How close is too close: defining personal space

Lately, I’ve been battling with whether or not I want my personal space. By personal space I am referring to when people are within an arm’s length of me.

Back in Argentina, I wouldn’t even consider my personal space as “my property” because it is completely normal for friends to hug you or be close to you, sometimes closer that you would like.

When I came to the U.S, I had to restrain myself from hugging people, and for a very long time I was more than happy with doing so. My personal space was free from intruders, and I could live without worries.

Not that I don’t like personal contact of any kind, don’t get me wrong, I do. But I’m only comfortable with it on certain occasions.

However, after a while of being surrounded by Americans with different cultural habits than me, I started to miss that warm sign of affection. The problem is, now I find myself in the limbo of hugs– I just don’t know when to give them.

If I develop a good friendship with someone, I find myself inclined to hug him or her, but if I don’t really know the person very well, then hugs are always out of the question. This is because for me a hug might be a simple way of greeting someone, but in the U.S it might mean something else. There are different types of hugs, and it all depends of what type of hug you are giving.

If you are saying hi to a friend, the normal hug would be the side-to-side hug, where two people stand next to each other embracing around the waist or shoulders.

The side-to-side hug is a friendship saver. There are no confusions generated by this hug. If someone gives you one, that means you are just friends and there is no intention of invading your personal space.

If you want to get more personal, the front hug it’s what you are looking for. You have to be careful with this hug because even though huggers stand about a foot and a half apart, one person may interpret that there is something more than friendship between them. These hugs are to be given only 0n special occasions.

The most important and common hug is custom-tailored. It’s the one where you squeeze the other person to the point that there is no space between the two of you. Don’t try this one at home if you are not ready to see the consequences.

Being in a culture where people are not used to hugging as much makes it kind of hard to find the right balance between respecting their personal space and demonstrating your affection for them.

After considering these factors, I have realized that I would rather have the affection of my friends than keep my personal space.

Are you a hugger? Would you rather hug someone or keep your personal space? What other types of hugs do you like to give?

3 thoughts on “How close is too close: defining personal space

  1. This is so true! In Singapore, guys and girls don’t really hug that much. It can be taken as too personal. But girls aren’t afraid to hug their best girl friends. The types of hugs I give depend on the closeness of my friendship. Side-hugs are reserved for just-friends, but full hugs are reserved for close friends.

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