Proxemics and touching

prox·e·mics (prk-smks)
n. (used with a sing. verb) The study of the cultural, behavioral, and sociological aspects of spatial distances between individuals.

I find I’m not very good at this. I know there is a lot of communication going on with touch. People touch each other all the time. I’ve read that in a book about communication body language. So I’ve been trying to apply what I’ve been reading.

I’m like a lot of others and and can’t take strangers touching me. But I’ve been trying to understand this. So far, no luck. I am either in your face, too close and I scare people, or I’m considered aloof and cold. Family who I’m comfortable with can touch me all they want. My sis holds my hand a lot when there is a situation she’s unsure about. (That is amazing to me. One squeeze of my hand and I can tell she’s scared about something. Or if she pushes my hand to the table, something is important and she doesn’t want me wandering off.)

But since I’m going into a class room soon, I’m wondering… are others good at body language and proxemics? Other’s tell me that reading personal space is intuitive. That doesn’t help me.

I’m okay with personal space and i think touching too. But i’m not touched a lot. I never have been except in romantic relationships. The most actual touching i do is with my dog. I don’t have a problem with it though if someone were to touch me.

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I remember watching something once about body language. Standing with your arms crossed is supposed to indicate to others that you don’t want them to close. Not everyone will recognize this though. My husband is horrible at understanding private space. I used to dislike people touching me. Now I’m more accepting. If you don’t want to talk to others in your class then try not to make to much eye contact. Try not to stress about it.

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There is a friend of my kid sisters who I call “touchy feely girl” She is always putting her hand on my arm or she’ll take my hand. It sort of freaks me out. I have asked her not to, but she say’s she’s just expressive. The sis says she has a mad crush. :stuck_out_tongue:
(the sis is a hopeful romantic)

I’m trying to figure out where to stand. When I was younger, I was in peoples face all the time. I had NO sense of personal boundaries. After I got ill, and empty room wasn’t enough space for me. I’m trying to figure out how to judge that middle point. For my job… I’m in the middle of a park. More then enough space. But in a class room… I’m trying not to freak myself out.

When I cross my arms, I have been known to start rocking so I usually try not to cross them. I have my hands in my hair a lot. Most pictures of me, my hands are in my hair. It’s a family trait I’ve come to learn. My Dad and brothers all do it too. Eye contact is something I will be working on.

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i would be nervous in a class room too but for different reasons not eye contact or body space. I think you will be okay because really in a college setting you are looking at the prof. not everyone around you the majority of the time. But you do sometimes get into groups.

I think your sister’s friend does sound like she likes you. :wink:


I had to learn body language because of an obsession I had about trying to read people’s mind, and maybe also to know if people can really read my thoughts…It’s much more comforting to me this way, but I don’t do the reading thing because I feel it’s stepping over people’s emotional privacy, I got so good for a period of time, now I’m only able to tell which digit the person is thinking about just by looking at him/her, I freak people out by that and it’s fun :laughing: , but other emotions and other thoughts are really hard to know, and it gives me relief on the personal level that my thoughts are deep buried in my head :smile:, but telepathy is what worries me sometimes, when I get too close to someone we start saying the same sentences synchronized together, saying the same ideas I had, it happened with a number of people I knew on a close level, that’s a sort of telepathy !

My kid sis can tell how good a swimmer someone is by how they walk to the pool edge. I used to be amazed by that until she told me how she did it.

If they look around and stall and a fidget, and sit down to get in, she knows they are a new swimmer. If they just breeze in and don’t give the deep end a second look, she knows they are strong swimmers. She taught me how to have some fun at a new pool.

Act hesitant and sort of scared and then head for the deep end. Jump in weird and then bust out a 50 of butterfly… She’s right, Lifeguards get really funny about that. :wink:

I generally find touching to be uncomfortable. Most of the physical contact in my life has been my mother hugging me or training in Krav Maga, two very different things. But I did kiss a girl a couple times this year, that was a big step for me.

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hey, autistic like about society’s behavior though i am, i know one thing for sure:
if she touches you it’s flirting (it’s probably flirting way before that but that’s all over my head);
one simple way to not have to read anyone’s body language,
broadcast the “keep out” sign with your own -
plenty of people in a big city do just that, and maintain the right to totally flip out if you cross an invisible line and “get in their face”;

i never heard the word proxemics so thanks for that,
pretty sure it doesn’t apply to me as nobody touches me or gets nearly that close,
i used to say 34th street herald square new york city on dec 24 with 50 % of all new yorkers doing all their christmas shopping that day in that neighborhood, i used to say that’s a sociological study as they all bump into eachother and it’s like bumper cars, it’s expected and unmentioned, but a better word for that from now on is it’s a study in proxemics. that and new years eve in times square.

but i moved to bay area california - spread out here - no family, only proxemics i deal with is demons clinging and sucking and biting and stinging, guess a parasite is anathema to proxemics…


I don’t like strangers or even more distant family members moving into my personal space. I don’t like people near my food or near my face. At the Christmas Eve party, my cousin’s wife got too close to me, I cringed.
I have gotten better with this, but I really do believe it’s a schizophrenic thing.

i think it is like looking at a painting, you don’t go to close to the painting or to far away , when i look at art i am about six feet away that is comfortable .
if you get to know them better you can reduce it to four feet.
my personal space is about a field apart from some one, but country people have a need for a greater personal space ( that is actually factual - proven )
if some one touches me they do so at their own peril !
take care

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