Are most guys' minds creepy (or sex sex sex? :/)
May 10, 2013 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Incident report of a young woman and much older upper-middle class man.

I'm not very good at explaining myself especially in a looong post (sorry it's so long!!!), plus English is not my first language... but I will try my best, thanks! :)

I am a female in my 20's.
I met this guy in his 50's when I was kinda lost in a park.
He was very nice giving me directions etc, so we met up another day to have dinner.
I was new to the area, so I just wanted to make a new friend. Nothing more, really.
We were going to go get pizza, but the restaurant was closed, so he drove me to his house to make pizza. I was very worried about going to his house alone, but I was too chickened out to speak up.
He drank wine and couldn't drive me back, so I slept on his couch fearing the worst case scenario.
Turns out he didn't do anything, so I was very relieved and thought "Ok, he really wants to be just "friends," phew."
So we hung out like this a few more times over the course of next few months - eating (out / in), chatting, me sleeping over - nothing inappropriate ever happened. He even invited me to his friend's party, which was nice but I was unable to attend. It was actually fun talking with him, as I naturally find it interesting to hear the perspectives of older generations on all kinds of topics. He also sometimes called me "Kid" and offered me advice on life-problems, which I appreciated because I had kinda missed having a father-like figure after becoming distant with my dad.

Recently, I had a problem with my apartment and wanted to get a way for a few days, so I stayed over at his house for several days.
This time he was touching me at least once every hour, for example, when I passed by him in the kitchen. At first it was just my arms or shoulders, which I found a little annoying but didn't say anything.
It escalated to my torso, thighs and butt, though lightly. At this point I say "What are you doing?! Stop!"
Then he would jokingly say things like "But you have a nice butt!"
I was annoyed but kept hoping there would be no more next time.
The reason I didn't leave at this point was because I thought he was joking around and never seriously saw me as a "woman." I mean, I am his daughters' age!
He also started asking me to massage him with his massage device.
I was like "Why don't you do it yourself?"
He said something like "Because I can concentrate on the relaxation when someone else does it."
I thought "Fair enough" and did it unwillingly because I was staying at his house and considered this task like cleaning the dishes. I thought he didn't have any sexual intentions.
The next day or so, the same request - but this time, he took off his clothes and I was like, "What are you wearing???!!!," thinking he was in his underwear.
He said "My swimsuit!"
I thought "Ok, still kinda gross, but that's probably better than underwear." and I didn't want to be rude, so I just did the massage.
Then, he asks me to "hand-massage" him because my hands are always warm.
I was reluctant but did it because I still didn't think there was sexual thinking involved.
As I was massaging him, he touched my butt, which really annoyed me because I had told him multiple times not to touch it.
So the next day, when he asked me to hand-massage him, I said I didn't want to do it and would only do the device-massage. He got mad and told me to get out of his room.

The next morning conversation goes like this:
Him "I'm sorry I yelled at you although I was pretty much joking."
Me "It's ok because I'll leave."
Him: (a little stunned) saying "Ok." then goes away for a few minutes.
...
Him: "Yea maybe we need to take a break. I might have some things to figure out."
Me: "What things?"
Him: "Well, I guess I have enjoyed having you over because of your female companionship. But you keep telling me you are uncomfortable and sad when I touch you... I'm very particular about women (I don't know what he meant by that)... and it's just natural for me to touch you. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings. I haven't touched women for so long after my wife passed away, and I had forgotten how good it feels to touch women. But since you are uncomfortable, I feel like maybe I'm just fooling myself. If there is nothing between us, and since your goals and plans don't involve me, I should maybe let you bloom with those and I should pay more attention to the things I should be paying attention to."
Me: (totally creeped out and frozen) "But the other day you said you weren't attracted to me."
Him "Well I guess I lied!" (kinda embarrassed looking, not malicious)

Then I started crying because I was overwhelmed with disgust that a man old enough to be my dad was looking at me like that the whole time and the fact that I had so long stupidly kept thinking otherwise.

Me: "So would you not have been my friend if I was a guy?!"
Him "It's difficult to answer, but I don't view women as objects."

Him: "I was mad at you last night because you wouldn't hand-massage me. I thought it was rude."
Me: "The whole massage thing was getting weirder."
Him: "But you had done the hand-massage the day before!"
Me: "I never wanted to do it in the first place!"

I don't remember how exactly this came to an end, but he said, "Well, we talked about a lot of personal stuff today. Can I ask you to never repeat to anyone what I said?"

Later, everything he said before automatically got connected as "creepy dots" in my head, although too late:
..."How was your sex life with your ex-boyfriends? You shouldn't be embarrassed. My friends talk about it openly, which is normal!"
...While driving, "Look at that woman dressed like that - they dress so provocatively but would soon call the cops when guys hit on them."
..."You should wear a dress when you go negotiate with men."
..."Do you want to go on a cruise with me? It'll be really cheap to add you because I already have it booked."
..."You want to go hang out with your boyfriend this weekend? I'd tell him "Stay away from my girl," haha!"
..."Your breasts were probably oversized when you were younger."
..."You never menstruated on your bed?" (after me asking him why he had small blood stains on his bed - probably from nosebleed or something)
...Watching TV: "I think the actress is aroused because her nipples sure look erect."
..."You are asexual."-when I refuse to answer his sex-related questions.
...One day he came to sit next to me and massaged my back. I had to get his hand out when it started going under my shirt, but I didn't think much of it because I was busy talking to him about a problem and listening to his advice.

I do take responsibility for letting all those happen and feel very stupid about staying over at his house.

Before this, over the years I had creepy encounters with other men, and I never had very good relationships with my few ex's, and I feel like I'm going to keep running into more creepiness with men. Is it just me or does this happen a lot? Are most guys' psyche really revolved around sex? I feel more and more reluctant to date...
Thanks lots for reading this ridiculously long post. Whatever kind of comments would be appreciated :)
posted by MiuMiu to Human Relations (85 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
This guy really should have been more open with you about what his intentions were from the beginning (or at least earlier than he did.) Open lines of communication are important before trying to get someone to engage in sexual touch/sexual talk with you.

This is not your fault, but unfortunately a lot of people don't do clear and open communication about their sexual attraction and consent because they risk rejection by doing so, and many people are more in the habit of trying to leave hints and hope that interested people take them up on the hints.

You were not interested in this guy, but trying to be nice to him, and in doing so your boundaries were overstepped. You shouldn't feel obligated to touch someone or put up with someone else touching you when you are not interested because you have stayed at their house or whatever.

I wouldn't say that men are all just creepy, but there are men who certainly feel like this kind of behaviour is as good as/better than open communication regarding sexual attraction. I disagree. What you describe is part of the reason why.
posted by Ouisch at 7:20 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds like he thought you two were dating.

Don't hang out with him anymore, because he wants some kind of relationship (sexual? romantic?) and you don't.

Most people who want a relationship with someone won't be able to dial it back and settle for friendship. But they'll agree to dial it back because it buys them time to convince you to have a relationship. (This is true for both women and men. And it is annoying and irrational and very very common.)
posted by vitabellosi at 7:23 PM on May 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


Can you clarify precisely what the question is? I see Are most guys' psyche really revolved around sex? but I'm assuming that's rhetorical?
posted by Justinian at 7:27 PM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


This dude is a creep. Most men aren't. The best thing to do in these situations is to immediately call out creepy behavior and/or leave. You may find the best way to meet new people in a new area, in a low-pressure setting, is a group activity; it's also fine to ask someone to clarify whether they are asking you on a date if you are unsure.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:27 PM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, most guys' psyches do not completely revolve around sex, BUT -

Yes, this happens a lot to women who have very poorly-developed instincts about men.

I say this in all kindness: you really, really need some therapy to help you learn about what is and isn't normal in platonic vs sexual male/female relationships. Anyone outside her teens should be able to pick up on this stuff a lot more quickly than you did. And I think you would benefit from therapy in general (really, a man in his 50s hitting on a women in her 20s is neither unusual nor disgusting).

Get therapy. Take care of yourself.
posted by Salamander at 7:27 PM on May 10, 2013 [51 favorites]


To answer your main question as directly as possible, no, I do not think that all men's minds are creepy or solely sexually focused.

I feel that this man may not have acted so inappropriately had the sleepovers not occured and had you not touched one another at different points. I am not in any way blaming you. I just think it may put things into perspective if you consider that most opposite sex platonic friendships do not involve massaging one another or oddly sexual questions, and when things like that happen, it usually takes the relationship to an entirely different level.

Another thing to consider is that some of his creepy behavior is likely patterned after life as a married man. You became a surrogate wife of sorts.

I'm nonetheless sorry that he got pushy, and that you lost what otherwise seemed to be a nice friendship. Having dad issues of my own, I have found myself in questionable situations with older men and have learned that keeping them at a respectable distance is usually best. Sometimes it feels like they can pick up on your desire for a paternal figure and will prey on it.
posted by nohaybanda at 7:31 PM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"We were going to go get pizza, but the restaurant was closed, so he drove me to his house to make pizza."

Did he pick the restaurant? If he did, ten bucks says he knew it would be closed, so he could suggest going back to his place.

You story makes him sound like a decent enough, if lonely, older dude, and you a naive, lonely, younger woman. I'd try to wise-up on dudes pronto, if I were you. How? I dunno...trial and error? Therapy? Maybe the only way to learn is experience?
posted by 3FLryan at 7:32 PM on May 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am a female in my 20's.
I met this guy in his 50's when I was kinda lost in a park.

***

So we hung out like this a few more times over the course of next few months - eating (out / in), chatting, me sleeping over

***

Recently, I had a problem with my apartment and wanted to get a way for a few days, so I stayed over at his house for several days.

***

Then I started crying because I was overwhelmed with disgust that a man old enough to be my dad was looking at me like that the whole time and the fact that I had so long stupidly kept thinking otherwise.


Reading the above passages, it seems pretty clear that you behaved in ways that would lead a guy to think that romance was a possibility.

And it's hard to rule out (though only you can confirm this) a kind of weird fake naïveté ("gosh! You're attracted to me! Eww") that is rather offensive and unfair to this man, in that the relationship unfolded in very intimate ways and you're acting aggrieved by circumstances that unfolded and you had every chance to stop.

You probably don't want to hear this, but the premise of your question is way out of line, and your question is undergirded by some very sexist and ageist ideas.

It sounds like this man enjoyed your company in many respects, and yes, he was attracted to you. But being interested in you romantically is not wrong -- the age difference does not make it wrong. Your insistence that it is creepy of him to be attracted to you is ageist and offensive.

Nothing about your narrative suggests that his "psyche revolves around sex." Nor does he sound "creepy." You got close to him and he opened up to you.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:39 PM on May 10, 2013 [112 favorites]


I'm going to nth what salamander has said... my little alarm bells started going off almost immediately when reading your story. Read the Gift of Fear (not that this dude was scary... but...), and yeah - therapy. Be safe. Most men are not creepy, but most heterosexual men when interacting with an attractive 20 yr old female aren't thinking "yay, new platonic friend!". You are not one of the dudes. In my twenties, I found it very difficult to maintain platonic friendships with men, and when I got married they all sort of drifted away. Just sayin'.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:39 PM on May 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Once a person starts touching your body and/or asking you to touch their body, you can assume their mind is on sex. He's touching your ass, running his hand up your shirt, asking for massages, and you think there's nothing going on? Change that. You didn't do anything wrong, but you are being too naive.

Your posting history shows an alarming trend of being very naive and being taken advantage of. This will not end well. It might be time for you to get professional help of some sort.
posted by Houstonian at 7:42 PM on May 10, 2013 [49 favorites]


You asked a similar question about an older man, but that time you felt his actions were creepy and the general consensus here was that you overreacted. This time you kept hanging out with an older man who was increasingly showing sexual interest in you, but you didn't see it, and my sense is that you underreacted.

