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touchy feely guys

(73 Posts)
lorelei9 Tue 12-Jan-16 12:04:46

This is more of a rant than anything else, so I hope it’s all right to post it here.

I know my neighbours quite well – I live in a small block of flats. There is an elderly guy who moved in fairly recently. He’s the sort of person, if he bumps into you at the shops, he will say “how are you?” and squeeze your arm and want to chat for ages. I found it annoying from the start but not annoying enough to speak up. I also find him annoying generally. He seems to hang around at high traffic times for people going in and out. I commented once and he said “well I’m lonely”. I’ve also noticed he always compliments other female residents as well.

Over Christmas and New Year, he managed to do the whole greeting thing to give me a kiss on the cheek. I did find that annoying and after thinking it over I decided to say something. I see him around a lot and I just don’t want every occasion to be a “greet with a kiss” type, you know?

I encountered him and another (male) neighbour this morning. He immediately went to put his arm round me and the other neighbour said “oh stop putting your arm round everyone, it’s annoying and look, she’s trying to rush to the station”.

So the touchy feely neighbour said to me “what? You don’t mind do you?” and I said “yes, I do mind, we don’t know each other from a bar of a soap and you need to stop touching me. I’m off to work now”.

Touchy feely guy then made an awkward joke as I was walking away. The second neighbour made a face at me which I couldn’t interpret. If I see him again soon, I will ask him why he made that comment – it might have been a crazy banter joke but I saw it as a good opportunity to make my feelings known. But I suspect I am right – Mr touchy feely has been annoying more people than just me.

It’s depressing but at the ripe old age of 40, I realise that a) these men are like that and will touch anyone they can! And b) it won’t stop, will it? I used to think this would go away as I got older, but it just doesn’t. So I have to find a tactic or perhaps be more conscious so I say the first time “don’t touch me”. But honestly, I didn’t initially mind a neighbour greeting me with a squeeze of the arm or shoulder. More fool me?

I’m wondering how others handle it. What do you say and when do you say it? Do you politely say, the first time, “please don’t touch me?” I find that men like this “don’t” read obvious body language – I’m sure they can, but they don’t. So you try to shrink away and they don't register it.

any advice? Thanks.

WilLiAmHerschel Tue 12-Jan-16 15:15:46

I experienced this once with a work colleague. He was my supervisor, it was my first proper job after graduating and I handled it badly. He used to put his hand on my legs or start rubbing my back while I was sitting in there. I felt really awkward but had no idea how to react and he was nice to me so I didn't feel I could say anything. My dp kept telling me to speak to hr but I didn't wasn't to cause a scene. Between him touching me and another colleague constantly making comments about me looking sweet, asking me to go for a drink with him etc work was a very weird, uncomfortable space. I resolved to try and be more stand-offish in my next job but I think I took it too far because I ended up keeping myself to myself all the time. (I'm more comfortable that way but didn't really help me get on at work). I'm off as a sahm now but when I go back I think I will need to find a middle ground.

Sorry that was long and all about me. I think now you have broken the ice with that man he will hopefully stay away. But if not, every time he touches you say something. I think shying away is not what works with these people and you have to be more assertive from the first time it happens (or second if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt) and then say something every time if it continues to happen. It's annoying because if you're like me, I'm not the type to want to cause a fuss, get angry or anything but I think we have to learn to be that way.

lorelei9 Tue 12-Jan-16 15:44:32

Wil, that sounds awful! What a mare.

I could be wrong but I will be surprised if this guy touches me again. If he does I will definitely speak up.

I think I'm a bit clearer in what I was thinking when I originally posted. I'm wondering at what point it seems odd to say "please don't touch me". I have said it at work, but with the neighbour, it really wasn't an issue when he just squeezed my arm. I'm now thinking, I should have spoken up then, but I guess I wonder how to phrase it.

I'm sorry to say I've had enough of this in my life that I now just feel really suspicious of blokes. Yesterday a male colleague asked me to go for coffee at lunch (mostly he was upset about David Bowie and wanted to talk) but I said no because I am sick of things like this and couldn't bear it if this guy (nice, worked with him for ages, he's married and I have met his wife) turns out to be like so many other.

I think he's offended btw!

MrNoseybonk Tue 12-Jan-16 15:52:07

“oh stop putting your arm round everyone, it’s annoying and look, she’s trying to rush to the station”.

I wonder if it's everyone, or only women. I bet it is.
Sounds like the other neighbour was trying to rescue you without too much confrontation.

lorelei9 Tue 12-Jan-16 15:57:09

thanks MrNoseybonk

in my muddled OP, I should have said, I was under the impression that Mr Touchy Feely and the Other Neighbour were quite friendly, hence I wondered if it might be some awful "bantz" joke between them, but hopefully it is Mr Other Neighbour having been made aware of it and saying something.

if it is a joke between them I suppose it still had the function of me having an opening to say it, without doing it apropos nothing.

