What should I do about my awkward superfan?
June 4, 2010 4:35 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about my awkward superfan?

For a few years, I was involved with a High-Profile Site with a big, enthusiastic fan base. This garnered me some creepy emails and one or two uncomfortable in-person experiences, but since I stopped working on that site a couple years ago, that's mostly gone away. Except now I've got one very devoted fan. My Awkward Superfan, as I think of him.

The thing that distinguishes Awkward Superfan from other fans is his insistence on showing up at every event, concert, reading, or whatever that he thinks I might be at, and his inability to understand that his devotion is not entirely welcome. I don't really think it's a sexual thing; I'm a lady-type but he does the same thing to two other local people (not lady-types) who also have connections to High-Profile Site. When he spots me somewhere, he'll immediately march over and stand way too close and begin talking, and talking, and talking. Doesn't matter if I was already in conversation with someone else; he will physically insert himself between me and whoever I'm with and just start talking. Mainly these really long anecdotes that seem designed to demonstrate his Internet cred, or something. It's almost like I don't even need to be there - I can't get a word in edgewise, and he doesn't seem to care how loudly I broadcast boredom and discomfort. I can physically turn my back on him and ignore everything he says, but he keeps talking and talking, and occasionally tries to put his arm around me. I figured out quickly that he has trouble with body language, so I've asked him a couple of times to stop following me around and to stop touching me. I've told him that he makes me uncomfortable. He apologizes, but doesn't stop.

I'm not afraid of Awkward Superfan and don't feel especially threatened by him, and I can always laugh it off later. I trade war stories with the other folks I know who are unwilling recipients of his attention. ("And then I tried to escape to the bathroom and he stood outside until I came out!") But sometimes, especially if I'm at an event by myself and have no one to rescue me (converastionally), it can be kind of a bummer. Whenever I see him making a beeline for me from across a bar, I know the fun level of my evening is about to take a nosedive. This happens at least once a week, and usually two or three times.

At first I thought I could solve this problem by being careful not to mention which events I was planning to go to, at least in public places like Twitter. That hasn't really stopped him, though, so either he must be finding out my schedule more cleverly (scouting out Facebook event pages or whatever), or else he's able to make educated guesses about bands I like and things that would interest me, or else he's genuinely into all the same things I'm into (unlikely, as my tastes are pretty wildly varied).

Oh Internet, what do I do? I'm reluctant to resort to the standard "creepy guy is following me" tactics because I think he really doesn't mean any harm and is just entirely oblivious to social cues of all types. But I'm really sick of having to fend him off all the time. If I have to start asking bouncers and bartenders to throw him out, I'll do it, but it would make me sad to have to.

I'm posting this anonymously because Awkward Superfan also reads everything I say on MetaFilter, and I don't want to get in a brain-breakingly recursive conversation with him about this post.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you haven't explained this to him in very plain terms then I think you should.
posted by fire&wings at 4:46 PM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think you're going to have to tell him straight out that he is bothering you, how often and in what locations you will have a conversation with him (if at all), and what the consequences will be if he doesn't abide by your request. (i.e. "This situation is making me uncomfortable. For my own peace of mind I am making the following rules. I will only talk to you for five minutes after my book signings. If I see you in another venue, we will not have a conversation. If you speak to me, I will leave. If you follow me I will need to report you to security at the bar.") This seems harsh, but is really just an explicit laying down of boundaries. If he were able to pick this up in a more subtle form, he would have intuited all of these things already, so I think you have to be ultra-direct, and resist the urge to apologize, or say things like "It's not that I think you're a bad guy, but..."
posted by MsMolly at 4:56 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've asked him a couple of times to stop following me around and to stop touching me. I've told him that he makes me uncomfortable. He apologizes, but doesn't stop.

Time to be hard, because that's beyond the line.

"Look. No touching and stop following me around. I asked nicely and you will stop doing this. You can stop because I ask you to, or you can stop because the authorities get involved. Stop means stop and you need to stop. Period.

