What we instinctively do is mark our personal territory, much like our 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, while setting a warning for someone who’s too close.
Those of influence or the beautiful, like politicians or movie stars, when they walk into a crowd, all appear to have the ability to seemingly make more space for themselves. So the higher the status the individual is, the more personal space that they’re given.
It’s just natural instinct in the animal kingdom that the most dominant or the most violent of animals, such as lions or alligators, are all instinctively 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 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, this because what they prefer is to see who’s in front of them, to see who’s approaching. But they’re 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 facial expression, they being so close.
Giving And Getting Personal Space
Personal space will vary for an individual this depending on the situation, the emotional state that they’re in, if the gender is different, or what the relationship they have with each other is.
We naturally stand closer to those who we know and like, who smell nice and not sour. This the reason why there’s usually no physical space to breath when it comes to those who are intimate.
Numerous times we hear “I need more space,” that you’re standing too close to me, this both physically and emotionally. Proximity reveals how intimate you are with each other.
If a person is comfortable with someone else, they’ll stand within the intimacy zone. Office romances, for instance, without a word spoken, you can tell because of how physically close they stand to each other in the lunchroom.
Conversely, a couple who’s experiencing marital difficulties, or siblings who detest each other, will stay far away from each other while they’re walking or sitting. There appears to be an invisible wall which either won’t 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 each other.
A person likes you if their facial expression is inviting, they look interested and are smiling, nodding, they lift their eyebrow, or will subtly tilt their head. We feel invited, then we physically move closer to them.
If the facial expression appears neutral or cold, 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.
Once someone is forced into body contact situations, such as in a crowed elevator, the subway, or at a concert, and there’s no way that anyone can get physical 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 will all naturally face forward, 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 of our territory.
Leaving a sign that says “occupied” on an airplane seat, or draping a jacket over the back of a chair in a restaurant, or spreading our books out on a library desk, all indicates to others that, that spot, that space is occupied, it’s mine, that you’ll be returning, so stay away
What most will get is pretty ticked off if someone deigns to move or invades this “marked” territory, removes their markers, invading their privacy.
This Space Is Mine
Almost everything in life is clearly defined where the individuals territory begins, and where it ends. A fence will separate a yard from their neighbor. Brightly painted yellow lines mark parking spaces, and doors with locks or signs clearly delineates a certain area like a bedroom.
You’ll also personally mark your own territory, that something belongs to you with your name written on it, or with some other type of symbol such as your initials. That this area belongs to you, so stay away.
Give Me More Room
It’s found that the “markers” that females leave in restaurants or clubs, such as their sweaters or anything else personal, generally tends to be less effective than when males leave their markings.
It appears that the boundaries the women leave aren’t as respected and are invaded more easily. So consequently, they feel more violated quicker than males are.
The reason being that our human instincts kick in, it becomes survival of the fittest, that it could potentially escalate into a fist fight when violating another mans territory.