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Is patting someone on the head rude?

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Is patting someone on the head rude?  Yes.  Even dogs and small children are permissible only if you know them well enough to know if patting is welcome.  I'm not that familiar with small children, but most dogs of my acquaintance prefer to sniff first, then get their ears rubbed.

Giraffe, Esq:
When I was in college, I knew a guy who was a few years older (I was 21ish, he was 24ish?).  You wouldn't know his age by his behaviour, though -- he had a crush on me and I swear he had never progressed out of the junior high mentality of showing you like a girl.  AKA by annoying the dickens out of her.

We went on a group canoeing trip and when we got there, I changed out of my jeans into shorts over my swimsuit.  He promptly told me, "Holy cow, your legs are white!"  (I'm part vampire; the sun and I don't get along.  I know this, I acknowledge it, I accept that it's not going to change.  That doesn't mean I enjoy having it loudly pointed out to all and sundry!)

By the end of the day, my patience was gone.  Introvert, all day of people.  Hot, sunny, exercise, yadda yadda.  He made some crack, I don't remember what, but I know I was not amused.  He said, "Aww, are you tired?"  And patted my head!  And every time I tell this story, I include "like a dog!" on that statement.

I. Was. Furious. 

I don't know that I had consciously thought about the issue before then, but it's because the idea to do so to someone else never even entered my head!

Caveat:  With some super close friends, we jokingly pat each other's heads and say, "there, there" or "poor baby".  It's always done...facetiously?  It's because of the innate condescension that it's funny to us.  But it's an in-joke -- not something done with anyone outside that close circle.


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