No more forgetting, no more mistakes, no more apologies.

No. More."

Have a friend with you from a distance record this. It will be useful if it needs to come to a restraining order.

Whatever this person's intent, issues, or problems is theirs- no reason it needs to be yours.
posted by yeloson at 4:57 PM on June 4, 2010 [8 favorites]

Type up a short, terse letter outlining your concerns that uses the word "stalking" and clearly explains that you will seek further action if he seeks you out again. The next time he tries to talk to you, hand it to him and walk away. Often the truth sinks in better when it's written, and it's easier for you to not explain it in person. He probably gets a rush from being in your presence that will preclude him from hearing what you're really saying.

The details vary from state to state, but it's relatively easy to get a restraining order (as compared to a criminal charge) and it doesn't harm Superfan in the way that a criminal charge would.

Don't let his cluelessness and okay-seeming intentions obscure the fact that he's causing you a great deal of fear and harm!
posted by acidic at 5:00 PM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

You need an entourage. As in two or three people who will hang out with you and block this dude. Preferably one that doesn't mind getting in dude's face and seeing that he backs off. Preferably with heavy use of the "s" word. (As in stalker. As in dude is one, and needs to STOP being one.)

Some of the above suggestions sound good as well.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:03 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You say his intentions aren't sexual, but I'm afraid they might be, because women who are internet-famous for the geekiest of reasons receive avalanches of marriage proposals. Perhaps he believes he is best buds with the guys, and that he is destined to marry you.

I think you should be very blunt with him, in the way that yeloson, et al. have recommended. It may be that, after the initial rebuff, he adapts and feels comfortable with having a very limited presence near you, and that the directness was really all it took. Nonetheless, read your Gavin de Becker and follow your instincts, not your second thoughts.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you need to have one last conversation with this obviously mentally unbalanced fellow next time he makes a beeline for you. Tell him you do not enjoy his company, that he makes you uncomfortable as you've told him before, and that you do not want him to approach you or speak to you anymore at all ever, starting NOW. If he can't accept that and continues to approach you, then you bring out the big guns- the bouncers, the entourage, the police, whatever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:10 PM on June 4, 2010

It sounds like he might have a mental/cognitive disorder?
posted by smartypantz at 5:13 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Forgot to add, you should try to scrub your home address from the Internet before you have the (hopefully) "last conversation" with him. There's always a chance that confrontation will cause him to escalate. Obviously, if that happens, then run-- don't walk-- to the police.
posted by acidic at 5:14 PM on June 4, 2010

This might not work with your Superfan but for the one I had (who behaved much as yours does), I would preemptively say, "Hello Bob, good to see you but I can only give you 5 minutes today." And I'd listen, genuinely give my full attention to whatever my little monster blathered about for precisely 5 minutes. When the time was up, I'd cut him off, even if he was mid-sentence and say, "Gotta get back to what I was doing. Thanks for the story, see you next time" and turn away, even if all I was turning away to was a completely empty table.

Initially he would awkwardly hang around and try to reinitiate contact but I'd ignore him or at most shake my head 'no' and trained him into understanding that I wasn't going to change my mind and be his BFF. It seemed to work for both of us because he had my undivided attention for a defined period of time (if someone else tried to interrupt, I'd apologize and say I needed to listen to Bob for the moment) and it worked for me because I knew when time was up, we would be done for that day. The other unintended bonus was he eventually learned how to tell concise stories in under 5 minutes, which I think is a good life skill for anyone.
posted by jamaro at 5:14 PM on June 4, 2010 [38 favorites]

There is a Superfan in one of the circles I used to be involved in, and he has pretty severe Asperger's. (That's not an amateur diagnosis - he actually lives in a group home of some sort, if I understand correctly.) The only way to deal with him is to be very direct and clear. "Spuerfan, I'm talking to this other person now. I can't talk to you." "Superfan, you need to take three steps back. You're standing too close to me." "Superfan, I have to go now. I can't talk to you any more." He's really good about following those sorts of instructions, although it is hard to remember that he will always need them - he won't "get better," and he won't start picking up on more subtle cues.

