Help me explain to my boyfriend that I want to walk home alone at night
November 21, 2014 3:15 PM   Subscribe

My bf doesn't like it when I walk home from my job alone, at night. I am a woman. It's not that he won't allow me to, he just thinks it's a bad idea and urges me not to or to carry pepper spray if I do. I had been doing this for over a year before I met him, and want to explain to him why these warnings against it (which I get from others as well) are patronizing and annoying. Or maybe I really am being irresponsible?

I live in an extremely, extremely low crime area, i.e., pleasant suburbs. The walk in question is 1 mile, well-lit, with sidewalks. I like it because I work part-time as a waitress and my walk home on nights I work always gives me time to have peace and quiet, unwind, get some fresh air and relax. Also because I work as a waitress, I work shifts that end around 11, so my walks home are always at night.

I chafes a bit to have someone issuing me these warnings, because I am an almost 30-year old independent adult. I still do it even though I know he doesn't like it. It chafes me on feminist grounds, as I've (and many other women) heard these admonitions for all kinds of "unsafe" behaviors all through my life. If I told him, "I'm going to keep walking home, and that's that" he would drop it. He's a wonderful person and I know this comes from a place of concern, not control. I just want to have something to say to help him understand why this is important to me. I'd also like help understanding exactly why this is bugging me so much.

Part of me thinks, maybe he has a point: something could happen. I just would rather not let some "what-if" fear control my actions and take me away from something I really enjoy. I also feel like if something happened to me, it wouldn't be my fault, but I wonder if people warning me about this would see it that way. Any advice?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If I told him, "I'm going to keep walking home, and that's that" he would drop it.

Then say it, so he will drop it.

You're a grown woman. You are not stupid. You are allowed to call people out when they treat you like you are.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

"[BF], I am an intelligent adult. I know that walking alone at night can sometimes be dangerous, but I choose to take that calculated risk. Please respect me enough to let me make my own decisions."

I'd also like help understanding exactly why this is bugging me so much.

He's treating you like a child even though you're almost 30. It would bug me, too (and if it persisted, would become a dumpable offense).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

I would give him the benefit of the doubt tat he's not being patronising. The risk tolerance of someone who's ever felt threatened is never going to be the same as someone who never has. Obviously your boyfriend has experienced feelings of threat at some point and he's got a lower risk tolerance than you do. A nice compromise might be to carry the mace if it's legal. He'll feel better and it will make no difference to you.

My brother was mugged like 8 times in NYC in the 80s (and he's huge and was a near pro athlete at the time.). Hes laughably paranoid about going places alone to me, but then again I've never been mugged so maybe I'm naive and he's right. Hard to say unless you're psychic.
posted by fshgrl at 3:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

I just want to have something to say to help him understand why this is important to me. I'd also like help understanding exactly why this is bugging me so much.

It would bug me because I've heard these messages all my life, so it's not like he's telling me anything I haven't heard. It would also bug me because there are a lot of risky things I do all day - when I worked in food service, there were knives, hot pans, meat slicers, and that's before we get to not-always-sober co-workers or customers. Does he insist on warning you about all the other dangers you face in your life? I bet not.

I also feel like if something happened to me, it wouldn't be my fault, but I wonder if people warning me about this would see it that way.

Yeah, the thing is, there's no way to win this. If you take all the precautions, then some people will call you a scaredy cat or accuse you of thinking all men are rapists. If you don't take "enough" precautions, then well it's awful but what did you expect. Since there's no way to win, do not play. Do what you need to do to have a life, and be/feel safe.

Tell him to drop it.
posted by rtha at 3:28 PM on November 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

First of all, you should do whatever you want because you're a grown up.

Second to that, if pepper spray is legal in your area, you might consider carrying some just in case. It would be a good deterrent against something bad happening, and it would also make the BF feel better. I don't suggest this as a means to appease him, but more as a way for you to quell the anxiety of someone you care about. Only if you want to though.
posted by justjess at 3:29 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

I would say something like "I really appreciate that you're concerned for my safety, but if this was unsafe then I wouldn't do it. Please trust my judgement."
posted by bleep at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Note that there are mixed positions on carrying a disabling spray unless your primary purpose is fending off aggressive animals (and a sick enough animal may not be deterred by it anyway) as it can be taken away from you and used on you, particularly to blind you so you can't see your attacker or your location if they take you elsewhere.

That's not to say an attacker couldn't carry their own, but just consider you'd be better off with an emergency whistle or electronic alarm. Things that annoy the neighbors will actually get the police called.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

I'd just tell him that the subject is closed. Does he carry pepper spray and ask others to escort him home under similar circumstances? Women are not the only ones who get mugged, etc and maybe it would be illuminating for him to see that he doesn't hold himself to the same standards.
posted by quince at 3:43 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

"Dude, seriously, I live in the suburbs, it's totally safe. Everybody does this. Don't worry about it."

And then just do it without comment, going forward. Respond to any further discussion with either scoffing or ignore and change the subject.
posted by Sara C. at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ask him instead to spend the same amount of effort asking every man he knows to please not assault women.

Such a project would be a much better use of his time. And would have the bonus effect of being very illuminating.
posted by bilabial at 3:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [58 favorites]

He's a wonderful person and I know this comes from a place of concern, not control.

Maybe you can focus on this and ask what else (besides stopping the walk) you might be able to do to help them feel you're safe.

"I know you wish I wouldn't do this. I know that wish comes from a place of concern. I know there may be some risks to it, and that means you worry about what could happen to me and how you would feel if something did.

I'm sorry about that, but I can't let fear drive me away from this thing I really enjoy, so this isn't negotiable, and I'd like you to stop asking me to.

But... because I know you're worried and I value your feelings, is there anything else I might be able to do that would help you feel more comfortable?"

I don't know what actual answers to that question are likely work for you, but some ideas might include: texting when you start walking and when you're safely home, taking a self-defense course, carrying a maglite or some other quasi-weapon, or maybe even just assuring him with low assault statistics and the safe sounding profile of the community you've related here. Of course, if any of those also sound like concessions to fear too, then you're back to square one, but maybe it's worth a shot.
posted by weston at 3:48 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I would just say you've heard his concerns, they are noted and understood, and now you don't need to hear it all the time. Constantly harping on it is obnoxious.

