Q: Several months ago, out of the blue, a friend of a friend suggested going to movies and the like, just the two of us. I don't particularly enjoy this guy's company, so I declined these invitations until he sent me an e-mail accusing me of suspecting him of ulterior motives. I admitted it, and he said that although he had "thought about it," he just wanted to be friends.
A few months later he asked me if I ever thought about him as a romantic prospect.
I thought I had made my feelings clear. I now can't stand to be around him at all. I told him I didn't want to hear from him for two months, and have been avoiding him. Which keeps me from seeing some close friends.
We've had more than one lengthy discussion about "us," and as far as I can tell he's being deliberately obtuse. He keeps arguing with me about it, and it's really irritating since I know how I feel and this isn't really open to negotiation. Part of me wants to tell him in no uncertain terms that he creeps me out. How do I get back to where I was? I miss my friends, and am tired of dealing with this person.
A: If this isn't open to negotiation, then stop negotiating with him. Even one "lengthy conversation" sends him the message that you have something to talk about.
This is your time, your close circle of friends, your life. When he invites you out, you can say no. When he sends accusatory e-mails, you can ignore them; you needn't explain yourself. When you miss seeing your friends, you can invite them out. If you're worried they'll bring this guy, you can ask them not to. When they ask why, you can say why. When they ignore you, you can get new friends.
When he is around and tries to argue, you can say, "I have nothing more to say," and you can go talk to someone else. When he asks you again if you see him as a romantic prospect, you can say "no." You can say you don't want him to approach or contact you again, and you can walk away, and never pick up his calls or reply to his e-mails again. You can document harassment for the police.
So far, your actions haven't backed your words. Most people won't take advantage, but this guy will.
Look closely at what you probably view as your most decisive action: You told him to go away — and then put an expiration date on it. Again, don't think how most people would take that. Think how he will.
It sounds like you don't want to be "mean." Common mistake, but a mistake nonetheless: Our obligation to be "nice" expires the moment someone fails to respect us when we say no.
This is your time, your close circle of friends, your life. Take them back without apology. If it's fear, conscious or otherwise that has you treading so lightly with this guy, then any further advice needs to come from your local police.
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