He is totally harmless and actually fairly well-liked by the people he stalks, as far as that can ever go - he's sort of a mascot - but he can be totally creepy until you get the hang on interacting with him.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:24 PM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]

This struck me as unfortunate but not awful until I got to the part about how this happens multiple times a week and he somehow knows where you're going to be all of the time. Dealing with a Superfan a few times a year at a convention or an annual event or something is an area of tact and social finesse that is valuable to possess. But having this guy interfere with your life constantly like this is not okay. Don't make his problems into your problems. You don't need or deserve it, and whether he's at fault for it is irrelevant.

If I were you, I'd take the letter writing approach. Yes, use the word "stalker" because that really sounds like what he's doing, dangerous or not. Make your reasoning and intentions clear, and lay out the consequences if he continues. Don't imply, instead directly state, that if he gets within a certain distance of you in a public place that you will take certain actions.

Sometimes people need very clear boundaries to keep them from getting into trouble. And sometimes people need to define those boundaries, to give themselves the power to prevent a bad situation before it escalates.
posted by Mizu at 5:42 PM on June 4, 2010

Whomever is hosting the events you're featured at should have someone run interference for any annoying person who takes up too much of your time. As a long-time events coordinator, I can tell you that in my experience they take it seriously when it comes from "the house."

That said, he is not a true fan. He is an annoyance. His presence doesn't benefit you or your art/skill/work. You are not there for him. However, he THINKS you exist for his pleasure. Therefore, until you let him know that you are NOT one of his fans (like Christina said to Joan...) and do not want to talk to him, you will suffer his attentions.

You're allowed to set boundaries for your self and sanity, even with the (possibly) mentally ill. And because he can't recognize social cues, you need to be overt. And you need an ally.
posted by kidelo at 5:42 PM on June 4, 2010

I just want to nth that it sounds a lot like Asperger's to me. People with Asperger's tend to get really obsessed with and fixated on things (such as your website or whatever). They also aren't usually very good at social cues like you mentioned and talk on and on about stuff without regard for how the other person feels about it, sometimes.

Of course I don't know how this could help you out! Perhaps you could go to an Asperger's forum and ask them for advice on what to do?

Or just tell him to back off and if he doesn't get the restraining order.
posted by tweedle at 5:49 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just to review: he is rude to you, he doesn't respect your time, he doesn't respect your personal space, he touches you despite your asking him not to, and he tracks you from event to event. This is not someone, regardless of his intentions, who deserves as much accommodation as you are giving him.

If you haven't been crystal clear with him, do so next time he corners you or tries to interrupt: he gets X minutes of your time when you are available, he doesn't get to interrupt your conversations, he doesn't get to touch you, he doesn't get to follow you around. If he can't live by reasonable standards of social interaction, he doesn't get your time, no matter how sincere his apologies sound. "Jim, you're making me uncomfortable and I don't want to talk to you right now; I understand that you're sorry, but I don't want to talk to you." It would make sense to bring a friend to events where your superfan is likely to be so that if you have to tell him you're no longer interested in talking, you can signal for back-up in case he tries to keep pestering you. If that doesn't work, escalate further.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:51 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm encouraged to hear that he treats your coworkers the same way, which means that he isn't strictly fixated on you. However, he poses a risk to you (a female) in a way that he does not to your compatriots (who I'm assuming are male).

I also find this very upsetting and unnerving:

I've told him that he makes me uncomfortable. He apologizes, but doesn't stop.

That's... that's bad.

I would start by having a clear, concise conversation with him, which allows no ambiguity. "Your behavior is unacceptable, and I need you to stop."

