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.