If it will make him feel better and you want to, you can carry spray or whatever. The thing is, no matter what you carry or how many people you have with you, nothing will save you from a drive-by shooting or some lunatic who appears out of nowhere, grabs you, and carries you off. Likely anyone with you would be so scared or stunned they would be unable to help.

I worry a great deal when my husband goes on a long ride on his motorcycle. I have learned to just say "Have fun! Safe trip!" when he heads out. Your boyfriend can surely learn to do the same.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 3:55 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's unsafe for anyone (male or female, young or old, white or black etc.) to be walking home late at night from a job that involves interacting with random members of the public. It may seem on the surface to be a gender thing, but I believe it is just the natural concern anyone would have for a loved one traveling in the dark after interacting in a friendly manner with a broad swathe of local strangers... And especially if these strangers might be intoxicated after a night out at the pub/club/restaurant/sport event etc. This is why some of the nicer clubs hire drivers on their teamto take staff home safely after their shift.

If personal stories are worth anything, an adult male relative of mine was walking home from from his evening shift at work in one of the wealthiest and most nicely lit suburbs of the greater Toronto area, when some random kids decided to follow him home and rob him (because hey, he lives in a wealthy area). Of course he didn't want to call the police because he fears them. Virtually all my friends, both male and female, who worked weird shifts and depended on walking or public transit to get around faced harassment or had weird stories to tell. Maybe the harasser's perspective is that if you're so poor you have to be walking at night in the suburbs no one will care if you are assaulted and you will be afraid to report "minor" harassment.

No one talks about how often young men are victimized walking around alone at night (especially if they are in nice areas) and that's a shame because when people don't speak of it, we get this misperception that these warnings just serve to keep us women in our place. So naturally we disregard it out of genuine offense. But I've been harassed myself many times in nice areas just because I was alone, even if the person approaching me may have initially thought I was male (and therefore wasn't thinking of sexual assault) due to my way of dressing.

The reality is while someone looking to sexually assault may go for a woman, someone looking to rob or beat for fun is just looking for a victim who is vulnerable at the "right" moment.

Now, most of us have no choice about walking home alone. If your partner is not giving you a safe option, such as offering to drive you home at the end of your shift every time, you will feel needlessly bad without any way to resolve the issue. Maybe you can ask them what they think is a good solution and based on their response you will know how to proceed. Obviously if they think the answer is "quit your job" the issue is not about walking home at night and you two can start a deeper conversation on what is really bugging them. Most likely your partner will express a reasonable concern for your well-being. I think your partner is trying to show caring and is not being malicious. Maybe their suggestions will be easy things to do like texting with them on the phone as you walk home, and it will make them feel better at no discomfort to you.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2014 [55 favorites]

It's not that he won't allow me to, he just thinks it's a bad idea and urges me not to or to carry pepper spray if I do.

Ok. So he is allowed to have his opinion, and you, yours.

If I told him, "I'm going to keep walking home, and that's that" he would drop it. He's a wonderful person and I know this comes from a place of concern, not control.

Do this. End of story, problem solved.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:01 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, this kind of stuff bugs the shit out of me. The problem (for me at least), beyond being victim blaming, is that it represents a societally-condoned way of limiting women's physical movement in space. This is because we have all decided that dark streets are Where People Get Raped, which is an assertion that falls apart when you poke it only slightly (I research sexual assault and am very embedded in crime stats).

Earlier this week, I was on a panel about campus sexual assault in my research role with the administrator in charge of the disciplinary process for crime committed by students. An audience member mentioned how it is unsafe for women to walk on campus at night, and he responded that crime against women walking across campus at night happens extremely, but happens against men all the time.

I never hear people telling men to not walk alone at night, and I have been told not to walk alone at night by many men who don't think twice about doing it themselves. The majority of my women students do things like have 911 pre-dialed on their cell phone, carry mace, or hold their keys in their knuckles when out alone at night. It is certainly their prerogative to do what makes them feel safe. But it has never been suggested to me that I should hold my keys between my knuckles when on a date or when hanging out with guy friends, which are situations in which there is actually a feasible risk that I will be raped. This is a serious sexist boogeyman we're dealing with, while we ignore the actual situations in which women are at risk for rape (and treat women who are raped in those non-dark alley situations like their rape isn't "real").

I would probably be less patient than you about it and ask questions like how could a rapist actually hide in bushes, like logistically, how is that possible? But I think the point is that you incur risk by being a person living in the world, and as an adult, you get to make logical choices about the level of risk you are willing to accept given its costs and benefits to you. I presume that you drive a car. That is a choice that you make because it has benefits to you, even though you are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in an accident than raped by a stranger on a dark street. It is your choice and it is his responsibility to accept that reality.
posted by quiet coyote at 4:05 PM on November 21, 2014 [47 favorites]

It may seem on the surface to be a gender thing, but I believe it is just the natural concern anyone would have for a loved one traveling in the dark after interacting in a friendly manner with a broad swathe of local strangers.

yea, this is kind of just a fig leaf. i've worked plenty of "interacting with the public and leaving after dark" jobs, and i've only EVER heard people bring up this concern about their female partners or coworkers. it's totally a gender thing.

And this is totally up to you, OP. You should absolutely just tell him to drop it.
posted by emptythought at 4:07 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Personally, I thunk your boyfriend is giving you some pretty obvious common sense advice.

Whether a woman SHOULD be able to walk alone at night after a long day and feel 100% confident she will not be threatened, mugged or attacked and whether she actually IS are two different things. The first is true, the second may very well not be. I don't know that ANYONE can feel 100% confident, of course, and I would caution against anyone blithely strolling around at 11 at night alone assuming they are perfectly safe from harm. But I think it is absolutely a Thing, in the world we live in today, that a woman alone is more likely to be targeted.

I don't know you, I don't know how much self-defense training, if any, you've had. I know some women who could easily kick my ass, and the asses of some of the men we know. Maybe you are one of them. But to an assailant, you are more likely going to be categorized as a helpless victim simply by virtue of your gender. You are more likely to be raped, or at least for someone to attempt to rape you.

That doesn't mean you are for sure going to be threatened or harmed, of course. But it does mean that taking extra precautions is not a bad idea.