WilLiAmHerschel Tue 12-Jan-16 16:13:32

I could be wrong but it doesn't sound like a joke it sounds as though your other neighbour either noticed you were uncomfortable or is already aware that touchy neighbour does this to other women who don't like it.

I know what you mean about having enough and feeling suspicious. You could be 'cold' and stand-offish but that can be lonely, or be friendly but if you're friendly with the wrong guy you may get accused of leading him on or end up in an uncomfortable position where he flirts but it isn't recripocated and he doesn't seem to notice. Ga I don't know. confused

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 12-Jan-16 16:28:58

I do that thing that dogs do. Difficult to describe but kind of a shudder and a face. It works most of the time.

But yes, some men will take any opportunity to touch and make women uncomfortable. It's part of the shit Venn diagram of women's lives where acceptable behaviour neither allows 'rudeness' nor proper boundaries but if you don't tell someone to fuck off, you were encouraging it.

lorelei9 Tue 12-Jan-16 17:04:54

Terry, yes, I do "shudder and face" - it's never been read.

I think the sad reality is, as you say, some men will take any opportunity to do this so in future, no matter how mad it seems, if a man just touches my elbow I should say "Don't do that".

I guess I wouldn't do it at work but with the neighbours, och well, if they think I'm a bit nuts it doesn't really matter. If the touching had ended at squeezing my arm on greeting, I really wouldn't have minded. It's because he was so gleefully taking the chance of a Christmas and New Year kiss that I realised I was in dodgy territory. This was particularly because, on New Year, I had just come back from the shops and didn't have a free arm to push him away if I had needed to - I honestly think he saw that.

timelytess Tue 12-Jan-16 17:08:19

I say 'Don't touch me,' and I mean it.
If they've already done it, I tell them it was inappropriate.
I'm sorry your neighbour is lonely but that doesn't mean he can help himself to other people's bodies!

lorelei9 Tue 12-Jan-16 17:36:55

tess, would you say that for a touch on the arm?

I guess I'm just checking I'm not being mad if I start this kind of policy!

onahorsewithnoname Tue 12-Jan-16 19:44:52

I had a much older male boss like this (in the dim and distant past).
I said nothing and said nothing, then one day my gob took over and I said fuck off.
Found a new job shortly after.

timelytess Tue 12-Jan-16 23:46:07

Yes, I would say that for a touch on the arm.
You would not be mad to object.
A cold 'Don't touch me, thank you' is enough for a light touch on the forearm.

Having said that, tonight a woman I've only just met rubbed my arm several times. I let her get away with it because she gave me a lift home... A man would have been told!

lorelei9 Wed 13-Jan-16 12:26:41

Yes, I think I'll start doing that. Feels horribly sexist to assume it will always escalate but want to be sure it doesn't.

Samantha28 Wed 13-Jan-16 17:13:51

I usually say something like " you know, I'm not much of a hugs person " . Said with no hint of apology and a death stare.

Then the genuinely clueless look embarrassed ( as they should ) and say

" oh gosh I'm sorry , I won't do it again , I'd didn't mean anything "

And the creepy ones say something like

all my other friends like it / I'm just a friendly person/ everyone does it in my family / you are overreacting / chill out / it's no big deal

ie some variation on the theme of " I don't give a fuck what you think or feel . you have no right to set boundaries about your own body "

So then I feel quite entitled to be assertive next time the second type come anywhere near me . Accompanied by appropriate large physical gesture

The first group never do it again of course .

Samantha28 Wed 13-Jan-16 17:16:26

And it's not sexist loreli. It's based on evidence - you are more likely to experience unwanted touching from men than from other women .
It's logical and sensible .

lorelei9 Wed 13-Jan-16 19:35:26

Thanks Samantha
An update

I saw the Other Neighbour today
He said he had indeed stepped in because he knows of someone else who is pissed off ...but apparently there are a couple of women in the building who quite like it!

He said after I'd gone the touchy feely guy just laughed it off
He then said to me "based on how he handled the other lady complaining to him, I'd say you'd be better asking your husband or boyfriend to speak to him". I was silent. He then said "oh are you single?" I said "yes but I'd have wanted to fight my own battle anyway" and he said "I'm sorry, I can see why, but based on his attitude generally I think he won't pay much attention if he hears it from you. Let me know if you want help."

I feel really sad about this. I have no interest in having a man around but apparently they're helpful in protecting you from...men.

