Auntie SparkNotes: How Do I Cut Ties With a Creeper?
I'm friends/ acquaintances with a guy that started out nice enough but has begun to seriously creep me out. I met "Tom" through a friend and he asked if we could be friends on Facebook. He was surprised when I said yes: he told me that his deep conversations tend to push girls away, and he said he tends to get attached easily/quickly. I kindly and clearly told him that I enjoyed our conversations but I wasn't interested in dating anyone at the moment, but his texts became more frequent and more flirty. I called him and politely reminded him where I stood. He said he understood, and that he was grateful for me not leading him on and being clear.
Then, I went to an event of his. Leading up to it he was extremely enthusiastic, texting me more frequently about deeper stuff. When he asked me if I could catch dinner afterwards, I politely expressed that unfortunately I couldn't, and his "aw" went on for about two pages. I was a bit surprised, but I brushed it off.
Fast forward to now: I told him about an upcoming event I was in and invited him to come. He was extremely enthusiastic and asked if afterwards we could get dinner, so we could get to know each other a little better. I agreed since I missed last time. Then things took a sharp left turn. Somehow, his texts went to Sexy-ville: about the importance of foreplay and really gross analogies for HND and sexual organs. He wasn't sexting me, or asking me to send pictures, but I definitely didn't feel comfortable. I asked him to change the subject. He then said I was "too pure" and that it shouldn't bother me, so I put my foot down saying that there are plenty of other things more pleasant to talk about and if he wasn't willing to stay away from those topics then I would not engage him in conversation. He eventually said he was sorry and I forgave him.
Then the pet names started. When ever I said I had to go, it was followed by so many sighs and awwws it would leave my phone vibrating for five minutes straight. He is incessant and obsessive. When the day of my event came, I didn't feel comfortable being alone with him. So I sacrificed social courtesy for my gut feeling and told him after the event that my parents put their foot down and I couldn't go. He was disappointed, and I profusely apologized. The next day he congratulated me in a six-page text. I thanked him for coming and for being so flexible and courteous about not being able to have dinner. Tom then said that I didn't give him an option and that he had really wanted to hang out with me. Afterwards he started texting me in French. This is clearly flirting. I asked him to not text me in French because it made me uncomfortable and he said I wasn't giving him an honest explanation.
As if I wasn't being honest?! I was extremely clear! He's making it sound like he thinks some trick up his sleeve will finally make me fall for him. Auntie, what do I do? I've been clear, I've told him at least two times that I was not interested. I've tried being nice, firm, blunt, given him space, and even ignored him and he still hasn't let up. Even today he texted me about how he was "gushing " about me to a friend. What do I do? He is in a one-way relationship with his idea of me, but doesn't listen when I say his attention is unwanted. This is getting out of hand. At this point I don't even want to be friends with him. Do I need to sit him down in person and say we shouldn't talk any more? I really don't want to have to change my number, but I wouldn't be surprised if he would start harassing me after. How do I cut ties with this guy completely?
Well, you could start by actually telling him that he's barking up the wrong tree.
Because do you realize, Sparkler, that being straight with this guy is the one thing you've never actually done? I know you think you've have, but you haven't. And if you're wondering how that's possible after all this time, I'll give you a hint: if you had been clear about your feelings toward this dude in the way you claim to be, your letter would have been about one paragraph long—because a straightforward statement about your lack of interest wouldn't wouldn't have needed to be repeated multiple times, in multiple ways, over the course of multiple pseudo-dates.
But instead, you sent me nearly one thousand words describing all the dozens of times that you "politely expressed" something, or "brushed off" something else, or pointed the finger at your parents, your schedule, or a disinclination toward dating in general instead of just telling the truth. And don't get me wrong: I understand why you haven't told the truth. Telling the truth is hard! It's much easier to say, "My parents say I can't go to dinner with you," or "I don't want to date anyone right now," or "Stop texting me in French," than it is to say, "I'm not interested in you romantically and you're making a fool of yourself by pursuing me."
But when you don't tell the truth, Sparkler, what you end up doing is sending mixed messages. And in this case, you've been sending them to a person who you already know is a) extremely interested in you, b) not great with boundaries, and c) going to go out of his way to read encouragement into your every inconsistency. Have you ever seen Dumb & Dumber? There's this terrible, hilarious scene in it where the desperate lead character is asking his crush if he has any chance with her. (He doesn't.) And it goes like this:
Guy: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Girl: Not good.
Guy: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Girl: I'd say more like one out of a million.
At which point, that guy goes like this:
Do you see what I'm getting at here, Sparkler? This guy is that guy.
When you say you aren't interested in dating anyone at the moment, he hears, "But when I do want to date someone, it'll be you!"
When you invite him to dinner and cancel at the last minute, saying that your parents won't let you go, he hears, "I really want to date you, but my parents are being stupid!"
When you say that you don't like him texting you in French, he hears, "But I totally love it when you flirt with me in English!"
(Also, if you haven't seen Dumb & Dumber, you should go do so immediately, because it is solid gold.)
And look: of course, this is partly his fault. He even seems to realize that he's he just doesn't realize that it's not because he enjoys "deep conversations", but rather because he's too socially inept to notice when he's annoying a person to death. But since you're the one writing to me, and since it's your attention I have, I have to point out to you how much confusion you could have saved yourself by being clear instead of coy.
And before you go assuming that this guy is a restraining order waiting to happen, I hope you'll give him at least once chance to take no for an answer… by, actually giving him no for an answer. No excuses, no apologies, just a straightforward rejection and request for space.
Ex: "Tom, I haven't come out and said this so explicitly because I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but your behavior is making me really uncomfortable and I need to be clear about this: I do not like you as more than a friend, and I am not interested in dating you, ever. There is no chance of us being romantically involved. At this point, it's pretty clear that you aren't interested in being just friends with me, so I think it's best if we go our separate ways. Please don't contact me anymore."
At which point he should get the message and vanish from your life. But if he doesn't, that's the point at which you a) start documenting his attempts at contact, b) block him on your phone and social networks, c) let your parents know that you're dealing with a harasser and might need to take legal action, and d) never, ever, ever, EVER reply.
Hopefully, though, that won't happen — because hopefully, this dude is only a socially-clueless doink, rather than an evil creepster. And with him no longer bothering you, you'll be free to focus on more important things! Beginning with the part where you put on your Confidence Pants, learn to listen to your intuition, and start forming a robust and familiar acquaintanceship with the word, "No."
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