I'm a woman, and if I go somewhere where I am going to be out at night, I park my car under the lights when I can, carry my keys through my fingers, and am in general very aware of my surroundings. I am alert, I have taken self defense courses in the past, And at 5'9" in my stocking feet, I am taller than the average woman and even some men. Nevertheless, I have been followed, by car and by foot, on more than one occasion, been threatened, and had to seek a safe place with other people to get away. My husband and my sons, who do none of these things, have not had any experiences like these. Women do these risk assessments because we have to, and it is better not to learn that the hard way.

Your aside,

I also feel like if something happened to me, it wouldn't be my fault, but I wonder if people warning me about this would see it that way.

Is really weird to me, because I feel like you are acknowledging that there is a possibility you could be attacked--exactly what your boyfriend is asserting--and you seem to be more worried about people blaming you after the fact than the attack itself.

So, to me, this seems like you are more invested in being right than being safe. Which, I can only repeat, is a weird way to prioritize.

That, and your saying how great your boyfriend is only after first saying you feel patronized and like he is condescending to you by suggesting you carry pepper spray or not walk home alone, makes me think maybe you two have previous problems with communication in your relationship and this particular issue is an extenuation of that. If he doesn't take you seriously or demeans you, then you should call him on that, absolutely.

But taking some pepper spray with you, or walking with him instead of alone doesn't seem like an outrageous idea, or really that much of an imposition for you two to be arguing over it. Maybe you could even compromise. What about calling him on your cell and chatting on your walk home from work?
posted by misha at 4:36 PM on November 21, 2014 [19 favorites]

I don't know your boyfriend, so I can't say, but consider at least assuming he's saying this out of concern, and not out of some weird need to infantilize you. Part of the deal with the shitty patriarchal way our society currently works is that it IS more dangerous to be a woman walking alone at night than a man, and everyone knows this to be true. It sounds like your walk is super low-risk, so I think maybe he's not really thinking this all through, and is just having the knee-jerk reaction everyone does from just, y'know, knowing how the world works. If I were you I'd tell him that your walk is safe and to stop telling you that it isn't. And then, the next time he wants to walk somewhere by himself, implore him not to, as sarcastically as possible. Unless he doesn't take jokes well.
posted by axiom at 4:40 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Personally, I thunk your boyfriend is giving you some pretty obvious common sense advice.

Which the OP has undoubtedly heard before, beginning at least since she grew breasts if not before. The way the question is worded makes it sounds like the boyfriend gives this advice more than once - which, why? The OP likely heard him twice the first time.

Some of us really like walking, and we like walking alone, and we live in places where people are not always very nice (i.e. this planet). I am about to set off on my usual post-work 4-5 mile mental health walk, which takes me through busy urban neighborhoods where crime happens. If my partner insisted on showing her concern for me by reminding me it's not safe every time I set out to do this, I would end up wondering if she just thinks I'm dumb for not being able to understand her the first time. I'm not; the OP isn't either. She is capable of assessing her risks in a situation she understands and is familiar with.
posted by rtha at 4:56 PM on November 21, 2014 [23 favorites]

Let's assume he's nagging you about it because of his very uncomfortable anxiety. Anxiety of this sort feels very bad -- probably more so here because he knows he has no control. Be firm with him about what you're going to do, but also show compassion for his fear. If he patronizes you in other ways, you'll need to discuss that. But if this is the only thing, be kind to him. BUT:

I'm guessing it bothers you because he keeps on saying it after you've told him several times that you feel fine about walking in your area at night. Essentially, he's not listening. Okay, his feelings are making him think less about your feelings. I totally get this, but "be kind to him" doesn't mean you can't point out that the only way for him to relax about this would be if you gave up something you enjoy. Keep it personal and specific.
posted by wryly at 5:11 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used to think like this. Then some dude lowered a revolver at me and my friend and demanded our wallets.

Being safe is about being smart.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:15 PM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Men are twice as likely to be the victim of a violent crime (assault, aggravated assault, rape, or robbery) committed by a stranger as woman are. On the other hand, women are 5 times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime committed by an intimate partner than men are, and the majority of violent crimes committed against women are in fact committed by someone they know. So, statistically speaking, he should be the more afraid walking around alone at night, and you should be more afraid when you're with him, or with friends or family members.
posted by drlith at 5:24 PM on November 21, 2014 [23 favorites]

I'm a woman. I was running around NYC by myself late night starting around 13 or 14 years old.

I could not disagree with you more.

When you live alone, fine. Take chances.

Once you are in a serious relationship, the other person will naturally worry when you take stupid chances (hint: this is a stupid unnecessary chance to take.)

Also See: "... I AM A WAITRESS..."

Great! So you work with the public, carry cash, and have a routine where you can be easily targeted!!

After we had our son, I made my husband change jobs because he was working late night & with cash.

Your boyfriend is right to worry. You're being kinda foolish.

For the record, I believe this is MORE dangerous in a suburb than it would be walking home late night in a bustling urban center.

Stay safe. Stop walking home at night by yourself.

This has nothing to do with infantilizing you. I respect you enough to want you safe & sound.
posted by jbenben at 5:51 PM on November 21, 2014 [33 favorites]

I do things for my wife to make her less scared for me all the time, despite my belief that they don't actually keep me safe. I wear my seatbelt, or a bike helmet, I text her when I get home when she's out of town. I could say no, or I could make her feel better. You don't have to do anything you want to do, but if you did do something like carry pepper spray, you could do it for your partner's peace of mind.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:59 PM on November 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

This is a longtime bugbear for me, too. Life involves a lot of risk taking, and a whole lot of the decisions we make as adults involve the balance between risk and freedom. Having someone else question or argue with you about your considered adult choices is patronizing.

And it is especially egregious when it's a man questioning a woman's choices, because generally speaking, women are much better at day-to-day reconnaissance and risk mitigation than men are. We pay better attention to our surroundings, we are more attuned to and experienced with creepy behaviors, and we have better deescalation skills. Look at some of the scary advice you see from dudes whenever there's a discussion of street harassment, for example. They have no idea what sort of risks we face or how to manage them.

You are a grown woman, and you know what you're doing. Sure, you're taking a risk, but you'd be taking a risk getting a ride home, too. It is entirely up to you to decide where you draw your own lines, and it is entirely inappropriate for anyone else to be nagging you about those choices.

Also, I am a fair lot older than you, and I resent people questioning my choices because I know a hell of a lot of women my age who have sequestered themselves all their lives because of warnings and fears like this, and it is heartbreaking how many life experiences have passed them by. They've spent their lives being shuttled, chaperoned, from one well lit locale to another, afraid to go anywhere off the beaten path, only getting to do things they can get someone to do with them.