I like the idea of jamaro's five minute rule, and it's worth a shot. But if he doesn't respect the five minutes, you'll have to talk to security.
posted by ErikaB at 5:57 PM on June 4, 2010

This guy's been tracking your movements, ignoring your messages to stop, and persistently inserting himself into your private life for more than a year. He's even physically forcing himself on you - but you don't want to inconvenience him?! If there's a grace period for being rude, he used it up long ago. These are stalking behaviors. As Miss Manners says, "If it's against state law, it's generally considered a breach of Etiquette."

Stop interacting with Awkward Superfan. Don't reply to MeMail, e-mail, tweets, FaceBook pokes, anything. If he comes up to you in person, tell him that you would rather not have his company at the moment but hope he's having a lovely day. If he insists on staying, walk away; if he makes a scene, get the bouncer. Read The Gift of Fear. It is not your job to socialize him.

When he's not being creepy and distressing, he's probably a sweet (if awkward) guy. I've known a few, and they can come in any gender-flavor. The problem, though, is that any attention from you (the object of obsession) isn't going to help, because it's from you. Have a drink "together"? Proof that you're best friends! "Let" them into a conversation? Shows you can't live without their valuable input! Keep meeting at concerts? Fate must be tying you together! Tell them you're busy right then? It's okay! They can wait for as long as necessary for those lesser concerns to clear up! It takes distance to get perspective, and the only way he'll get that is if you consistently and clearly shut him down.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 5:58 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could try expressing the problem mathematically:

"This event is one hour long, and there are 30 people here. That means that, on average, I can only talk to each person for two minutes -- BUT I haven't seen five people for a looong time, so I need to speak to each of them for about eight minutes, leaving 40 minutes for the other 25 people -- an average of 1.6 minutes each. That's not really long enough, so I'll probably have to just wave "hi" to a lot of them.

"I know you'll understand if I can't have a whole conversation with you at every event - please forgive me if I can only say "Hi Bob" most of the time. It's really important that I talk to a lot of different people. Sometimes it doesn't work out perfectly, and I have to talk to one person for a long time, but if you could help me out by being understanding about this, I'd appreciate it."
posted by amtho at 6:13 PM on June 4, 2010

I'm with everyone upstream who says you need to clearly and concisely tell him that [specific behaviors] are not acceptable, and he cannot not behave in such a way any more, because you will not tolerate it. This is just barely short of involving the police, and by barely, I mean not at all. And you need to make that clear.

His behavior is NOT acceptable. You can't not condone it in any way - not even with the "give him five minutes" idea mentioned, for the reasons that VelveteenBabbitt outlined. Accommodating him in any way tells him that his behavior is okay, and it's not.

I can't imagine being in your shoes. Hell, I had to deal with this sort of thing at a party two weeks ago and it ended...poorly...for the person who was semi-stalking me. I don't know how you've put it up with it for so long. Kudos, but you deserve an un-harassed life.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:31 PM on June 4, 2010

If he does have Asperger's, or otherwise falls somewhere along the autism spectrum, that helps to explain his behavior, but it doesn't excuse it. At best it's just inappropriate, somewhere in the middle its unnerving, and at worst it's downright scary.

I agree with the suggestion that you put something in writing. Do use the word stalker. Even if you're not sure he can strictly be called a stalker, using the term could conceivably be a wake up call for him, particularly when it appears in the same general space as "authorities" and "restraining order."

Clearly, for whatever reason, he does not understand/heed reasonable requests to modify his behavior. It sounds like it's time to ratchet upward from "reasonable" to "seriously, you could conceivably get in to trouble, here, so it's time to stop."
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:33 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Will he keep showing up to things if you aren't there? Does he actually enjoy the events independent of your presence? It may put a crimp in your social life for a while, but what about taking a month or two off from going out or take a vacation in another city?

Maybe he wouldn't be so interested in taking the trouble to go to places he's not otherwise interested in if he weren't sure you were going to be there? Maybe he would get fixated on something/someone else in the meantime? Just an idea.
posted by ctmf at 6:43 PM on June 4, 2010

Dealing with students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's, what we do is a variation on the 5 minute rule (or similar very defined and firmly ended interval) or the firm and clear "Okay, Superfan, we're done talking now. I'm going to go over to that part of the bar and you can't come with me, because we are done talking now." type statements. It's hard to do at first if you're normally socially diplomatic, because it requires you to be totally undiplomatic, and to walk away, to turn them around if they follow you into whatever space you've said is off-limits, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2010 [8 favorites]

Could he have Asperger's?

