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Why Do People Avoid You? Find Out Now.

Updated on January 17, 2013
donotfear profile image

Annette Sharp holds a BAAS in Behavioral Science from Texas A&M. She is a counselor and motivator with an empathetic heart.


Let's Talk About Personal Boundaries And How To Avoid Crossing The Line

"Who the heck do you think you are?! Get outta my space! You’re pushing my boundaries and I’m too nice to say no.”

Have you ever wondered why people sometimes pull back from you? Maybe you were explaining something and you see a shadow cross their face, watch them step backward, then wonder what you did. Maybe you had someone tell you they’d call you back later, but never did. Something you said either offended them or you suspect you “got in their space”. Anyone ever avoided you? You can be talking to a group, everybody joins in, but you get an icy reflection, or no response from one person? You think they may find you offensive?


So how do you define offensive? Several definitions here:

1) Attacking or for attack.

2) Unpleasant, disgusting or insulting.

3) Attitude or position of attack.

A counselor told me once, when I questioned my defensive response to a group of coworkers who I felt were berating me, “One usually gets defensive when attacked”.


What are boundaries?

1) Anything marking a limit or border; bound; to limit. 

2) The edge of an action or right.

So the opposite of boundary would be boundless, right? Boundless means “without limits”.


What I've Learned

Over time I’ve learned that some outward traits in one's personality are offensive to certain individuals. Some thoughts are best left unspoken, though your mind runs with such intensity and speed, the words come out before you have a chance to process with what you're about to say. So you've had to train yourself to pull that expression back inside and rein it in to prevent stepping on someone else’s margin. You do this out of respect for the other person’s boundaries, right? You don’t have to understand or agree with boundaries; just respect them.


So what's the deal...?

When somebody continues to hound you for something repeatedly, you tend to get a little fed up with the persistence after you’ve already given your answer.  Continually asking for the same thing shows a lack of respect for the other’s well being.  Persisting with an irrational request that obviously crosses boundaries of the individual or ‘gets in their space, you may create a sense of self-worthlessness in that person when you continue, especially if they find it hard to say “no”.  Why would you continue with the persistence, the continual asking, knowing it is perceived as disrespect? Does that not matter?

About Being Offensive....

Getting back to being offensive or “getting in someone’s space”: Isn’t it true that crossing a person’s invisible boundary, whether you think it rational or not, is the same as insulting the person by subconsciously taking a position of attack? Think about it.

So where does that leave us?

If somebody tells you “that makes me feel demeaned” or “please don't continue...I get your drift” or “that is disrespectful to me to ask that”, do you continually persist anyway because you don’t understand or agree with their personal boundary (or space)? Most of the time, an individual isn’t going to tell you this. It’s up to you to pick up on the senses by watching body language and learning to “pull back” when your silent alarms goes off. It could save a relationship, or best, prevent unnecessary emotional damage to the receiver.

A Part Of Social Etiquette

Finally, even if you think the boundary is totally irrational and confusing, you should respect it.

After all, social boundaries are part of social etiquette and required for humans if you want to co-exist in harmony.

Don't you think so?

Do you often feel you intimidate people?

See results

Do you have a hard time saying no to pushy people?

See results


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    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 5 years ago from The Boondocks

      Hey thoughts,

      thanks for your input. You are right, we cant' going about walking on eggshells in fear we may offend, but we can take steps to learn social cues so we can pull back when necessary.

    • th0ughts profile image

      th0ughts 5 years ago from Florida

      Realizing you posted this so long ago......

      Nonetheless, I still had to comment.

      I have been in your mentioned situations a few times [or more]...when the "shadow" appears on the face of someone I have been speaking to...undoubtedly, I am sure in some of the situations I did offend others, but there comes a point when we need to stop worrying about how everyone else is going to feel, and honestly be ourselves. If people can't take us for who we are, why not just move on (saying this in purely social situations, of course)?

      I think it all comes down to respecting the differences in everyone and realizing that those differences are what make us so interesting...if we all keep trying to change from who we really are because so many people have become so sensitive, the world is going to be a really boring place.

      All of this with the consideration of respect however.....and there is a difference between showing respect and changing who we are.

      AWESOME post!! I LOVE ones like this that get people thinking and talking!!!

    • TimeHealsAll profile image

      TimeHealsAll 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Saying no isn't always easy but absolutly nessessary when bounderies have been crossed. One knows when the lines have been crossed and needs to act/react accordingly as hard as it may seem, even though another's feelings may get hurt in the process. I don't think everyone is aware that they are crossing any lines which can be percieved as disrespectful. Some are blind and just need to learn respect. By saying no the other will hopefully learn what bounderies.. and respect for them are. Great hub DONOTFEAR!

    • embee77 profile image

      embee77 7 years ago

      This and your other hub on boundaries are well thought out and well put. I like that you present both sides of the issue. It really comes down to the same thing, as you say: respect. Though intentions are often misunderstood. In my field of communication disorders we recognize that plenty of people do not read feedback from others' facial expressions or body language. Thanks again for your honesty and wisdom.

    • My Sweet  Anjolie profile image

      My Sweet Anjolie 8 years ago

      I think it is important , along with this boundry idea to not judge people. Boundries are connected to an expectation or belief as to what is right or not right. Say no, say back off but I respect who you are too..