And it's not like it even kept them safe, anyway.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:00 PM on November 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

His feelings on this are real whether they are backed up by statistical data or not.

I don't think you need to stop walking alone, but if there are small steps you can take to put him at ease, that don't impact your enjoyment of the activity, why not?

On preview, exactly what Potomac Avenue said above.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:06 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been on the receiving end of this, and the only thing that ever changed the conversation was asking a straightforward "Would you think it was my fault if someone attacked me on my walk home?"

If he says no, "Great! So can you see how you repeatedly expressing your concerns come off like you're questioning my judgment?"

If he says yes, you have some information about how he thinks about you and your judgment.
posted by Francies at 6:11 PM on November 21, 2014

I'm gonna answer this as a woman who's walked home alone late at night in the burbs a lot:

On the one hand, you really have no argument against the fact that just being a woman at all is being a walking future/potential victim, and it's multiplied by walking home alone late at night while being a waitress. He's right to be worried and you probably can't shut him up about this. wanna know why I've walked home late at night alone?
(a) I didn't own a car, or was somewhere where I could not take my car (i.e. college campus that makes it incredibly difficult/expensive to most of the time).
(b) no public transport home at that late hour whatsoever (and most places, taking the public transport home late might also be dicey)
(c) campus ride service only offered to freshmen living in dorms, which I wasn't, and they did not go off campus to your home
(d) nobody else I could get a ride home with due to reasons a and b.

Some people will be all (e) "Take a cab!" but are you kidding me? It's the burbs. Cabs aren't just riding by. You call one and wait 20-30 minutes outside in the cold, still being unsafe outside late at night and now you're also being a still target rather than a moving one, should bad guys come after you for existing. A mile is about a 15-minute-walk, so you could already be home by the time the damn cab comes. Also, cabs are expensive and you're a waitress! You can't just "take a cab" really.

Which is to say: Boyfriend, I concur that it's bad, but WHAT THE HELL ELSE AM I GOING TO DO IN ORDER TO GET HOME? Does he have a reasonable (i.e. not blowing your paycheck on cabs) solution for this? Because if not, then the both of you are just going to have to deal with the risk. If he's gonna pick you up from work, great! Take him up on it! It's probably not gonna hurt either of you to do it. But again, if he's just complaining with no solution, then he's gonna have to put up with the risk, just like you do.

Yeah, it could happen to me at any time. Though oddly enough, so far I've only been grabbed by creepy in broad daylight with tons of people around, so who the hell knows. I run into next to nobody walking home late at night so I'm rarely even scared. If that's any consolation to him, mention that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:14 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Is really weird to me, because I feel like you are acknowledging that there is a possibility you could be attacked--exactly what your boyfriend is asserting--and you seem to be more worried about people blaming you after the fact than the attack itself.

I think it's more that as a sentient human woman in 2014 the OP is aware that anything that might happen to her as a woman walking alone at night will be regarded by a large portion of society as her having been "asking for it". It's a valid concern and not a sign of confused priorities.

OP, I suggest you tell your boyfriend to drop it, and hope that he complies. If not, you could point out that most harm to women comes from people they already know, but this is basically a nuclear option of last resort.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Your boyfriend should and it sounds like will respect your autonomy and right to make your own decisions if you really lay down the law. That's good.

Personally, though, I don't think he's being remotely unreasonable, and I (a woman) am frequently the one begging my friends to let me drive them, or to take a cab -- I care about them, and I worry when they take risks that I wouldn't take. Everyone has different levels of comfort with risk, and mine is low enough that I could never in a million years imagine enjoying your late-night walk. So while I understand your frustration, I also think it's possible that your boyfriend's concern is genuine and not necessarily sexist.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

I think robbery is age more likely than rapist/serial killer. Waitresses have tips, everyone knows that. When I was a waitress we never left alone for that reason.
posted by fshgrl at 6:38 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

My first thought was that your boyfriend was afraid you'd be mugged. Everyone knows that waitresses have cash on them after a shift. Walking alone at night carrying that much money isn't safe for anyone. Sorry to sound like a mom.
posted by checkitnice at 6:43 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your boyfriend sounds like my mom and like me. I spent the 1st 12 years of my life in a community with gang activity and crime, and, as a woman, I rarely let even a male friend just walk himself home (even in a low crime suburb) very late at night. ( I know dude thinks he can defend himself if something did happen but just because he dressed up as Chuck Norris for Halloween doesn't make him real Chuck Norris.)

I worry. I'm a worrier. And only because I just had the feeling of lack of safety instilled in me at a young age. I know you think it's just because you're a woman, but...I dunno...give us worriers who grew up with crime around us a break from imagining you becoming a victim. We care about you, and we don't know how to undo the irrational worrying.

Just tell him you have pepper spray on you. You can't change him anyway.
posted by discopolo at 6:48 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I do not agree with any of the "well your boyfriend has a point...." responses in this thread.

You know your neighborhood. You know your walk home. If you feel safe you're most likely safe. Yes, you could get mugged. Yes, something worse could happen. But it probably won't. People pushing the idea that it could over and over is patronizing and insulting and it's perfectly ok to say, "I like this, I'm going to do this, and I know you don't mean to but you're being a lil patronizing so please stop." If he's a good guy, he'll get it.

"What if"s are a sneaky trap and the people doing the worrying sometimes don't realize that their care can quickly slip into passing on their own anxieties. I think it's actually a pretty unhealthy thing to do in relationships and something that too often gets overlooked or brushed off with "he/she's just concerned" followed by some anecdotes about how "yknow, the worst coooould happen." It just plants little seeds of anxiety that can potentially spoil totally safe and enjoyable things

Life is full of risks. Walking alone is wonderful. Walking alone at night is wonderful. Walking home alone at night as an adult in a place you know very well and know to be safe 99% of the time is very low on the risk scale. No matter how many people are driving down quiet well lit suburban streets thinking about all the muggings and rapes their avoiding, tucked away in their car.

So I say, tell the BF to relax and enjoy your walks.
posted by AtoBtoA at 7:04 PM on November 21, 2014 [19 favorites]

My issue isn't that your boyfriend doesn't want you walking home at night, I understand his concern. It's that he's creating a problem yet offering no solution. He doesn't want you to walk home alone but at no point does he a) offer to walk home with you b) offer to pick you up c) offer to give you money for a cab or d) offer any solution at all to the problem he will create when you no longer walk home to keep him happy.