Maybe, but who gives a shit?

I say this as someone who works with (and loves working with) individuals on the Autism Spectrum: You are not obligated to ferret out excuses for his behavior. It doesn't matter what his diagnosis is, his behavior is unacceptable. Period.

You describe someone who has difficulty picking up on social cues. If you are interested in maintaining a polite relationship (which you are not obligated to do by the way) you may need to reframe your definition of politeness. That means no wishywashy hint-dropping and nonverbal cues. You will like have to provide direct, if not blunt, instruction on how you want him to behave. restless_nomad listed some extremely good strategies above.
posted by lilnublet at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

I empathize. I have had issues with Superfan(s) and the one thing I can tell you is that you cannot be subtle. I was going to say something about him clearly not having social niceties until you said that he would put his arm around you. That, to me, breaks the wall between "Dude with absolutely no social skills and potentially some kind of disorder" and "stalker".

You said "he doesn't seem to care how loudly I broadcast boredom and discomfort." I am NOT saying that ANY of this is your fault but what you have to do is not 'broadcast' boredom and discomfort but pointedly say, "Superfan, go away, I do not want to talk to you. You need to leave right now." "Superfan, do not ever touch me again, I do not want you touching me. Do not put your arm around me." Say these things loudly and clearly, but as evenly and matter-of-fact as you can. He won't be intimidated by the fact that there are other people nearby but it will put those other people on notice that you do not welcome his overtures and they may be able to help run interference.

My biggest piece of advice is to get someone to run interference for you. You are not entitled to give this person any more of your time. I understand the whole wanting to give Superfans 5 minutes each time, but he has overstayed his welcome and is no longer entitled to any of your time. I know you don't want to feel imprisoned, but you need to ask friends to come with you and explicitly tell them that you don't want anything to do with Superfan and if he comes over to you, they should physically step between the two of you and move you away. If they can't do that you need to find at least one person who can and will. That they should also feel free to tell him, "Superfan, she doesn't want to talk to you. Please leave."

You can't be too worried about what 'other people' will say if they hear you saying things like this to him. I guarantee you that his behavior isn't a secret to people in your community. I disagree that you should stop going out or otherwise change your behavior, but I will tell you that I have done this - I have even put out red herrings where I said I was going to Place X, but intended to go to Event Y instead.

I also like the idea of putting it in writing, just in case. I know you don't feel unsafe but as you said, as a woman you are in a different kind of danger.
posted by micawber at 7:14 PM on June 4, 2010

jamaro and those who suggest that your fan may have asperger's are, I think, on the right track. Perhaps if you impose some structure on the situation, establishing clear limits, you'll get an acceptable response.
posted by Flunoid at 8:53 PM on June 4, 2010

N-thing x10,000: the dude sounds spectrum-y. This explains but does not excuse his behavior - autism might explain why a kid acts like a shrieky, destructive dervish, but doesn't let their parents off the hook for the damages.

While he doesn't get a free pass, behaviorally, understanding his (possible - I Am Not a Diagnostician) backstory/motivations will be useful in dealing with him in a way which is both effective and non-cruel.

If an otherwise-normal person behaved in such a way, they'd be a creepy-ass creep. Someone on the spectrum - while still behaving inappropriately - isn't flagrantly defying social conventions so much as unaware-of/not-easily-able-TO follow them.

Ergo: you need to communicate on HIS level. Social conventions out the fucking door. No hemming and hawing and politeness. Blunt, firm, unambiguous statements. Leave nothing open to interpretation. It's better to err on the side of harshness than feelings-sparing, for everyone involved.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:02 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding entourage, since you run into him so often. You shouldn't need to keep the entourage forever, just a few weeks.

