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Ew, ick, how do I get him to leave me alone?(23 Posts)
A couple of months ago, I worked on a project with a group of people, including a very young man- quite literally half my age - of limited social skills. He made me uncomfortable throughout the project by focusing an inappropriate amount of attention on me - constantly touching and hugging me, attempting to monopolise me in conversations, demanding my attention when I'd made it clear I really didn't want to give it to him.
I told him, more than once, that I disliked this, and specifically not to hug me as it made me uncomfortable. When I told him this, he went to great lengths to thank me for being honest with him - while standing with his arm around me . I invited my husband along to one of the events we had organised, and was more affectionate with him than I would normally be in the hope he would get the message - instead he spent the whole time looming over both of us, trying to intrude on our conversation and attempting to intimidate my husband.
Anyway, project ended and I hoped that was the end of it. However, since then he has sent me several very long messages, telling me how much he admired my work and wants to get to know me better. He also manages to be both patronising (telling me - who has 20+ years experience in this field on him - that he'd be "sure to consider me for any future projects he was involved in") and intimidating ("if I want to include you in anything else I'm involved in then I will" - like it's an order not an invite!)
I replied once, saying thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the project - I didn't want to be unkind as I suspected (and later had confirmed) that he was on the autistic spectrum, but at the same time didn't want to encourage him either. However, the messages have continued, and just now I got a text from him, saying "here is my number, call me if you ever want to talk." I hadn't given him my number at any point, though tbf it wouldn't be hard for him get it from one of our colleagues.
I'm a happily married mum of two, I've never encouraged him in any way, and I just want this to stop. DH says to keep on ignoring him and he'll stop eventually, and I'm sure that's true, but in the meantime I'm finding the messages and now texts disturbing. What should I do? He's never done or said anything that couldn't be passed off as "just a friendly gesture", and none of the other women involved in the project seemed to have be bothered by him.
Does he work for a company? I'm just thinking if he has a line manager you could get in touch with them and inform them of the situation...
It was more of a voluntary/community project (though closely related to a field I used to work in), so there was no boss or manager as such.
I think you need to be much firmer with him. Tell him directly to back off, and make sure that there can be no misunderstanding. His behaviour is crossing the line and has to stop.
Personally, I might be tempted to send a strongly worded "back off" text andthen block his number.
I think you might be being too nice and he isn't picking up on the message. Some people don't do subtleties.
Block his number.
Make a log of incidents- just in case.
I deleted the text - and therefore the number - as soon it arrived, so don't think I can block the number, but I'll be sure to do so if he tries again.
From what you have said something tells me that he may well try again.
If he does then give a robust
fuck back off reply and then block his number.
Right, will do. I felt like I was maybe overreacting but he really is making me very uncomfortable.
I feel a bit pathetic for not being able to handle this better, but I've never encountered anyone so immune to "leave me alone, I'm not interested" vibes before!
I think something more along the lines of
"Please do not contact me again, should you do I will consider it harassment and be speaking to the Police"
If he has an autism spectrum condition, you will probably need to be very straightforward with him to the point of bluntness. He likely won't pick up on hints. So, one reply. I do not want to talk to you, please do not text me again. I know it seems brutal but it is kinder to put a stop to it now than to keep him stringing along out of an unwillingness to be completely honest.
The coming across as patronising and intimidating is because of him misjudging acceptable social norms and is part of his condition, so although I appreciate it's irritating, you should cut him some slack with that.
The inappropriate touching is something else. Again, it is to do with not understanding social norms but he needs very firm instructions on this else he could get himself into a lot of trouble in the future. However, not your responsibility now.
Thanks Hedda, I had thought as much. When the hugging got a bit much I told him, calmly, "please do not hug me again, I do not like it, it makes me uncomfortable", so I didn't think I could get any more explicit.
"please do not hug me again, I do not like it, it makes me uncomfortable", so I didn't think I could get any more explicit.
Yeah, I wouldn't be at all convinced that the autism is solely responsible for his entitled creepy behaviour.