If I was genuinely concerned that someone I loved was at risk of being attacked from walking alone at night, you can bet your ass I would be picking them up or organising in some other way their safe ride home, because I've done it before. So why isn't he? And yes, I know, you're a grown woman but if he is really concerned he should be helping you find the answer to this instead of just saying don't do it. Talk is cheap.
posted by Jubey at 7:43 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm curious as to how he really feels about this - let's set aside all accusations of sexism or patronizing - is he worried for your safety? Does he feel responsible in some way to protect you or care for you? That's valid, that's how he feels.

I understand how you feel about it, and I've felt the same way on countless occasions. But does he really understand how you feel about it? Because, you know, at this point, it's not just about a nice walk home from work. It's about you and your right to make your own choices because you are an almost-30 independent adult, no matter how anyone else feels about those choices or might be affected by them.

You should probably talk to him about why this is so important for you. Maybe if he understands that there are better ways to "protect" you, like respecting your own decisions no matter what he thinks, you will both be happier. Or, maybe you will find out that it's a big part of his identity to be a protector, and letting yourself feel "protected" now and again is OK, too, and that might also make you both feel happier.

I get hung up on gender stuff a lot (I have an allergic boyfriend, and a cat... And I resist doing housework because gender gender gender) but when it comes down to it, being in a relationship is really about balancing what works for you with what works for your partner, only.
posted by Locochona at 8:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm a feminist and a woman and a person who walks around late at night, and now that I've read your question I don't want you to be walking home at night. Unfortunately, as a woman you are more vulnerable when you are out walking on your own. Also, as a server you presumably have a lot of cash on you at the end of the night and could be a target for that reason as well. If someone who has never met you and who is also a nighttime woman walker (a girl flaneur!) doesn't particularly want you to walk home, it is not surprising to me that your male partner feels the same way. I think you need to cut him some slack.

Your partner hasn't asked you to stop walking home, and you shouldn't stop. You can tell him that you appreciate his concern, but you have decided to take the risk. However, you can't stop him from not wanting you to walk. So maybe give up wanting him to want you to walk, and continue to live your life and take the risks you are willing to take.
posted by girl flaneur at 8:59 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Just sort of a side point regarding accepting risk: I think for me the only way to have truly accepted the risk of something is to believe honestly (or even know) that even if the bad thing did happen, I would still have done everything the same if I could go back in time. Otherwise I think what I'm *really* doing is just assuming implicitly, despite what I may tell myself, that the bad thing will never happen, when of course it might, and/or I'm minimizing the severity of the bad thing. In other words, I'm just having wishful thinking. So, humbly extending that to your case: if something bad happens to you walking home at night like you are now, will you still be glad you did as you did? If so, then I think you have accepted the risk. If it happens and you regret doing as you did, then I think you have not truly accepted the risk.
posted by early one morning at 9:08 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

As a woman, I would be far more wary about walking around in a quiet suburb alone at night than a busy, high-traffic city street. I understand you don't want to change the way you live out of fear or let the worst segment of society dictate your behavior, but you have to be smart. I hope people aren't driving drunk or texting while they drive, but I still wear my seatbelt in case something happens. This is the same thing. I'm a feminist, but I also try to be realistic, too. You don't want to give up walking alone at night. Alright. But maybe as a compromise, get a pepper spray key chain? Your boyfriend is just concerned, not a sexist, and you can't really blame him for that.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I grew up in a very nice suburb. One morning when I was 15 and walking to school, I got assaulted. This was at 7 AM in the morning, on one of the main streets. So, these things do happen.

Recently I went to a women's self-defense class. The one I went to was 2 hours long with the first hour being about how a potential raper finds a victim. I highly recommend it. You will get the tools you need to know to keep yourself safe should something happen.

I went to this one in NY, but I have also heard rave reviews about Model Mugging.
posted by xmts at 10:41 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

If he's worried about you walking home alone, just ask him to pick you up after work. Then you have a ride home and once you get there you're together and can commence sexytimes. Problem solved, everyone wins.

Additionally, in my opinion, EVERYONE should carry pepper spray (pepper spray, NOT mace) for self defense, so get some. Pepper spray causes no permanent damage and is lower on the continuum of force than hitting or shoving someone and thus it's unlikely that you'll be prosecuted for using it in a situation where you feel threatened. As my self defense instructors always said: "If you're uncertain whether you should shoot someone, DON'T. If you're uncertain whether you should pepper spray someone, DO."
posted by Jacqueline at 12:20 AM on November 22, 2014

It's tough to respond to this question, because you seem ambivalent about what you want to hear - you started off saying that you just want a way to tell him you're doing this regardless of the risk, but then suggested that you have some concern he may be right and about how you would feel if it did happen to you.

I'm a doctor with an interest in public health, so I just see all the gender/misogyny part of this as obfuscation of the actual issue of safety. Safety precautions are not anti-feminist! (how they are approached is a different story!) I have to counsel people all the time about safety and they get all caught up in these personal hangups about whatever it is, and those things can keep them from just doing an easy thing to keep themselves safe. People don't like how it feels to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. They don't use a seatbelt because they have a hard time remembering to put it on. They don't use a condom because they don't like how it feels. Whatever. I have to respect the fact that these are adults who know they are engaging in risky behavior and choose to do so regardless of the risk. I noticed some folks using the justification that everything in life has risks, like riding in a car, and yet we still choose to ride in cars even though there could be an accident. That's not really fair, and it's oversimplified - kind of like saying "well, we all might get cancer so why bother trying to eat healthy when I could get cancer anyway?" That is true, and you don't have to make healthy diet choices all the time or never leave the house without sunscreen because of the possible risk of cancer, but it still ends up sounding pretty silly when you discount someone else's valid concerns about diet or sun exposure - and most people wouldn't roll their eyes at someone for wearing a seatbelt, even though they might just be going 2 minutes down the road and their likelihood of actually needing the seatbelt during those particular moments is extremely low.