Another question you asked concerned whether you should allow a stranger who was homeless to sleep in your room.

These questions suggest to me that you have a lot of trouble setting your personal boundaries -- you have trouble identifying what's acceptable and what is not in your life and noticing when someone crosses the line.

I'd suggest that you find a therapist or similar source of help who could help you identify for yourself what are your rights and how to recognize whether others are respecting those rights. If you're from a culture in which women must always be pleasant and agreeable, it might be even harder for you to do this work because it means sometimes saying "no," but it's super important for your happiness and quality of life. Good luck!
posted by ceiba at 7:45 PM on May 10, 2013 [80 favorites]


"I still didn't think there was sexual thinking involved"

In all honesty, at this point in what you're recounting, I'm just having a difficult time understanding how you could not have sensed his intentions.

Your questions "Is it just me or does this happen a lot? Are most guys' psyche really revolved around sex? I feel more and more reluctant to date..."..

I think it is important that you consider your role in these dynamics, you are, perhaps, placing all the blame on the wrong individual, there is some shared responsibility for what has happened.
posted by HuronBob at 7:45 PM on May 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I mean, I am his daughters' age!

I'm always a little baffled by this line of thinking. This isn't going to make someone find you less physically attractive.

Most men aren't "creepy", but most men that are flirting with you, taking you out on dates and touching you are physically attracted to you, regardless of age. It seems like you might have ignored a lot of obvious signs that he was into you/thought your relation was more than friendly because you assumed he couldn't think that way about you. I don't think you would be confused if he was closer to your age.

What do you do if a younger guy likes you and you're not interested? I'm guessing you avoid them.
posted by spaltavian at 7:46 PM on May 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Please forgive me, but I must agree with Unified Theory. There is nothing "creepy" (I greatly dislike this word) or inappropriate based on the facts in your question. It appears that this man reasonably thought that you two were in a romantic relationship. He did nothing wrong in being attracted to you.

I also agree with Houstonian that your question history shows a disturbing trend. There is a larger issue going on here. If you do not address it, you will be back here soon with another question. Please seek treatment.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:52 PM on May 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


It sounds like you were both a little naive (age has nothing to do with it!). But look on it as a learning experience. Now you know how important it is to know your personal boundaries and how to enforce them, to communicate those firmly to those you spend time with, and to make sure you know what others are expecting from your relationship with them.
posted by cecic at 7:53 PM on May 10, 2013


No matter what age you are, older men will always find you attractive. And most of them operate by the rule "If you're not trying, you're dying." It's not creepy, it's human nature.

The best thing you can do is be aware of what you're doing to lead men on and stop it if you don't like the attention, or keep doing it if you like the attention. Or learn to turn it on and off depending on the man.

But I definitely agree with others who have said that they don't understand how you didn't see any of this coming. The only thing I can say is that women come into their sexual own in their 30s and so you're still in formation. When you hit your 30s, your sexual intensity will go into turbo charge and you'll start to really understand all those guys that you used to think were peculiar or creepy because they thought about sex so much. Enjoy!
posted by janey47 at 7:54 PM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or does this happen a lot?

I think there's an extent to which it might be you because at no point in this narrative do I see you laying and communicating clear boundaries. At the off, when the pizza place is closed and you don't want to go to his house, why do you not refuse? It literally sounds like you'd knowingly walk into a potential rape situation rather than give offence.

When people ask you to massage them when you don't want to, you say No. When someone asks you to massage them when wearing less clothing than you like, you say No. When people touch you in ways you don't like and you tell them to stop and they say "but you have a nice butt!" you say "that doesn't give you the right to touch me" and you leave.

If you project and portray submissive behaviour, you vastly, vastly increase your odds of attracting people who are looking for women exactly like that.

I would suggest assertiveness training, and a self-defence class to build self confidence.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:07 PM on May 10, 2013 [39 favorites]


You are both guilty of not being crystal-clear about your intentions with each other, or your expectations. That is a grown-up mature thing to do, and something a lot of people don't do because it's too "scary".

But you are additionally being almost aggressively, deliberately naive. Sleeping over alone at another person's place - repeatedly - is an intimate act. It simply is, it doesn't matter if it's in separate rooms.

People in their 50s are not sexless trolls. Take that weird prejudice off the table and consider your story: you met some random guy in a park. You went home with him alone to cook dinner. You've repeatedly slept over at his place. At no point have you pointed out to him that you are not interested in him - you keep spending time with him, so you must have *some* form of interest. And when you're talking about straight-ish men and straight-ish women, the default format of that interest is, in this culture, romantic. Yes, people of all kinds think about sex, in the proximity of other people. You need to be clear if that's not an option.

Hell, I'm a married monogamous straight-appearing woman, and if you kept wanting to sleep over at my house and be alone with me, I'd question your motives myself.

This guy is hardly a predator. He's made vague, cautious overtures to which you have responded.

The problem is that you seem to be blind to overtures AND keep responding to vague pressure because you don't have the fortitude to stand up for your own desires. You need to work on that. This guy is not a bad person taking advantage of you, but there are plenty of people (male and female) out there who will.

Also, you're kind of using him for company and a place to sleep. Unless you are very specific, that kind of agreement comes with the expectation of some kind of trade-off.

Stop doing things you don't want to do. Stop engaging in alone-time with people you don't want Very Special Alone Time with, until you've had a chance to establish boundaries about that Alone Time.

Just as a random example, for calibration purposes: my closest girlfriends are all married, and I consider their husbands my friends and good men and people I would absolutely call in an emergency. We have gone off on couples' vacations or stayed over with several of them. You know what I would not do unless there were a natural disaster or medical crisis? Sleep over alone with them. Go out to dinner alone - maybe not even lunch unless there was a crisis and even then not without at least one other person - with them. Even, unless it was a very formal occasion in which it was polite and appropriate and very public, dance with them. Why? Because those are date things, and I don't do date things with people I'm not dating. And the only person I'm dating is my husband. The closest of those friends asked me if it was okay to *text* my husband, because they have a similar hobby in which I have zero interest, and also sometimes they handle the scheduling of couple-socializing.

That was a polite and appropriate thing to ask. Because, between people who might theoretically be attracted to each other, it's better to be cautious.

So if you are really having that much trouble drawing a line between friend-things and more-than-friend things, use my rule: is it a dating activity? Don't do it with people you don't want to date unless you are willing to be very clear and very firm UP FRONT about what it does or does not mean. If you can't bring yourself to do that, then don't do those things. It makes it super easy to draw a line.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:23 PM on May 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


This reads like a guide to what not to do if you meet a random dude in a park. It's, like, the If You Give A Mouse A Cookie... of random older dudes met while wandering around town.

Also, word of advice for the future. If you want to send a firm signal that you're not sexually interested in someone, don't sleep over at their house.

I really wish we lived in a world where "sleep over at your house frequently" wasn't code for "I want to have sex with you", but it sort of is.

I also really wish we lived in a world where women didn't have to be constantly on guard about this stuff, wasting mental energy doing a calculus of red flags and exit strategies. But we do.

You need to learn when to say no. Don't wait to say no until the dude is naked and asking for a handjob. Say no when you first start to feel hinky about what is going on, not when you're at a point where rape is on the table.

Another thing to think about is to always have control over the situation. Going to a stranger's home with no way to leave other than that stranger driving you is a bad idea, because you're not in control of how you get out of that situation.

Note: I am not saying that saying yes up until the point of "naked dude asking for a hand-job" is "asking for it", or anything of the kind. Obviously your comfort zone is where it is, and if you liked sleeping over and being touchy with each other but didn't want to have sex, that is totally fine. But saying no the first time you feel uncomfortable rather than the last second before someone rapes you is generally going to be better for your mental health.
posted by Sara C. at 8:32 PM on May 10, 2013 [27 favorites]


No, not all men are like this.

Further, even though you might have known better, and some day you might have enough experience under your belt to spot when someone is feeding you a line of pure bullshit, no still means no, you still don't have to "hand massage" anybody you don't want to, and it's still okay to wonder aloud why some men behave as if they don't want to have sex with you and then do everything in their power to have sex with you. It's particularly okay to do this if you've grown up in a very sheltered environment wherein you might not have had what we call agency. Agency means that you yourself, and others, recognize your right to have a say in what happens to you, you have a right to your thoughts and feelings, and nobody gets to take advantage of you, your body, your mind, any part of you. You get to think for yourself and act on your instincts and you don't have to do what others want of you simply because they want what they want.

As time goes on, it will also be okay to wonder why a sixty year old man is playing these sorts of infantile games rather than just leaning in to kiss you at the end of your date at the pizza place and, in the fashion of a real, live adult male, making his intentions known and offering you the opportunity, as a real, live adult female, to either accept or reject his advance. (Setting aside that fact that, oh, yeah, hmmm, he took you back to his place to make pizza because the restaurant was closed.) It will further be okay to ask certain questions like, why was the restaurant he wanted to take me to closed? Why did we go back to his house to make pizza when we could have easily gone to another restaurant? Why did he drink too much wine when he knew I was relying on him to drive me somewhere? Why did I rely on him to drive me somewhere and why didn't I choose to take a cab home? Why, even though I felt uneasy enough about him to fear for my safety when I slept on his couch, did I continue to agree to see him? Why do I keep finding myself in these situations?

It's okay to ask all of these questions. It's okay to not know things until you know them. You're not a bad person for genuinely not understanding that some people sexually hurt or confuse other people, not because they're necessarily horrible people but because they're weak, or fearful, or stupid, or misguided or mistaken. You're also not a bad person because, unfortunately, some people get off on tricking people into lowering their defenses by pretending to be one way when they're actually another. I am concerned that you are going to find yourself up against such a person and they will prey on you if you also don't start asking what you can do to avoid finding yourself in these kinds of situations at the same time you're asking if all men are the same.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2013 [25 favorites]



Nothing about your narrative suggests that his "psyche revolves around sex." Nor does he sound "creepy." You got close to him and he opened up to you.


The guy touched her butt repeatedly and continued to do so after she told him to stop. That's not just creepy: that's sexual assault.
posted by Broseph at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2013 [29 favorites]


Before this, over the years I had creepy encounters with other men, and I never had very good relationships with my few ex's, and I feel like I'm going to keep running into more creepiness with men. Is it just me or does this happen a lot?

i think the reason this is happening in your life is because you have a real lack of boundaries with men. first off, no way should you have let this man pick you up at your place and drive you anywhere. he was a stranger you met in a park. you should have met him at the restaurant and provided your own transportation so you would be safe. then, you could have met him at another restaurant or easily declined his invitation to go to his place. of course staying over at some random stranger's house the first night you meet up with him is not smart at all and does send a message of possible interest. next time call a friend or a taxi to take you home.

it's time to wise up about men before you get yourself in a dangerous situation. i would suggest you take an assertiveness training class or get some therapy or read some books on self-esteem and self-assertion. reading some books on feminism would be good too. i think it would really open your eyes. you can start with this website here. lastly, stop hanging around random men your dad's age. this is a recipe for disaster.
posted by wildflower at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


What I see MiuMiu doing over and over again is dismissing her own feelings and wants. She has been sensing creepiness from this guy over and over. She is lucky he doesn't seem to have highly predatory motives.

