Monday, November 28, 2011

Personal Boundaries

In most situations, I am not a person who generally enjoys being touched.  I hugged my family only when necessary growing up.  I rarely put a friendly hand of a friend's shoulder.  I certainly would never think of touching a stranger.  It just seemed weird to me for a long time and I didn't really crave the physical contact.

Then I met friends senior year of high school and realized I liked hugs and a friendly touch on the arm or cuddling.  I'm not quite sure what changed.  It might have been when I started dating Boyfriend and just realized that I didn't like being so isolated.  But I think it more likely that I just have less personal boundaries with these friends.  It wasn't something that happened instantly and when I haven't seen my friends for quite awhile, the touch barrier exists far more than when we've been hanging out for awhile.

When I went to college I had a few friends who really liked hugging, which was fun and good, but I also was never totally comfortable.  I suppose what I'm getting at is that for me personal boundaries change a lot, particularly depending on the group of people I'm with.

Our culture really doesn't encourage physical contact.  Casual touching (that sounds far dirtier than I intended) is reserved only for flirting or people you know very intimately.  And as time passes, touch becomes more and more taboo.  At this point, someone you don't know touching your shoulder could be considered assault.  Quite frankly, I don't really want a stranger touching me, but I also think calling a simple tap on my shoulder to get my attention (something that I don't mind) assault is taking matters too hard.

Certainly it's important to protect people and I am glad we have laws that take assault more seriously than they once did.  However, I do think that these laws have an interesting consequence of isolating everyone physically from one another.

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