Older guy won't hear no, threatens position in friend group
February 27, 2017 8:14 AM   Subscribe

I (F 26) have turned down sexual advances from this person (M 42) 5+ times over 7 months. He continues to use our shared cultural activity as an opportunity to proposition me, all the while maintaining a façade of friendliness that would make a direct confrontation in front of everyone, very awkward. I have never encountered this before; can I make him stop without allowing him to make me look like the bad guy or drive me out of the group? Snowflakes inside.

So, some context: a nerdy foreigner living in a large European capital, I joined a Meetup group after 70% of my friends left town following grad school. I landed in a group I actually really enjoy, which meets semi-monthly for drinks and cultural chitchat, usually morphing into several hours of excessive wine consumption, dirty jokes and gossip about our respective personal lives. There’s a core group of about 10 people, including myself, who typically stay into the wee hours to talk and goof off. Both the general and the inner group are overwhelmingly female, but we have a few men who are regulars, all delightful people—or so I thought.

One of these men, roughly 15 years my senior, has taken a keen (or at least recurrent?) sexual interest in me that I do not really reciprocate and am struggling to repel, and it’s seriously harshing my buzz.

Before this charade started I actually quite liked him as a person/acquaintance. He dashed after me one night as I was getting in a cab to ask for my number (and I KNOW I KNOW I shouldn’t have given it to him but I am terrible at saying no when I’m cornered), and texted to ask me on a coffee date which I declined. Since he seemed nice, I wanted to use a ‘soft no’ and pleaded general unavailability, saying I’d see him at the next meeting, ‘take care!’, etc. I thought that, being a decent chap and well into adulthood (he's in his forties), he’d get the hint and we’d continue on cordial terms in the context of the group. (Full disclosure: he did kiss me once after the meeting following the cab incident; I didn't put an immediate stop to it because I was THOROUGHLY wasted and sort of caught off guard; it didn’t do much for me, I apologised and called a halt to the proceedings and turned down an offer to see him again.)

Then shit got a bit weird. Following these two incidents he has apparently decided to up the ante (?) by straight-up asking me to come home with him every time we see one another, i.e., at every group meeting. He most often does this by text message, while sitting across the table from me (a few months ago I ignored his initial text only to look down later and realise he'd been continuing to message me for two hours in an increasingly aggressive tone). My refusals are met with wheedling and counter-arguments ('I've told you before this isn't happening, Cranstopher.' 'But life is short! We have such good chemistry!') . All this, whilst maintaining the illusion in front of the rest of the group that we are just friendly acquaintances, though he’ll occasionally flirt in the course of conversation.

I find his behaviour highly manipulative and it makes me very uncomfortable, since the other members naturally have no idea that it’s even going on, and to talk to him about this face-to-face I either have to agree to see him outside of group events or yell at him in front of everyone. This has been happening for nearly eight months; my initial strategy of waiting it out til he loses interest is clearly not working, and it’s interfering with my ability to enjoy what used to be one of my favourite activities.

When he tried the texting gambit for the umpteenth time two weeks ago, I reluctantly agreed to leave and ‘get a coffee’, so that I could have the time and privacy to tell him, face-to-face and at length, that there is zero chance of anything happening and he needs to knock it off. This I did, in detail, to little or no effect; in fact as I was leaving he referred to his excitement at ‘this thing we have going on’ (?!!?) and as soon as I left sent me a flirty good-night text (which I ignored). I haven’t heard from him since, but I figure there’s an excellent chance the usual performance will be repeated at the next meeting. What I intended as an occasion to give a final, categorical refusal was clearly read, once again, as encouragement, and I feel like a moron. His continued weird, insistent behaviour also makes me nervous about how he'd react to a more forceful shutdown (not sure how I could be any clearer than I already have been...).

Despite his protestations to the contrary, I am 99.89% sure he is not romantically interested in me (in which case I'd be inclined to be kinder): I rarely hear from him outside the meetup, and he is clearly on the prowl following a nasty divorce. Which, hey, if he wants to get down with ladies that’s his right and his business! Sex is fun! Divorce sucks! Go wild! But I've made it clear that I am not interested in helping him get his groove back, and I find his attempts to manipulate me into doing so infuriating and disturbing. (Just to be clear, my complaint here is not that he is only interested in sex: it's that he has ignored my refusals by instead trying to manipulate me into going to bed with him by lying about his feelings, which to me is a huge red flag about him just as a human being, let alone a pantstimes partner. This isn't the 1800s, plenty of women are down to clown sans declarations of eternal love--find one and leave me be.)

I really, really do not want to leave this group, mainly because I genuinely love hanging out with everyone else (it’s hard to meet nice people where I am, especially nice people who like to talk about Devo and Carl Sagan). I also refuse to cede this space to him just because he wants to wave his dick around and won’t take no for an answer. (I’m reluctant to skip meetings hoping he’ll lose interest, since I already tried this, again to no avail, and furthermore it amounts to letting him interfere with my social life.)

So, I guess I’m really looking for input on the following:

-> Is the only realistic solution to throw in the towel and stop attending the group? He seems to take my attendance as evidence of interest, or as leverage in some sort of power play ("you rejected me, so now I'll make your time in this space about that instead of X activity").

