just the culture, to them it is just like a hand shake, they just don't understand, it's a very warm, welcoming gesture, that is just what they do it out of. I had to talk to this one guy, because every time I would see him, it would just be any combination of the above mentioned items. I explained that to someone that wasn't raised that way, that this kind of touching makes most men from another culture very uncomfortable, and that I was making me uncomfortable, so please stop doing that. He was just shocked, it took him a couple minutes to understand the concept. Anyway it worked, now when we greet, it's nothing more than a hand shake.
Two, some men are just boundrey violaters like my Dad is. If they sence that it bothers you they will just do it more.

It sounds like your cowoker and your dad both did that out of the blue, if that's the case, when you tell them that it makes you uncomfortable they will more than likely resect your boundries.

"Him....who is healing all your maladies. Who is reclaiming your life from the very pit" Ps 103:3-4

#30908 - 08/24/05 07:38 PM Re: Don't touch me guys!
ForeverFighting Offline

Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 1253
Loc: New Mexico, USA
It's weird how other people feel like standing 2 inches away is normal. I spend my life backing away from people like that, and they just keep coming. I mean, if somebody backed away from me, would I keep walking forward to maintain this 2-inch distance between our faces? Surely I'd notice and get a clue.

One kid with whom I've always been close recently hit his teen years. He grew about a foot and 100 pounds. He's now a big guy, overweight, but he still thinks he can be right next to me all the time. He's a kid, so I could get away with just pushing him away and asking, "Has anyone ever talked to you about 'personal space'?" There's another older guy that freaks me out. He thinks he's the funniest guy on the planet, so he tells me something I completely do not understand, but he thinks it's funny, so he stands there, just staring me right in the eye with this goofy grin on his face. I want to scream or yell or take off running or something.

In other words, I don't have the answer. A lot of those guys are just trying to be friendly, and I don't want to offend them for their being nice to me. If I can see a hug or an unwelcome touch coming, I'll stand too far away with no welcoming gestures at all. A lot of people get the hint. But as you say, there are those that don't.

And to Will, if some guy came up and started patting my stomach, I don't care what culture it is. My arm would prevent it.

"This search for the truth--it's not for the faint of heart."--Goren on 'Law & Order: CI'
"The former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart."--Isaiah 65:17

#30909 - 08/24/05 09:01 PM Re: Don't touch me guys!
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

I guess this will just confirm what willtobecomplete has already said.

My professional academic field concerns the Middle East, so I have had to deal with this issue of personal space for years. I remember when I was a student in Beirut I would feel like my new Arab friends were pursuing me around the room, while they thought hey, where is this guy going?, come back here! \:\)

It really is a cultural thing, and people from Mediterranean lands have a much smaller zone of personal space that another person just doesn't violate without suggesting some kind of intimacy. Beyond that, men routinely hug and kiss in public and it is not unusual to see two men holding hands in the street. One of my best friends is an Arabic bookseller in Nablus in the West Bank, for example, and when I go see him he is just overjoyed. There is a great flurry of hugging and kissing, and then he wants to go hand-in-hand down the street for coffee and sweets. That kind of thing is very difficult for me, but I have always gone along with it since not to do so would be taken as a rejection of the other guy's sincere gestures of genuine friendship. And interestingly enough, if we are conversing in Arabic it doesn't bother me at all.

In recent years there has also been this "Men's Movement" promoted by Robert Bligh and others, and part of that involves encouraging men to show their emotions more. I was in Chicago and staying with a friend who was going through some rough times in his marriage, and he met me at O'Hare and gave me what he called a "men's movement hug". I wasn't expecting it, so I really felt like I wanted to fall through the floor.

I guess my reaction to touching is the same as for many other guys. When I was a kid my abuser liked to play around with his victim before feasting; it was a kind of sick foreplay for him and it somehow thrilled him when he had me so frightened that I was crying and trembling. So for Little Larry today, touching is something that is associated with shame and hurt. I can be okay about it if I am emotionally prepared and know it's coming, but otherwise it just reminds me what a mess I still am.

Take care,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)


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