Everybody with ASD is different and as Hedda explained, understanding the social norms you and I would is very different for people with ASD.
Some people with ASD can become infatuated with either people or things, or subjects or all of them. It sounds as though you are currently the focus of his attention. Being direct without being hurtful should help him to understand. I wonder if it was pictoral, that he may understand better. A visual info graphic type thing? I'm not sure though.
I would maybe speak to his line manager, but probably not have any further contact with him.
Have you read The Gift of Fear, which seems to be recommended on MN a lot? It says the best way to get rid of a stalker (not saying that's what he is, but he does seem to struggle with boundaries) is to clearly state that you are not interested ONCE, which I thin you've done, and then have no other contact with the pursuing person.
I think this is why I'm finding this so hard to handle, tbh. If he was just a common- or-garden lech I'd have no problem telling him just to fuck off, but I'm trying to be sensitive, as even before he mentioned he has Aspergers I had the strong impression that this was a young man who wasn't the best at "social stuff", but was trying very hard to improve, and I was sympathetic to that.
I'm normally pretty good with shy people, a lot of my friends are people who take a lot of "warming up" but are so worth it when you do. This does not feel like one of those cases.
OP it's a bit different but I had a problem with a neighbour who I initially liked
In the end I was lucky, because someone else commented to him about constantly touching me but ultimately I did tell him straight that I hate it and he has to stop.
We don't speak any more but the sense of relief as I breeze past pretending he is invisible. ...as he does with me....
Say something blunt. Tell him not to contact you again, no sorry or explanation.
The way I think of it is, he has broken a 'social contract' by not hearing / taking on board the feedback you are giving him, for whatever reason. Therefore, you are also entitled to break the 'social contract' by being more blunt / rude than you would normally be. If you say you don't want him to touch you, and he continues to touch you, you can straight away say 'I asked you not to touch me, but you are still touching me. Please do not touch me at all.' Its not inappropriate, given the circumstances. Don't feel bad about it.
* If he was just a common- or-garden lech I'd have no problem telling him just to fuck off, but I'm trying to be sensitive, as even before he mentioned he has Aspergers I had the strong impression that this was a young man who wasn't the best at "social stuff"*
Sorry, I know the Asperger's isn't his fault, but you. owe. him. nothing. Women are too conditioned to please men, to be polite, to be gentle. Firmly and factually telling him that it appears he has a romantic interest in you and you do not reciprocate at all should be enough. It is not up to YOU, a near stranger, to manage his feelings or expectations. He is violating your social AND physical boundaries and he needs to stop. End of.
He sounds obsessed and possibly delusional
I've came across this with people on the spectrum before and you really do just have to be painfully blunt. I'm usually sympathetic but they can take this very much the wrong way as they don't understand. One continued to message me for months even though I didn't reply to a single message and only stopped after I replied saying "I would like you to stop messaging me and contacting me please"
You are all right, of course. If he contacts me again (haven't heard from him since he texted me last night) I shall tell him firmly that I do not want any further contact with him.
I have a friend with a DS who isn't diagnosed as being on the spectrum, but who is currently being assessed for Fragile X syndrome, has dyspraxia, had verbal apraxia and other issues. He also has inappropriate boundaries around touching people and has had to be told about it - too much hugging of his teacher, for e.g., even too much for his mum while she was pregnant.
It's hard for him to understand and stop himself - but the boundaries need to be reinforced over and over and over until they're ingrained.
I agree that you need to be blunt - it feels dreadfully rude, because in general we like to couch things in slightly hidden terms - but you can't, you need to be straight down the line so there is no room for misinterpretation. Literal language is what you need - "Please stop contacting me immediately as I do not like it and do not wish to speak to you again" sort of thing.
All the very best OP. If all else fails and he continues to bother you after being blunt etc I would ask DH to call him. It's clearly causing you a great deal of upset and angst. Maybe a blunt sharp few words from your DH may get the point across?
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