Anonymous in CA asks: “I am 17 and clearly being courted by this boy who comes to my house to give me presents, writes me songs, etc. It’s very, very sweet, but I don’t feel the same way. I tried to tell him nicely but he refused to listen and continued. He even got my best friends to campaign for him. Now practically everyone I usually talk to is pressuring me to date him and setting me up on fake group outings with him, no matter how many times I tell them I’m not interested. I don’t want to be rude, but I’m uncomfortable.”
Liz says: First and foremost, you are not rude for asserting yourself and expecting your wishes to be respected, your fan and his followers are the ones being rude. The first time he serenades you and gives you a gift is sweet, the moment he ignores your rejection and continues, he becomes your stalker instead of an admirer—not sweet. Smothering someone and not respecting their feelings is a surefire way to turn someone off, and depending on how bad it gets, it can be a surefire way to end up in prison.
He should know that showing up at your home after you’ve already told him you aren’t interested in dating him is creepy and not winning you over, so if you haven’t made that clear already—stop worrying about hurting his feelings and tell him very clearly that you are not interested. Don’t reach out to him to do this though, do this the next time he descends upon you, otherwise you’ll be doing what he wants you to do and he may perceive it as a romantic gesture in his mind, and it will affirm to him that you two have a “relationship” if you make a call or text. Also, once you’ve asserted yourself more clearly, never talk to him again. Please understand that this doesn’t mean any of his behavior is your fault—it’s not your fault.
Our culture tells its young people to “never give up” and “persistence pays off”, and this is wisdom when applied to things like writing a novel or auditioning for movie roles, but unfortunately too many guys believe this applies to matters of the heart. A guy who can’t take no for an answer from a woman may just be naive and immature, or he has deep emotional and psychological issues that can manifest into stalking behavior. Our culture also raises girls to be passive, telling them “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything”, which doesn’t prepare us at all for situations like yours. And the media’s perpetual portrayal of love as something obsessional doesn’t help, either. If you pay attention to the lyrics of most “love songs”, you’ll notice the songs aren’t really about love but about infatuation, obsession, rejection, and a desire to possess the person who’s denying them of what they think they deserve. These songs portray predatory behavior as normal behavior when you’re in love, and it’s not. It’s easy to see why people can misinterpret unhealthy, clingy behavior as “romantic”, not to mention it’s kind of an ego boost when someone gives you so much attention–even when it’s unwanted.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to be absolutely clear to anyone who pressures you to date him and stop being nice about it. When a friend suggests dating him, tell them outright “I will not date him and I expect you to mind your own business.” You don’t owe them explanations. You should probably avoid outings with the friends responsible for trying to set you two up, and be clear about why. However, stalkers often try to isolate their victims–this may be the reason he got your friends involved. He’s manipulating them to get you to be with him, or get closer to you by befriending your friends so it’s more difficult to get away from him, or because it will serve him by isolating you if you distance yourself from those friends. So if your friends can’t stand by your side and stop trying to set you up with him, then make sure to still stay connected to other friends and family who will keep you from being alone.
If you haven’t already, fill your parents in on what is going on because they need to be aware and know what he looks like. Visit this site to help determine his status and for further guidance. Hopefully his behavior ceases instead of escalating.