Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Unwanted Advances

One subject that continues to perplex me is how to deal with unwanted advances. Don't get me wrong, I don't receive this unwanted attention often, but I have had my fair share over the years. My problem with it is that I am inherently just a nice, friendly person, and I have a lot of trouble being firm or standoff-ish because of that; actually, that's really just a nice way of saying that I have a problem with saying NO.

I always feel guilty, and I think up excuses that preclude me from being as blunt as I should. This in turn, gives the unwanted advancers the illusion of hope. Even though they should be getting the picture after weeks of excuses, they think I am really just that busy... that under no circumstances do I ever have time for them. But if I did have time, I of course would return their attentions. It's a maddening and tiring process.

The reason I bring all this up is that I will soon be going on a business trip where an unwanted advancer will also be present. This is someone I work with, and someone who also used to be my accquaintance (I am a little reluctant to call this person a friend). At one time, we often ate lunch together and communicated on a daily basis. This person knew I had a boyfriend and I didn't see anything wrong with having a new friend at work. But, alas, despite my best intentions to mention my boyfriend in every other sentence, this person (we'll call him UW for "Unwanted Advancer") felt it appropriate to reveal that he had more-than-friendly feelings for me. He even had the audacity to ask me, IF I didn't have a byofriend, would I reciprocate...oh, and he asked this over WORK E-MAIL. Shocked and awed, I mustered up my courage and actually flat out said "No, I would not be attracted to you." Silly me... for thinking that this would work.

After that occurred, UW seemed to ignore the fact that he should have been embarassed and continued to be my friend, saying everything was fine. At this point, I really should have cut off all communication, but I didn't. I was at a new job, I desperately needed someone to talk to around the office, and UW was a nice person when he wasn't making unwanted advances. So, a month or two goes by. Then one day, when we are sitting outside on a bench, he AGAIN breaches the subject of his feelings. I sit slack-jawed for a minute, half not believing that this is actually occuring... why would someone open themselves up for embarassment like that again? So basically I say I do not reciprocate, and that everything is fine between us, yada yada yada.

But later I realize everything is not fine. It is awkward and I now feel more uncomfortable than ever with UW. So I e-mail him. I tell him I do not appreciate his advances and that I do not feel that way. I also tell him that I no longer want to have lunch with him or otherwise speak with or see him outside of our office. All he writes back is, "I respect your wishes." And he did, for a while. He really didn't come to my cubicle at all. We had almost zero communication. After some time though, UW started coming around again for brief conversations. But to this day, I feel awkward, and I think our conversations are awkward. We really have nothing to talk about.

Now, back to the reason I started this. I am worried about the trip because I will be forced to interact with UW in non-work, social settings. I do want to "give him the wrong idea" again by being nice. But how can I not be nice? It will be difficult to avoid UW, so I think my best bet is to just avoid being alone with him. I will be on my most guarded, aloof behavior around him, which is really sad for me, because it takes away from some of the fun of being away in a cool place experiencing new things. I now realize that, had I been less accessible and accomodating to his feelings from the start, this whole situation may not have escalated. And that, boys and girls, is our lesson for today. Girls, never hesitate to say "no" to a guy. And if you are getting unwanted advances from him, stop the relationship right there, or he'll never get the idea. And guys, can you please help us out here as well? If we say we don't like you, please leave us alone. We'll let you know if we want your advances. Believe me, you don't want to be that UW that a girls tells her friends about.

8 Comments:

At 2:08 PM, Blogger I-66 said...

I've always been a proponent of the immediate "no" as opposed to hoping s/he "gets the hint." That said, I personally have developed feelings a couple of times for different female friends but if I come clean once and it doesn't work out, that's that. What's the point of trying again? It's enough of a risk to the friendship to try it once, anything further puts it all in jeopardy.

At this point you don't owe him much in terms of common courtesy as it appears he hasn't extended it to you (do unto others...). Don't sweat it. How you feel right now about not being your nice self around him may not be great, but it's probably better than how you'll feel if he starts making advances again.

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Sleepy Girl said...

Thanks for the advice, i-66. It's good to have a male point of view. I'll try not to worry about being "nice" and start being blunt...hopefully that strategy will work and there won't be another psycho post on my blog about UW.

 
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At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

iam really sick of this type of thing it happens too often, women do have a lot of power when it comes to sex but "cmon" even the dumbest of dumb arses can get the message in this situation. pushing someone to the point that they feel uncormfitable is borderline rape and at the least severe harrasement. his inability too control his emotions(desires) sets a bad example for other men who really do want too treat women with respect.

 
At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having the exact same problem but the only difference is the guys a really good friend but it's come the point where I've also had to stop contact.

Maybe at this work think is UW starts advancing again you should say a firm No and remind him that you have been through it all before and if that doesn't work be plain blunt at the end of the day it's your happiness in life and at work that is at stake.

 
At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going through almost the same thing at work! i just started a new job and this guy, that I thought was just a nice guy, keeps bringing me gifts (mostly starbucks) and watching everything that I am doing in my cube. The worst part is that he has been tryin to single me out to get me to do things with him out side of work and he has been trying to make me feel voulnerable.
I have only been at my job for 5 weeks, so needless to say I do not know him well. And I live in the same city as my parents and a vast network of friends. He has gone so far as to trying to make me feel bad because I didn't call him when I had a flat tire!

I have been polite when he brings me coffee, but have made it known to him that I don't want them and I have just been leaving them untouched on my desk hoping that he will get the message. But when I had a flat and he found out about it and was trying desperatly to get me to admit that I "needed" him I began to feel that he was possibly a preditor. It seems as something classic for a preditor to do, to try and seperate me from the crowd and to try and get me to admit that I needed him. My best response to him on the spot at that time was that I am independant and that I am fully capable of changing my own tires, and that the reason that I didn't ask him for help was because it wasn't work related.

But he still doesn't get it!
I can't afford to loose this job, but I don't know what to do. Since I have only been here for 5 weeks I am not comfortable going to HR or even confronting him... Does anyone have any suggestions?

 
At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we all need to learn how to assert ourselves better. This is the bottom line. I struggle hard with these situations because I am the "nice girl from tx." I figure if the guy has the audacity to continue the nonreciprocal advances, he will eventually get over a flat no and his ego will heal. My problem is I try to network with people in my profession and this "same guy" is always eager to "mentor" me. I live with my boyfriend who is everything to me. Before I know it a casual networking event turns into a date. Normally with men, I can brush them off easily but here, I am seeking a professional relationship. Must I really seclude myself to all female associations??? But I agree, never let yourself be alone with that person because you will find out that his intentions are otherwise! As for work situations, if you have nothing professional to gain from the relationship then you have nothing to lose by cutting it out.

 

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