Today I’d like to talk about space invaders. No, not the old school video game, but people who can’t seem to recognize personal space boundaries. I’m sure you know the ones who can’t seem to get close enough to you when they have something to say, the ones that are always up in your face in a conversation that is not meant to be an intimate one. For example, I have a coworker who shall remain nameless. She’s the sweetest woman ever, but she’s constantly invading other people’s space. Just this morning a group of us were in the hallway outside of my office talking and she walks up on me and starts sniffing my neck. She caught me off guard and I moved away. She then started complimenting me on my perfume. Ok, I’m fine with the fact that you think I smell good. I smell good everyday, but was it necessary for you to come up all on my neck as if you were about to kiss me? This wasn’t the first time I’ve had problems with her. She’s definitely one of those touchy-feely people, but when I think I’m finally getting used to her being that way, she does something else to further invade my space.

Not only is it an annoyance to deal with space invaders in a work environment, there are those times when you’re out in public and have to deal with complete strangers. Most people who know me, know that I hate public transportation with a passion. When I lived the NYC Metro area, the one thing I did not look forward to was commuting on a train or bus. I seemed to have a stamp on my forehead that said, “Hey Stranger, come sit next to me and invade my space”. I always had that one person who wanted to sit next to me and hold a conversation or lean over and try to read my newspaper or magazine with me. There were several times I had to either give someone the evil eye or come out and ask them if I could help them with something.

I like my space. I hate space invaders.

Don’t breathe too close to me. Don’t walk too close to me. Don’t talk too close in my face. If you need to find out what perfume I’m wearing, don’t take it upon yourself to smell my neck. If you happen to like my hair, don’t take it upon yourself to reach out and touch it, because you might draw back a nub. If I could find one of those bubbles from The Boy In The Plastic Bubble, I’d proudly wear one.

Have you ever had your space obnoxiously invaded by someone? How did you handle the situation?

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  • Patience

    Yes, I have. I’ve found that men are experts at invading the personal space of women, but will go out of their way to make sure they don’t get too close to another man.

    I once had a female coworker who would invade the heck put of my personal space despite me telling her that I did not like to be hugged or touched. She would do it anyway, saying that she had another friend who was the same way but that she made her get used to it by constantly touching her (ignoring boundaries). One time when she went to hug me, I forcefully pushed her away. The look on her face said that she was kind of hurt, but I didn’t care because she should have respected my boundaries.

    What I do is to usually put a lot of space between other people and me.

    A lot of people don’t care to respect the boundaries of others until you start violating theirs.

    • Downsouth Transplant

      LOL, i have strong space issues. Intruding on that usually causes me to have anxiety the kind where I need a moment alone in my car, this is especially in the office. (I find my 6yr old son telling pple at gatherings that my mom does not do well with touch helps)

  • dirtychai

    I can’t stand it when people stand one inch away from me in conversation. To me this happens often with…um…people who are not persons of color.
    A little trick I learned is to sort of full body the space by shifting forward, which will make them instinctively step backward or shift sideways. Works every time.

  • Mademoiselle

    I stick with the classic: “You’re too close.” Gotta look them square in the eye too. Works so far.

  • OSHH

    I’ll move in a minute and/or look at people like they crazy LOL.
    Alot of folk don’t have manners or know anyting of porper etiquette these days and all the technology isn’t helping, it’s robbing folk of common courtesy etc

  • Ange B

    Space invaders at work is annoying you spend so much of your time there. I have to agree that public transportation is rife with space invaders! I too dread commuting back and forth. At least where I am the bus drivers encourage this by cramming the buses to the rim..even making light and announcing get up and close people! Yuck! There is nothing worse than a stinky breath, B.O. space invader. I hear ya Yesha!