So, it's just my opinion, but I'd say try to lose the baggage about gender here, unless your boyfriend is actually making misogynist comments or saying this with condescending overtones, in which case talk about those issues and don't get that conflated with a separate argument about whether there's a valid safety concern about walking home alone in the dark. Because on that specific piece of it, there's not really anything to argue about, and acting like there is will make you look unreasonable. I think that you should be able to sit and chat with someone who loves you about easy things that you could do to stay safe without taking personally the suggestion that there are things you can do to protect yourself against safety risks. No, people don't generally directly tell folks who get thrown from a car and get a serious injury that it's their own fault because they should have been wearing a seatbelt, because that would be in poor taste. But you can bet that people are wondering why those folks didn't take a simple action that could have prevented the situation from occurring. I'm not saying that carrying pepper spray is necessarily the equivalent in this situation, I'm addressing your apparent unwillingness to discuss potential easy risk reduction methods to keep yourself safe because you're taking the situation personally (and it doesn't sound like it's actually meant as anything personal about your character etc).

People can generally understand risk in terms of high risk and low risk actions, and how much of a risk they are willing to take based on how negative the potential bad outcome is. But people are also notoriously poor at accepting or understanding it when a low-probability bad outcome happens to them (or that it really could happen to them). In other words, it's easy to blow off a low probability risk of something that's potentially quite bad, because no one thinks that they will be that one in a million - but when you are that one in a million, it doesn't matter that it was unlikely to have happened, because it did happen to you, and then you feel guilt, sorrow, and self recrimination. Example: a bad outcome occurs after an elective surgery - although the patient knew that there was a risk of a bad outcome, s/he sues the doctor because "the risk that it could happen to me wasn't made clear enough!" It's not his/her 'fault' that a bad outcome happened! But it does seem clear that s/he didn't accept the existence of the risk and really come to terms with it, because s/he considered it low probability.

Although we all have to decide what our own risk tolerance is, this is just to illustrate the fact that the equation looks different after the odds don't play out in your favor, and thinking through the real but unlikely scenario of something bad happening to you might help you decide how you might feel in that situation and change your up front assessment about whether this is a 'I'm not willing to talk about this, I'm doing what I'm doing and I don't care what you think about it.' situation or one where you say 'OK, I respect that there are concerns that something could happen and I'm willing to do X, Y, and Z things in recognition of that risk.'

Final example: an unhelmeted snowboarder has a serious accident on the slopes and potentially could have died in the trauma. After their tests come back negative, I say "I strongly recommend in the future that you wear a helmet, but you probably understand that now, right?" Snowboarder just looks at me blankly and says "but my head was fine this time!"

My bottom line would be: you can either keep doing what you're doing or not, that's absolutely your right - but you need to make clear that you've really considered and accepted that a risk exists, however small you perceive it to be ("maybe" he has a point? No - he does have a point - it's just a point that reasonable people could agree to disagree on). I suspect if your boyfriend has mentioned this multiple times, it's his sense that you're keeping your head in the sand and denying the validity of his concern rather than him being paternalistic towards you. Long answer but I thought it might be a different spin that could be helpful.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:07 AM on November 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

My mother is like this and I eventually had to sit her down and ask her to stop bringing up my personal safety all the time. Like if I mention I had a repairman over to fix something she'll ask if I was alone with him or if my husband stayed home too and when I show her pictures of the beautiful hiking track near us, she begs me to borrow a dog or always walk with friends there, and if I ever mention something I did in the evening she'll say, aghast, "but you weren't out after dark on your own, were you?"

So anyway, I sat her down and said something like the following:
"I appreciate that you are concerned for my safety and I know that you are right that I would be statistically safer if I didn't do these things. But I would also be statistically safer if I didn't ever drive, or in fact, if I never left the house. And I value my freedom too much to make those sacrifices. I also value the benefits of going out at night, hiking alone (within shouting distance of others), not having to think of my husband as a physical protector etc, too much to limit myself to the extent that you would prefer me to. I know that everyone's line is drawn differently, but I need you to respect mine. It makes me incredibly angry and sad to think of how women are treated in our world, and the more I think about or discuss with you the risks of going about my daily life as I prefer, the madder and sadder I get. I choose to behave (mostly) as if these things are not true, and I am willing to accept that this might raise my statistical risk of being a victim of some crime."

Honestly I think that the thousands of days of my life that I have spent living as though I were perfectly safe and free add enough happiness to my world that they would not be outweighed by any crime against me, even if that were rape or murder. Just as the thousands of days I have spent being able to travel where I please with ease and see the world by using a car would not be negated by the horror of dying or being disabled in a car accident. Of course, I can't know for sure, but it's still my choice to believe this.
posted by lollusc at 2:12 AM on November 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would also add that I agree with tree horn+bunny as long as we are talking about easy mitigating factors. I got the sense from your post you would be willing to consider things like carrying pepper spray or calling him when you are leaving work so he knows when to come look for you if you don't make it back on time.

But I thought your question was more about whether it was reasonable to stop engaging in whole categories of behaviour that are important to you, like walking home from work at all. And that's where I think it's more like the analogy to never driving rather than treehorn+bunny's analog with wearing a seatbelt.

Also what I was trying to say with my comment above is that it isn't so much that I object to taking certain precautions or even a single discussion about whether an action is risky, but it's that constantly being reminded of risks is psychologically really debilitating. If you have decided to walk home from work, then you kind of lose the enjoyment of it and might as well not bother at all if you are going to spend the whole walk and part of your day every day thinking about and discussing whether you are really safe. And I got the sense that this is the main problem with your boyfriend bringing this up all the time.
posted by lollusc at 2:22 AM on November 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am a woman who enjoys taking transit and walking. I especially enjoy walking alone at night. We only have one car, so it is good that I like it. But I'm also lucky enough to be married to someone who trusts my judgment. He has been mugged, as a teenager using transit in Miami. I get street harassed a lot and have had to run away from potentially bad situations while walking at night in both Annapolis and Raleigh. I have never had a similar experience on the streets of Atlanta/Decatur where we now live. He has never questioned my decision to continue to do what I enjoy and what works for our family. I have no interest in being armed and have never felt the slightest need to do so. Sometimes friends insist on "coming to my rescue" and giving me rides home, and I let them, but that's really for their benefit, not mine.

OP: You are doing nothing wrong. You are a smart, capable woman with good judgment. Tell your boyfriend that, and go on enjoying living your life.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:03 AM on November 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I chafes a bit to have someone issuing me these warnings, because I am an almost 30-year old independent adult....It chafes me on feminist grounds, as I've (and many other women) heard these admonitions for all kinds of "unsafe" behaviors all through my life....I'd also like help understanding exactly why this is bugging me so much.

