Inappropriate touch inherent in the environment

Certain types of activities and environments provide or demand specific types of touch as part of the interactions e.g. when visiting with grandparents it is ‘expected’ that you hug and get kissed as a child. It is expected that you provide details of who you are and what you have been doing to ‘share’ about what is being missed when they are not interacting with you.

For individuals who are sensitive to being touched by others being forced into situations where this is commonplace is something that can be overwhelming and they may show high levels of avoidance behaviours to those others around them for extended periods of time before, during and after the event. Should these continue to keep happening repeatedly over long periods of time e.g. year and year after year, then the impact on how they ‘physically’ interact with others may be more pronounced as being protective due to the extent that they have been overwhelmed before. Specific topics or favourite interests may provide a buffer to redirect others attention away from the individual and any unwanted physical interaction with them. Seeing examples in the real world or within books / movies or on TV of how relationships can be completed in a different physical manner can be helpful e.g. secret handshakes compared to a hug hello. Predictable behaviours of others may seem controlling and the individual may up their Own level of control as a way of coping.

Observing others from their point of view / through their own eyes may provide insight into strategies that help keep others at a safer distance such as through knowledge of how to personally greet someone without touching them. As with learning any new physical skill, learning how to physically grade your movements is important, especially when avoiding or controlling for inappropriate touch from others. Knowledge about where to position yourself behind or next to friends can help reduce the frequency of others touching you. Knowing how to float in and around others physically within small environments, how to keep personal space / distance physically is also helpful to know.

Embracing others? For how long? What is the appropriate time for a hug? Where is the appropriate placement for a kiss? And from what type of relationship is that type of kiss appropriate?

Others may continue to significantly force you into their preferred physical interactions on a daily basis because in their world or their thoughts ‘this’ is the type of physical relationship that ‘they’ would like to have. Being watched constantly by others may cause individuals to prefer to sit on the outside or boundaries of interactions to reduce unwanted touch. Or it may result in them developing highly knowledgeable skills about when it is appropriate to touch someone and when it is not and in them providing strong social justice statements publicly about what their own personal boundaries are, especially when they are constantly being broken by others.