MiuMiu you said "I found a little annoying but didn't say anything." Your post is peppered with instances just like this where you felt uncomfortable ["totally creeped out and frozen"] yet even the summation of all of these instances hasn't lead you to call it quits on further interaction with this man. Something is leading you to dismiss these feelings and continue your relations with this person. Trust yourself, no one else can look out for you from your unique perspective. It doesn't sound like things are working out for either of you - you're uncomfortable with his advances, and he seems puzzled by your motivations for being in his company. A good thing to work on would be exploring what you want and what feels good to you in your relations with others, and then looking for those qualities in all the people you allow in your life. Therapy might help with addressing why you habitually dismiss your uncomfortable feelings rather than addressing them consistently or removing yourself from the situation.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 8:52 PM on May 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


As others have said, you were kind of slow on the uptake here. It sounds to me like he was cautiously trying to check if you were interested because he didn't want to creep you out but you never gave a good clear signal of rejection. It is pretty normal for a man to keep "inquiring" until he gets a clear No. It only becomes creep behavior when you clearly reject them and then they won't give up. Given how long this ambiguous behavior went on, it isn't surprising that he had difficulty accepting it when you finally did try to tell him "no." Your behavior had been signalling "maybe" and "kinda yes" for so long, it really muddied the waters.

It seems weird to me that you were so quick to eat his food, stay at his place etc and not assume "potential romance." It does not sound like this was particularly reciprocal. Your description sounds like resources flowed in one direction. Do you routinely mooch off of friends of both genders? I ask because in most cultures, a man routinely spending resources on a woman is a very typical part of courtship but friends typically engage in a more equal exchange or split the costs. If it is a routine part of your life that people spend resources on you and you do not reciprocate, it is likely creating a lot of social issues for you, not just with men. I suggest you spend some time thinking about that aspect of your life.

He actually sounds like he was pretty patient and generous while you essentially took advantage of his resources and sent mixed signals. It took a fairly long time for him to stop dropping hints and push for results/an answer. Again, if it is a normal part of your life for friends to spend resources on you without you giving back similarly and it is a normal part of your life for men to creep you out, these two patterns may be related. You need to learn the concept "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

I am not trying to blame you. I am hoping to help you understand why men keep behaving towards you in a manner that you find "creepy." Men spending money on a woman is a common expression of romantic interest. If you are accepting their money, they read that as "maybe, kinda yes." If you mean "No, we are just friends," then you need to say "no" to the money/material resources too. It doesn't work well to try to have it both ways.
posted by Michele in California at 9:18 PM on May 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


If I'm not sexually interested in a man, I don't accept night-time invitations to his house. Regardless of what his intentions may or may not be, saying "no thanks" early removes the opportunity for problems. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches and heartaches once you learn to communicate firm boundaries and not just go with the flow to "seem nice".
posted by doreur at 9:20 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think everyone is giving this guy too much benefit of the doubt. You wanted a elder mentor or 2nd father relationship. I'm pretty sure he knew this. He was playing the nice card, hoping he could change your mind into making it a sexual one by slowly testing your boundaries.

This guy was putting out feelers/testing you to see if you were open to dating or what you'd put up with. Pay attention to these kind of signs in the future and shut them down if you're not interested. There's this idea for women that you have to be "nice" or "polite", even when someone's being out of line. Being nice doesn't mean letting someone push you into doing something you don't want to do. It's okay to say "No, I'm not comfortable with that." and back it up with action like suggesting something else or leaving.

When he took you to the closed pizza place and then drove you to his place to make it instead, you were worried. This would have been the time to say "No, I'm not comfortable with that. Could we go to a different restaurant or meet up another time when it's open." If he was still insistent, then say "I'm going home now" and do it.

Take a class or read a book about being assertive. Learn how to politely shut this kind of thing down. It's one of the most important skills you will learn in your life. Right now, you're putting yourself into dangerous situations where things could have turned very ugly.
posted by stray thoughts at 9:47 PM on May 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I always find it surprising when women are surprised that some guys are thinking about them in a sexual way. Of course some guys will think of women that way, no matter whether they are 22, 32, or 42, and it's very naive to expect otherwise. Furthermore, there should be nothing surprising about a situation where a woman expresses a willingness to sleep at a man's house and he then assumes that the woman might have some romantic interest in him. I think you are exhibiting a shortage of common sense and street smarts, and hopefully the answers to your posting here will help you develop those attributes. That's not to say that everything this man did was nice or appropriate, but it's your job, not his, to look out for your own best interests and well-being.
posted by Dansaman at 9:52 PM on May 10, 2013


Meta
posted by mlis at 9:54 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Since this is in MeTa any answer that is not a direct response to the OP or their question should go there instead, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:01 PM on May 10, 2013


Thank you everyone! I will try to do as many as possible of the things you all kindly suggested :)
My friend asked me the same thing "Why do you let yourself get into these situations?!"
Not sure if I can do therapy at the moment but I'll look into trainings like self defense or assertiveness, good ideas!

To "stray thoughts";
You are right! I think he knew I kinda saw him as a mentor-ish figure.
I said a few times that he reminded me of my dad, to which he was like "huh?!"
I also remember telling him that I was and never would be interested in men my dad's age.
He said "You are biased because your dad remarried a young woman and you were disgusted.," which may be true.
posted by MiuMiu at 10:32 PM on May 10, 2013


And I'm sorry, to everyone that I offended, for sounding sexist and ageist! I didn't mean that! I'm sorry!
Also a sincere apology that I kept saying "creepy" where I should have set my boundaries more clearly and quickly.
posted by MiuMiu at 10:47 PM on May 10, 2013


I also remember telling him that I was and never would be interested in men my dad's age.

You can't expect theoretical/hypothetical statements like this to stand in for telling someone like it is.

It's hard to say, "Look, I'm not interested in you like that" or "I'm not attracted to you" or "I don't want to have sex with you." Our whole culture is built around very delicate ways of dancing around this sort of thing.

But there's a point at which a person on the opposite end of this wonders. She sleeps over here all the time, she comes to stay for a few days when she doesn't feel like staying at her apartment, she's giving me massages... I agree that consent needs to be established, but it's really hard to do that with someone who keeps saying yes when she really means no.

This is why it's a lot easier to say, "I'll call myself a cab," or "let's get Mexican instead", or "Sorry, I give the worst massages. But I scrub a mean skillet!" instead of saying "I don't ever want to have sex with you." Before a dude is naked.

MiuMiu, I've been in situations a lot like yours, where your living situation is not secure, and you don't have a ton of resources, and so you find yourself depending on people -- often people who are practically strangers -- because you have no other choice. If you have questions about how to do this safely going forward, absolutely do not hesitate to memail me. A lot of your questions could have been asked by me, a decade ago.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 PM on May 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pretty much everybody can, in fact, afford counseling. Most therapists use a sliding scale fee system, where if you need help and honestly cant afford it, they will lower their fees significantly. Call around and check. It might even be worth calling any insurance you may have to see what they can do. Other options are churches/pastors, whatever your religious inclinations/views may be. Also universities have good counseling services. And the city, possibly, has some, depending on where you are.

And as some mefites like to say, can you really afford to not get counseling?

I often work with ladies abused in their childhood, so this answer is heavily biased towards that. I worry how much of a victim vibe you give off. It may be sheer naivety or something, but you put yourself in dangerous situations. Constantly, it seems. You seem to have no boundaries to speak of. Some common reasons I see for that are bad modelling from your parents, often slipping into the sexual/physical abuse. Sometimes people tell you you don't have the right to say no. You are valuable, and you have to protect yourself; nobody else will.
posted by Jacen at 10:56 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, not all guys are 100% about sex in a creepy way.

Based on your previous questions and this one, you seem to be an international student living in the US (apologies if I have read this wrong). I wonder if there are some cultural mismatches going on here as well. If I were you, I would look into any support groups your university has for international students, because it is always tricky to navigate a culture which is not the one you've been brought up with. Finding some other people from a similar background and hearing their stories of dealing with the different culture may also give you some help with being more confident with setting boundaries and knowing what's appropriate and not.

I don't mean to say that I think cultural differences is all that's going on here, just that it's a factor that may be relevant in how you continue to navigate through possible romantic minefields.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:56 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of people like sex and think about it a lot.

A lot of older people play less games and are more upfront than younger people (in terms of going after what they want).

And yet, not all people verbalise the - we are now in a relationship/dating - thing, but by continually sleeping over at someone's house, you're kind of suggesting that that's what's going on.

When people touch you, it is up to you to tell them when to stop. If you don't tell them when to stop, they will keep going.

If someone ever disrespects you, you should just leave them.

Don't expect people to take the hint. When I went through a few years of PTSD, I did not have the energy to deal with other people. This included guys who were interested in me who I wasn't interested in. They would behave like the peacock and I wouldn't respond, so they would just think that I didn't realise what they were doing and then ramp it up. As someone who is not attracted to any way, shape or form to alpha males, to me their behaviour became even more disgusting. Had I just said upfront - you're not my type, I'm not interested - this would have stopped a lot of that crap immediately - not all of it, but a lot of it.

Sometimes we're not always in a place where we can do it, but I really suggest paying attention to your own levels of assertiveness and what you can do to improve them. If you're uncomfortable say something, remove yourself from the situation, put yourself in a different situation.
posted by heyjude at 11:11 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought he was joking around and never seriously saw me as a "woman." I mean, I am his daughters' age!

You're an adult. If you aren't attracted to older men, or just aren't attracted to a particular man for any reason, don't go on dates with him.

He drank wine and couldn't drive me back, so I slept on his couch fearing the worst case scenario.
Turns out he didn't do anything, so I was very relieved and thought "Ok, he really wants to be just "friends," phew."


It's perfectly possible for someone to be interested in dating you and leave you to sleep unmolested on their couch overnight.

Also, if you are fearing the worst case scenario, LEAVE!!!
posted by yohko at 12:02 AM on May 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Later, everything he said before automatically got connected as "creepy dots" in my head, although too late

This is good! You are looking back on this experience and learning from it, and learning more about what sort of people you do or don't want to be around.

I met this guy in his 50's when I was kinda lost in a park.
He was very nice giving me directions etc, so we met up another day to have dinner.


It sounds like he came up to you when you were by yourself and looking lost, this is not a good situation for making new friends for someone with your level of experience in this culture.

It seems you are a student, you will probably have better luck making new friends by joining clubs at your school, intramural sports teams, or talking with other students before and after class.
posted by yohko at 12:22 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm going to keep running into more creepiness with men. Is it just me or does this happen a lot? Are most guys' psyche really revolved around sex?

Seems to me that it would be helpful for you to cultivate a separation in your own mind between two ideas: sexual and creepy.

Some of the people you meet are going to find you sexually attractive. That's something that's just going to happen, and it's fine and it's healthy, and it doesn't mean that the psyche of the person involved "revolves around" sex.

Creepy is when somebody tries to manipulate you into doing things you don't want to, either overtly by abusing some position of power, or covertly by messing with your feelings or controlling the information available to you.

Young people are often grossed out by the idea of old people having sex, and doubly grossed out by the idea of old people wanting to have sex with them. That's a natural result of living in a culture that uses both youthfulness and sex as standard promotional tools; pretty much all sexually charged advertising features people who look young even if they're not, and the consequence is that we all soak up this unconscious bias that sex is something that properly belongs only to young people. From my own perspective as a happily married 51 year old man, that's creepy.

The reason I didn't leave at this point was because I thought he was joking around and never seriously saw me as a "woman." I mean, I am his daughters' age!

Key points to keep in mind here is that you are in fact an adult (b) not his daughter.

None of us know this man you're telling us about. None of us can tell you for sure whether he's a park-crawling, youth-grooming sexual predator or just a lonely guy missing his wife and hoping against hope that the gorgeous young thing who has just appeared in his life might one day come to feel an attraction for him as strong as what he feels for her. Sexual attraction is a strong thing, and sometimes it will push otherwise quite decent people over the line into creepy, especially if they're lonely and vulnerable.