You've answered your own question.

It bugs you because, however well-intentioned he may be--and whatever the risk factors in your particular situation might be--he's telling you something you already know, he's telling you repeatedly, and he's doing it to make you change your behavior.

There just is an aspect of that that boils down to coercive persuasion--regardless of whether there are also valid safety concerns about a woman/waitress/person with a wad of cash walking home alone at night (there are), and regardless of whether he's doing it to be consciously paternalistic (MeFi can't know.) You love someone, you're worried about their safety, you think you're right, maybe you're naturally more risk-averse than they are, so on some subconscious, limbic, anxious level you think "I bet if I'm really, really annoying I can get her to stop doing the thing that makes my tumbly feel bad." It doesn't matter how good his intentions are and it doesn't matter if he's doing it knowingly; the behavior has an objectively aggressive, controlling dimension. Just because that's not all there is to it doesn't mean it's not one of the things there is to it.

OP, you've gotten several gestations of the same basic argument in response to your question already, and I think there are a couple of reasons for that: 1) it's a touchy issue that kicks up intense anxiety on all sides (people worry about safety; people don't like having their freedom restrained); 2) we don't really know enough about your overall attitude about safety, or about how your boyfriend is expressing these concerns, to know whose side we should be on.

But I'd like to suggest that this isn't the either/or situation we're making it out to be. Maybe you are, subconsciously, being a little cavalier about your safety because you resent the paternalism implicit in constantly reminding women how dangerous the world is for them; but even if you accept that you could stand to take more precautions in your behavior (ftr I'm not necessarily saying you should), that doesn't mean that the paternalistic, controlling aspect of the message magically stops being paternalistic and controlling. By the same token, having good intentions--even being right--doesn't mean your boyfriend isn't also being obnoxious, nor does it magically dissolve his accountability to how his behavior makes you feel. Is it possible this bothers you because part of you can see his point but you're afraid that admitting that will give him power over you--that, if you agree with him about this, he's just going to find something new to worry about and manipulate you out of doing that too? Is it possible that just hearing him force these concerns makes you internalize fears you'd rather not have to think about (and by the way you are perfectly entitled to not have to think about them if that's how you prefer to live, regardless of the statistical risks and regardless of how reckless anyone else thinks you're being)? Is it possible you feel like just having this argument has already ruined the walk home for you?

Anyway, I can't think of a simple solution to this. You could try just telling him to let it drop--but, as others have said, there may be other issues worth considering. Likewise, if the two of you are radically different in the amount of personal danger you can tolerate, you might want to consider whether this relationship is really right for you--but, again, nobody here has enough information to make a judgment like that. At the very least, I hope you know that, no matter what you decide to do, you're not out of line pointing out that his behavior is overbearing, and that it reinforces a history of patriarchy regardless of his personal attitudes about women. It is, and it does. Whether you decide he also has a point about your safety is ultimately for you to decide.
posted by urufu at 6:05 AM on November 22, 2014

I'm kind of like your boyfriend, in that I have a strong and independent (and feminist) partner who, very reasonably, wants to live her life fully. Sometimes I worry, and once in a while we talk about something specific, usually on the lines of "X is making me worry, what are your feelings about it?" and then either I adjust how I feel or she adjusts what she is doing.

And this comment is really true: On the other hand, women are 5 times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime committed by an intimate partner than men are, and the majority of violent crimes committed against women are in fact committed by someone they know. So, statistically speaking, he should be the more afraid walking around alone at night, and you should be more afraid when you're with him, or with friends or family members.

The "stranger danger" stuff is so culturally pervasive in all the movies and TV shows and books, so we are primed to worry about the walk at night. But in terms of real risk, ordinary things (and often required by work, not an optional fun evening thing like a walk) like going to a conference and getting drinks with people at the hotel bar or getting a ride home from an evening meeting with a coworker are a lot higher risk.

So the bottom line is that I trust her judgment as a smart person who has been responsible for herself for her entire life, and I make sure she knows that I trust her, and she in turn makes clear the ways she is being smart while also being uncompromising at living a full life. It's a balance and it takes communication, but it means that she can travel alone (including to very dangerous countries) and I can be relaxed and supportive because that is the awesome and independent person I want to be with, and also because we've talked and I'm comfortable with her choices.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 AM on November 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

Different perspective but I think you are blessed that someone cares enough about you to worry. Not all can say that. So thank your luck, smile and do what YOU think is necessary to take some precautions. Relationships require adjustment and acceptance and you can adapt, a bit, to his concerns.
posted by jellyjam at 11:15 AM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another thing i forgot to mention in my first post, that a lot of the "have him pick you up! have him walk you home!" people don't seem to be considering is that a big part of why you probably want to do this is to decompress alone. Solitary walks are relaxing, and are really nice after a shift at a job like this.

Decompressing after a job like this is important, and might be integral to enjoying time with your partner afterwards or sleeping well. Solutions that don't provide that might not really be the greatest solutions. And driving home generally isn't relaxing since you have to deal with other stupid drivers and being aware in a completely different way.

Hell, this was stated right in the original post
I like it because I work part-time as a waitress and my walk home on nights I work always gives me time to have peace and quiet, unwind, get some fresh air and relax.

Did everyone just ignore that part, or regard it as pollyannaish or something? i don't even get it.

All i can think of is how much i enjoyed walking home from a job like this at night, with tips, in what i knew was a reasonably safe neighborhood, and how it always chilled me out if i was pissed off at humanity.

And how not a single person ever warned me about it or thought it was unsafe, as a guy. I know my lady coworkers got that more than once walking home in the same pretty safe neighborhood in the same way though.
posted by emptythought at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think it chafes because you never actually asked him what he thought yet he's weighing in anyway. At twenty-nine, you're surely aware of the viewpoints surrounding this as represented in the thread and you came down on one take on the situation. You were done with opinoneering so he's reviving a topic you actually had moved on from, it's not like he's brought you up to speed on the Dangers Facing Women.

As women, we have a lot of tough choices to make about risk versus our absolute right to live our lives, and I think having made those choices--to claim, for example, a right to walk on the sidewalk in the suburbs at 11PM--I don't know about you but I'm pretty much done talking about it once I've made my private, individual choice. I'm not looking for additional thoughts on the matter--there really aren't that many perspectives on this, it's pretty finite.

