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Maintaining Distance

We can’t be friends with everybody, but we try anyway. Sometimes, we get too involved in the lives of others and find that we can get too close for comfort.

Keeping emotional and personal distance is an art and a science. It’s a balancing act between keeping what’s yours yours and what is ours a question of public domain.

What do you mean keep distance?

Keeping distance can mean a variety of things. We can keep emotional distance by not allowing our thoughts and feelings to get involved in the decisions and lives of others. Parents of adult children find themselves in this conundrum. They feel emotionally invested in their children’s lives and feel the need to get involved during unnecessary times.

We can keep physical distance. This can include men and women who choose to maintain platonic physical contact with friends or members  to preserve their marriages or relationships. Some women I know make sure they don’t put themselves in physically compromising positions around men who have been drinking.

We can keep personal distance. This involves keeping elements of your personal life private, such as finances, sex life, family issues, etc. Professionals are faced with this issue everyday as they keep work at work and home at home.

Why keep distance?

Keeping distance can keep us from getting involved in the lives of others in order to maintain emotional and physical security.

We don’t have to know everything about everybody and we don’t need to get involved in their affairs, especially when it doesn’t concern us. Some people feel like they need to share every part of their private lives or know everything about those around them. This can take up a lot of time, mental space, and emotional energy.

There are hidden ramifications of getting involved. People can take advantage, use personal information against us, and gossip about our private lives. Careers, marriages, and friendships have been destroyed as a result of misinformation. Choosing to speak and act with discretion can save us from unnecessary loss.

With whom?

I have seen people maintain distance from friends, acquaintances, and co-workers who seem mentally unstable, aggressive, or belligerent. In order to work, exist, and/or live with such individuals maintaining distance seems to be one of the few ways to creating a peaceful life.

Sometimes, we know people with contrastingly different values, opinions, or beliefs and when discussing get heated, feelings can get hurt and relationships can be damaged. When discussing contrasting views is no longer productive and educational, it’s better to choose to discuss other subjects in order to maintain harmony.

People who don’t respect your relationships, boundaries, time, etc. Some people don’t respect boundaries even if they’re clearly laid out for them. When it comes to these types of people, it’s best to maintain distance in order to save from wasting time and energy.

Use Your Judgement

Just because you keep your emotional and personal distance, doesn’t mean you can’t be a kind and giving person. Knowing how to set personal boundaries is important to maintaining emotional and personal security.

Time and circumstance can be a factor in deciding how close we become to the people that come in and out of our lives. We’re given opportunities to see how others behave when trusted with personal information, when crisis occurs, and when called upon to be a friend.

If you feel yourself grower closer to someone ask yourself why. It doesn’t hurt to understand why you feel close to some and distant from others. When you feel that you’re becoming too close for comfort, pull back gracefully and be sure to respect their boundaries and values.

Do you have any advice for maintaining personal distance? How do you maintain distance between colleagues, friends, and family members?

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