Someone please tell me this goes away at some age. Ugh.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 13-Jan-16 19:44:52

I'm the lone woman in a team of twelve, so I get that quite often. How I handle it really depends on who I'm dealing with and how I feel about it.

I have a contractor who's incredibly touchy-feely and a general creep. He reports to me but not in a long term sense. Told him to back the fuck off or else.

Some guys are clued up enough to react to general into-the-round statements of 'I really hate it when people touch me'!

Some I've had a private word with and told them I dislike it.

I've taken my former boss to HR. He got disciplined and ended up getting the sack when a very much junior woman made another complaint two months later.

... and then there are the men (and women) who are allowed to touch me. These include personal friends as well as several much beloved long term co-workers.

Whatever you do, I strongly encourage you do do something. Try to get a feel for who responds to what - and if they don't respond at all avoid or report.

lorelei9 Wed 13-Jan-16 19:51:01

Magical, that sounds like a mare
this is a neighbour, I can't report him to anyone so not sure what you mean.

I definitely will tell him to stop next time I see him and I'm going to start blanking him when I see him around.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 13-Jan-16 20:28:13

I reckon you could report him to the non-emergency police number if you've told him clearly that his behaviour is unwelcome and he won't back off. It's antisocial behaviour, really, isn't it?

Might take some work to get them to take you seriously, though, sad as this is.

lorelei9 Wed 13-Jan-16 20:44:13

I am hoping that the right language will work
I'm going to say "it really pisses me off and makes you seem pervy"
I cba going down the diplomatic route

The guy who harassed me at work, I told him to stop touching me and he responded by trying to back me into a corner.
Hence I had to report him. Anyway, it's partly that that makes me think it's not worth bothering with nice language if you know what I mean.

Sad as I've always had good relations with neighbours

Samantha28 Wed 13-Jan-16 22:40:24

Loreli - it's nothing to do with your age . It would be the same if you were 80. Clearly he has no respect for women of any age .

If I'm understanding your nice neighbour correctly, he's saying that creepy neighbour doesn't care whether or not you like it . He didn't care when the other women complained to him . Perhaps he was rude or aggressive to her ( hence the suggestion or having a man speak to him ) .

Creepy neighbour doesn't care about the views of ANY women . This means that HE has a problem , not you . You are therefore freed from all social obligation to have anything to do with him . You don't have to be aggressive , but you should assertive .

Personally I'd rush past him saying " sorry I have a train to catch / late for work / can't stop I'm meeting someone " .

I wouldn't open the door to him. Nor would I let him into my house on any pretext , such as helping with shopping .

It's great to have good relations with neighbours . But it takes both parties to be reasonable and clearly he's not .

lorelei9 Wed 13-Jan-16 23:15:05

Oh no way would I let him in to the flat, don't worry
But I actually want to tell him he's pissed me off
I think it would be good for me as well as him
There are so many of these sleazy guys around, I guess it will be good practice to tell him to piss off! Especially as I agree, I think Other Neighbour has picked up that he doesn't care

Now I think about it, this isn't the first time I've come across this
Outside of work, men like him probably do think they can harass anyone and there won't be a penalty.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Thu 14-Jan-16 07:07:04

"I have no interest in having a man around but apparently they're helpful in protecting you from...men."

Ha! Isn't that the basis of a lot of the historical oppression of women?

Samantha28 Thu 14-Jan-16 08:00:09

They can harass women and there wont be a penalty . You telling him to piss off might make you feel better but it won't make him feel bad. ( but do it if you want of course )

Men like this enjoy having power over women . He's not touching you because he needs a hug - if it was this he would get a partner / wife and enjoy mutual touching . Or he would hug and kiss all the male neighbours.

He's doing it because he has the power to do so and YOU CANT STOP HIM. Without being rude . And of course, we women hate to be rude . We've been brought up to be kind and think of other people's feelings . And be polite to the elderly .

All good things in general of course , unless our boundaries are being violated . And we are trained to have weak ones, not strong ones .

lorelei9 Thu 14-Jan-16 10:52:38

They - yes, it is, I was just making that observation because it's kind of funny. I get a lot of "you ENJOY being single?" and it's just funny because it's the kind of thing I should say to those people in future. Sorry, separate issue.

Samantha - I don't mind being rude generally IYSWIM, I just think it's a shame because historically I have been fine with neighbours and always happy to look out for the frail ones.

re the touching of women, he does actually touch the Other Neighbour in greeting every time he sees him, punch him on the arm, shake his hand etc. That's apparently why Other Neighbour started watching out to see what he was like generally, he and his wife both found it annoying. (I rarely see his wife because she works shifts).

Not saying this makes it acceptable, just making an observation. he is Mr "no boundaries" all round I guess so only the firmest language and mean look will get the message across.

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