-> This is a flavour of awkward I have not encountered before. Is there a chance I’m being too harsh and reading malicious intent where there isn’t any?*

-> The nuclear option, of course, is to call him out in front of everyone the next time he tries the ‘it’s coming from inside the house’ texting approach. But this would make me look like a melodramatic jerk (probably his intention) and likely ruin the ambiance of the group. Has anyone ever done something like this and if so, how did you manage it? What was the fallout?

Any advice, especially on dealing with this kind of situation in claustrophobic geek/immigrant/expat social settings, is enormously appreciated. Thanks in advance!

*Yeah, erm, not really sure about this; the whole “Oh, so no to coffee? Wanna bang?” is a strategy I’ll admit I’ve never seen before, and as a former band nerd/former aspiring biologist/current all-around dork I have known and dated some awkward people. Wtf even is this??

**Did I mention this guy refers to himself as a feminist?
posted by TinyChicken to Human Relations (86 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Tell the other people in the group, not in front of him. Is there another woman or two there you could tell? He might be doing it to them too, honestly. And say to him firmly "stop propositioning me. Your advances make me uncomfortable." Short, direct, to the point. He got some of what he wanted when you went for coffee with him. He doesn't just want sex, he wants your attention. He's got it. Block his number. You don't need to get texts from him.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
posted by sockermom at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2017 [109 favorites]

"I've told you no repeatedly." Do this in front of the group while showing your phone to the group. If this fucks up the group dynamic for anyone but this jackass guy then it's not worth being in that group.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:26 AM on February 27, 2017 [102 favorites]

I'm sorry, this really fucking sucks. I do not think you're being too harsh - he is way, way over the line and you should not be stuck dealing with this treatment.

My first thought may be a non-starter but since I didn't see you explicitly address it: Does your group have any kind of formal leadership? I've seen some different Meetup groups structured very different ways, and don't want to assume. But if you do have one or two people who are mostly in charge of organizing or promoting these meetings, I would have a private conversation with them about it. If they are halfway decent people, they will want to know this is happening - both to help end what's happening to you, and to try to put some ground rules in place to stop this kind of thing from happening in the future. I would tell them and ask them to take the lead on setting things right with this guy. This kind of behavior is going to ruin what sounds like a good group that they've got going, and they should be invested in stopping it.

If not, and if you don't want to go for the "middle of the group call-out" thing, are there one or two close people you can enlist to be your wingwomen? Make sure you aren't cornered when coming/going from the group, heading to the restroom, whatever? Possibly if he finds himself confronted with a united front of multiple people dedicated to preventing him from cornering you, even if he doesn't actually learn his lesson, he'll at least decide it's too much work to keep doing this shit.

I strongly suggest you not agree to any more meetings with him outside the group at all, or that at the very least you take someone with you. Meeting up with him is clearly hurting your cause more than it's helping, since the message he's taking away is "I got her to spend time with me!" and not "this isn't ever happening!" So don't keep pursuing that line of attack; he's either intentionally or unknowingly clueless, and it's not helping.
posted by Stacey at 8:26 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

You have the texts. Both his rude propositions and your answers. Show them to the others as sockermom suggests. He's lost any claim to polite treatment by this behavior.

this would make me look like a melodramatic jerk

I don't think so, as long as you're sufficiently quiet and humble when you're asking the others for their ideas, for the good of the group, on what to do about this.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:28 AM on February 27, 2017 [14 favorites]

Ugh. He totally thinks he is "wearing you down" to the point where you'll hook up with him. He probably also enjoys "the chase" in general. I wish I could drunkenly yell this asshole down for you!

You need to tell him in the plainest, most concise way that you are not and will never be interested in him sexually. Either by text, or preferably in person when you are both sober. Say it like a parent disappointed in a teenage kid. Then, since this "news" from you will not square well with the image he has of your relationship (of him wearing you down and into bed, not the reality of him being super annoying and clueless), he isn't likely to accept it, and will probably still try to get you on coffee dates and shit.

Enlist a friend who will have no problem shouting him down. Like when he flirty-texts you at a group hang, you immediately text Sheila, and Sheila erupts across the table at this guy. Make it as embarrassing for him as it has been for you.

Give him no benefit of doubt, because this has gone on long enough. He is not a feminist since he is not treating you like a real person with agency. He cannot claim to be surprised by the backlash because you have already told him that he needs to cut this crap out.
posted by Drosera at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

The next time he texts you, text him back something like "stop texting me. I'm not interested in you, and you are making me uncomfortable." Then block his number. Do not hedge or soften the blow or try to be a nice girl. If he still bothers you after that, then you need to tell other people.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2017 [50 favorites]

Whatever he asks to do, don't do it, even if it's just getting a coffee. If he texts you, do not under any circumstances text back -- any response at all, to him, indicates he has the proverbial foot in the door and if he just keeps wheedling, he's going to make it in.

Talk to a couple of your trusted friends/acquaintances in the group about this. He has done this before. He might be doing it to multiple women right now.
posted by mikeh at 8:34 AM on February 27, 2017 [10 favorites]

As a first step, see if you can block his number and avoid any time alone with him, even for a moment - is there anyone in the group you can get more friendly with, ideally a woman? Then try to chat with your new friend on the way out the door, etc.