    • PaulaK profile image

      Paula Kirchner 8 years ago from Austin. Texas

      I like your hub. Very nicely written and great topic!

    • Hokey profile image

      Hokey 8 years ago from In the energy.

      This vital information and should help someone. Well done donotfear!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 8 years ago

      And then there are the times I put my foot in my mouth...

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Nope, we don't. I know I tend to read more into it than there really is. Part of the inquisitive nature of my inquiring mind!

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      It gets as tricky especially through this venue as with telephone, you can at least profile voice inflections, pauses and other behavioral aspects which can tell you much. Here, one must substantiate through the typed word and how a point is supported or decorated. Still, one learns boundaries. Common sense and etiquette should take one to a level, though we don't always focus on the subtle phrasings, do we?

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Unchained Grace: Very well put. When two individuals are face to face you have the advantage of reading body language. But when the contact is through phone or other tech communication, you must rely on listening only. That's when it gets tricky.

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      donotfear, as you stated, we need to be very sensitive of the boundaries and space of others. While we sometimes may walk away shaking our heads, we always must realize that to those we were speaking with, it was important to them.

      I often pay very close attention to bodylanguage and my own voice inflection which can do a lot to de-escalate or escalate a situation. There are times, by the way, when it becomes necessary to slide right into someone's space or boundaries. Intervention is one of those times. It has to be through the combination of observing, watching your approach and watching the body language of those around you as you move to make a point and how you do so is directly relative to the success factor.

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Cheaptrick: Hey...thanks! I'm all a-flutter with the flattery. I receive it. I think my spousey appreciates me but as with all unions, we get complacent and indifferent sometimes. It's a never-ending job, for sure!

      susanlang: Glad to talk anytime. Thanks for the comment.

      K.Partin: Respect is the key work here, my friend. You are so right.

    • K Partin profile image

      K Partin 8 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

      Great read. I enjoyed it allot. I try to respect other peoples boundaries. I try not to crowd them as I would not want to be crowded myself. We just have to respect each other more. Thanks K.

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 8 years ago

      Thanks for all the information today Donotfear. ;) a good read! I hope you received my email response to yours, again, thanks for your kind support.

    • cheaptrick profile image

      cheaptrick 8 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Hello D,This is great!

      Following you is going to save me a lot of money on self help books lol.

      Intelligent AND beautiful,your fellow had better be Appreciating you like Crazy!

      If not,I would like to give it a try!

      Of course I'd probably have to stand in line lol...


    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Micky Dee:

      Not directed at anyone.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 8 years ago

      Is this article about me? Thanks Donotfear.

    • profile image

      Sarah H 8 years ago

      I know what you mean by this. Sometimes they just don't realize how it affects another one. Maybe they don't mean to be that way. I know sometimes I don't mean to be that way. And sometimes I just take it wrong when he's kidding. Maybe.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      I agree donotfear - I think we have to open our eyes and be aware of other individuals feelings and preferences. What may offend one person, may not offend the other, so it's all about honing in to their individual cues and taking it from there.

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 8 years ago from The Boondocks

      Hello hello: Thanks for the input!

      mike the salesman: It's meant to be a generic guide to help avoid intimidation or stepping into somebodies space. Sort of a 'self help' type. Hope that clarifies the meaning for all. I may end up getting attacked over this one!

      50 Caliber: Exactly what I was trying to get across! It can be applied to many type situations, not just as an individual attack on a person. If that was the case, I'd be as guilty as the perpatrator the article discusses!

      Art4Life: Thanks buddy! Can always count on my sister to back me up!

    • profile image

      Art 4 Life 8 years ago

      Good hub, it's all about respecting another person's boundaries, I think you expressed it very well...

      Good job friend

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 8 years ago from Arizona

      It is a two way street that you speak of. When I see someone get that look on their face in a conversation I try to immediately change coarse so we can end on a favorable note. I find communicating on a key board like we are now it is hard to not offend that space due to absence of inflection in the typed word as well as posture and facial expression. I try hard not to willfully insult anyone, yet I fail sometimes. The most memorable was the Jehovah Witnesses, (please if you are a Jehovah witness this is not an attack, just an observation of my experience) I opened the door and let this young man in and we discussed the belief system and he had a programed message for first encounter. It was fine and he asked me if he might return and I welcomed that. The following week he returned and brought reinforcements. Still all was well and I was invited to a worship service and was impressed that every church in the world of their denomination was studying the same material at the same time and day world wide. It was a teaching church. They were talking about the 144,000 as described in Revelations one worship service and I found they believed that all of that number were Jehovah Witnesses and communion could only be taken by those chosen. They entered into my no way zone. I didn't go back to the church. They came to my home and I let them in and we talked and I let them know that I could not follow their system of belief, for an hour they continued to try and sell me. They were in my space and week after week they kept showing up and I started the peep hole thing and didn't answer the door due to the fact that no didn't phase them. I hope I never am guilty of that kind of pressure on any issue. Force invasion is just plain wrong on any level.

    • profile image

      mikethesalesman 8 years ago

      hmm i dont get what you are saying!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      A very interesting view in both way. Thank you.