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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I have outlined a problem below that I hope someone may be able to assist with or might have a similar experience that may be useful. This post is long and this is my first time posting on an internet forum so I apologise in advance for breaking any unwritten forum conventions or customs. I have included a TL:DR section at the end.

Background

INTP female (me): Irish (mostly), undergrad mature student, plain, overweight, mainly gender neutral clothing.
XXXX male (guy): mainland Chinese (born and bred) postgrad, passably pleasantly featured, popular, athletic and more confident/ laidback than many of his peers.

Summary: Met as a result of me joining a college society that he was a committee member of. There have been, to date, very few moments of personal verbal interaction, but none of them on topics beyond society business or very trivial momentary matters. My aim was to join this society to observe and learn about the interactions between different cultures- especially first and second generation Asian in a western country. Well aware that my general personality and behaviour can be strange for people (maybe especially for a conformist/ collectivist culture), I decided a strategy of neutral agreeableness coupled with pointedly ignoring differences. [To use an analogy- you walk into a room wearing a strange hat. People might comment on it or stare at it but you don’t mention the hat. You push aside any references to it and distract attention elsewhere until they end up ignoring the hat too. Sometimes works. Especially for personality which cannot (or maybe should not- who knows?) be removed like a hat. I digress].

Problem: He gets too close to me physically while keeping distance in every other respect. On our first interaction (he initiated and was politely informing me of benefits associated with being a society member) he stood that close to me whilst facing me that I was unable to properly engage in the conversation or control my urge to step back. Aware that my concept of personal space is wider than most other people’s (regardless of culture), I normally resist the urge as much as possible to step back because it can be interpreted wrong by the other person and literally put distance in the conversation. In this instance I had to minimally shift backwards, at which point he shifted too and stood in closer! It is not possible to carry out a conversation with your nose practically buried in someone’s chest. I did excuse myself at this point, with a valid exit reason. That is the last time that he directly initiated contact.

However, since then, he has attempted to sit next to me during a dinner (but due to seating arrangements/ order of arrival, this may have not been exactly intentional) and has sat behind me in events but leant so far forward that both my current conversational partner, and the people attempting to engage him in conversation behind us, have given surprised looks. When attempting to move my seat on instruction from the lecturer for us all to move closer to the front of the room, he hampered my progress by refusing to pull his legs back from under my chair as he sat facing me (why exactly he was hanging around in this beginners class, though, I don’t know –was he ensuring that the class was proceeding smoothly for the teacher because maybe he was instrumental in organising it?). He has also climbed over my chair (while I was sitting in it) at a crowded event, when attempting to carry a tray of food to another part of the room. There seemed to have been other access routes that would have been less risky and I would have happily moved in time to let him through but he came from behind and was half over before I realised. These are just a few weirder examples out of about 7/8 instances of varying lengths of time between a few seconds to about 20 minutes.

Possible reasons for behaviour?

A) I’m overanalysing- a very real possibility but I have observed that this behaviour is not repeated with other people. He maintains reasonable distances with others and engages in friendly banter with most other people at events, except me. I do not observe him much though, any more, to avoid misinterpretation.

B) He is attracted to me- highly unlikely due to that fact that I don’t perceive any signals. None at all. On the couple of occasions that I have had to initiate contact, he has either responded briefly or has blanked me completely. Suddenly I have run into him a few times at college and he has not responded to a friendly head nod or smile. He definitely has access to quite good looking females that are younger and interested.

C) He is messing with me- I don’t know about this one. Maybe it’s a case of ‘let’s see how close I can get this time before the fat girl starts twitching’. Again, here I will emphasise that the distance between us during these episodes is ridiculously small- mere millimetres away from full on leaning on me. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and any attempt to increase distance is prevented either by him moving into the vacated space or by some other obstacle. The fact that I am uncomfortable is probably evident. However, there seems to be no indication that he is doing this on purpose.

Caveat: He is a postgrad working in an area that I’m interested in. Due to the relatively compact nature of my college, it could be a possibility that I end up working quite close to him and need to maintain friendly relations. Couple this with the fact that I think a conversation with him, about his field of study, would be illuminating and deliciously interesting. This prevents me from dismissing the whole issue as ignorable.

Question: Do you think it is a, b or c? Is something else? How do I resolve this issue or what information do I need to gather before a solution presents?




TL:DR- If you have ever had someone that ignored your personal space, what did you do? (Suggestions of solutions that did not alienate or offend the person preferred).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Gun? Don't think that I have one here. I do have a small water pistol that I got out of a Christmas cracker. Its good for one shot but sometimes it jams....

That aside, I was treating the matter as a thought exercise but I have got an email from the society, in the last few minutes, to say that the next event is movie night. The thought of an hour and a half plus, in semi-darkness, is starting to make me paranoid. Thank god the movie isn't Chicago, though, so I might not need the water pistol.
 

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Just read the TL:DR, but it sounds like beans and sauerkraut is what you need.

Just eat plenty of it, and the solution will come to you.
 

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Not gonna lie. I didn't read the whole thing. If someone gets to close I'll either be a complete ass and lean in closer to the point that the closeness is uncomfortable for both of us, or tell them straight up "yo dude. At least one arms lengths distance."

If you want to be more polite just tell him politely to back up a bit or spontaneously kiss him.
 
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