Touchy feely touchy feely...

Does anybody here have an aversion to being touched by co-workers and the like? I have a boss who likes to put his hand on your shoulder. This drives me nuts. I don’t violate anybody’s “personal space” and I expect the same from others. I don’t recall any trauma as a child that would cause this.
Any ideas? comments?

My comment is: your’e weird and uptight and cold and aloof.

Or maybe not.

I tend to agree with stoidela


All things being equal, all things are never equal. It depends.

I’m not real touchy-feely to strangers and co-workers. But whether it bothers me when others are is entirely situational. If my boss wants to pat me on the back literally, fine. If he wants to give me a big hug after an extremely big-deal job, okay. If he wanted to hug me every time I saw him, that would be a problem. Likewise, if I am being introduced to a sexy lady who glows with joy and smells faintly of flowers, she could hug me without much protest. If the “new friend” is a huge, sweaty, pimply moron with bad breath and freshly oozing Nazi tattoos, I would politely decline the embrace, assuming a firm handshake stance.

It might depend on the person a bit, but most I’ve met who are in the habit of including a touch as part of their communications have an overall demeanor that goes with the m.o. and thus don’t bother me.

There are exceptions, of course.

Is it just your boss that bothers you? Your relationship with somebody will likely affect how you respond to a touch. One of my best friends (also a straight guy) regularly puts his arm around my shoulder and it’s not a bother. When I greet someone to whom I really want to express my pleasure at seeing them, I’ll often touch the back of their right elbow with my left hand while shaking their right hand. But I won’t do that if I “read” them as not being the type to respond well. A hooker in a bar in New Orleans once walked up to me and grabbed my crotch while attempting to french kiss me - that bothered me.

Don’t let these people convince you that you are weird,Your not.
My coworkers know that laying a hand on me is to risk drawing back a bloody stump.

t lion

I’m not touchy-feely with most people, either, and don’t much care for it when non-relatives/mere acquaintances try to get that way with me. Relatives & close friends, no problem. It got to be a real pain in the neck when I was pregnant. People were always wanting to touch my belly, as if I was Buddha or something. Just because I happened to look like him didn’t mean I had the same powers.

I have a problem when people who I don’t like try to be touchy-feely. I had a teacher in 6th grade who hated me, picked on me, tormented me, and drove me to my very first suicide attempt. She would then, if I got upset, put her arm around me and get all patronizing. Then she’d get mad at me if I tried to pull away. She actually made me sit out on a field trip for this once. Thing is, she KNEW I didn’t like her, and she KNEW I would pull away, yet she did it anyway–to me this means an intentional violation of personal space.

Now with most people, they can read hints, like if you back up a little or lean away…

O p a l C a t

No one, and I mean no one, other than my girlfriend should touch me without my prior approval (explicit or implicit). Even my parents have learned to ask before trying to hug me.

gives the Tennhippie a big hug… nods hello to the rest of the crowd

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter do good
things.” --Edgar Degas

And I had this impression of SDMB members as withdrawn nerds more comfortable with their computers than real people…

To answer the OP,I find it annoying.

Now a personal story:

Another guy in my department is a very “touchy” person.

One day, he made a motion that indicated that he was going to grab me in my ventral area.

I naturally tensed up.


Very tightly.

So tightly, that something happened.

Only three other people were around, but I will never forget the looks on their faces, as they turned around in horror.

It was the stuff of legends.

I released the absolute loudest case of flatulence that I have EVER done–including in private.

Those that were around all turned to see just what had made that incredible racquet.

Guess what??? Well, he is still “touchy-feely”, but he never made that kind of motion toward me again.

I’m with the crowd that doesn’t like the touchy feely stuff. I wasn’t raised that way, and I just don’t like it. I have no problem telling people that. I just VERY nicely say “I understand that when you touch/hug/pat me it’s meant to be a nice gesture, but I’m sorry- I just am not used to it and it makes me uncomfortable. I know you don’t want that so I thought you should know”.
That’s all. Not rude, just say so.
You should have seen how much I hated the touchy feely stuff I got while married to my ex-husband. His whole immediate family, extended family, people his family met once and everyone in between felt the need to both hug AND kiss me. I never got used to it.
On the other hand, I have a really close friend and sometimes the urge strikes one of us and we hug. That’s about it (except my husband)

A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

Wow. Personal space time…

Not to complicate matters (HA!), but keep in mind that a lot of cultures have a much closer definition of “personal zone”. W/ a lot of us, it’s at least a foot or more. W/ others, it’s shoulder to shoulder and totally unselfconscious in a full slam body hug. So there’s a chance that it isn’t intentional, just different. Not that your comfort zone shouldn’t be respected.

Touching can also be a power-signal, intimidation or just some idiotic ploy picked up in a managment seminar. Can you unobtrusively ask some of your coworkers if they have the same problem? If so, a gentle hint in the ear to the boss may be a kindness to all.

BTW, I come from a fairly nondemonstrative background, but one of the hardest things I’ve found is censoring my relaxed habit of spontaneously touching someone’s hand or shoulder in casual conversation. When someone is upset because they made a mistake or there’s problem in the family, it’s HARD to remember I’m a “boss” and not just a human. No, it isn’t appropriate in a work setting (litigation, anyone?) but switching from “people” to “professional” can be hard sometimes.

OK, so I complicated it.

I’m a very touchy-feely person. If I like you, anyway. I love giving hugs and I do it with enthusiasm. However, I have noticed that some people don’t like it, so I’ve gotten into the habit of asking first. Especially if the person is upset about something – I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, too. OTHO, if I’m overwhelmed by emotion, I forget. :slight_smile:
As for your boss, I don’t think it would be inappropriate to let him know gently that his touching makes you uncomfortable. Assuming, of course that your subtle leaning-away-type hints haven’t worked. It’s been my experience that touchy-feely type people (those who aren’t trying to annoy you) are genrally more interested in making you comfortable than laying a hand on your shoulder, since usually the reason we touch you is to make you happy/comfortable.


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Im a touchy feely, affectionate type. Love those hugs!!! I work with kids all day long and get hugged alot. My boss… well he is a nut and does silly things like try to mold a plastic coat hanger over my head and then when it snaps, puts me in a headlock to apologize. Whenever he and i have it out… everyone knows that at somepoint the headlock apologize will follow and true to form… it does…

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

sorry that was supposed to be apology… ran to feed the munchkins at the door and got temporarily lost

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

I so don’t get you people who are all uptight with it. I certainly don’t want anyone and everyone feeling me up and sticking their tongues in my mouth, but as a general rule, a pat on the shoulder? A brief hug+airkiss? A hand on my arm?

Sorry, but I think that people who are rigidly opposed to anyone except the people they sleep with toughing them are strange and uptight. I mean… if it is that big a deal for you, how do you get past it with your spouse???

But yer all in pretty good company: word has it that Shania Twain is obsessively weird about being touched, even handshakes.

This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.

Well, all I can say is- if you grow up with NO affectionate touching (no hugging, no pats on the shoulder, no friendly touches- sadly, it happens) you can bet it’s very uncomfortable for people to touch you. Be grateful you aren’t like that (if you aren’t). Be understanding of those who are. No disrespect is meant, it just bugs us. :slight_smile:

A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

Well Zette, you said it…and I mean no disrespect, it is sad.