Absolutely do not meet him outside of the group setting ever again. I would strongly suggest that you stop replying to his texts and answering his calls as well, if you're unable to just block his number.
posted by randomnity at 8:36 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: No-to-coffee-wanna-bang is a hallmark of redpiller/pickup dating culture, fwiw. In your position I would find an ally or two in the group and sit next to them during the next meeting. When Cranstopher texts, I would make a show of showing the phone to my allies, who would hopefully look in his direction with marked disapproval. Not quite a loud scene, but a clear message to Cranstopher that you're not going to suffer in silence and unsupported any longer. If no allies are forthcoming I would say sayonara to the group.
posted by xyzzy at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2017 [56 favorites]

An option you didn't list but is the one I would do in this situation is to email the core few people (other than him) with screenshots of his aggressive texts, some background on how long it's been going on and how uncomfortable it's making you, and a request for support and advice. These people are your friends, and it's appropriate to tell friends when weird stuff is happening in your life. They are also the curators of this social group, and it's appropriate for them to be interested in keeping creepy jerks out. Being mostly a group of women particularly, I'd be surprised if they were not readily on your side.

Besides that advice, I'd like to take a moment to shake my head at how poorly gender socialization protects women -- some guy behaves egregiously, and you're the one seriously considering leaving your favourite social group lest you are considered dramatic, or suffer more harm from him in retaliation. It's the worst! I'm sorry this is happening.
posted by Pwoink at 8:46 AM on February 27, 2017 [61 favorites]

You're not overreacting. This guy's behavior is horrible and way over the line. I would talk to some of the other women in the group about his behavior and block his number, because there's no reason to give him continued access to you through your phone. Since he takes any further contact as a sign that you're interested, do not meet up with him. If he tries to start a conversation with you in the group, ignore him. Make sure you always leave the group meeting with someone else for a while, so he can't ambush you as you're going out the door.
posted by colfax at 8:46 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like some of the ideas above, especially in enlisting allies and sort of cultivating a stronger connection with others in the group. On top of that, you might also coordinate a smaller group meetup informally without the jerk and see how that goes over. You shouldn't lose your friends because of this ballbag.
posted by amanda at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2017

Whenever there's been a situation in my life where a particular person in a group has repeatedly made me feel uncomfortable, they are almost always making another person in the group feel uncomfortable as well. I agree with the posters above who have suggested you talk about this guy with other people, particularly the women, in your group. I bet you anything you're not the only one.

You can do this privately or publicly, whichever you feel comfortable with.

I would also tell him in no uncertain terms that you don't want anything to do with him. Stop blaming yourself for giving him your number, etc--it's not your fault that he's an asshole. But you can, going forward, set your boundaries. Block (or mute him, if you can't block a number) him on your phone so you don't get interrupted by texts from him. Don't concede to get coffee or spend social time alone with him. Don't let this creep have any more of your time or attention.

Definitely make sure other people in the group know about him, though. Fill someone else in on the backstory so they can be there for you. If he says weird shit at you or texts you in a group setting, call it out immediately. Hold up your phone and say "Did you just text me asking me to sleep with you? I've told you no multiple times. Knock it off!" It's right there for everyone to see how unacceptable he's being.
posted by phunniemee at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2017 [24 favorites]

The "nuclear" option sounds totally reasonable to me. You've told him repeatedly in private ways that you are not interested. A clear, verbal, out loud "No, Cranstopher, I do not want to go back to your place." in front of his friends is well within reason.
posted by maryr at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2017 [25 favorites]

What makes you think he isn't doing it to anyone else? He probably is, cause he's a rat bastard.

You need to out him, as you are protecting him, but not yourself. You are obviously way more important.
posted by Ftsqg at 8:55 AM on February 27, 2017 [52 favorites]

What I intended as an occasion to give a final, categorical refusal was clearly read, once again, as encouragement

no it wasn't. it wasn't it wasn't it wasn't. He didn't misread you as interested, he correctly read you as someone he can bully and threaten and so he is doing that. He got you to apologize to him after forcing a kiss on you for christ's sake. He's an expert. He's had practice. He is a bully and a predator.

You're not limited to the two choices of tolerating harassment or making a loud scene (although if you were, choose the scene!) If he texts you when you're in a group, you can directly say, making sure you're overheard, "Why are you sending me inappropriate texts?" or "Stop sending me weird sexual texts" or -- maybe better -- turn to a woman and show her and say "look at this, what the hell is he doing?" Don't smile while you do it and don't apologize after. Right now he thinks he, just one man, is more powerful and important than a whole bunch of women and he likes having you scared. But you (all of you together) can make him wrong.

Talk to other women about him, with or without him present. You are not stupid to be afraid and you didn't do anything to provoke this but you can fight back if you have witnesses and allies to help.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2017 [75 favorites]

This man has lost the right to be treated politely. You told him clearly that you are not interested in what he has to offer, but he continues to ask. By texting you during group meetings, he is counting on you to not "make a scene" in front of others. This is definitely not the first time he has pulled this garbage -- he enjoys this little game, and he's doing it at your expense.

To hell with him. The next time he texts you with his bullshit, tear him a new one in front of the group. If anyone there thinks you're the jerk, they're not someone you want to know.
posted by shiny blue object at 9:03 AM on February 27, 2017 [15 favorites]

There's no way this guy hasn't preyed on other women before. That's what he uses the meet up group for -- a steady supply of women to bully into sex. This is a common enough thing that I know many people who are super wary of male meet up regulars for this reason -- there always seems to be a predator in the mix.