Unless you're sixteen or something you are at an age where you get to make these decisions and not be questioned about it--the decision was made, he wanted you to reconsider, you did, decided you remained comfortable with the original decision, and that's the end of it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:09 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

At the very least, I hope you know that, no matter what you decide to do, you're not out of line pointing out that his behavior is overbearing, and that it reinforces a history of patriarchy regardless of his personal attitudes about women.

I've seen a couple people in this thread who seem to have gotten the notion that your boyfriend is just nagging incessantly and not listening to you, OP. But I've read your question a few times and I didn't get that impression? You said in your post that if you just told him you were going to walk home (alone with no pepper spray) anyway, he'd drop it. So I don't know where that idea that he is overbearing is coming from?

Seems like you two just disagree about whether walking home alone late at night is safe. And as this thread has shown, people here disagree about that too, and the views are not delineated along gender lines at all.

So I definitely disagree with the idea of lecturing him. First, because if he were overbearing in that way, you'd only be wasting your time since obviously he wasn't interested in listening to what you had to say to him in the first place (though I would consider breaking up with him at that point). And second, wow, talk about being condescending! Lecturing him about the history of patriarchy is a pretty darned condescending way to treat your boyfriend. When you start going down the road towards contempt for your partner, that's pretty much the death knell for the relationship.

But you say your boyfriend is not trying to control you, he just cares about you and worries about your safety, and I believe you. So you can either change your behavior to ease his mind, or let him know you want him to drop this already and keep on doing what you've always done.
posted by misha at 10:40 PM on November 22, 2014

There's always a "what if", no matter where or when. But as an adult woman, I walk whenever I want, wherever, without fear. I think this infantalizing of women and casting (us) as inevitable victims is pretty dangerous. Take reasonable precautions and walk home.
posted by FlyByDay at 4:26 PM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think a person is very lucky if they have someone who cares about their safety as much as your boyfriend cares about yours. Many women I know could walk around all night on any city street and no one would pay any attention to them or worry about their safety - and many of those women had someone who cared here and there in their lives but they no longer do. They are free, of course, to do whatever they want whenever they want - no argument there.

We have a lot of old ladies in our building who watch over each other and fuss about things like that - "You're not going out in this weather without a coat, are you?" and we consider it as fussbudgeting but, more importantly, caring. Most of us are too old to worry about trying to establish our rights as adult women, though.

When I was in my late 40s I worked at a big hospital here and got off at 1:00 AM (worked 10-hour days). I was, I guess, the only one in the hospital who got off at that particular time, so I walked out through the parking garage by myself each night - and never worried a bit about getting into trouble. One of the women who worked with me (she got off at midnight) was always scared to death to walk through the garage - she carried a regular house-style smoke alarm with her, as well as pepper spray, but I just thought she was a bit silly, nothing more.

It was payday and the last payday before Christmas and like every other employee at the hospital, I had my check with me - in my purse, which was a shoulder bag. I walked about 50' into the garage when a large man stepped out from between some cars and began walking behind me - maybe 15' or so behind me. I was startled - and I knew at once that this was not just nonsense, that I was in danger here. He was in a place that made it impossible for me to get around behind him and back into the hospital - I had to continue forward through the garage, then through a door into an over-the-road walkway and into the employee parking garage and then into an elevator to take me to my car. No chance I could do all that now.

I turned a little to check to see where he was and he was now only about 6' behind me and absolutely focused on my purse, which at least let me know it was the purse he wanted - thank God. I pulled the purse off my shoulder and was getting ready to throw it as far away from me as I could when lo-and-behold another man stepped out from between cars. This man was wearing a suit and a hat - a fedora-type hat! of all things. He made eye contact with me and shook his head back and forth as if to tell me not to throw my purse. I was a little confused and didn't know what to do, so I just held onto the purse and made for the door to the walkway as fast as I possibly could. I got to the door, slammed the handle down and entered the walkway, then turned around to look behind me. Both men were gone. Just plain gone.

I stood there shaking for a moment or two, then went back into the garage and started looking for them. I looked all over that garage for them and never found either of them. That wasn't good enough for me, though, so I went back into the hospital and down to the Security Dept and made them call up the films from the parking garage where I'd been. Yes, there I was, there was the big man behind me, and the Security people agreed that I'd been in serious trouble at that time - but then we moved into an off-camera position and none of the encounter with the other man or my getting to the door or what happened to the two men was recorded. The Security guys walked with me through the whole garage thing again and to my car and on the way they checked that the same cars that showed on the tape were still parked in the garage - they were.

Maybe the man in the fedora was my guardian angel - maybe not. I had no instinctive fear of him, whereas the first man triggered heart-pounding fear in me right away, though again I was not the type of person to be afraid of walking through the garage at night. The first man was dressed in just ordinary clothes - he didn't seem shabby or unkempt or rough in his clothing or his face and hair, so I don't at all think I was just more comfortable with the guy in the suit.

Anyway, that was years ago. I drive my scooter all over town at night or in bad neighborhoods or down alleys, wherever I want to go now and I don't worry, but I am aware of what's going on around me. And I'm old and a "cute little old lady" now, so that makes a difference, I suppose.

But if you were my daughter or granddaughter, I'd tell you to consider carefully the value of someone who cares so much about your safety that he continues to mention it even when it clearly annoys the "I'm a big girl and can do whatever I want to" side of you. Would it hurt you to get a little can of pepper spray for your keychain just to make him feel better? Or is the issue really unrelated to your safety but instead about your independence and rights?
posted by aryma at 11:44 PM on November 23, 2014

There's a lot of good advice up there with multiple favorites that I'm not going to repeat. I just want to say that I'm a waitress, I get out of work between 10-11pm most nights, there's a security guard who patrols our property and there's security cameras, and I still carry pepper spray just to walk to my car in the parking lot. I wish there was someone to walk me to my car.

Your boyfriend is not wrong; you are most likely overreacting because of other times people have treated you like a child. This is understandable but for your own safety, you need to separate your emotions from this situation. And honestly, the fact that you think "it won't happen to me" is actually a sign of youth and feeling "bulletproof". It can happen, it does happen, and it happens most often to people who take uneccesary chances.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

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