To keep the creepy out of your life, your best bet is to learn to avoid sending mixed signals, to get better at recognising mixed signals coming from other people, and to allow for the fact that other people are not necessarily going to share your own attitudes toward sex. If you're going to stay over with somebody else at their house, make sure before doing so that both of you have clear expectations about how that's going to work and that both of you are OK with those.
posted by flabdablet at 12:43 AM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Your question seems to have attracted metafilter's surprisingly large cohort of men in their 50s who believe they have some kind of inalienable right to creep on who they please, but there are really good reasons for you to consider this man creepy outside of just his age and really good reasons for older people creeping on dramatically younger people in general - on an appropriately log scale - being seen as really not ok. From a relationship perspective, much younger people are pretty much defined by their comparatively still developing boundary setting skills and lack of judgment or context for things that aren't so great about their partners. You are still figuring this out, and this is totally fine, but he plainly is not and using that to take advantage of you is not fine. His developed established ways to interact with and recognize other people's boundaries as well as the context for understanding them that you are still developing inherently puts you and your interests at a colossal disadvantage. This, at best, would make you as a much younger person incredibly complicated for an ethically minded much older person to date, but in practice actively selects for creepers who thrive on it. Indeed that seem like exactly what has happened here:

  • While the boundaries you set might be confusing to a reasonable person as to your intentions, which would be awkward - though I doubt he was really honestly confused, they were not at all confusing as to what you wanted, which is all that really matters.
  • Him developing an unambiguous father figure type relationship with you where he calls you kid, and then trying to weasel that into a sexual relationship is really fucking creepy
  • Him being weasel-ey about his intentions in general, saying he is joking when confronted, is really fucking creepy.
  • Him strong-arming you into giving him a massage in his swimsuit while touching your butt even though you kept telling him not to is pretty fucking creepy - at best.
  • Him continuing to touch you in general even though he could plainly tell it was making you really uncomfortable is really profoundly fucking creepy.
  • ...While driving, "Look at that woman dressed like that - they dress so provocatively but would soon call the cops when guys hit on them." is really fucking creepy. Even if he is not himself one of those motherfuckers who harass women on the street he is happy to apologize for them - which is not ok.
  • ..."Do you want to go on a cruise with me? It'll be really cheap to add you because I already have it booked." Making vacation plans that involve you without you so as to strong-arm you into going is super profoundly creepy.
  • ..."You want to go hang out with your boyfriend this weekend? I'd tell him "Stay away from my girl," haha!". Possessive behavior like this is a really big red flag at any point in a relationship much less with someone you are ostensibly friends with. Speaking of which though, do you mean to say that you are not currently single and that he is not only ignoring all of the boundaries you laid - inexpertly or otherwise - but an unambiguous desire to be with someone who is not him? Beyond creepy
  • ..."Your breasts were probably oversized when you were younger." So he knows your body better than you do? Is somehow more of an expert on the size of your breasts that you are? If this weird subject were something he were really interested in, wouldn't this more logically be phrased as a question?
  • ..."You are asexual."-when I refuse to answer his sex-related questions. Again, this is not 'are you asexual?' but 'you are asexual', indicating that he believes he knows who you are better than you do - but even more than that it indicates that he has cottoned on to how not interested in him you are but does not care how you feel. This is pretty much what creepy is.
  • ...One day he came to sit next to me and massaged my back. I had to get his hand out when it started going under my shirt, but I didn't think much of it because I was busy talking to him about a problem and listening to his advice. This is not how adults communicate interest to each other, they say "I am interested in you" or some logical equivalent. This dude knows that would not work and so is doing this instead - that is also pretty much exactly what creepy is.


  • There are a lot of people in this thread telling you that your instincts and desires are wrong in some way and that you should ignore them. Fuck that. Your instincts seem to be working just fine, well at least now they are, and the way to develop them is to trust them and learn more about how they work as you get more practice using them. Women in particular are generally socialized to not trust their instincts, to devalue them, and to consider them irrational. This only serves one purpose, to make women more vulnerable and manipulate-able. Your desires are also just that, yours. They do not belong to your creepy old man 'friend' any more than they belong to metafilter's creepy old man contingent and it is totally fine to not be attracted to older guys. Attraction is not a moral act, please don't let anyone try to shame you for not being attracted to them, which is indeed also really fucking creepy.
    posted by Blasdelb at 1:20 AM on May 11, 2013 [92 favorites]


    I feel like I can see where a lot of your confusion might come from. On the one hand, people say "it's wrong to make broad general assumptions about people based on their age, gender, race, etc.!" and on the other hand, it may feel like people are saying, "of course you should have made [broad general] assumptions about what this guy was expecting / intending!"

    This may help: there is a very big difference between being fair-minded and unprejudiced toward any group of people in general, and your own personal boundaries regarding anyone at all, for any reason at all. You are always justified in listening to your own inner voice about anything that may feel a little off or worrying.

    You are always justified in putting your personal welfare first. You don't need to run that through a checklist to make sure you are perfectly unbiased and fair unless or until you gather enough empirical data to prove that the other person is indeed some kind of threat, or that their expectations or assumptions are completely different than your own. If something feels wrong, it's not only okay, but very wise to draw back and limit or cease contact with that person.

    You can think "well, maybe that comment/act was completely innocent or meant something completely different because of XYZ," but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go ahead and protect yourself against the possibility that the comment or act really does indicate that there's a problem and you need to beware. This is personal. This isn't refusing to hire someone because of prejudice, or paying them less, or offering less legal protection. This is you choosing how you spend your own personal time, and with whom, and your reasons are your own, and need no justification at all.

    I will second the person who suggested reading The Gift of Fear (an Ask Metafilter perennial favorite!), because it does a very good job of explaining how we actually process a whole lot more information than we are consciously aware of, how beneficial these "intuitive" observations can be, and why it's a mistake to disregard such internal signals.
    posted by taz at 1:20 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    i just wanted to add that the list of things this guy said to you plus his behavior on even the first evening do strike me as creepy. considering the fact that he was old enough to be your father and you are from another country, and one likely where women are quite submissive and traditional, i do find his behavior a bit exploitative. there are all sorts of power imbalances at play here. when you go to a restaurant for dinner and they are closed you most likely go find another one. you don't then take this foreign young woman you met in a park home with you and proceed to drink so much you can't drive her home and tell her to sleep on your couch. you call her a taxi. it is quite likely he knew the restaurant was closed and drank too much on purpose. nor do you ask her about her sex life, make sexual comments about her body and other women's on tv. sorry but i find that creepy and inappropriate. an older man who would want to date you would act like a gentleman and make his intentions clear and up front and not play childish, manipulative games.

    that this man was creepy does not of course mean all men are creepy.
    posted by wildflower at 1:22 AM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


    "Also a sincere apology that I kept saying "creepy" where I should have set my boundaries more clearly and quickly."

    Please don't apologize, it is not your fault that this dude is a creep who ignored all of the boundaries that you did set and the only thing that might have been wrong about those boundaries is that they weren't laid in such a way as to alert you to his creepiness then they were ignored. This guy does not seem like he was the least bit confused as to your intentions and does seem like he was actively trying to confuse you about his. That is his fault.
    posted by Blasdelb at 1:26 AM on May 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


    I think most guys would assume that if they met at a woman at a park and asked them to have dinner with them and they accepted, it meant they were going on a date. Continuing to hang out would mean they were dating.

    I've known girls who dated older guys, not 20s-50s, but 20s-40s and 30s-50s. It's not unheard of, especially if the guy is rich.
    Are most guys' psyche really revolved around sex?
    Kinda. Especially in the context of randomly meeting and then hanging out with someone of the opposite sex (or from what you described even the same sex). That isn't to say old men and young women can't be friends, that happens all the time, but usually it's in another context.

    I don't like all the "OMG get therapy" answers (I mean how much does that cost? It sounds kind of expensive), but I think it would be helpful to have someone who can help you learn to navigate social situations.

    But if you're not good with queues don't be afraid to be direct. If some guy is talking to you and you want to be a friend but don't want to sleep with him tell him directly that you just want to be friends and ask directly if he wants to be more then friends.

    Honestly some people, both men and women are very bad at picking up social cues, but while stating things directly can be uncomfortable, they can help you avoid more uncomfortable situations later.
    posted by delmoi at 2:03 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    And just to change things around a bit - whenever you're in a situation, you should ask yourself "what do I want?"

    It seems to be that you're trying to analyse the situation or respond to the situation (thinking whether something makes sense or what he's trying to do and why), but you don't seem to be asking yourself the base question of whether you personally want that particular thing to be happening.

    Ask yourself - do I want this - do I not want this? Act based on your immediate response - don't analyse, don't try to understand. Focus on how you feel.

    And, something I should have said is that he was being very inappropriate. His inappropriateness was not your fault. And our perceptions of people - everyone - can change over time. Sometimes we meet someone and they're awesome and then they turn out to be a jerk. Sometimes we meet a jerk and they turn out to be awesome.

    It can be difficult when we're knocked back by life and the people we encounter and our perceptions of them change - but we learn from these experiences for our encounters with other people.
    posted by heyjude at 2:13 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Considering this and your previous questions, you need to
    1. Get a place of your own to live by yourself --- not a house or apartment share, and 100-times-never couchsurfing with random strangers.
    2. Get therapy, and learn to set boundaries --- learn to tell people 'no'; learn to look after yourself without depending on others.
    3. Stop getting in strangers' cars and going **wherever** with them. Just because someone is in their 50s or 60s does NOT mean its safe for you to go off with them. Don't get in strangers' cars, don't go to strangers' homes, and make sure that wherever you are, you have YOUR OWN way to get home --- and GO home, don't stay in those strangers' houses.

    You seem to have a long history of letting other people take advantage of you: your roommates let some stranger stay in your room back in October without even asking you (they perhaps knew you well enough to know you wouldn't say a peep); both a 60ish man in a previous question and this 50ish man, both pretty much strangers to you, appear to be grooming you for sex. Learn to say a loud, clear NO when you don't want someone to touch you or to touch them (the massaging? WAY creepy). You need to learn to stand up for yourself and put a stop to this before one of these strangers hurts you --- and that is quite likely to happen, if you go on as you have. There's a reason we're told over and over to only meet strangers in public places.

    Yes, I understand the urge to make friends, but you need to stop being a doormat because you what, don't want to hurt strangers' feelings?!? Your personal protection comes FIRST, making new friends and not hurting their feelings comes LAST.
    posted by easily confused at 3:29 AM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    What I am hearing is
    You: "please stop touching me like that."
    Him: "But I like touching you like that!"

    This is creepy. That he waited until you were staying in his house for several days to start touching you does not make it less creepy. That he misses the touch of a woman does not make it less creepy. It is quite possible for older men to have regular old platonic relationships with ladies of all ages. It is quite possible for older men to hit on women in their 20s in a moral, respectful and fun way while still backing off should a given woman show disinterest. He is willfully ignoring the boundaries you are setting, and preying on your uncertainty with your right to set them.

    Trust your instincts. There is nothing wrong with saying "no!" and being vocal about boundaries and calling out people when they ignore yours.
    posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish at 3:49 AM on May 11, 2013 [19 favorites]


    There are guys who will be genuine friends, and guys who will respect your wishes, and guys who will prioritize your comfort. It will happen.

    I found that I can waste a lot of time in situations where I feel confused, pressured,or bad because I have difficulty feeling like anyone will be nice to me & I don't want to be lonely. However, it is better if you can to have lots of casual or group friendships until you feel less lonely and better able to stop spending time with people who don't feel comfortable or good.

    Sorry this happened.
    posted by the young rope-rider at 6:08 AM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


    I think he knew I kinda saw him as a mentor-ish figure.

