AGONY AUNT: How can I stop this unwanted attention?
Q: A friend of the family I've known for years keeps sending messages on social media asking to meet up and making personal or sexual comments. I have explained I have a boyfriend and am not interested in him in any other way than friendship.
He has continued, but I feel concerned that being unpleasant to him would make it worse. I couldn’t face speaking to his family and wondered if I should mention my boyfriend is getting fed up with his behaviour?
A: This man has no right to continue to harass you (or anyone) in this manner. He may see it as complimentary but unwanted attention is scary and unnerving. I think you should calmly and firmly reply to his next message by clarifying you do not wish to be contacted and he should stop it immediately. Then do not answer any further messages and delete him. If there is a facility to block, use it. Use privacy settings so that you are not publicly visible and beware friend requests from strangers. Do not even offer friendship to this man as he is likely to see this as a sign you would be interested if your current boyfriend wasn’t around. Don’t say it is your boyfriend that is fed up, feel confident in saying that it is you who are not interested. Otherwise he may feel it is his romantic duty to get your boyfriend out of the picture. Do not feel sorry for this man, although his pride may be hurt he is invading your privacy and personal space. Not okay. If he asks to meet just ignore it. Refuse any gifts and walk away if approached . Do not let him in if he visits your house. Don’t even think about trying to reason with him. Any response will be seen as a ‘come on’ whether positive or negative. If you feel at all threatened (physically or mentally) you should inform the police. Start to keep a journal of his approaches and screenshot messages as well record any phone calls. After the first time you tell him that this is unwanted attention, do not accept any phone calls from him. The police may need to use your journal in court if the situation escalates. It is possible the threat of speaking to his family and informing your own will make him stop. Tell your family anyway as you need as many people as possible aware that he is a pest. Have you thought of changing your mobile number if you are unable to block him? People of all ages and walks of life are vulnerable to being stalked but it is usually by an ex-partner or at least someone already known to the victim.
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