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Auntie SparkNotes: Don't Sit So Close to Me

Auntie SparkNotes: Don't Sit So Close to Me

Kat Rosenfield

Hey, Auntie!

So I've been friends with this guy for about two or three years now. Let's call him C. I consider him one of my best friends. I can tell him anything and it's comfortable. This year, he is in my high school biology class along with my other best friend. Let's call her K. I usually sit by K and then C comes and joins us when we do our work. Most of the time he sits next to me. The problem is, he sits so close to me, our knees are touching. I've told him many times to scoot over because I'm not the kind of girl you be on top of. I will fight you if you do (hah I'm such an Aries girl). For a while I was trying to decide if he liked me or something. I don't think he does because we've been best friends for a while. I don't like C.

I'm not sure how to get him to stop. It's super awkward.

Wait, it is?

Really? Are you sure?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I know it's a nuisance. Having to verbally nudge a close sitter out of your personal space on a daily basis is pretty much the definition of annoying. But awkward? This is your best friend, who you say you can talk to about anything—and unless I'm missing something, you've been telling him to scoot over on a regular basis for the better part of a year without either of you suffering any ill effects.

So when you say that you don't know how to get him to stop, Auntie SparkNotes must gently point out that this is quite clearly not true. You know how to get him to stop, because stopping is what he does every time you tell him to, no? (At least until the next time he sits down, at which point you have to repeat the process.) So if you want him to stop permanently, then it stands to reason that you should just say so—kindly, since he's a close friend, but also directly, because the great thing about a close friend is that you can be straightforward with him about stuff like this: "Bro, I love you, but I don't want you in my lap, and it's driving me crazy that I have to tell you this every single day. It's not personal, I just need some breathing room, okay? So from now on, please make sure there's a minimum of five inches of personal space between your butt and my butt."

... In your own words, of course. The important thing is that you say what you want in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation, which may be the biggest problem with your current approach, by the way. When you talk such a big game about a fairly minor problem (including making empty threats of violence which you have presumably not followed through on), people tend to assume that you're not being serious; a close friend might even think that this routine, where he sits too close and you threaten to beat him up, is all a big joke and a mark of your friendship, like a secret handshake. Whereas a statement like the one above is gentle enough to make it clear that you're not angry, but also direct enough to make it clear that you're not kidding.

Unless your very close friend is also a very particular sort of butthead who gets a thrill from intentionally bothering people, he'll stop. (And if he is that breed of butthead… well, it'll be up to you to decide whether this issue is a deal-breaker, or whether your friend's other fine qualities are fine enough to outweigh the delight he takes in irritating you in this one specific way.) But whatever happens, you can also take comfort in the fact that while your friend may always struggle with spatial awareness vis-a-vis the proximity of his butt to yours, his opportunity to bump up against you in biology class will end when the school year does. At which point you can relax, regroup, and if necessary, come up with a strategy to only ever meet up with him at locations where the seating options come with built-in buffers to keep butt-bumpers at bay.

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Topics: Life
Tags: auntie sparknotes, friendship, advice, unwanted attention

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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