Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Respecting personal boundaries




Comedian Jerry Seinfeld spent an entire television episode reviling “close talkers.” Close talkers are those friends, acquaintances or possibly the person you just met at a cocktail party who, while engaging you in conversation, stands too close, leans in a bit too far and speaks directly in your face. It feels invasive and most of us will instinctively step back — only to have the close talker step in, yet again. People with this affliction seem to be completely oblivious to the invisible personal “boundaries” that most of us observe with regard to personal physical space.

Dealing with close talkers can be challenging — a civilized society aspires to be polite so most of us will usually simply accept the behavior and stand there graciously instead of telling the close talker to back off.

Equally invasive, and possibly worse, are those people in our social circles that either intentionally or in complete ignorance breach our emotional boundaries. Family and close friends seem to cross the line most often. A mother may not realize that her son, now 26, does not need her dropping by his house on a daily basis — unannounced. A friend to whom you have just shown your latest jewelry purchase asks, “Wow! that must have cost a pretty penny!” A child or grandchild that, without invitation, attempts to insert themselves into your personal finances to “help you pay bills” or make sure everything is in order should you “begin to lose it.”

The first rule of…

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