    Outside of the workplace, school, and among family friends, people do not have "mentors", particularly of those they randomly met off the street. Socially speaking, most adults above a certain age "have enough friends" and aren't looking to make new ones. What they may be looking for are romantic relationships.

    Obviously, what this guy did was boundary-pushing and what he did was violate the few boundaries you had stated and behaved very creepily. But the thing is this: given that older adults aren't out to "make more friends", and given that "mentoring" occurs in a completely different context, the only people you are likely to meet randomly in a park who start inviting you over to their house and taking you out to dinner are people who want to date you. So the answer to the question of, "is all men ever think about is sex and trying to get a woman into bed?" is "No." However, the men who aren't trying to do this are the ones that aren't randomly going up to lost-looking women in the park and aren't bringing near-strangers over to their houses and trying to convince them to sleep over while offering to give them "massages."

    All of the older men who aren't like that? They're the ones you didn't end up encountering, the ones who gave you directions and went about on their way, or the ones you encounter at school and work who keep things professional.

    It sounds a lot like you might be better off in a more controlled social environment, where your social life revolves more around peers and less hanging out with randoms you meet in the park and the weird habits of people you room with in apartments, and one where expectations and norms will be easier for you to understand and adapt to.
    posted by deanc at 6:11 AM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Hey it is ABSOLUTLEY creepy to make sexual passes at someone and pretend they aren't sexual. That is bullshit and anyone telling you this is not creepy is making this more needlessly complicated for you than it has to be.

    You've been groomed and trained by men, and probably some women who make excuses for shitty male behavior, to trust and accept men on their word in ways that are totally fucked up and lead you into being taken advantage of.

    It's not your fault, when they get a hold of you young most people are not skilled at seeing through it. If a man asks you to his house, he probably wants sex. If a man wants to be friends, he probably wants sex. Unwanted sexual advances can be overwhelming and really awful when you didn't want a relationship with someones and thought you could really be friends.

    Some women can be friends with men and stay platonic. For now, you can not. Do not be friends with men because you have "I don't see through predators" written on your forehead and predators see this plain as day. They will tell you ridiculous lies about how platonic their being and you will fall for it and they will push the game as far as they can, sometimes following through on platonic, sometimes pushing your boundaries just to see how that works and what they can get away with.

    You SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS when men are approaching you or "befriending" you. These instincts ARE GOOD. When you think a guy is hitting on you TRUST YOURSELF NOT HIM. Yes, if it seems like a man is hitting on you he is probably hitting on you. If you're not sure, assume he's hitting on you and stop interacting with him at all, unless you have to make a polite comment in a workplace/school situation but do not be friends with men who you think "might be" hitting on you.

    I feel for you. If someone had told me that yes, most men saying they will be your friend are lying and want sex it would have saved me so many horrible experiences and sexual abuse situations.
    posted by xarnop at 6:20 AM on May 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


    I absolutely think this guy was being creepy. Unfortunately, they usually don't wear signs and are good at spotting people who are vulnerable to their boundary pushing behavior.

    In an ideal world, you wouldn't have to deal with these situations. However, reading your posts, it seems that you consistently fail to trust your instincts and establish and communicate your boundaries. This doesn't make them any less creepy, but it doesn't mean you couldn't change your approach either. Just because people shouldn't behave badly doesn't mean you don't have an obligation to stand up for yourself.

    I am generally pretty trusting of people. However, I do have a firm rule -- if someone violates a firmly expressed boundary, they lose the benefit of the doubt. The only proper response to "don't touch me there" should be an apology and perhaps a discussion of how wires got crossed. Any attempt to invalidate my discomfort or further push is met with a severing of ties.

    You don't need to take self defense training (although it's never a bad idea.) What you do need to do is practice saying "I am not ok with this situation" and extricating yourself immediately.
    posted by snickerdoodle at 6:30 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I also remember telling him that I was and never would be interested in men my dad's age.

    Again, this just sort of assuming everyone has a certain mindset about age and dating. This man was pushy and disrespectful, that's not your fault at all. But 1) it's not inherently creepy for an older man to be attracted to a younger woman and 2) people don't really respond to those sort of general statements.

    People make "rules" for themselves all the time and then turn around and break them, especially if the right person comes along. Someone might say that would never date someone shorter than them, or sleep with someone on the second date and they meet someone they find amazing and that goes out the window. So when you say "I'd never do [something]" people don't always thinks that means them specifically.

    If you don't reject a person directly, they just won't take the hint. (Let's say you're 75% sure someone isn't attacted to "person X". If X is a stranger, you'd tell them to move on. But if X is you, you're more likely to fixate on the 25%, because that's the outcome you want.)

    It's hard to reject someone to their face. If you can't do that, the other viable alternative is to avoid them. But don't keep getting into intimate situations with them to be "nice". It's confusing for both parties, and puts you in a vunerable position if someone gets aggressive.
    posted by spaltavian at 6:54 AM on May 11, 2013


    I am a female in my 20's.

    Unfortunately, a 20-something female is the absolute peak of sexual desire for lots and lots of people- older guys, younger guys, ladies, whatever. In the early 20s it is common for a large percentage of girls/women to still be naive about this, however, by late 20s you typically develop a thick skin. I am just going to run through your question and tell you what I would have done.

    I met this guy in his 50's when I was kinda lost in a park.

    Any time I meet a guy old enough to be my dad, I automatically question/calculate his interest in me. Even if he's married, but especially if he's single. Middle aged guys don't have much that they get out of talking/friendship with people much younger. (generally) Doing a favor for me is an even bigger warning sign as many men see doing favors as sexual currency.

    He was very nice giving me directions etc, so we met up another day to have dinner.

    I would not have dinner with him, I would interpret any one on one dinner with a strange man as a date.

    I was new to the area, so I just wanted to make a new friend.

    This might have been fine, but I would have worked into conversation something like, "oh it would be great to have a new friend" huge emphasis on friend, asked about his wife, made sure dinner was public and brief, only talked about being new in town, etc. Still, almost any dinner is too date-like for me. Would have clarified "not a date" verbally at this point, using humor and politeness.


    We were going to go get pizza, but the restaurant was closed, so he drove me to his house to make pizza. I was very worried about going to his house alone, but I was too chickened out to speak up.


    Now this actually is some next-level creepy shit. He should not have pulled that last minute switch on you once you were in his car. Makes you look rude if you protest since you already agreed to dinner and I bet he knew you were uncomfortable and was being purposefully manipulative. Not cool. Speaking up here takes more than average courage and ability to not care if you come across as rude/ability to make good excuses on the fly. Not sure what I would have done, to be honest.

    He drank wine and couldn't drive me back, so I slept on his couch fearing the worst case scenario.

    Again, super fucking creepy or at the very least irresponsible. He knew he would have to drive you back, and got drunk anyway. That was planned, I bet you anything. My spidey sense would be freaking out at this point, I would have called a friend or a taxi. Always a good idea to let a friend know where you are, anyway.

    Turns out he didn't do anything, so I was very relieved and thought "Ok, he really wants to be just "friends," phew."

    This is not unreasonable for you to assume. Frankly, I might have assumed the same, after such a perfect set-up. But verbally clarifying, and still being a little on guard, would have been a good idea.

    we hung out a few times.... He even invited me to his friend's party, which was nice but I was unable to attend...he called me kid.

    Not creepy. Dont blame you for assuming it wasn't sexual at this point.

    Recently, I had a problem with my apartment and wanted to get a way for a few days, so I stayed over at his house for several days.

    This damsel in distress thing worries me, because of the aforementioned favors=sex thing many guys think.

    This time he was touching me at least once every hour... arms or shoulders, which I found a little annoying but didn't say anything.
    It escalated to my torso, thighs and butt, though lightly. At this point I say "What are you doing?! Stop!"
    Then he would jokingly say things like "But you have a nice butt!"


    WHOA. CREEP CREEP CREEP. Time to bail. I would have instantly reassess everything at this point and bailed out.

    I was annoyed but kept hoping there would be no more next time.

    Okay sorry but wtf? A guy doesn't just go backwards once the overtly sexual line has been crossed, IME.

    The reason I didn't leave at this point was because I thought he was joking around and never seriously saw me as a "woman." I mean, I am his daughters' age!

    Yeah this is where you fucked up. Butt touching = NO from now on, okay?

    After that it sounds like you were trapped into the weird massage thing because you had to stay at his place (damsel in distress) and his getting mad is a huge sign that he expected to be entitled to sex. Sounds like you and him mostly had a good conversation and clarified your confused intentions. I think where you went wrong is not drawing the line at butt touching, or at least having a big talk about that, but I understand when guys make it seem like "nothing" it can escalate. The whole massage thing is creepy and cowardly, btw. It's not wrong for an older guy to court you openly and honestly, but he was "sliding in" in a creepy plausibly deniable way that he should not have been, IMO.

    And yeah some of his creepy comments are a dead giveaway, I would have reacted with stony faced silence or gotten rude if a guy started talking about me "being big breasted when younger" or whatever creepy nonsense. Not friendly.
    posted by quincunx at 6:54 AM on May 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


    I have a friend who has a history of situations like this, except she ends up in relationships with the guy about half the time (and they never go well). If I'd never known her, I might be inclined to give the man in your question a bit more benefit of the doubt - although the whole "don't touch me"/"but I like touching you!" thing remains totally unacceptable. But knowing her, I have now seen this same situation play out again and again and again, and I've long since gone from seeing it as potentially innocent misunderstandings to seeing it as a very definite pattern of behaviour.

    Here are the things her guys always seem to have in common:

    - They are older than her, usually around 20 years older. They often see the age difference as a really positive thing, putting themselves in a father-type role and calling her things like "my little [name]"

    - They see themselves as 'old-fashioned' in terms of gender roles. To start with this looks like doing things like opening car doors for her; later on it often turns into them expressing some worrying views on things like, e.g., how women dress. There's usually an undercurrent of them expecting women in their lives to take on a caretaking role .

    - Related to the above: they have a near-universal belief that men do the chasing and women the being chased, that men push things in the direction of sex (although never explicitly asking!) while women act shocked and demure, and that this is just how relationships work. Think of it as the 'Baby It's Cold Outside' model of sexual relations. And I think they genuinely do believe this, it's not just an act - but I also think they're aware that many women don't, that they seek out situations where they get to put this dynamic into play without risking explicit stating of intentions and unambiguous rejection, and that consciously or otherwise they appreciate the plausible deniability this gives them ("but I thought you were interested!")

    - They always have a very painful breakup, a divorce, or the death of a wife/partner, to which they attribute a lot of their actions and attitudes in relationships. And again I don't think they're lying about this, either the event itself or the pain it continues to cause them. But they also have a tendency to use it in a manipulative way - e.g, one guy bringing up the bad breakup and being inconsolably upset about it every time my friend tried to have a serious 'where are we going with this?' type of conversation, and another who wanted him to call her for hours every single night and the one time she said she was out with friends, phoned her to say he'd just been thinking about his wife's death 15 years before and didn't know how he could go on living. So when you mention this guy bringing up missing his wife in the context of a conversation about him touching you when you didn't want him to, that rang very familiar bells for me.

    And as for my friend? She's intelligent but naive in a lot of ways, plays up to these guys' expectations of her role but is genuinely shocked when it turns out their intentions weren't platonic, has been taught from a young age that her wishes and desires don't matter as much as what other people want from her, and is very very bad at drawing boundaries around what she is and isn't comfortable with from others. These situations with these guys always end up causing massive pain and turmoil in her life. Don't be her.