And you should treat him as a predator. I suggest you tell the other women too, but be prepared for it not to go well, necessarily. He's had practice and he's had time. The last time I saw this go down, the woman I know was forced out of the group when everyone took sides with her rapist, because he'd been there longer and was really good at manipulating everyone's desire for a smoothly functioning group.

Seriously this guy is bad news. Tell people, and get out if they let you down. He's only going to escalate.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:07 AM on February 27, 2017 [13 favorites]

Honestly if anything you are underreacting.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2017 [58 favorites]

Oh I missed that you asked for examples!

I am a current aspiring biologist/lifelong nerd, and nerds don't get a pass for being jerks. I silenced a particularly atrocious, sexist nerd after he made lewd comments while I was dancing with friends at a party of nerds. I shoved him against a parked car, put my bared fingernails up in his face, and threatened to scratch out DNA samples from him if he ever touched me again. He didn't talk to me for the rest of the field season, yay!

He was also in general less of a fixture at parties going forward, which was probably an indirect benefit to other women since he was just as touchy with them as he was with me.
posted by Drosera at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

If it were one of the other women in this group who suddenly held up her cell phone with his slimy-ass text on it and announced loudly that he's been doing this for EIGHT MONTHS and needs to LISTEN TO HER NO, what would your reaction be? Maybe momentarily taken aback, sure, but I have to think that most people would very quickly realize that the problem person is the sexual predator who is refusing to respect another person's rejection. I can't imagine anybody with an ounce of sense concluding that the recipient of these texts was a "drama instigator."

Silence and secrecy is only protecting this scum. He's using your sense of social decency as cover for his utterly inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. I love the idea of emailing screen shots of his gross texts to the folks in charge of this group (or to women in the group you have strongest ties to, if there are no 'leaders'), and recruiting their assistance. I also love the idea of holding up your phone in front of the group and calling him out on this shit - as others have said, it's entirely possible that you're not the only one he's doing this to.

Shed some light on this roach, and hopefully he'll scatter.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2017 [13 favorites]

If I were sitting with a group of friends and got a text like that, I would stop the whole conversation, make it a public thing. Phone dings, read the text propositioning you, reply verbally across the table in the middle of the group "Hey, Dude, you have got to cut out sending these texts, I already told you no last week, and the week before, and I'm not going to start saying yes." He's trying to create a private space to bully you without other people around, and you need to harness the fact that your people are right there with you. It's not shameful to you that he's been after you, don't let him imply that this is personal and none of their business - the whole point is, you're not interested in creating a personal private relationship with him, so there's nothing to hide or protect, go ahead and make it public.
posted by aimedwander at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2017 [55 favorites]

It's quite possible he's a missing stair and is harassing/has harassed other women in your group this way.

In your shoes, I would be seriously angry about this incessant sexual harassment ruining my social experience, and I would nuclear on his ass. As others have said, he's a predator and he takes advantage of the fact that women are socialized to be nice (and silent) to creep on women and get away with not being called out.

1. Block his phone, and block him on all social media. Block, block everywhere.
2. Certainly no more attempts to be reasonable or placating. Never see him alone or take a call or reply to a message again.
3. Cut him dead in public - you do not see, him hear, speak to him. If he speaks to you, it's like he's not even there. You never look at him or acknowledge him. If you enter a room, you say hello to people you're happy to see and say nothing to him.
4. If he comes to sit across or next to you, you get up and move. If he gets anywhere near you, you hop up to the bar to get drinks or circulate off to another group of friends.
5. Talk to the other women in the group about the problems you're having with him.
6. If he tries to confront you and won't go away due to all the ignoring, say something very loudly that starts with, "Stop sexually harassing me, Cranstopher!" and ends with swears (well, that would be my approach.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2017 [22 favorites]

His social ignorance is making him not only tiresome, but a serious problem in your life, and maybe others'. This is probably caused by a kind of ignorance that is not easy to correct by mere words, unfortunately, but it is probably real ignorance (lack of empathy is a serious, threatening kind of ignorance too). Sometimes the only way to correct such ignorance is by doing things that are not, in the moment, kind.
posted by amtho at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2017

BLOCK HIS NUMBER. My goodness. Save the texts he's sent you, preferably to a backup location too, and then block him. There, now he must contact you face to face, meaning you can reject him loudly and publicly.

As for revealing him to the bigger group, think about it this way: if you publicly shamed him in front of the group and they responded by defending him and treating you like the bad guy, are they really people you want to continue to be friends with? Nerdy, fun people can still be gross enablers of this behavior - I think Captain Awkward has many posts about this - and sometimes you have to break the illusion and find out if they are nerdy, fun, AND have integrity.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Or, if you don't want to be dramatic about it, just say out loud (pleasantly) "Oh! you texted me! No, thanks, I don't want coffee after." No dramatic statements of rejection, but you've documented that he asked. If he's making a habit of asking women out from that meetup, those people will notice. Imagine if he's also texting another girl at the table at the same time and relying on both of you being too embarrassed to say anything. Imagine if you seemed to have shrugged him off and he stopped, but really he just started focusing on somebody else, and you heard the new girl say that to him - you would be 100% on her side and go talk to her about it, yes? Even if he's not a repeat offender and doesn't have a history in the group, your calm audible no thanks will have set the stage that you've said no and haven't been rude, and this conversation will be an event that you can then take one of your other friends aside and talk about - "you saw when I got that text from Dude, can you believe it's the 4th week in a row that he's asked me out via text in the middle of a meetup? I figured I'd say no out loud this time to see if it would sink in."
posted by aimedwander at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2017 [11 favorites]

Also, if you need a little social "oomph," I want to say that I was cursing vigorously and loudly when I read your description of this dude's actions, and I bet I'm not the only one. You are absolutely, positively, in no way overreacting or being too harsh. You are absolutely NOT misreading his intent.

