We've written about personal space before (see, for example, here, here, and particularly here). Each person has a need for a personal space sphere, and the size of that sphere depends very much on individual preferences. The volume of a sphere speaks not only to a person's most comfortable distance from another individual, but also to a time component: some individuals prefer only short or minimal touch with other people, whereas other individuals are content -- even pleased -- by a significant amount of touch with other people.
I believe that the size of one's sphere is inborn; thinking back, I realize that the spheres of the Offspring were the same when they were wee, as they are now:
Offspring the First's sphere is perhaps medium-sized; she was a solid lap-sitter as a toddler, especially when we were reading books together, and even now she readily accepts hugs and leans in for the occasional kiss goodnight.
Offspring the Second's sphere is really rather large; he was the only one of the Offspring who preferred to be laid down in the crib to fall asleep by himself, rather than to be rocked. As an adult, he will tolerate the occasional pat or hug goodbye, because he is a kind soul and knows we like to do these things, but he only vary rarely initiates contact. (He will immediately hug individuals in distress, though -- because, as I said, he is a kind soul.)
Offspring the Third's sphere is really rather small; when he was a baby, in fact, he seemed to perpetually need to be within Herself's sphere. He's adapted and grown a somewhat larger sphere since then, but still enjoys hugs, especially from his many female friends.
What of Beloved Husband and Herself? Beloved Husband's sphere is on the small side, as are the spheres of many of his relatives -- they're a huggy bunch, and it's very endearing. Herself has gotten used to accepting, and even offering, hugs to the myriad in-laws. Herself's sphere is on the medium-large size; while it is relatively small around her Safe People, it quickly inflates, like a puffer fish, when adjacent to strangers.
And how about the rest of Herself's family? Her father's sphere is medium-large, and her mother's sphere is perhaps medium-small, although it is difficult to tell, since her sphere appears to increase and decrease under various circumstances. Herself sees her siblings so infrequently that she's not sure any more of the size of their spheres. Alas. Cherished Friend, who counts as family, has a solidly large sphere; we do our best not to occupy his space, although it's likely we occasionally accidentally linger overlong because we are very comfortable with him in our own spheres.
Tiny Dog has no sense of personal sphere at all -- or perhaps she just prefers being inside Herself's sphere.
Herself believes that the size of one's personal bodily sphere also extends to one's personal space. For example, Offspring the Second is very protective of his room, and prefers that no one enter. We do our very best to respect his space. Everyone should have their Own Space.
Over the summer, Offspring the Second took down the loft bed he had had for years; he put his mattress on the floor until he could decide what type of headboard/footboard he would like for his bed. Then the school year began, and he was off and away, without yet getting a new bed. And so, when we had an opportunity to take a new and comfortable mattress and boxspring and plain frame from nearby neighbors who are moving, we did so -- this way, Offspring the Second will have a comfortable bed when he returns for the holidays.
Before moving the bed into his room, though, Herself asked him permission. She let him know exactly which furniture would need to be moved, and how, and asked whether it would be OK for her to do so. He assented. And so, Herself spent several hours painstakingly ensuring that the bed was set up in a manner that disturbed Offspring the Second's room the least. She vacuumed up errant sunflower seed shells, and gathered miscellaneous coins and put them all into the jar of coins on Offspring the Second's dresser, but all the while, she did her best to tidy and clean without actually rearranging anything at all. Because it's his Space.
She did get a new set of sheets and a comforter for the bed. She hopes it's not too intrusive for him to have unfamiliar bedding; perhaps the warmth and clean lines of the freshly-made bed will compensate for any strangeness. It's a fine line to walk, for one to provide accoutrements for another's comfort, and yet to do so in a manner that doesn't insert oneself into another's sphere. We'll keep trying, and hope that any clumsiness on our part is forgiven.
Your lair is acknowledged, and protected. You will be safe.
Grace, Part 2
2 days ago