keep (one) at arm's length

keep (one) at arm's length

To keep one a certain distance away, either physical or figurative, in order to afford a level of safety or security or to prevent intimacy. John always keeps his friends at arm's length, so that no one gets close enough to hurt his feelings. My daughter likes to watch me cook, but I make sure to keep her at arm's length so she doesn't get close to anything hot.
See also: keep, length
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

keep someone at arm's length

If you keep someone at arm's length, you avoid being friendly with them or getting emotionally involved with them. Brian felt more guilt than grief. He'd tried to get close, but his father had kept him at arm's length.
See also: keep, length, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

keep someone or something at arm's length

avoid intimacy or close contact with someone or something.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

keep somebody at arm’s ˈlength

avoid becoming too friendly with somebody: He’s the kind of man who’s best kept at arm’s length.
See also: keep, length, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
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