Jesus - "no to coffee, wanna bang?" How could you possibly be misreading this?

Again, don't give him the benefit of the secrecy that he needs (and yes, absolutely block his number and any other channel he has to contact you - he lost that privilege long ago) ... and if you're feeling like it, I know I for one would love to hear what you decide to do and how it goes. You've got a whole swath of AskMe posters behind you on this one - shut this shitstain down!
posted by DingoMutt at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

He is an enormous asshole who has no respect for you or any other woman. He likely committed a crime by kissing you without your consent. He deserves no sensitivity or compassion. Period.

You have already made it clear you are uninterested. He is willfully ignoring your autonomy.

In your shoes, I would speak to a few women in the group to let them know what is going on. Also tell them that you plan to call him out if he bothers you again and say that you'd appreciate their support. I would also block his number. If he tries to interact with you IN ANY WAY at any future meetings, I suggest you loudly say "I have repeatedly told you I am not interested in having sex with you. Get away from me NOW."
posted by mcduff at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Has anyone ever done something like this and if so, how did you manage it? What was the fallout?

Yes, sort of. A library patron called me at home (I was in the phone book, this is from ancient times). Next time I saw him at the circulation desk I walked up and loudly said, in front of coworkers and other patrons, "Do NOT call me, I did NOT give you permission to do that." He not only didn't call back, he stopped coming to checkout when I was at the desk. No fallout at all for me at all, even though I had almost-shouted at a patron.

Next time he does it at a meeting, look at him and loudly say "Jesus fucking Christ, stop texting me, I will NEVER be interested in you and you're being an asshole." Or with less swearing, if that's not your thing, but in that tone, in front of everyone else.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 AM on February 27, 2017 [23 favorites]

I'd also add if you're not comfortable telling the whole group, perhaps pick one or two people you are most friendly with, tell them about it, and ask them to start waiting with you for a cab so there is no way he can approach you alone. Sadly, this is a pretty normal part of being a Woman Friend.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:38 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Save his texts. Block his number.
posted by jbenben at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You're trying to act like a normal human being, while he's playing some sick stalkery abusive powergame where every message he sends and gets away with is a 'victory' of some sort. When his chosen target fails to cut him off at the knees, its a clear sign to these kinds of scum that he's making 'progress'

I don't think you've done anything wrong; I just don't think you've been exposed to this kind of shitty 'person' before. They really will use any societal norms against you, judo stye. It wouldn't hurt to tell the group what's going on privately, but I also have zero issue with saying in front of the group:"cranstopher, these texts are highly inappropriate and extremely un wanted. No means no. Never contact me again." And if/when he tries to do exactly that, escalate. Send it to the cops if you have to. He doesn't deserve consideration or protection, even accidentally.
posted by Jacen at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2017 [10 favorites]

Count me among those who say you are not overreacting at all! I would personally opt for making his shit public; if you really want to avoid a scene, be calm and even polite about it, but make it public. No need to shout, but be firm.

I think the scenario where you answer his text out loud, with everyone around you being able to hear you, is splendid. No need to be harsh if you're not feeling it (of course, you are fully justified in being harsh if you are! It's really up to you).
Just bring what he's doing out into the bright light of day, in a way that works for you.

He's a creep, a predator and he's trying to push you into shielding his bullshit from public view. It's time to stop doing that.

Can you hear us all, cheering you on? We're all rooting for you. That's because we've seen creeps like this before and we know that you are right and he's a creep. Go for it, you can do it!
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2017 [21 favorites]

I would go with the nuclear option. This type of guy is relying on your shame keeping you quiet, and you have done absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing. You need to be quite secure in this knowledge. Hold your head high and tell him to fuck right off, loudly, publicly and extensively.

I haven't been on the receiving end of sleazy texts, but I have absolutely made a massive scene over things like being groped or propositioned and I found that the more outraged and noisy I was, the quicker the culprit apologised and scuttled away. Complete strangers came over in the street to support me. I wouldn't worry about losing friends or being labelled a drama-monger - if that happens, they are as bad as him and were not your friends to start with.
posted by tinkletown at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm 99% sure he's been doing this to other women, probably other women in the same group. Talk to them, show your texts, get some support.
posted by suelac at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

I agree, don't give up your social group, but block him any and every way on social media. You don't need to ever hear anything. In fact, I bet that he's taking the very fact that you still engage with him at all as encouragement. "She says no, but she hasn't blocked me like all the other girls... she must like me!" I'm not trying to blame you, just trying to problem solve for your relationship with an asshole. He does not deserve any consideration for his feelings or his ability to save face within the group. Do not worry about him.

Possibly blocking him on every social media might be enough; it might be the hint he's looking for and if you're lucky he'll not engage you publicly.

You don't necessarily need to bring this up to other people, but if/when he approaches you realizing that he's been blocked shut down any conversation quickly (and not quietly) with "John, I've blocked you because you've made it more than obvious that you only view me as a sex object. I'm not interested in this with you and will never be interested in this with you. You've burned away any possibility for friendship, Do Not Talk to Me." Then look away and continue whatever conversation existed before him.

