HEALTHY Boundaries – Info (Part 2)


is Too close for me!

PREVIOUS: Healthy Bs – Info (Part 1)


REVIEW: Bs – ‘Healthy Source’

Studies have formulated Personal Boundary distances for middle class people in Western & westernized countries.  In most social situations Americans require a comfort zone of 6 to 8 sq feet per person, & any violation of that buffer may trigger a strong reaction. In crowded cities people are most likely to just shut down – at least in public

1a. The Intimate Zone – the most important – is 6-18″ (15-45 cms). People guard this area as if it were their private property & only those who are emotionally close are allowed in, which include lovers, parents, spouse, children, close friends, relatives & pets
1b. The Close-Intimate Sub-zone: extends 0-6″ (15 cm) from the body, which may be entered only during intimate physical contact (whispering, hugging, kissing, sex…)

2. The Personal Zone – 18-48″ (46 cm-1.22m), the distance between us & others, at polite social functions like parties, any friendly gatherings & talking with close friends

3. The Social Zone – 4-12 feet (1.22~3.6m) – the distance from strangers, like sales or repair people, a new employee, anyone else we don’t know very well, & generally talking with acquaintances
4. The Public Zone – 12 feet (3.6m) – interacting with strangers & when addressing large groups

 Personal space has been studied in relation to age, race, culture, mental disorder, menstrual cycle & gender. Regarding the latter, researchers have observed definite differences between the personal space needed by men vs. women in general (most women need less):
• Whether the distance is between 2 men or 2 women
• If a man in approaching a woman or vice versa
• Positioning:geneder Bs
men prefer being next to each other but face to face with an attractive woman. Men need more room around them, so will try to avoid crowds & personal invasion of any kind, reacting hostilely if they can’t

women prefer face to face, being more sensitive to the space next to them, & become wary if a stranger approaches from the side. Women generally keep their distance from both genders unless they feel safe, are more tolerant in crowded areas & seldom invade other people’s space  (More ….

• Studies also noted that children learn this spacing by age 12 if not before, as seen in a sample taken between kindergarten & 6th grade, where significant gender effects were found: Both boys & girls need more distance when around the opposite sex, & less when with their own. (Males – Female Differences)

General CHARACTERISTICS of Healthy Boundaries
▪︎ Appropriate, based on my inner life.  I set a boundary or let it go based on what I’m experiencing right now – which include my beliefs, choices, thoughts, decisions, feelings, intuition, needs & wants. So knowing what’s coming up for me in my external life is crucial in setting healthy boundaries & having healthy relationships

▪︎ Clear. I know my internal boundaries & those that I use in relation to others
▪︎ Firm. I decide how firm I want my boundaries to be, to get what I want or need

▪︎ Flexible. Healthy boundaries need to be flexible – when appropriate. I decide how close or far away I want someone to be, in order to get what I want or need. Also – for healthy relationships, I need to let go of some boundaries & limits – when appropriate

▪︎ Maintaining. I have to consider whether to hold firm OR relax a specific boundary or limit – for some period of time, to get what I want or need

▪︎ Present. I need to keep my boundary in mind when in a specific situation, to identify which ones work & which don’t. If I don’t stay alert & identify which one is appropriate, I may not be able to decide whether to ‘enforce’ it or relax it

▪︎ Protective. They help protect the well-being & integrity of my Inner Child

▪︎ Receptive. I need to consider when it’s useful or enjoyable for loosen a particular boundary a bit, so I can let another person, place, thing, behavior or experience in.
(Modified from list by Patricia Jones, ‘Alive in the Moment)

NEXT: List of Healthy Bs, Part 1

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