    I hesitate to use the word predatory, with her guys or with your guy, because people read it as malicious or potential-rapist and I don't think that's the case here. But I do believe that there are men out there who have a sixth sense or something for women who will put up with this kind of boundary-crossing, manipulative, "oh sure I said it wasn't sexual but it's your fault for not knowing it was!" bullshit. Establish your own comfort levels and boundaries and don't be ashamed to enforce them, and guys like this will stop being a problem in your life.
    posted by Catseye at 7:17 AM on May 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


    He drank wine and couldn't drive me back, so I slept on his couch fearing the worst case scenario.
    Turns out he didn't do anything, so I was very relieved and thought "Ok, he really wants to be just "friends," phew."


    You've already gotten a lot of good advice about setting boundaries and being clearer about your own intentions and the messages that you might unwittingly be sending, and I hope you take some of it, but I wanted to address the above point in particular.

    It seems like you believe that unless somebody tries to "do something" to you on the first night when they have you in a vulnerable position they have no interest in you romantically. This is emphatically not true. There are plenty of decent men who would respect your boundaries and who would not put you in a "worst case scenario" while you were sleeping over but who might still be interested in you as a romantic partner.

    Please don't assume that somebody is not interested in you just because they have not molested you, or that somebody molesting you is a sign that they are interested in being more than friends. Neither of those things is true, and both of them can lead to you being in situations you don't want to be in. I'm not saying that you are to blame for what happened in the situation you describe, but only that you might find it helpful to think about your beliefs around how men show interest in you.
    posted by gauche at 7:20 AM on May 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


    Just by the way, even if you were dating someone and they asked you to do something physical/sexual that you didn't want to do and you said no (as you should!), their proper response would be, "Oh, okay." If you seemed upset, they might also ask what's wrong. Getting mad at you or trying to talk you into it are simply not acceptable, even if the thing they want is something you've done a dozen times before. No means no, and anyone who doesn't understand that is not a safe person to be involved with.
    posted by teremala at 7:20 AM on May 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


    "He also sometimes called me "Kid" and offered me advice on life-problems, which I appreciated because I had kinda missed having a father-like figure after becoming distant with my dad."

    If you're an attractive women there is NO OLDER MAN who can realistically do this for you while being intimate in the way you're wanting. You are a non-biological, non reared with female and men will naturally be attracted to you. You can not replace dad and have the daughter father relationship you wish had existed where there is lot's of love and physical closeness but no sex.

    Therapy is the closest you can come to this (choose a male therapist) but this is a burden that almost every man, even if he THINKS he can pull it off is going to fail at because people are horny and that's a normal ok thing. It takes raising someone from a prepubescent age to really pull of forming a platonic father daughter relationship.

    Even step parent situations, and teen mentors are highly at risk of becoming sexual interested in their mentee if they really try to get that physical closeness and love that a father daughter would have. This is why you don't see teen girls sitting in men's laps the way a kid would. Things change as you get older even in a normal father daughter relationship. You would not give your dad a massage while he was wearing his boxers. EVER.

    Men are lying to you, but you're also lying to yourself to keep going with a form of intimacy that is not really possible. The dream scenario you want is not a real thing that can happen, and 50 year old men understand you better than you understand you which puts you at a horrible disadvantage given your issues. Also, men are often lying to themselves which ads to how believable they sound. They THINK they really can be platonic with you, but they only are bothering to try to have "platonic intimacy" with you because they are already attracted. The failure is innate to the set up.

    While the suggestions that you "get therapy" are good they can also come across as insulting and I want to make it clear you need help with this because you're a normal person who has been groomed in a really unhealthy way by the lack of parenting and the people who filled the gaps.

    I have been in therapy since I was 15 and if "going to therapy" innately fixed this I wouldn't have had years of abuse that happened WHILE I WAS IN THERAPY. You don't really need "therapy" you need straightforward education about what is creepy and isn't in male behavior towards you. Working on your feelings about your father is not going to magically produce this knowledge. I would suggest you read at scarleteen and other female empowerment sites, call your local woman's shelter and ask for a therapist that is skilled at working with a long history of grooming and sexual abuse, specifically about how to establish healthy relationships and cope with your absent father-daughter relationship in ways that do not involve men.

    Again you can talk about your feelings in therapy all you want and it won't solve THIS, you need to specifically ask your therapist to walk with you through your thinking in these situations and reframe how you approach men and their behavior in your life. Therapy is useless if you're not with someone who knows the right technique for your specific needs or how to identify you're needs. You can up your chances of success by being as knowledgeable as you can and seeking the right kind of therapy and understanding yourself as well as you can.

    I would also suggest doing some reading about boundaries, boundary pushers and how to get more confidant with keeping and respecting your own boundaries.

    Yes Means Yes blog might be more good reading about the nuance of boundaries and consent.

    That means not giving a fuck if you accidentally mislabel a "nice guy" as creepy. You owe NO ONE your trust or the assumption they are trustworthy. You got here inthe first place by worrying about men's feelings and being to afraid to hurt a man's feelings. It's time you start worrying about not letting them hurt yours. Not only that, it's your JOB to look out for yourself in this world of predators and shitty "well meaning" self deluded people. Your job is not to take care of men's feelings about whether they are creepy or not.
    posted by xarnop at 7:30 AM on May 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


    And, reading between the lines of this and other questions you have asked, I want to add my voice to those encouraging you to seek therapy around the issue of intimacy with others. As an adult, intimacy very much requires strong boundaries if it is not to include romantic or sexual intimacy.

    It seems to me as though you very much want to find intimacy and closeness with people without including romance and sex -- indeed, it seems as though the thought of sex and romance alarm you and make you uncomfortable, which might also be worth talking about in therapy -- and it also seems to me that you are not especially practiced at setting the kind of boundaries that you are going to have to set in order to find this kind of closeness in a way that is safe for you.

    It's okay. You are okay. There's nothing wrong with you. But in order to get the closeness that you seem to want, without also letting in the romance which you seem not to want, I think you are going to have to learn how to have strong boundaries and deliberate, mindful control of the messages you send. This takes practice and time: it is not something that we are born knowing. But a good therapist can help you a lot with these things.

    Good luck.
    posted by gauche at 7:43 AM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    I feel like I'm going to keep running into more creepiness with men. Is it just me or does this happen a lot?

    It's not just you. As a woman, dealing with creepy men is a fact of life. From the one-off leering dude on the street to this kind of messy situation to much worse. You shouldn't have to deal with it, but you do. Over time you'll get so much better at shutting it down quickly, and you'll think back and wish you'd had those skills in these earlier years, but don't forget that it's not your fault and you shouldn't have to deal with it at all.

    But still, most guys aren't creepy. How much they think about sex doesn't matter as much as whether they respect your boundaries. Focus on what YOU want first. Then find out if they want that too.

    Maybe you're not into older guys. Maybe that's because of some drama with your dad, or maybe not, whatever. It doesn't matter WHY you like and don't like things, especially when it comes to dating and sex. You're allowed. "Eh, just not that into it" is PLENTY reason. And others need to respect that.

    No matter what situation you're in, no matter what you've agreed to so far in the interaction, no matter how much you've led him on or given mixed signals, no matter what your reasons are for ANY of it, you're always, ALWAYS allowed to say "stop" or "no" to anyone at any time. You don't have to be accommodating, or nice, or polite, or not rude. You don't have to put others before yourself. We're so socialized to think that's what we have to do, and that's fine if a dude with a cane needs your seat on the train, but when it comes to anyone wanting more than you're enthusiastically willing to give of your emotions, attentions, or BODY? It's YOUR CALL. No one has the right to ignore your wishes in this arena.

    And there are SO MANY people out there who respect that and you're going to think they're great and vice versa. Don't give up on people, but start with yourself first.
    posted by lampoil at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


    Also on the "is it just me" thing, creepy men tend to target women who have vulnerabilities and that's a large portion of females who have a LOT of experience with tons of creepy guys whereas some women have no experience with creepy guys. Rather, they know the same guys but creepy guys don't try the same thing with them and often manage to come across looking innocent and good in the eyes of women they don't do this shit too adding to the headfuck of feeling like you're the only one it's happening to when everyone else thinks these guys are "nice" and you just suck, that's why they treat you bad. This is a cultural failing more than an individual failing in my opinion (and that cultural failing is siding with people who hurt vulnerable people rather than the vulnerable person.)
    posted by xarnop at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


    Also a sincere apology that I kept saying "creepy" where I should have set my boundaries more clearly and quickly.

    For future reference, it's this kind of response you need to rein in if you want to better establish boundaries. Imagine the following scenario:

    Guy: Hey kid, your butt looks amazing in those pants.
    You: Please don't say things like that, it's creepy.
    Guy: Hey! Don't call me creepy, I'm just trying to be your friend.
    You: Oh, goodness, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.
    Guy: It's okay, no offense taken. Now, what were we talking about? Oh yes, that incredible butt of yours...

    See what I mean?

    I think there are three different possibilities here: either this man had no idea you were uncomfortable with his advances and thought you might have liked him, or he knew you were uncomfortable and thought he could persuade you to warm up to him, or he knew you were uncomfortable and just didn't care because he figured there'd be a point where you'd stop pushing back. The creepiness level increases with each scenario, and by the last one it's off the scale.

    The best way to cut off ambiguously creepy behavior at the pass is to say no as soon as you're uncomfortable with something. Most people are not creepy! Most people will respect a straightforward "no." And stick by that no; don't change your answer if the other person seems upset or offended. You can be sorry you upset them, but that doesn't mean you should change your answer.

    Also, there's an elephant in the room here: you mention that English isn't your first language, and, if you're living in an English-speaking country, well... some people have gross prejudices about people from other parts of the world. Some people might assume you're more submissive or less likely to stand up for yourself. Just another thing to keep in mind.
    posted by Metroid Baby at 8:23 AM on May 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


    My jaw dropped when you mentioned going home with this man without knowing him. I thought the next thing you were going to write was that he assaulted you that first night. Please don't go home with people you have just met. It's a very dangerous situation. I felt anxious just reading your post.

    You might want to start working under the assumption that men who invite you to their places so soon after meeting are creeps until they prove to you otherwise.

    Note: Anyone who forces himself on your or tries to force himself on you is a creep or far worse and it would be in no way your fault if someone assaulted you.
    posted by parakeetdog at 9:27 AM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


    Whoa there. I didn't read through all the replies yet and I am sure there is already plenty of good advice here.

    But it sounds to me that you repeatedly(!) let a man much older than you violate your boundaries (massaging him when you didn't want to?? tolerating his overtly sexual comments?? letting him touch you??)

    There are creepy men all over the place, and non-creepy ones too, and the trick is to learn how to say very clearly and directly when one of them is all up in your space, "Please get away from me because you are making me uncomfortable." It is not rude or impolite or an imposition on anyone for you to feel uncomfortable and to voice that you feel that way.

    You would have been free at any point to not stay at his house, not meet him at his house in the first place (if there are mental bells ringing telling you it's probably not safe, then it is probably not safe), and not to let him treat you like his little Lolita. You have a lot of power in this situation that I think you seriously need to tap into. (This is coming from a place of care and concern.) And yes, if anyone else asks you to do basically anything that he did, that is creepy and you should practice exercising your personal boundaries the next time it happens.
    posted by mermily at 9:42 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    creepy men tend to target women who have vulnerabilities and that's a large portion of females who have a LOT of experience with tons of creepy guys whereas some women have no experience with creepy guys.

    Also, in my experience creepy guys tend to target women who have vulnerabilities, in general, not just emotional ones. (Though that helps of course.)

    When I was in my early 20's, a broke student, with few resources or people I could lean on in hard times, I used to have a lot of run-ins with guys like the man you describe, MiuMiu.

