How to discourage unwanted advances

You could argue that there are worse problems than receiving unwanted romantic advances, but at the end of the day if the advances really are unwanted, it’s still a problem.

Women in particular don’t have to be told that at the very least, unwanted attention from a man can be a nuisance, and sometimes when that attention comes from a neighbor or “harmless” guy in the neighborhood, the solution is sometimes to grin and bear it. But what if Mr. Harmless is also a little touchy feely?

If you’re a woman or care about one, pass on this story of “Anonymous from New Mexico,” who in her letter to New York Times Social Q’s columnist Philip Galanes, complained about a touchy-feely grocer who had “always been friendly. But lately he’s started patting me on the arm and kissing my fingers as I reach past him.” She goes on to say that she wants to shut the guy down without being rude about it.

Galanes advises that the next time it happens she ought tostep away more decisively when he begins to pet, or yank back your hand as he puckers up. He may pick up on larger cues. And they can still be given with a smile on your face.”

If that proved ineffective, Galanes suggests ratcheting up her objection to a polite verbal response, but our instinct on this one is that if Mr. Harmless is from the touchy-feely old school, he’ll actually respond to the physical cues put forth by Anonymous.  If he gets the message, his feelings might be hurt, but at that point, perhaps, both he and Anonymous can move forward and not have to avoid each other.

Now if Mr. Harmless and Anonymous were coworkers, that would probably be a different, more dramatic dynamic. But, there is something to be said for trying this discreet, more decisive response. At least the first time it happens. After that, Mr. Harmless, as’s parenting correspondent might say, you better hope that’s not my daughter you’re annoying.

Image source: Edward Betts via Wikipedia Commons

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