What we instinctively do is mark our personal territory much like a dog would, once we’re in the presence of others. This at work, home, or on the subway. This space acts as an invisible shield, offers protection, setting a warning signal to someone if they’re too close.
Those of influence or someone who is beautiful, like politicians or movie stars, when they walk into a crowd, appears to have the ability to seemingly make more space for themselves.
So it appears the higher the status the individual is in life, the more personal space they’re given.
To Make More Room
It’s just natural instinct in the animal kingdom, the more dominant or the most violent of animals or humans, are given more space. A clear path by those who are more timid.
What this predominance does is it maintains a larger buffer zone when it comes to personal space.
They’re not challenged and are at times avoided by the more submissive animals or humans. It’s fight or flight at its best.
Inmates in maximum security prisons, are known to have lots of personal space in front of them, and less space behind them.
The reason because what they prefer is to see who’s in front of them, to see who’s approaching them. They are also wary of who may attack them from behind.
Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Whenever someone stands too close, their face actually becomes visually distorted. This is the reason why those about to kiss, will instinctively close their eyes right before the smooch.
What people will do is tilt their heads back, as if they’re leaning backwards whenever someone suddenly comes too close to their face.
This because they can’t read what the actual facial expression is, if they are too close.
Giving And Getting Personal Space
Personal space varies for individuals depending on the situation, or the emotional state they’re in. If the gender is different, or what the relationship they have with one other is.
We naturally stand closer to those who we know and like, who happens to smell and look nice.
This is the reason why there’s no physical space to breath, when it comes to those who are intimate.
Numerous times we hear “I need more space,” you’re standing too close to me, both physically and emotionally. Proximity reveals how intimate you are with each other.
If a person is comfortable with someone, they’ll stand within the intimacy zone.
Office romances for instance, without a word spoken, you can tell they’re together because of how physically close they stand to one other in the lunchroom.
Conversely, a couple who’s experiencing marital difficulties, or siblings who detest each other, will stay far away from one other while they’re walking or sitting.
There appears to be an invisible barrier which either won’t dare to cross.
Close Yet So Far Away
Proximity will also interact with other areas of nonverbal behavior such as how often there’s eye contact, their facial expression, or how often they touch one other.
A person likes you if their facial expression is inviting, they look interested and are smiling and nodding. They will subconsciously lift their eyebrow, or will subtly tilt their head.
We then feel invited, think there’s chemistry, as we physically move closer to them.
If the facial expression appears cold or neutral, masked, what we’ll instinctively do is step back.
Proximity is a prerequisite when it comes to touch. Someone can’t touch you if you’re not within arms reach.
Crowded With Strangers
Once someone is forced into body contact situations, such as in a crowed elevator, the subway, or at a concert, there’s no way anyone can get personal space.
They’ll just naturally avert the other persons gaze. Most will look away, look up, this to increase their personal “space” psychologically.
People who ride a crowded elevator or are at a concert, will all naturally face forward.
They will instinctively lower or raise their heads to minimize any unwanted attention, avoiding any form of eye contact whatsoever.
The Need To Mark Our Territory
At times, people will build actual boundaries when it comes to staking claim of their personal space. This is a popular response when there’s potential encroachment on their territory.
We will leave a sign that says “occupied” on an airplane seat, or drape a jacket over the back of a chair in a restaurant, or spread our books out on a library desk.
What doing so indicates to others is that space is occupied. It’s mine, so stay away.
What most will get is pretty upset if someone deigns to move or invades this “marked” territory, removes their stuff, which invades their privacy.
This Space Is Mine
Almost everything in life is clearly defined where an individuals territory begins, and where it ends.
A fence will separate a yard from their neighbor. Brightly painted yellow lines mark parking spaces. Doors with locks or signs clearly delineates a certain area like a bedroom.
We personally mark our own territory, that something belongs to me as we write our name on it, or use some other type of symbol such as a sign.
What you’re saying is this area belongs to me, it’s personal so stay away.
Give Me More Room
It’s found the “markers” especially females leave in restaurants or clubs, such as their sweaters or anything else personal, generally tends to be less respected than when males leave their markings.
It appears the boundaries women leave aren’t as persuasive and are invaded more easily. So consequently, women feel more violated quicker than males do.
The reason being our human instinct kicks in. It becomes survival of the fittest, which could potentially escalate into a fist fight between males when violating their territory.