    It's kind of amazing how, the second I got a real job that paid my bills and kept me in a stable home where I felt safe, all these older guys who wanted to "mentor" me disappeared.
    posted by Sara C. at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


    You know I'm going to counter the advice to tell potentially creepy people "please stop being creepy" that an even better response is likely to get away from and avoid them immediately instead of giving them a chance to override your understandable reaction. Creepy people canbe dangerous and most people start getting defensive and jerky when told they are creepy so you need to be well prepared to deal with the aftermath of telling people things like this .You might build up the strength to get to where you can stand up to potentially creepy people in this way, but it's perfectly ok to think in your head "Yeah this person might be being creepy and I want out of here" and just disengage without giving them a chance to keep lying to you and acting like everything's fine/platonic/not creepy when deep down you know they are interested/trying and you're not wanting to go there.


    You can get sexual feelings for men! They can have sexual feelings for you! You can even date each other and act on those feelings! But for you, it's likely going to be important to keep male friendships to very structured activities and make dating a very open explicit thing. Don't hang out alone with male friends. Assume when males ask you out "as friends" they are likely thinking of "Friends with possibilities" rather than "friends who will NEVER EVER HAVE SEXUAL FEELINGS EVER AND THAT'S FINAL". The friend to boyfriend routine is a dating style some people use and there is nothing wrong with it but it's likely to be really confusing for you if your expectation of male friendships is that they never have sexual feelings or they are innately creepy (this is not reasonable or healthy thinking, it IS reasonable to ask they act with honesty and integrity about it). And friendships with guys are more often than not GOING to involve one or both of you having sexual feelings. It's going to be there and you're going to need to know how to deal with it.

    I'm glad you asked this question and I REALLY REALLY hope the many good answers will help.
    posted by xarnop at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    As I've gotten older I've realized that no matter how unlikely or inappropriate, if I think a guy is hitting on me, I'm almost certainly right. I don't need to necessarily do anything about it, but I do need to note it and avoid compromising situations.

    I think when I was youger I would talk myself out of acknowledging what was right in front of my face. So and so can't be hitting on me, he's so much older than me and happily married to his great wife, I'm just imagining that his sexual jokes and him constantly trying to get me drunk is more than just a friendly gesture.

    And don't even get me started on the late night massages. You'd think I'd bought a groupon for unlimited massages that was only good past midnight and now everyone is coming over to pony up.

    So listen to your gut and stop trying to deny things you know to be true just because you don't want them to be. It sucks when men older than your father hit on you. It sucks when you realize that guy who you thought was a great friend actually is just trying to use you to get some action on the side. But hiding from the truth won't make it any less true. You knew on some level almost immediately this guy was after more than just friendship. In the future immediately distance yourself and draw clear boundaries or disengage entirely.
    posted by whoaali at 10:16 AM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Thank you again everybody for all these many many comments!! I'm very happy to read them and appreciate everyone's input! Sorry, I'm still reading through, but I just remembered something to share if anyone cares to read it :)

    Dear quincunx,

    "Doing a favor for me is an even bigger warning sign as many men see doing favors as sexual currency."


    That totally rings a bell!
    Once I thanked him for something (I forgot what), and he was like, "It's all good. As long as you take care of me, I take care of you, you know what I mean?"
    I thought, "Huh? I take care of him? Oh maybe he meant all the (real) chores I was doing around his house..."

    Another time, I asked him if I could wash my shoes in his washing machine. Then he says,
    "What?! That's pretty weird... you can, but you owe me biiiiiig time!!"
    After that is when he got mad at me refusing to hand-massage him :/
    posted by MiuMiu at 10:38 AM on May 11, 2013


    Never get into a car with someone the first time you hang out with them.
    Never go to a new place with someone the first time you hang out with them.
    Especially, don't go to someone's house/apt/hotel the first time you hang out with them.

    Getting directions in a park, meeting in line at a grocery store, etc, is not actually hanging out and doesn't count as "first time".

    You were taking dangerous risks. Please make a rule for yourself that you won't do those things again.

    I agree with others that you should learn to be more assertive. However, I know that can be very difficult and may need to be a long term project. In the meantime, perhaps you can find ways of saying "no" that feel non confrontational and which you can repeat over and over if needed. Things like "I don't feel well, I have to go home".

    Almost any man who is trying to spend time alone with you does want to have sex with you. Not always immediately (often enough, though), but sooner or later. He might also want to be your genuine friend, do fun stuff together, help you out when you're in a bind--but yes, he wants to have sex. You should not expect to have one on one friendships with men without some sexual interest on their part.
    posted by mattu at 11:03 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    So listen to your gut and stop trying to deny things you know to be true just because you don't want them to be.

    This. There's nothing wrong with your instincts at all; from your narrative, you picked up every red flag he was throwing off. But you didn't want them to be true, so you buried your head in the sand until things were too bad to ignore anymore.
    posted by like_a_friend at 11:11 AM on May 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


    Already been brought up, but I'm just going to chime in that reading The Gift of Fear would be a good idea for you. Don't second-guess yourself; if something seems off, it's probably off. It doesn't mean most guys are like this. Just that some are.
    posted by RainyJay at 12:22 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    "I found a little annoying but didn't say anything."
    For the record, there are some men who take advantage of this...some women, for whatever reason, are afraid to assert themselves, they think they're being rude if they do, etc etc. And as a result some (not all) men will exploit this mindset..."Well, I did X and she didn't yell at me to stop." If you are not used to being assertive in questionable situations, it will take some effort on your part, and you might feel uncomfortable or like you're hurting the man's feelings or something (because he can't possibly really be thinking of you in "that" way - you're just misunderstanding his words/touches) but this is something you are going to have to learn just for the simple purpose of keeping yourself safe. If you find yourself in a similar situation in the future, force yourself to ask questions: "Why would you ask me to do X (massage him, whatever)? I don't understand." Put the onus of explanation on him, and then counter with your own feelings/take on the situation. If he says that he finds himself attracted to you, you reply (if you don't have similar feelings) "I'm sorry if I mislead you, but I honestly don't have any romantics feelings for you whatsoever. I thought we were just platonic friends." You might have to be that blunt, but it will get easier with practice.
    posted by Oriole Adams at 1:08 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


    MiuMiu, you strike me as someone who is probably extremely physically attractive, pleasant or sweet or charismatic, and very feminine in demeanor. I suspect this is the root of your problem. That was me for a long time. It sounds to me like what may be happening is this:

    If you have always been cute and adorable all your life, people meet you and are immediately "nice" and generous, ready to help, ready to give you the shirt off their back and thrilled to spend time with you. Since almost everyone responds to you this way, you think this is "normal" behavior. It really isn't. It is quite rare and privileged to constantly be treated this way. But you never got the memo. This is your norm. You don't know anything else.

    As long as you know them only briefly, it isn't a problem that you have no idea you are getting special treatment. You breeze through town, someone sees you have some small problem and enthusiastically gives you the shirt off their back and you think "my, the world is just full of nice people!" and it's all good. You only run into trouble after you have known someone for a while and they get tired of giving you the shirt off their back on a regular basis while not getting enough in return and they grow tired of your assumption that everyone should do stuff like that for you. They start feeling you are taking advantage and you are a spoiled brat and you owe them etc. And then things get ugly and you feel disappointed because they stop being nice and the world stops matching your rose-colored view of things. And you are baffled because you don't know where things went wrong. You don't realize that your assumptions and expectations are quite privileged. Everyone does this to you. It seems perfectly normal to you. You know nothing else.

    I had to get extremely ill and go through lengthy public withdrawal from medication (thus routinely making an ass of myself) to figure out that, no, the world is not full of nice people just being nice because it is the right thing to do. People are nice to me because of my charisma or something -- because being around me makes them feel good in a life that probably feels pretty crappy most of the time. (At least at first. They don't usually want to know the deeper story.)

    In other words, they want something from me. I eventually learned to view that initial effusiveness with skepticism and see it as dangerous. Yes, if the person is male, the eventual outcome may be sexual desire for me.

    It may be true that "lots of men are creeps." I have been molested and raped, so I know firsthand that men can do things they should not do. But your problem won't improve by blaming them and ranting about how they should behave better. Your problem will only improve when you figure out the pattern of interaction that leads to these messes and then do something different on your end. Wherever you go, there you are. You are the one constant in your life. Changing your choices is more in your control and more effective than wishing other people would change.

    I dress plainer than I used to. I wear no makeup and no jewelry. I try to turn down the wattage on my charm. But the single biggest thing I have changed is that I don't accept it every time someone effusively offers me the shirt off their back. I turn down a lot of "favors" and reject a lot of praise, not out of humbleness but out of an instinct for self preservation. I have run into too many situations where I learned later that it was their last shirt or they stole that shirt or something -- that the price was too high, they really should not have given it to me and there will be hell to pay.

    I also keep my mouth shut a whole lot. I have had too many ugly incidents where I protested that I was being overcharged only to learn that, no, this is the normal price and I have been getting a discount. Every single freaking time I bought that meal. And it is inevitable that there are witnesses to me accidentally outing them and that's a real problem for them, like a threat to their job or whatever. So they are understandably pretty upset that after doing me so many favors I am now harming them. But I had no idea I was getting a favor. No one ever told me. I thought that was the normal price.

    So I suspect you accept a lot of generosity from people without thinking too much about it and at some point it comes back to bite you. You don't mean to take advantage or exploit them. As far as you know, this is completely "normal" because, for you, it is a routine thing for people to respond that way to you. And you don't feel you "owe" them because you did not ask. You just didn't say "no" when it was offered, possibly in part because you do not wish to be rude.

    Which is a long way of trying to make my earlier point in my previous reply: When men feed you, let you stay at their place and otherwise expend resources on you, they will feel owed. If you want to genuinely be friends, you need to say "no" to things like that. You can't control it that other people may continue to think you are adorable, react effusively at meeting you and keep trying to do things for you. But you can say "No thank you. I have enough shirts." when someone yet again whips the shirt off their back and insists you take it.

    I don't know anything else that works. I still get these weird reactions from people who have just met me thirty seconds ago and are thrilled to pieces to meet me and yadda. It still sometimes benefits me, even materially. But I am very mindful of not inadvertently taking advantage. It isn't perfect but I run into a lot less trouble than I used to of the sort you seem to have.

    Best of luck, whatever the answer turns out to be.
    posted by Michele in California at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2013 [19 favorites]


    Rule of thumb for hanging out with people who might possibly develop some extremely unrequited crush on you (even if they are your dad's age):
    Hang out in public
    -Don't go to their house on your own for dinner unless they are having a party and plenty of other people will be there.
    -Don't sleep over at their house unless severe weather conditions have closed the roads.

    Oh, and always keep $20 in your purse for a cab (or whatever your typical fare would be).
    posted by donut_princess at 2:52 PM on May 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


    I'll also add to donut_princess' excellent ground rules:

    If a man you don't know well asks any of the above of you, it is safe to assume that says something about what his intentions are.

    Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's perfectly fine to take a man up on his offer to go back to his place if you want to have sex with him. But a man who doesn't want to have sex with you won't invite you over to hang out one on one. If you want to send a strong signal that sex is not on the table, it's expected that you will politely decline invitations like this.
    posted by Sara C. at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    I don't think that you need to turn down your charm wattage or deliberately make yourself less attractive, but I would gently suggest that you wise up a bit. Grownups can get lost, but after they ask for and receive directions from a kind stranger, they thank that person and go on their way. The kind stranger is not a new friend, uncle or benevolent mentor. If you think you're attracting more than your fair share of creeps, you might take a look at how you present yourself--do you appear and act like a naive, trusting, adorable young girl? Or a responsible, resourceful woman? Good relationships with ex-beaus doesn't automatically happen, and I'm not sure why you would think that you should have those sorts of relationships.
    I think this particular guy wasn't trying to read whatever signals you were sending out, but in the future, you might try being more direct. And take a self-defense class.
    posted by Ideefixe at 4:05 PM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


    I was very worried about going to his house alone, but I was too chickened out to speak up.

