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At arm’s length vs Close at hand

at arm’s length—

1. as far away from one as one can reach with the arm:

  • The curtains fell together as the girl and the man stood at arm’s length from one another.

2. away from close contact or familiarity:

  • Deep inside she does have a bit of affection for him, but their rivalry has her keeping him at arm’s length.

close at hand

1. near enough; in close proximity:

  • The monks were always mindful to establish themselves where there was water close at hand.

2. on close inspection:

  • He was found, close at hand, to be no mean acrid man; but at heart a healthful, strong, sagacious man.

3. (of an event, etc.) coming on shortly:

  • This was the moment at which the fortunes of Montague reached the meridian. The decline was close at hand.