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How to kindly ask someone to keep your distance

The world has been in turmoil for a while. Although working from home is already getting used to (sleeping in is quite nice), those home workout videos are fun and there has never been so much and healthy cooking, some things do not get used to. Like the one-way aisles in the supermarket and keep your distance. The latter in particular sometimes causes uncomfortable moments.

If you do your best all week to avoid physical contact as much as possible, a strange suddenly bends right past you to take a tomato from the shelf. Or if you take your daily walks to get enough fresh air, there is a runner who (sweaty and all) almost runs at your feet.

How can you let strangers know in a neat way that you would rather not have them in the aura, and certainly not now?

Distance please

Don’t you like people anyway – let alone strangers! – in your personal space come? You are not alone, in each country a different distance is normal there, we wrote earlier.

If you actually prefer to keep your distance from others, this is a perfect time to pass that on to the virus. But for one it is easier to confront than the other. How do you do that subtly and preferably also a little friendly?

Walk away (yes, really)

It may sound obvious, but the best and safest option when a stranger gets closer than 1.5 meters is by simply relinquishing the situation yourself, emotion specialist Hilary Jacobs Hendel tells MindBodyGreen. “You never know which trauma can make an abrupt remark trigger with the total stranger. “

Now you probably think, “Why can’t I just say something about it?” You never know how the other will react, explains psychotherapist Padma Ali. When you know each other, there is such a thing as mutual respect, but this is not the case with total strangers. Therefore, running away yourself can prevent arguments and unnecessary stress. In addition: you are not accountable to a stranger.

If someone makes a comment about the fact that you “keep a lot of distance”, blame it on Covid! Do they find it exaggerated or are they joked about? Do not try to attract too much, because that is mainly the problem of others.


Do you want to say something, because you just want to have potatoes in the supermarket? Then you can say something like this:

  • Excuse me, do you mind going back a little? I’ll be ready in a minute.
  • Could you maybe step aside so we can keep 1.5 meters away?

And with family and friends?

Okay, so far the strangers. But what if you find it difficult to indicate to your friends or family that you prefer to keep an appropriate distance? According to Ali, it is not what you say, but how you say it. And again: communication is key. In any case, it is clear that you want to give friends or family an explanation why you do not feel comfortable with it.

Your gaze, voice and attitude help to convey your message clearly and kindly (this is what you can learn from someone’s body language). And also remember: everyone’s love language is different. Is that of your friend (in) physical touch and he or she flies into your arms when you see each other again, then the other person does not mean angry but lets go.

In any case, try not to blame each other and get angry in this situation, but use a little more empathy. You can make it clear that you are happy to see the other person, but want to keep your distance for the time being.

Stay stafe!

How to kindly ask someone to keep your distance (strangers and friends) Getty Images

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How to kindly ask someone to keep your distance (strangers and friends)


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