How to Respond to Unwanted Attention
by Christina Hays
We all have probably met someone who believes they just “naturally” pick the wrong person to date. Maybe this friend says they attract all the wrong attention or are a magnet for trouble, when in fact they are falling prey to someone who just will not take no for an answer. This is a major red flag and potential warning sign for someone who could be controlling, possessive, and eventually abusive. There are lots of ways to avoid feeling trapped into saying yes when your gut has told you to say no. Rejection is hard and most people try to be as polite as possible, however, if you are too polite or not straightforward enough it could encourage the person to continue trying instead of understanding that it simply is not going to happen.
Women are especially encouraged to be kind and gentle when letting down men. They have been conditioned to believe that they do not want to get a reputation for being rude or impolite. This can lead to situations where some men can get more and more aggressive because they simply think that women play “hard to get” and worry that they will be easily caught. We would like to say that these ideas are simply archaic and should have stayed in the caveman era, but they have followed us into the twenty-first century.
So what do we do when someone clearly does not get the subtle hint that you are simply just not into them? Be specific. Stick with the facts and do not apologize. Remember that everyone has the right to say no. If you have said no already do not change your answer to please someone else. Setting boundaries is important and the only way someone will respect your boundary is if you continue to reinforce it.
There is no need to be hurtful or purposely cruel, but if you are feeling uncomfortable by the number of times this person has hinted or boldly asked for your number, a date, a dance, or a drink they need to be told that their behavior is no longer acceptable. Speak up loudly and clearly. Explain that the answer is going to remain the same, and use the words that you mean by simply stating the following, “I have told you no more than once, and your continued requests are now making me feel uncomfortable.” Remember that you are not responsible for how this makes the other person feel, but you are responsible for being direct and upfront about how you feel.
The other important factor about unwanted attention is to remember to be safe. Some people do not handle rejection well. Physical and sexual assaults are about power and control, if someone has a problem with power and control then being rejected can sometimes cause them to react more aggressively. If you are out at night make sure to leave with a group of people. If you need a ride make arrangements prior to leaving and only exit the building when your ride has safely arrived outside. Most establishments have security or will offer a safe escort if asked. Assaults are never the victims fault. Education and prevention are important because once an assault happens no one can take it back.
If you need ideas on ways to keep your children, teens, young adults, adults, or senior adults safe while dating please contact us locally at 256-574-5826 or on our 24/7 HELPline. We have trained crisis counselors who can talk you through strategies and tips to stay safe. Crisis Services of North Alabama provides confidential, free support to victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence.