I have been staying with my parents recently, while my house is being renovated. I have also been breaking out in hives.
They appear in the evening, soon after my dad starts clearing his throat over and over while reading in his study. I start to itch furiously when my mom, every half-hour or so, slowly opens the door to the room where I am writing, peers in and cheerfully chirps, "How's it going?"
I have wonderful parents, and I love them, but after spending last weekend away from them—with zero hives!—I had a troubling thought: Am I allergic to them?
Experts use the term "social allergens" to describe behaviors or habits that drive others nuts. Some of these actions begin to annoy us soon after we meet someone. Others get to us slowly and surely over time.