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Playing With / No Sense of Personal Space

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Basic Trope: A character who seems to have no concept of personal space.

  • Straight: Dave's acquaintance Bob is often seen standing less than a meter away from Dave, even though the latter is visibly unconfortable with it.
  • Exaggerated: Bob regularly walks up to Dave and his other friends from behind, putting his head on their shoulders without warning. If they complain he is genuinely confused as to why.
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  • Downplayed: Bob insists on kissing Dave on the cheeks (a la the French greeting) or shaking his hand when they meet up and takes far too long (by Dave's standards) to let go, but is otherwise respectful of others' personal space.
  • Justified:
    • Bob is from a culture with different norms for when physical contact is considered acceptable and has a hard time adjusting when abroad.
    • ... Or he legitimately lacks the social skill to tell when and where physical affection is appropriate.
    • Bob does this with just one or two people; eventually, it turns out that he has a crush on them (whether he realises it or not).
    • Bob just likes making people squirm while still seeming friendly on the surface.
  • Inverted: Bob Hates Being Touched and prefers standing around 3 meters away from the one he is talking to; in other words, others get weirded out by his personal space being too big.
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  • Subverted: Dave and Bob first met in a cramped area where Bob seemed much less uncomfortable than Dave. But once they meet again in the open, Bob respects his personal space.
  • Double Subverted: ... Until Bob suddenly closes in on Dave in the open for no good reason.
  • Parodied: Bob, dressed in a proper suit, always sits in a coworker's lap while discussing mundane business transactions, completely oblivious to everyone else's discomfort.
  • Zig-Zagged: Bob stands uncomfortably close or uncomfortably far away depending on who he is talking to.
  • Averted: Bob always keeps a respectable distance to people he talks to.
  • Enforced: Bob is meant to be Affably Evil, and this trope hits both the friendliness and the discomfort associated with such a character.
  • Lampshaded:
    Dave: In what world does 'acceptable talking distance' mean 'practically squashing somebody else's shoes with your own'?
    Bob: In my world!
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  • Invoked: Bob asks a childhood friend how to make new contacts as an adult, and his friend ends up giving the advice not to be too distant with new contacts. Bob takes this a bit too literally.
  • Exploited: Somebody who wants Bob out of the picture falsely accuses him of sexual harrassment. Everyone else finds it plausible enough that his reputation takes a hit it will never recover from.
  • Defied: Bob acknowledges that he has trouble with personal space and tells people to let him know straight away if he crosses a line, then keeps their comments in mind, avoiding most of the awkwardness.
  • Discussed:
    Dave: Hey, Bob, could you maybe back up a bit? I can practically tell what toothpaste you're using from here...
  • Conversed:
    Fan A: Y'know, even though the author said there wouldn't be any romance, Bob's constant hovering around the others is making it really difficult not to ship him with anyone...
    Fan B: What are you on about? You try looking at the others' faces whenever Bob does that and tell me they're not creeped out!
  • Implied: In a written work, most of Bob's lines are punctuated with mentions of him "still" standing close to or touching someone as he's talking.
  • Deconstructed: Bob gets mistaken for a creep due to this habit and feels socially alienated.
  • Reconstructed: Bob finds other social contacts that welcome or at least don't mind his physical clinginess.
  • Played for Laughs: It becomes a Running Gag for Bob to seemingly teleport right behind the other characters with various results.
  • Played for Horror: Bob is legitimately a sex offender, leaving both the other characters fearful and the audience squicked whenever he gets up close and personal withothers.

Back to No Sense of Personal Space. (Don't mind the guy behind you in the queue.)


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