Do NOT engage him apart from groups. If he tries to corner you away from groups, do not be afraid to yell, "Help!" Do not think that you're being dramatic if you seek out an ally to prevent him from cornering you.

He'll probably reply by either shrinking away in an attempt to save face / show others that he can take a hint (this enabling him to attempt to downplay this to others; but you don't need to care about this). Alternately he'll reply with either "Bitch." or he'll try bargaining. Just keep replying with "You've killed any possibility of friendship, I've had to block you on everything, don't talk to me." and look away. Try to re-engage someone else in whatever was being talked about before. If you need to do this beyond three times, look to try to engage the "Strongest" personality in the group that you think will be an ally in asking if they can talk to him.

I'm sorry that this will require you to be more direct that you might be comfortable with, but 1) you might quickly get some commerseration from others, 2) you help put out the word that he's at least a squeaky, if not missing, stair 3) it will be great practice for when this next occurs with someone else.

It's also probably advisible for the next few times you leave your group to try to engage an ally in blocking him while you make your exit encase he tries to chase you to engage you while waiting for a taxi.
posted by nobeagle at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2017

Best answer: Also, just in case he's employing this tactic with you: I've dealt with a couple of guys like this before. They all tried to convince me that I was uptight and shy and naive and that the main problem was I just needed to learn to loosen up a bit and live a little and be less of a prude. I was younger then, and sort of insecure about my general lack of dating experience at the time, so I sort of believed them. This meant that I spent a lot of time feeling bad about myself and thinking that maybe something was wrong with me because I was so deeply uncomfortable around them.

I realized when I got a bit older that they were all just creepy assholes, and the reason they kept telling me to "loosen up" a bit and "live a little" was because they were hoping they could pressure me that way into sleeping with them. All three guys framed it as being interested in my general welfare, but that was just complete crap. So, I pass the life lesson down to you, just in case: not wanting to sleep with a man who is twice your age because he is creeping you the hell out doesn't make you a prude. It doesn't make you uptight, or unworldly, or someone who doesn't know how to relax and enjoy herself. It makes you a woman who is being smart and listening to your instincts. Don't let him bully you into thinking otherwise.
posted by colfax at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2017 [57 favorites]

So it's not the same thing, but it is an example of making hidden creepiness public, and it totally worked:

when I was around 14 years old, I was out shopping by myself, and I was on a crowded square, when a man I did not know started mumbling at me, barely audible. I asked him to repeat himself, because I genuinely had not understood what he said, and so he did. This time I heard him right, and so I straightened my back, looked him in the eye and said, loud and clear:
'What, you're saying you want me to jerk you off for ten guilders?'
What happened next was glorious. Heads turned, people looked at me, looked at him, and they were clearly ready to help me. I felt supported and instantly safer. He seemed to melt away: he made himself smaller, and disappeared into the crowd as fast as he could. Probably for the better, because someone might very well have punched him or something like that.

I'm still so proud of 14-year old me, and so glad I had the quick wits and the courage to try that. And it worked oh, so well.

Creeps need to be exposed. They melt away in direct sunlight. Overturn that rock he's hiding under and watch him scurry off!
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2017 [73 favorites]

I mean, if you're about to be driven away from the group by this man's behavior anyway, why not make a stand? Either you still have to give up the group, OR this dude gets dealt with and you get to enjoy the group. And it is almost certainly not just you dealing with some kind of shit from this guy, whether you ever hear about it or not.

Don't let this guy's overt aggression gaslight you into thinking you deserve this or it's okay. Imagine if this guy was a shoe salesman, how many times can he try to sell you a shoe before he's crossed a line? Yeah, sure, you're *wearing* shoes and so clearly a consumer of shoes at some point, but once you've said "no thanks, I'm not interested in those shoes" he needs to stop.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

You are not overreacting. When I was in a position of a man not listening to my "no", I was given the advice to be as bland and boring as possible. Pleasant but... just boring. The idea is that if you get angry, that's still giving them a reaction, your energy, your attention, and just perpetuates the problem. Like when you went for coffee to make it clear nothing would happen, he just latched on harder. If you're super boring, there's nothing to latch onto. He asks how you're doing, you say "oh... fine" with a blandly pleasant smile, and don't ask how he's doing. "What have you been up to?" "Oh... not much...", no question in response. Just, nothing to engage with. Anger gives him something to engage with. Setting boundaries (normally an excellent thing) gives him something to engage with. You've already set boundaries and it's just given him something to push against (to be clear, this is NOT because you did anything wrong, it's because he is choosing to disrespect the limits you rightly set). Bland, boring, pleasant but not friendly gives him none of the attention, positive or negative, he seems to be seeking.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. It's awful. Good luck.
posted by bighappyhairydog at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Expose him to the group. Even if they haven't been stalked or annoyed by him, if they don't accept what you're saying nd back you up against him, you deserve a different group.

Careful he doesn't try to stalk you or harass you because you do this. You might mention publicly you're thoroughly sick of it to the point of reporting him to the police.

You do NOT deserve his crap. Send him up in flames.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

You have done absolutely nothing to deserve this treatment. Even if his motives were "romantic," his behavior would still be completely unacceptable.

