How to get my coworker to back off?
June 10, 2012 2:40 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my coworker to back off and remain in the friend zone that he so desperately tried to put me in? Now that I don't want him, he wants me! He never told me about his girlfriend, brought her up one day, lied and said he broke up with her, and now he's in my face. I don't see him in that way anymore though. How do I get him to see that?

I became cool with a coworker of mine and he and I were fond of each others personality. He is normally the type of man I would not go for but I liked him anyways. I started hearing whispers of a girlfriend but he told me he didn't have one so I believed him. After a while of not seeing him, he brings up his girlfriend out of the blue. I was shocked and confused about why he lied. He invited me out with him and another coworker shortly after, but I was lead to believe it would be a group thing. It was a small group, not the large one I had anticipated. But it was a good thing because I started meeting guys at the place we visited. I go there now all the time and I have even brought my girlfriend's. There are always good looking guys and girl mixing and mingling. I have met men that I have been attracted to and they have been attracted to me. One in particular has caught my eye... I try not to stare too hard ;).

My coworker tells me a week ago that him and his girl broke up and he subtly starts coming on to me. I was confused at first, but I knew he was tripping when he tried to diss the man that I am interested in. He asked me where was I going and when I told him I was going to go where my eye candy is at he snapped at me and said that he is a better man than eye candy. He doesn't even know him! I like him as a friend, I did like him more than that at first. But that bomb he dropped on me about the girl defused the entire situation. He always approaches me or calls me over to him to talk. Today wasn't the first time he's mocked a man I like or am interested then. He said my long forgotten love of the past was the third string of his college football team and sorry as hell. He's never met my former boo.
posted by lastcall17 to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Any time he says anything just say "huh" and then move on. No need to get involved or try to argue, bring up other dudes. Just a neutral expression and walk away every time he gets fresh. If it gets to interfering with your job tell him straight up "I'm not interested. Cut it out." (or whatever sounds good to you, but be 100% up front). If he still continues after that, talk to your supervisor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Just disengage. Tell the co-worker you are not interested in him romantically, full stop. All of this other nonsense is irrelevant. And he sounds like an obnoxious twit, so feel free to stop socializing with him.
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [14 favorites]

(I meant "no need to bring up other dudes" even though it looks like I meant the opposite. With people like this the more reasons you give them, they just see it as obstacles to overcome. He can't argue with nothing, so give him nothing.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2012

You are making this much harder than it needs to be. "I'm not interested right now." "I'm sorry, I have work to do." "No, thank-you." If you need to take a lesson or two in assertiveness to pull that off, please do it.

The rest of the stuff you said is, as phunniemee pointed out, totally irrelevant. Just tell him to leave you alone, and make it clear you aren't playing around at all.
posted by SMPA at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

How to get him to back off: "Back off, dude."

Optional: adding some version of "no, thanks" and/or "not interested"
posted by easily confused at 3:12 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

So... he knew you were into him at one point? And you haven't told him you're not now, but you're seeing other dudes and you're hoping he'll take the hint? Be more blunt, be more straightforward, be more direct. "I'm not interested in you like that."
posted by J. Wilson at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, be blunt and honest with him. Don't hope he'll read your mind. Tell him straight up that you're not interested in dating him, because he's already lied to you. (About having a girlfriend, and about knowing your ex-boyfriend.)

He sounds like an asshole, honestly. I'd bet ten to one that if you acted interested in him, he'd run for the hills.

All the other drama is pointless. You don't want to date him, so tell him that. I wouldn't even be friends with a liar who talks shit about my friends, personally - but that's your call.
posted by Angharad at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yep, everyone is telling you the same thing- to stop the drama, YOU have to stop the drama. Don't talk about other guys, his girlfriend or anything other than the weather and your job.

If he brings up anything personal just look at him blankly, like 'what?'. Do not engage. Who cares what he thinks of this guy or that guy or how things are going or not going with his gf that he lied about. Who needs all this drama?

Do your job and get your kicks elsewhere.
posted by bquarters at 4:20 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

He doesn't even sound like much of a friend if he's putting down people you like and care about, that seems disrespectful to me. Someone who is confident of who they are doesn't need to do that. When you first thought he's not the type you normally go for - seems like you were right.

At work if this kind of thing happens I try to do the.. act polite but not over friendly, and don't go along with what he says. If he calls you over to talk don't go along if you don't want to talk. And for instance the next time he mocks someone you are interested in, express that you don't appreciate it and you do like that person. That's really not cool of him to say that.
posted by citron at 5:51 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, if he was a friend of yours, I would suggest telling him gently that he missed his chance. But the way he acts certainly doesn't make him sound like a friend, so perhaps you could go to HR? That's generally the normal avenue to employ when a co-worker is making unwanted romantic overtures and won't back off.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2012

"You missed your chance," or less-confrontationally, "that time has passed, man."
posted by rhizome at 6:13 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you trying to figure out how to get him to back off but still think highly of you? If so, you need to let that go. You need to make peace with (possibly) not being friends at all, and (possibly) having him think you're an asshole (wrongly, but still). I'd say something like, "I'm not interested in you, and when you make these comments, it makes me uncomfortable. You need to stop." And he might get all huffy and try to play it like you're overreacting and he never meant it like that and blah blah blah--and your best bet is to say, "ok, whatever. Just stop talking to me like that and we're good."
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:57 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

He sounds vindictive and shady. Nothing you do will make this turn out well. That's on him, not you.

BTW, don't go over when a guy "waves you over." Ugh. You're not a puppy, you are an independent and self confident adult!

Don't allow this guy to make a show of his presumed "dominance" over you in front of others. He's putting on a show. Don't dance on his stage anymore, know what I mean?
posted by jbenben at 7:21 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just say "no."
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:11 PM on June 10, 2012

I have personally had good luck with "You missed the boat!" or "That ship has already sailed!" (Apparently, my inner 'not anymore, dude!' totally loves the sea.)

Deliver it with a laugh. Shitty sexist guys (which it sounds like this was) tend to have believes about the fickleness of women anyway, so it will probably make him grumble to his friends, but leave you alone.
posted by corb at 8:18 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

He asked me where was I going and when I told him I was going to go where my eye candy is at

Methinks the lady maybe doth protest too much. Don't give him any more information than is necessary about where you're going if you don't want to get into a back and forth with him, the amount of information being absolutely none whatsoever.
posted by alphanerd at 8:39 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah that "eye candy" passive aggressive sarcasm thing is total high school.
posted by rhizome at 8:54 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

If I wanted him to leave me alone to do my job, I'd go "polite but cold". One word answers, shut down non work conversations, smile and walk away.

If I wanted to friendzone him, I would probably use humor to call him on bad behavior and redefine our relationship. "What can I say, I'm a sucker for guys who warm the bench and don't have secret girlfriends!"
posted by skermunkil at 5:57 AM on June 11, 2012

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