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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Interaction/unwanted propositions

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Author Topic: Interaction/unwanted propositions
Member # 29128

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Hey everyone. This is really long, but it's about something that is really bothering me. I'm feeling like I can't keep myself safe or express my boundaries when I'm interacting with certain people, especially with men who are expressing sexual/romantic interest in me when I'm not interested in them. I need help with a situation that has arisen with a specific man.

I have been going to an awesome dance class for a few weeks. The first class I went to, an older man who I will now refer to as *** (mid-50s looking, I'm in my 20s) asked me to dance. He proceeded to teach me a bunch of steps & give me heaps of advice, which was really welcome as I was a total beginner. He was warm and funny and seemed pretty skilful as a dancer, which helped me to relax ( I was nervous because I often feel uncoordinated).

THIS week, I am really tired when I go to class. I dance with him and we wind up discussing my sexual orientation ("bi" for simplicity) as I try to be open about this and it came up. We have a talk about how we should TOTALLY be each others' wingmen. This segues into a description of what sort of women *** likes, which turn out to be "beautiful, sexy bisexuals like you". Up until this point, I really just thought "Oh, here is a dude who likes to be super flirtatious when he dances, like in the silly old movies which are probably my main experience of *couple* dancing".

From then on, everyone in the class was supposed to change partners and he wouldn't let me change. I tried to talk about innocuous topics but the conversation kept drifting back to pie-in-the-sky ideas about how we could live together in delightful polyamory, (e.g running away together to a foreign land) including things that I found not explicit but certainly inappropriate. I was exhausted and still mostly thought that we were just joking around - I didn't think he was flirting as a means to anything other than temporary entertainment/conversation. I just went along with it/added funny comebacks - I feel like I was following in the dance and this influenced my style in the conversation. At the end of the night, however, he wanted us to swap contact details, partly so he could show me his website, but clearly because he was interested in me. I gave him just my email. I don't even know why I did this - I didn't want to be extremely rude. I gave it with a feeble, muttered disclaimer that I was only interested in his dancing and in seeing his website, and then rebuffed his suggestion that we negotiate "something more".

He has emailed me the links he described (they're just his business site, it looks half-legit) and a kind of funny message which I don't know how to interpret (but don't want to post here in case he finds it somehow online). I'm freaking out a bit about security. I think this is probably unnecessary, but my impression has gone from "nice older guy" to "creepy older guy" in the space of a week and my email address has my full name. When I saw that he had emailed me I felt like throwing up.

I mostly just feel stupid. This is a really similar situation to the one I posted about HERE I feel like I couldn't have made it super clear that I was not interested without sounding prudish, because at the time it seemed ambiguous to me whether he was ever actually serious. I don't want to be extremely passive in situations like this and I feel like I usually am: if someone throws something unexpected into the conversation I just go along with it. I hate that I wasn't able to just change partner. I think this behaviour on my part is partly from working in customer service so long and trying to get along with everyone and keep everyone happy. I don't know what to do, because I want to keep going to this class but I do not want to behave in this way. And I don't want to put myself in an unsafe position. I'm thinking about emailing him back to clear things up, but I don't know what effect this will have. Also, part of me thinks I'm making a huge deal out of a small deal. But I feel really worried.

Does anyone have any feedback? I know I need to work out some kind of strategy for giving a really clear & preferably polite signal, because this has happened before in different environments. Does anyone have any ideas this or suggestions for what I should do now? I KNOW people flirt with each other every single day and don't necessarily mean it or aren't invested in it 100% and don't retaliate when others turn out not to share their interest. I'm just very disconcerted and kind of scared right now. I really appreciate it if you have read or skimmed this far. I have tried to edit and shorten but this is the same day, I'm still exhausted and needed to do something before I could sleep.

[ 02-23-2010, 03:20 PM: Message edited by: rosegeranium ]

Posts: 79 | From: the southern hemisphere | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm just rushing through this morning on my way out, rose, but one thing you may want to do is just kind of practice saying "That makes me uncomfortable." Seriously, just actually practice saying it, sitting down, in the mirror, etc. Get used to saying it a bit.

When anything like this makes you uncomfortable, at the first point it does, that's the time to just say that simple sentence. Sounds like here, it was the point where he wouldn't let you change partners, so that would have been the time to say it. Even if it was a step before, when he flirted with you, that could have been the time, too.

However, you can certainly also say it NOW with the email.

You might also want to remind yourself that it's not rude to have boundaries. Know what I mean? With the contact stuff, saying "You know, I don't feel comfortable with that, sorry," would not have been rude. In fact, it sounds here like he was being rude: given how uncomfortable you were feeling, it sounds like he probably saw some signals of that but decided to ignore them because of what he wanted.

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 29128

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Edit: I fixed the link to a post on a similiar theme.

Whoa, speedy replying. Yay for the awesomeness of timezones, and Heather, thanks for being around here so much, it is really appreciated.

Yeah, I would have had real trouble saying "this makes me uncomfortable", had it even occured to me that that would be an appropriate response. I feel like I'm such a social problem. I feel like I can prettymuch hold my own with most people in my age group now, but with older people it's different.

I have drafted an email to the effect of "i'm not interested, certain things made me as uneasy as Amelia Bedelia on a unicycle and this should have been clear, sorry for any misunderstanding". I'm going to sit on it and re-read it later or maybe float it with someone else to make sure it's frank enough and desn't just sound like I'm "playing hard to get" or some crap like that.

Posts: 79 | From: the southern hemisphere | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 29128

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An update: I have sent a draft to boyfriend for a second opinion, simply because he's the only one I have discussed this with in any depth other than on here.

I think I'm unlikely to have further run-ins with this guy once I email him, But if anyone has other feedback on the following ideas, or other safety-related things I could do, I'd appreciate it. I haven't decided if I want to go back to this class, as I definitely don't want to dance with him again and he seems to be a regular fixture. I'm considering just asking the class instructor to remove my details (address, number) from their database as they seem to keep them all up on a laptop that's pretty accessible for an entire evening.

I'm also thinking about telling the instructors (or the staff at the bar where the class is held )about hime. It's overkill in response to what actually happened, but if his behaviour is similiar (and similiarly unwanted) with others, then that's affecting enjoyment of the classes for other women too. Hopefully others are better at being boundaried than me though.

All of this has the positive side effect that this year I'm ACTUALLY going to get off my *** and organise a self-defence workshop through the women's group of my university. Also, I am going to practice saying I am uncomfortable in actual conversations because I think that I can do it now.
Thanks heaps again for your reply, Heather. Cheers to anyone for reading [Smile]

Posts: 79 | From: the southern hemisphere | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Michelle Ravel
Member # 21100

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It's a lot easier to do this kind of thing if you get over the idea that rejecting someone is a mean thing to do. It's not. Obviously, he was interested and let you know, and it's just the considerate thing to do to let him know if his advances are unwanted.

If you give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a decent person, he would probably be very embarrassed to learn that he has been making you uncomfortable.

Now that you have had an email from him, you can always write back and say a very kind, "Hey, great dancing with you the other day. Thanks for your help. Just to be clear, I'm not interested in anything romantic between us. See you around!"

Also know that you don't owe him--or anyone else--an explanation about why you're not interested. A shrug and a repeat of "I'm just not interested," is the only 'explanation' you need to give someone if they start asking why.

When this happens again, it will be easier to do the rejecting thing if you do it earlier before the other person has a chance to make a total fool of themselves, thinking you'll be receptive. So just get used to saying, "I'm not interested in that," which you can say pretty casually. The person should then back off--and if they don't, they're jerks and you can just walk away.

Posts: 51 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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