The first time you encounter him while with the entourage, have them flank you while you say, clearly and succinctly, that you do not want to talk to him any more, because he makes you uncomfortable and you've asked him to stop politely, but he won't. Let that be the last thing you ever say to him. Once you've said that, turn away and let the entourage gently block him physically (I say gently, and I mean it -- arms folder, feet planted, stepping in his way but initiating no contact whatsoever.)

After that, every time -- EVERY TIME -- he approaches you, don't even make eye contact. The members of the entourage simply step in his way, arms folded across their chests, make eye contact, and state "no." Again, no physical contact beyond any that he initiates (ie him walking into them) -- they should keep their arms folded. And if he makes an end-run and they feel the urge to grab him, they shouldn't -- they should catch up to you (since that's where he's running to), form the wall again, so you can stand behind it. No physical contact initiated by you or yours.

In each venue, if he insists on pushing through, running around, yelling or otherwise physically exerting himself to get to you, your entourage can have him removed: "We have told him clearly that she does not want to talk to him. He keeps trying to [push through|run around|yell at] us to harass her. Can you please have him escorted out of the [venue]?"

In short: no social cue-based approach will work, and no physical attempt to dissuade him will work (that is, it might, but if he gets even slightly hurt you're in big trouble) so you set up a passive blockade and get him kicked out if he escalates to get around it.

Hopefully this will put an end to it. Good luck.
posted by davejay at 9:55 PM on June 4, 2010

arms folded, not arms folder. I canna type tonight.
posted by davejay at 9:55 PM on June 4, 2010

Oh, and by the way, ever wonder why famous people travel in entourages and have bodyguards? This would be why. Welcome to fame, and be glad it's limited to one persistent individual rather than the combination of dozens of persistent individuals and thousands of random pepperings of fans that a "real" famous person attracts.
posted by davejay at 9:58 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've got a buddy who's inept in these matters, he's stubborn, sees what he wants and goes after it (her), he does not know the meaning of "Leave me alone, please" and only got the meaning of "Leave me alone, please" when he was served paper to keep him away from her.

He couldn't believe it. Literally, couldn't believe it. He didn't know. It was like getting a bucket of cold, cold water thrown on him, it stopped him then and there. He said "What is going on here?" and I told him that it meant not to ever, ever contact her again. He's standing there with paper in his hand after being served and doesn't get it. Man.

So Superfan may be this same sort of dolt, just can't see anything but what he believes he sees. Regardless what Superfan thinks, you've got to cut him off at the pass, get your life back. I don't think five minutes with this guy is the answer, I'm pretty sure you don't want to spend five seconds in his company, why go five minutes? That's going toward his needs, not yours.

A number of people upthread have said to just get it face to face with him, lay it out -- You're not his big buddy, you're never going to be his big buddy, you're tired of being stalked by him, you're demanding that he leave you alone from now on, and he'll get served if he can't hear what you've told him. It's hard to tell someone to go away, esp right to their face, but this guy has a head like a rock, it's all he'll hear.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:22 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yes, get an entourage. But make sure you tell yourself they're acting on your orders and what he can expect. Otherwise he might act on a fantasy of rescuing you from evil people who are keeping you from him.
As someone who was mildly inappropriate as a kid I can tell you that the need for contact with you is so great, the starvation for it, that he will reinterpret any negative signals from you to fit into some picture where his behaviour is ok. Only your direct words will help, reinforced by others.
If you are worried about being impolite, consider that you are letting him spoil other people's conversations with you, letting him be impolite to them. They are probably hoping you'll finally do something about your fan!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:11 AM on June 5, 2010

Sorry, second sentence should be "make sure you tell HIM yourself"
posted by Omnomnom at 1:16 AM on June 5, 2010

Good advice above. Put it all together in a series of escalating steps. This will allow you to manage Superfans reactions to some degree, with the idea of getting him to stop at the lowest step possible. Each step should put a layer between you and Superfan. The message at each step should be as clear, consistent and unambiguous as possible (but never threatening); you don't want to see Superfan any more. From the beginning, document the time and location of each incident, as well as any potential witnesses.

