T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 48736
posted 07-17-2011 02:19 PM
I have a question about something that's happened recently that I've already resolved, but the 'situation' continues to drift in and out of my mind.
So here's the story. Sorry if it is unnecessarily detailed. =( I was on the train one day, coming back from work (I had already changed out of my work clothes and was wearing just some t-shirt and soffe shorts). A young couple comes in, and the girl sits down in the empty seat left of me. Soon, a seat opens up further to my right and the guy sits down there. Because I expected the couple wanted to be all lovey-dovey, I got the guy's attention and switched seats with him so that the couple could sit with each other. Little action, done. Now this man across from me gestures for my attention, and gives me a smile and thumbs up. Obviously, he was very pleased with my switcharoo. I smile back and then return to my Ipod. The man happens to get off at the same stop as I do, so he caught up with me (out of habit, I was running out of the station, haha) and introduced himself, and asked me out for dinner or coffee on the spot. I tried to refuse him as delicately as possible. As it goes, however, I spend some time chatting with him in the parking lot of the train station (awkward, at least for me). Generally speaking, I am willing to give every person a chance to get to know me, and I didn't have anywhere to go, so I just talked with him. Eventually, it began to get dark, so he asked for my phone number before we parted. I give it to him. I know, I know, it's like a cardinal rule not to give out my phone number. I am really uncomfortable with being openly dismissive of people, so I figure it's easier/less risky to ignore phone calls or texts than to give them a wrong number or refuse to give it to them. Just to make sure I wasn't leading him on, though, I told him that I don't ever pick up the phone and to not expect that this means I will ever reconsider his offer of dating. He asked if it would be alright if he kept trying, and I was like 'ok, but you're wasting your time'. Ultimately, he seemed like a nice enough guy, and no red flags really came up during our conversation. At that point, I felt comfortable enough to the point where I would consider going to some cultural venue (ie museum, festival, etc) with him, since he seemed like an inquisitive, normal type of guy. What's the problem with this? I am 18, home for the summer after my first year in college. I didn't know how old he was, but first impressions told me well over 30. Besides, I was dressed like a casual teen and he was in business attire (dress shirt, pants), obviously coming back from work. I know that I am very bad at estimating age, so I thought that perhaps I was overestimating his age. He didn't send up any pedophile/ephebophile flags, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he wasn't as old as I thought. Late 20s, minimum. The next two days, he texts me and calls me with ideas for meeting up again. Although I wanted to avoid having to talk to him, finally I called him to tell him that I wouldn't ever consider him, and that he should find someone his own age. He said explicitly that he didn't want to annoy me, and promised not to call me again. His age? 38. More than physically capable of fathering me. I guess what I'm having problems with is that I'm not sure how to classify this guy for whatever might come in the future. He seemed perfectly nice and normal. I caught no red flags, which is why I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Above all though, he is still slightly more than double my age. While I am mature for my age, my youth could not have escaped his notice. The term 'pedophile' has some very strong negative connotations, and thus I am reluctant to assign such a label to this man. While I concede that in many ways I may be naive and overly tolerant with other people, but I am not stupid. If this guy had made any inappropriate passes at me, I would have immediately escaped. But I was wondering, for future reference, if such types of people should be branded as inappropriate and immediately avoided. Although this time, the situation was resolved with no problem, I am wondering if a similar situation could arise in the future where I actually land in trouble and not realize it.
Member # 32224
posted 07-17-2011 04:59 PM
While this doesn't by any means suggest the situation couldn't be dangerous or inappropriate, I'd like to point out that "paedophile" only covers attraction to prepubescents, not eighteen-year-olds.
Member # 48736
posted 07-17-2011 05:35 PM
That's why I said pedophile/ephebophile. I realize that neither particularly covers non-minors. It's just that pedophile as a term has inaccurately evolved to connote large age differences in general.
Member # 3
posted 07-17-2011 06:08 PM
I feel like the miscommunication here is in you giving him your number when he asked you out, and him taking that -- validly, I'd say -- as some sign of interest on your part.
Am I getting it right that when you made clear you weren't interested, he stopped contacting you? If so, I guess I'm not sure what you mean by trying to classify him in some way. What it sounds like to me is someone who found you attractive, as people are wont to do with other people, asked you out, and accepted when you declined. If that's all that happened, seems to me there's nothing that went creepy or weird here, just someone interested in you when you didn't share that interest. In the future, I'd just say it sounds like you might, for yourself, try to get a bit more confident just declining outright when people ask for things you don't want to give, and I'd personally not vote for giving your phone number, ever, to someone you don't feel safe with and know you want to have call you. If you need a way to get around that while you develop that assertiveness, an easy cheat is just to give the wrong number. Not something I'd generally say to do as a rule, but just for general safety, if you can't just say no when a stranger asks, I think doing that beats making yourself unsafe. Doesn't seem like it was an issue with this guy, but that's seriously personal info, and someone less okay could use it for ill, you know?