    This is the sentence that makes me worry about you the most. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER be too chickened (or worried about being rude or anything like that) about something like this. If you don't want to go to a guy's house alone just don't go. Just say something like, "Yeah I'm not really into that idea, let's find a different restaurant." Guys know they could be pushing it by asking something like that (even if they mean it totally innocently) and nice guys will let it go if you say no. If someone ever doesn't let it go then you were probably right to not go back to their house alone in the first place.
    posted by magnetsphere at 4:41 PM on May 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


    1) it's not inherently creepy for an older man to be attracted to a younger woman

    It's not wrong for a young woman to be creeped out by an older man's attraction to her. There is nothing obligating you to feel flattered, positive, or even neutral about anyone's sexual attraction to you. You are allowed to feel very negative and creeped out by it if that is the way it rings to you. I'm sure there are men or women from whom attraction would feel comfortable, natural, and pleasurable to you. There is a distinction and just as these men are "allowed" to be attracted to you, you're allowed to be very unattracted to them. Or even disgusted, actually. It's a natural human emotion. (Just like "horniness.")

    I dated an older man when I was very young and vulnerable, he was my "mentor," and it was quite bad in the end. He helped me out financially from time to time (and seemed to quite enjoy it) and when we broke up, he asked if he could still help me out for "something in return." When that comes from someone you felt you had a genuine relationship with... it's awful. It's not a good feeling to know that someone you really cared about was mostly into you for your youth and body, to the point that he's willing to say something incredibly offensive to you. Would most adult women be okay with a man telling them that "she owes him"? That if he washes her shoes, she better... give him a naked massage? (No! He's preying on your youth and childlike relation to him.) It's true that sometimes people do find love with someone much older/younger than them, but it's the exception, not the norm. Just because men get horny around you doesn't mean you have to like it or accept their boundary-pushing behavior as normal.

    I think most men who were being aggressively hit on by a woman they didn't find attractive would feel very similarly. In fact, if a older woman were hitting on them aggressively and repeatedly drawing attention to the age difference and seemingly taking advantage of their naivete and lack of experience... well, of course that would be creepy, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. There is an enormous void between "being attracted to someone" and making that attraction uncomfortably (or even harassingly) obvious. If this man had been attracted to you but hadn't done anything creepy or socially unacceptable I doubt you would have felt the need to ask a question here. You probably wouldn't have ever had to think about it.
    posted by stoneandstar at 7:47 PM on May 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


    It's not wrong for a young woman to be creeped out by an older man's attraction to her.

    I disagree. There's nothing about someone's age that makes attraction creepy, if you're both adults. A woman has a right not to be attracted to anyone, but that's nothing to be creeped by.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 PM on May 11, 2013


    There's nothing about someone's age that makes attraction creepy, if you're both adults.

    I think that's subjective. When people couple with people younger than their children, I tend to find it creepy. You may not. "Creepy" is subjective.
    posted by DarlingBri at 11:09 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


    [Answer the question directly or go to the Meta thread already in progress please.]
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:13 PM on May 11, 2013


    While I completely agree with the consensus of these answers, I do have one small addendum:

    When telling someone to back off and stop touching you or anything similar, there really isn't any need to ask them to 'please stop': leave off any politenesses like that 'please', and just bluntly TELL them --- not ever-so-nicely ASK them! --- 'Stop touching me'. Period. No need whatsoever for pleases or thank yous, just a bald Stop Doing That.

    There is a time and place for being friendly and polite, and telling someone to get their hands off you isn't it.
    posted by easily confused at 2:24 AM on May 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


    There have been studies that show that men will often misinterpret a woman being friendly with as a sign that she is sexually interested.

    This has often been my experience and is one of the most frustrating things about communication differences between men and women. In my early 20s, I got into many uncomfortable situations with men after I was being my normal friendly self with them.

    I disagree with many people above saying 'trust your instincts'. Unfortunately, you may find that you need to force yourself to be a little less friendly, a little more abrupt and a little more firm than your normally friendly self would act around strangers - so that your signals do not get misinterpreted.

    It sucks, and I hate this, but it is a phenomenon.
    posted by Pademelon at 7:03 AM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


    Just chiming in at the end to say I'm glad the tide of answers turned somewhere toward the middle of this thread to suggest that yes, this man's behavior was off-putting and creepy. This is a person who was ignoring and dismissing your physical discomfort, expecting you to talk to him about sex and getting hostile when you didn't, and displaying some seriously manipulative behavior.

    His age is only the creepy factor here in that there are serious power imbalances going on that he was most likely aware of, and that it appears he was taking advantage of. A respectful older man who is interested in you will be cautious, make every effort to make you feel comfortable and keep situations low-stakes and escapable, take it slowly, communicate openly, and respect your feelings--all with a mind to the power imbalances at work. There are pretty clear reasons an older man is interested in a young girl, and they usually don't involve being at the same stage in life, shared cultural experiences and values, etc. This is why it's all the more important that such a relationship is approached respectfully, openly, and cautiously.

    Echoing, however, that your blind trust and naivete is pretty alarming; this is how people quickly get into dangerous situations--excessive deference, trust, and a desire not to hurt feelings. I know from experience it can be hard to take command of a situation like that. If it's just the two of you, it's easy to just think you're being unreasonable. But your feelings of discomfort and fear override his desire to be around you. You overvalued his feelings and undervalued your own. Work on trusting your instincts and listening to yourself. Nthing you should look into some material on feminism, and also recommend The Gift of Fear--though I haven't read it myself, it looks applicable.

    Good luck, and try not to shame yourself about this--you made some half-hearted attempts to express yourself, which were semi-ignored. Work on turning yourself from a lamb into a lion!
    posted by aintthattheway at 7:58 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


    Hey MiuMiu, just another point I wanted to add after thinking on this some more. I see it's been touched on a bit in this thread already, but I wanted to emphasise it in light of my earlier answer because it's a big thing and one you might not be giving yourself enough credit for.

    It seems to me like your instincts are working fine, for the most part. They're giving you all the right information - "this doesn't feel right", "this feels unsafe", "I don't totally believe what this guy is telling me". The problem comes in when you overrule those instincts and tell yourself that what you're feeling isn't valid.

    The friend I talked about above, the one who ends up in very similar situations, does this too - she doesn't trust her own discomfort, and she discounts her own reactions whenever they clash with what these guys expect from her. In her case it's because this is what she's been taught to believe by some bad circumstances in her own life - that her instincts and comfort levels don't matter, that whatever these guys want from her (which she usually reads as 'friendship' or 'friendship + harmless flirting' or 'support' or 'company' to start with, to the endless exasperation of all her friends) is something they get to define, so if she's uncomfortable with any part of it then she's probably feeling the wrong thing and it would be tremendously rude of her to object. She has a pretty extreme case of it, but a lot of women are socialised to feel and act this way to one degree or another.

    What I see from your question here is time after time when your instincts read the situation the right way, and then you overrode them, either because you thought they were wrong or because you thought it would be rude of you to object to something this guy thought was reasonable:

    We were going to go get pizza, but the restaurant was closed, so he drove me to his house to make pizza. I was very worried about going to his house alone, but I was too chickened out to speak up.

    It is never wrong to say "No, thanks" when someone invites you back to their place, regardless of whether they're offering to make you dinner. "No, thanks" doesn't mean "I think you're a rapist", or "I hate your pizza", or whatever. It is not an insult to the other person. Nobody worth eating pizza with would have any problem, at all, with you speaking up here.

    He drank wine and couldn't drive me back, so I slept on his couch fearing the worst case scenario.

    Your instincts were telling you 'watch out!' here, and rightly so (he didn't drink the wine by accident - you interpreted the 'oh whoops, looks like you're stuck at my place now!' as a potential threat, and were on alert accordingly). But again, you didn't trust those instincts enough to let them govern your behaviour - you didn't call a taxi, you just slept on the couch in fear.

    At this point I say "What are you doing?! Stop!"
    Then he would jokingly say things like "But you have a nice butt!"
    I was annoyed but kept hoping there would be no more next time.
    The reason I didn't leave at this point was because I thought he was joking around and never seriously saw me as a "woman." I mean, I am his daughters' age!


    You spoke up - and good for you in speaking up! - but even though it made you uncomfortable, even though he made it clear he didn't have a problem with it and didn't sound like he was planning to stop, you didn't leave "because I thought he was joking around". But, you know, even if he had been joking around, even if he didn't see you in a sexual sense at all, it would still not have been okay for him to keep touching your butt after you'd asked him to stop. You're willing to read his behaviour in the best light possible, but unwilling to see your own discomfort as 100% valid and worth acting on further no matter what his motivations are. You trusted him more than you trust yourself.

    I was like "Why don't you do it yourself?"
    He said something like "Because I can concentrate on the relaxation when someone else does it."
    I thought "Fair enough" and did it unwillingly because I was staying at his house and considered this task like cleaning the dishes. I thought he didn't have any sexual intentions.


    As above re: not thinking he had any sexual intentions, but also: you were uncomfortable with this and unwilling to do it, but you did it anyway because he seemed to be expecting it of you. This is not the same as cleaning the dishes. You do not owe anybody any kind of intimate touch because you're staying at their house. And your instincts were already telling you "woah, no, this is not what I want to be doing here" - but you overruled them.

    So your internal alarm bells are functioning perfectly fine! You just don't trust them, and don't think they count as valid when there's a risk you might inadvertently offend someone else who wants something from you. But your instincts, they're working just like they should be.

    I really think it's worth you looking into assertiveness training, whether that's in the form of classes or online resources or self-help books or whatever. You deserve better than you're willing to grant yourself right now.
    posted by Catseye at 5:21 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


    One last thought:

    You mentioned doing "chores" around his house. Men in general seem to routinely expect housework from a girlfriend. Older men seem to especially view this as "wifely" behavior. You probably do it as a caring thing to do, because you are friends. Perhaps you even like cooking or whatever.

    But household chores are a big problem socially: A clean home and good diet are extremely valuable in real terms because of their impact on health and quality of life but they are poorly paid and come with extremely low social status. Doing chores for other people, especially when you are essentially getting money/material goods from them in exchange, makes you their "bitch." Once you have ever so politely agreed to be their bitch, the odds are incredibly high they will develop unreasonable expectations and have no real respect for you. Thus, abuse of some sort becomes very likely.

    I was a homemaker for many years. I also did things like took care of other people after they had surgery and played nanny (without pay) etc for people I cared about. The result was not love, adoration, etc. The result is no one has any respect for my opinion, I am viewed as helpless, incompetent, and someone who should do as I am told. Yes, in some cases I benefitted materially (though not necessarily more than other people who did none of those things). I don't necessarily regret what I did but I am working hard at walking away from being everybody's bitch. Taking care of everyone because I care so deeply, blah blah blah, mostly does not get reciprocated. These days, I am much more inclined to feel "they can hire a maid/cook/nanny/whatever or do it themselves if it matters to them."

    So when people realize on some probably subconscious level that you are doing something they highly benefit from and need and do not wish to lose and it is low status, servant type work, they are extremely unlikely to want to let you go and are also extremely unlikely to want to treat you with any respect at all.

    I strongly suggest you stop doing chores for "friends," especially older male friends. Even if they don't decide they have the hots for you, the result is very likely to be something socially undesirable. If you like cooking, taking care of people, etc, please consider becoming a chef or nurse or the like. Stop giving it away as an expression of how much you care. It most likely will only come back to bite you.
    posted by Michele in California at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


    If you want to check out some books on being more assertive, checking out the reviews on Amazon is a good way to go. You can always see if your library has them if you're short on funds.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=assetiveness
    posted by stray thoughts at 5:48 AM on May 14, 2013


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