Creepy guys keep hitting on me. How can I make them stop?
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Dear Miss Information,
About two years ago, I had a serious falling-out with a friend of mine (with whom I'd had a physical relationship, briefly), after which he found it appropriate to drink far too much and send me long series of text messages stating what a whore I was, how stupid and terrible I was, etc. This continued, off and on, until earlier this year, when he asked for my forgiveness and for the rekindling of our friendship. Even though I could forgive him, I did tell him that I couldn't be his friend after what had happened. After that, the drunken-insult messages resumed, until I managed to block his phone number. I thought that was the end of it, until a few days ago when he emailed me to tell me that he was working in another city, wished me the best, and asked me to keep in touch.
I don't know what to do. After two years, I still have a hard time reconciling the fun, intelligent friend I had with the jerk who would call me awful names. Is it worth giving him another chance, or am I just asking to get the crap kicked out of my emotions again?
— Confused And Tired
Dear Confused and Tired,
A friend of mine sent me a fascinating article about narcissism. (Why he was sending it to me is a question that we should probably not examine.) The bullet points are that narcissists feed on approval from other people and always need the upper hand; if they feel rejected or lose that control, they lash out and act destructively. I'm not in the business of diagnosing anybody (you have to give me twenty dollars and step into my clinic/van for that), but I'm using this as food for thought. This guy is absolutely not stable ground in which to plant… um… friendship seeds.
Forgiveness is only deserved if things change. Just like an apology is only sincere if someone makes the effort to fix the damage they've done. You took a stand by severing ties after his abusive tirades, so he apologized to get back in your good graces. Once he had your ear again, he started the abuse right where he left off. If this is the pattern, his apology was not genuine, zero personal growth happened, and you should go back to blocking his number. His behavior sounds more like a power play than it does a desire for friendship. It is possible for people to heal and change, but it sounds like he's doing none of that.
Dear Miss Information,
I broke up with my boyfriend of four years about two years ago. But since then, I have not met one guy that I really wanted to have any kind of meaningful relationship with. I meet people while out all the time and they ask for my number, but they either end up being people I'm not interested in seeing/not attracted to, or complete douchebags looking for random hookups. ("Complete douchebag" may be biased.) I've had a few flings, but they've all ended badly.
I know it could just be the people I meet, but it honestly seems like all the men I meet are this way. No matter where I go to hang out, which friends I'm with, or what I'm wearing, it's always the same. Recently, I was approached by someone intending to pay me a compliment by saying, "You have the best tits in the room." A few weekends ago, a friend of a friend approached my sister and said, "Hey, who's your friend with the nice tits?" and pointed at me. Even at work — I work in a bank — I get creeped on by customers in their forties and fifties on a regular basis. What gives?
Please wise Cait, tell me what I am not understanding. Learning, I am.
— Not a Star Wars Geek
Dear Not a Star Wars Geek,
Oh, man! You won the illustrious "Best Tits in the Room" award? I'm green with envy. The last time I went out, I got the "You Look Like You Read Books" medallion. I had mixed feelings, because at least I placed, you know? I'm thinking next time I'll pick a different song for my "talent" routine.
I don't see any real flaws in your approach. I do hear a heavy sigh in your tone. For what it's worth, these grievances are well aired by millions of attractive, smart, pulled-together people the world over. It's nothing you're doing; it's just a thing.
If you're in the market for something more real, take a more active role. You talk about being approached by these creeps, but you don't mention approaching anyone yourself. Guys who sleaze on girls at a bar are a self-selecting population, and likely skew higher on the creep scale than the dude hanging out by the jukebox, nursing a beer. Learn to identify and brush off the losers so they don't ruin your night; think of them like a bar fixture, like a table or a stool or a taxidermied elk on the wall. Then try expanding your horizons. Bars are loaded territory, but connections can happen anywhere: in line at the grocery store, on a bus, at the library. If you're disgusted by the guys who are finding you, put on your pith helmet and find your own guys. Male consensus seems to be that a girl making the first move is an automatic thumbs-up. (And making the first move plus the occasional Yoda reference? No stopping you will there be!)
I want to give you some auntly "chin up!" advice, but the truth is that these people exist everywhere. Jerks are just louder than everyone else. But that doesn't mean they're the only guys in the room.