I would send an email to some women in your group with screenshots. At the end, say "Just so you know, I will be publicly calling him out on this the next time it happens." That way, people won't waste any time being surprised when you say something, and can instead jump immediately to your support (hopefully).
posted by delight at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Predators thrive on secrecy. You need to stop going along with the secrecy. He is a predator. There has been no misunderstanding. Out him and accept the fallout. If they prefer his company to yours, you are not safe there anyway.
posted by Michele in California at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2017 [20 favorites]

I get the feeling from your question that calling him out publicly is something you're not feeling ready to do yet, is that right?

In that case: hang out with two or three women in the group - have coffee or go shopping or whatever - and show them the texts and tell them how gross he's been. Say you've been wanting to be nice, but he's gone over the line into harassment. Ask them to help you not be alone with him. (Do this as insurance against him spinning to the group later that you were ever encouraging.)

Then block his number. No need to receive texts or calls from this guy. If it ever comes up again in person you can say "I was serious when I told you to stop" and disengage. Use the women friends you recruited to help you not be alone with him.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:42 AM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

Feel free to openly label his behavior as harassment.
posted by delight at 11:50 AM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

I think there is a very strong chance he's doing this to other women in the group.

If that is true, he's made several group members uncomfortable, and the future of the group could be in jeopardy.

Out, and then oust, this turd to keep your group safe.

Besides, if another woman from the group told you this had been happening to her for months, you would support her. They will support you.

If you don't see your own comfort and safety as enough reason to get away from him (and you should; you are worthy), you should know he threatens the safety and cohesion of the group.

If he's doing this to other women as I think he is, the group could collapse.

Get rid of him by any means needed.
posted by littlewater at 11:59 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is really fucked up. This is seriously predatory and disrespectful and aggressive and gross.

This dude is banking on your dealing with this quietly and alone, so bring it out loud.

Your step one HAS to be to email your group. Include screenshots. Warn the others of the behaviour, especially since most of the group is female. Warn them to keep their distance. I'm a woman and jesus christ, this is something I would want to know about. I would deeply appreciate knowing that there was someone this disgusting in my midst.

Your step two is to publicly call him out. The next time he shows up to a meeting and starts doing this, make things awkward and uncomfortable. You need to loudly and publicly shut this guy down. There is SO MUCH POWER in being willing to make things awkward. As women we seem to be taught that above all we should never do anything that could make things uncomfortable or unpleasant for someone else, and scumbags like the one you're dealing with is banking on it. Make this as fucking awkward and uncomfortable as possible. Reclaim your power. The next time he sends you a message while are at a group event I would sigh loudly, show the person sitting beside you (whom you presumably had warned ahead of time), and then make a loud, pointed, public speech, something like:

"Cranstopher, I am letting you know that I am blocking you from my phone and will accept no further communication with you in any way. It disgusts me that you have repeatedly sent me unwanted sexually suggestive messages, and that you have continued to send them and continued to proposition me after I have repeatedly told you point blank that I am not interested. Your behaviour is completely unacceptable and disrespectful and is harassment. It is deeply disturbing that you refuse to stop even though I have said no, and now every time you send me a message it makes my skin crawl. You don't get to decide that I must not mean it when I say no just because it isn't the answer you want. (By the way, that is the same logic that sexual predators and rapists use. Maybe you should reflect on that.) You should be embarrassed and ashamed that your refusal to heed my repeated refusal and demands for you to stop you has forced me to publicly confront you in this way. This is not something I enjoy, but at least now the rest of the group is aware of your predatory behaviour so you won't be able to do the same to any of them."

basically, publicly call him out and use strong words like:
- disgusting
- pathetic
- harassment
- ashamed
- predator
- humiliated

If you aren't willing to publicly call him out in this way, then maybe send the entire group the above message, including him.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:02 PM on February 27, 2017 [13 favorites]

nerdy foreigner living in a large European capital

It might be useful to know a little more about this. To be sure, harassment is harassment, but your course of action might depend a little of what locally would be customary, and the signals you give to him may also be read differently, depending on spot and culture.
That being said, no ought to be understandable in any language. If a gentle no doesn't enter his thick skull, be louder. In front of the group would be just fine (after eight months!). Stay safe though.
posted by Namlit at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2017

doesn't your phone have a block option? So you can block texts calls etc from a particular number? i believe in UK all phone network service providers are obliged by law to offer this, it's basic. Get one that does. If you block him, the harrassment during the meetings goes. Then it's just the end of the meetings you have to worry about.

Block him to his face too. Don't yell, don't see him outside the meeting. Either just block him completely: never make eye contact, look just past him; don't pass or take things; don't sit next or in eyegaze of; grunt when spoken to and be rudely casual if you have to speak; shut your eyes if forced to make eye contact (eg if nodding yes, do it while closing eyes); blocking body language, etc. Don't speak about him to other people (Jen says, 'oh pete did x' you say 'oh really? huh whatever' and change topic). Stonewall.

If he confronts you alone, eg outside the club, use aggressive body language: fists, stance with feet apart, big frown etc. Silent aggression and killing all contact and conversation: he can't get in then.

He isn't hearing your polite giving-in-occasionally twee little protests, so you've got to make it big. You've got to give him no handle to get in or start an argument or protest or conversation or any kind of contact, like a sheer slippery wall. No entrance to start a conversation, no reason provocation or contact that serves as a chink to enter. Delete messages don't read them.