1. Tell Superfan in person that you don't want to see him any more. Focus on him specifically and not his behavior. You don't want to give him any room to think he can change your mind if only he hits the gym, becomes a super l33t hax0r, or worst of all, makes a grand gesture. After this step, do not communicate with him directly.

2. If he persists, get your entourage, handler, or event manager to stop him before he enters an event and convey the same message. Make sure that the focus of the message is that YOU do not want to see him, not that some jealous rival has gotten between Superfan and you.

3. If he persists, have your lawyer send him a letter explaining the situation and letting him know that you will pursue further legal action if he continues.

4. If he continues to persist, get a restraining order. Now the law is involved and the police can be called to physically restrain this guy if needed.

Hopefully, if Superfan is just on the Asperger's scale, he get the message at step 1 or 2. Step 3 is a real wake up call and if he doesn't stop there, you have a strong, well built case for taking more serious legal action.
posted by chrisulonic at 3:56 AM on June 5, 2010

I have to disagree with the folks recommending getting a group of friends to travel with you and stand in the way. He will not see this as a "no," but just one more obstacle he'll ignore. If he tries to get to you through them, the chances of physical altercations approach one very quickly.

No dramatics, no elaborate plans, and I don't give a fuck if he's autistic or has aspergers. He's stalking you and engaging you in uninvited and unwanted physical contact. I doubt very much that telling him "stop, no more, leave me alone," even straight out, is going to make a difference, but being very clear about harassment, and that it's illegal, and that he's doing it, is your first step, if only to cover your ass. Put it in writing, date it, copy the other people you know he does this to, so that they are aware of the steps you have taken, and be sure to keep a copy for yourself. If, after you make it abundantly clear that you will not tolerate his actions, he continues, call the police. Don't fuck around. "You are harassing me. I am calling the police now."

It may sound harsh, but it doesn't matter if he's "harmless" or "nice" or whatever. The behavior is inexcusable, and has to stop.

I'm reluctant to resort to the standard "creepy guy is following me" tactics because I think he really doesn't mean any harm and is just entirely oblivious to social cues of all types.

He IS a creepy guy following you. Who cares what his intentions may or may not be?

If I have to start asking bouncers and bartenders to throw him out, I'll do it, but it would make me sad to have to.

Well, then you have to choose. Briefly sad, or forever followed around by a creepy guy who physically inserts himself between you and whoever you're with to talk to you, won't let you get a word in edgewise, continues to talk to you when your back is turned, touches you and puts his arm around you even though you have repeatedly asked him to stop, and finds out where you will be two or three times *a week*, and shows up to do all of this.

Look at the list of things this person does, and think about the advice you'd give someone else in these circumstances.
posted by tzikeh at 3:57 AM on June 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm with the folks who see autism/aspergers and also don't think it's an excuse. If he's functional enough to operate independently he's functional enough to learn social rules and accept them. I would decide what you want to happen. Would you be satisfied if he was at the same events but didn't speak to you or bother you? Or do you not want him there at all? (if you think he's there only to see you and doesn't have a genuine interest) Decide that and tell him, clearly, without anger or meanness OR apology. Maybe also write it down in a letter. If he doesn't do as you've said, then escalate. Get a restraining order, and try to have someone with you to run interference so that you aren't the one who has to speak to him or rebuff/correct him.

People are going to say you're being mean and overreacting, probably, but they're wrong. You've told this man to leave you alone and to stop touching you and he ignores your boundaries. You're helping yourself, him, and other people he interacts with by forcing him to learn this.
posted by lemniskate at 5:50 AM on June 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's okay to ask security to throw him out, you know... Seriously, it doesn't matter if he wants sex or to talk your ear off. He's a stalker.
posted by Phalene at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2010

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