Member # 48736
posted 07-17-2011 06:42 PM
Hmm, I guess I gave him the number because I wasn't completely against going to some public place with this person, if it was a place I had already wanted to go on my own anyways. Interested to the extent that I would meet him if he happened to be where I was/wanted to be. I made it pretty clear to him that I wasn't looking for a relationship and that my summer was extremely busy and I basically have no free time (which I exaggerated a bit, but not by much. I am very busy this summer). I guess he thought there was hope on the horizon because I didn't refuse to give him the number. Valid, but I think I tend to take people's words at face value -- since I told him I wasn't interested in a relationship, I just assumed that his continued interest meant that he was ok with just being a friend/acquaintance. I guess that's a pretty false assumption, now that I think about it.
I have been asked for my number once before, from a random guy who just came up to me right before a class was about to start (he was in the previous class in the same room). I was so shocked (since I never thought others would be attracted so strongly to me just based on my appearance) that I just gave it to him. I know I should give a wrong number, but I just worry that I'll be caught in the act or something. I just need to man up, I know. I'm just kind of confused as to whether or not there might be something 'inherently' wrong with this guy for setting his sights on someone so much younger than himself. On one hand, he was a perfectly nice guy, and wasn't creepy in any way. After I refused him very overtly over the phone, he said he wouldn't call me again, which he hasn't. But then again, he is more than twice my age and that to me is a huge red flag that completely conflicts with my other readings of him. I don't really know what I'm asking. I guess when you boil down to it, my question isn't answerable. It just asks whether or not there is something fundamentally wrong/weird about a person that is attracted to someone of a large age difference, despite how 'normal' they seem. But I suppose that would boil down to personal preferences, though not to the extent of the political and social altercations over, say, same-sex marriage or abortion.
Member # 60279
posted 07-17-2011 08:13 PM
Are you sure about his age?
I know any number of people who, when all dressed up in suits, look older than they are. I also know any number of people in college or law school who have summer internships requiring them to show up in suits everyday. So he may be younger than you think. IMO, the creepy thing about older people trying to be sexually or romantically involved with people far below their ages, is the power imbalance that sometimes comes with that age difference. Age is not the only source of power imbalances, but any power imbalance tends to be made worse when one half of the couple is under the age of legal majority. A guy who asks for your number, calls it, and then agrees to not call you again when you say you aren't interested does not ping my creep-o-meter, because he's respecting your choices and boundaries. I have been on the receiving end of about a dozen calls from people who were given my number as a made-up number (it was worse when my phone number had repeated pairs of digits in it - a lot of people kind of laze out before inventing seven whole digits). That's how it happens. You have to give a fairly real-sounding number, or the guy will know you're blowing him off, so whatever number you give, someone may have to answer the phone at the other end. Possibly someone who has spent the last two hours trying to get a teething baby to sleep. I don't grudge anyone doing what they have to do to get out of a situation safely - if you think a fake number will get you home safe, give it! I'll take the hit in cranky baby! However, you can just say things like "I don't give my number out." If you want, you can start a free email account to give to people you might want to get in touch with, but don't want to take calls from. Or, you can ask to take their number instead.
Member # 29754
posted 07-20-2011 07:08 PM
Ephebophilia describes an attraction to adolescent persons; while at 18 you *might* not be totally done with puberty, in all likelihood you're physiologically an adult (certainly legally). [As a side note, the current draft of the DSM-5, which is due for publication in March 2013, collapses the pedophile/ephebophile distinction, replacing both with the single classification "Pedohebephilic Disorder", essentially describing a primary attraction to persons who are not physiological adults.] While I think there are certain problems related to the cultural construction of youth as a sexual ideal, I'm not sure there's any particular reason to "classify" or pathologize this guy, especially given said cultural sexual idealization of youth.
As for the future: some men are rapists (unfortunately, not an insignificant number), a majority are not. As far as I know, there is no particular grouping of men who are more or less likely to be rapists, so 'classifying' men (as anything other than rapist/not rapist, based on evidence) based on any immediately obvious criterion isn't going to help you be more or less safe (although behaviors can be something of an indication: if someone is respecting your boundaries and not pressuring you in other social situations, the odds are better that the same will be true of sexual situations, though this is far from a hard and fast rule). I would also suggest working on your assertiveness and being careful about giving out personal information. It's okay to tell people things they don't necessarily want to hear, and you don't owe strangers anything other than basic human decency (e.g. "I'm sorry, I'm not interested in talking to you" is a lot more pleasant than "F**k off, creep", while still being clear). I know this can seem counterintuitive to a lot of people (and women especially, given the way we construct gender norms), but sometimes a clear "no, go away" in these situations is actually kinder than an equivocating response, as people have a tendency to hear what they want or expect (this doesn't mean that it's okay for anyone to NOT take someone at their word without a VERY good reason, or to call/harass/stalk someone; while only a clear "yes" is consent in any sense, people often interpret the lack of a clear "no" as at least an opening or invitation, and practically speaking, it's better to give a clear "no, I have no interest in dating you", without any sort of reason or excuse, if you're not interested in dating someone who asks you out).