When i read what you wrote, i assumed your two options would be: find someone else in the group you can talk to and complain about this to her, or more than one her; and, block him out. That you don't see these as your options shows you're too polite, which is weird. It's harrassment - i know it's not criminal or actually scary etc, there are degrees, i'm not saying he needs to go to jail and stuff, just you need to shake him off.

Another aspect of blocking is lying: 'can i have your number?' 'i don't know it' 'you just gave it to stella' 'i don't know it, sorry'. Just lie straightfaced. It's about freezing it, not 'how to respond'. Well, that's me, that's how i deal with people i can't bear.
posted by maiamaia at 12:21 PM on February 27, 2017

In a similar situation (only at work) what helped the most was talking to other women in the group and finding he was, indeed, trying this with others. As soon as it was clear that two or more of us knew what he was doing and were Allied against him, dude left us alone.

So if you have a friend in the group who is sympathetic, complain to her. Even if she hasn't experienced this from him, it will open up a discussion and give you allies who Understand.
posted by ldthomps at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

He's using your fear of making a scene against you, the way lots of bullies do. Deciding you don't care about making a scene is the most powerful thing you can do. When you do it, keep silently telling yourself that you're not going to be embarrassed, he's the one who has chosen to embarrass yourself.

Next time he texts you in a meeting, pull out your phone, look at it in full view of everyone, and then say in a loud firm voice, "X, I have told you repeatedly for the last eight months that I am not going to date you, and you keep refusing to take no for an answer. I have asked you repeatedly to stop texting me and you have continued to do it every time I see you. Continuing to do this is sexual harassment."

80% odds some other woman in the group will pipe up that he's been doing the same thing to her.
posted by waffleriot at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ugh, you have my sympathies. This happened to me in one of the Meetup groups I used to attend. The creeper was one of the organizers. I'm pretty sure he used the group as a way to find women and when they rebuffed his advances, he would become hostile to them so they would end up leaving and no one would ever hear from them again. They voluntarily left the group. I knew this was his pattern, so when he turned his attention to me and I rebuffed him, he made being a member of the group very uncomfortable for me. But I wasn't going down without a fight. I "outed" him to the other organizers and a few of the members. The other organizers invited me to stay in the group and participate in activities, which I did. At one meetup, the creeper said something to me I couldn't ignore and we had it out right then and there. The situation improved for a while, until he returned to his ways. It got so bad the next time around that he started stalking me, sending me 7+ emails a day, texting, calling me, facebook messaging me until I finally had to call the police on him - twice. Luckily for me, I kept a log of all the unwanted contact, so I had proof. The police threatened him with arrest for harassment. I did leave the group in the end. It just wasn't worth the stress.

Like many of the others have said - he may have done this to others in the past - don't let him victimize you or anyone else again. Bring it up to the organizer and let them know what's going on. Maybe they'll boot the creeper.

If you want to DM me, please feel free. Sorry you're having to deal with this.
posted by ATX Peanut at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain and say hold off on a public display in front of the group. What if he has successfully worn down one or more already? Its likely to make them feel crappy about themselves. Just block his number, and quietly feel out the other members of the group first.
posted by 445supermag at 12:52 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is this a Meet-Up? If so there should be an organiser, and I would definitely tell the organiser. You may not be the first to complain about this guy, and even if you are, he may just be asked to leave.

Otherwise - ugh. Lots of good advice above.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:07 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

The next time he texts you, text him back something like "stop texting me. I'm not interested in you, and you are making me uncomfortable." Then block his number. Do not hedge or soften the blow or try to be a nice girl.

This exactly. You do not owe this jerk any more courtesy -- and you are not being harsh; you've given him the benefit of the doubt plenty of times, and he repaid you by violating your explicit boundaries over and over.

I would pick at least a couple of the women you most trust and tell them anyway, though. Right now. I would bet a shiny new dime that you aren't the only woman, or the first, he's tried to play this game with. With luck he'll get the reputation as a creep he deserves.
posted by Gelatin at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would definitely tell the organizer, preferably in writing, preferably with screenshots of the texts in question. Ask that they set ground rules for the meetups, including that sexual harassment -- what he's doing to you is definitely harassment and probably assault -- is not tolerated. Ask them to actually enforce those rules.

Two options for the next time he texts you something inappropriate during a meetup:
1. Very pointed look at him, then turn to the nearest person and show them the texts.
2. Answer him out loud in very clear language, not yelling but just loud enough to be overheard by those sitting nearby. ("No, I already said I don't want to go on a date with you." "Stop sending me sexually explicit messages.") This is I think what you call the "nuclear option," but if delivered in a neutral tone, this makes you look like the adult and him like a sneak.

I very much doubt this will make you look melodramatic. I get that you don't want to make a scene (I'm similarly nonconfrontational) but given that you have evidence in writing of his harassing, borderline stalker behavior, I'd be very surprised that anyone would think you're overreacting.

Basically, ignoring him's not working; level up and recruit the rest of the group to support you in shutting down this jerk.
posted by basalganglia at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2017

Everyone has awesome advice.

Here is what I would do, and in this order:

1) Take screenshots of the texts. All of them. Save them to somewhere that you have a backup.
2) block his number.
3) Write up what's been going on - base it on your post. Use this as the basis for the email to follow.
4) If there are other women in the group that you trust, reach out to them. Send them the email and the screenshots. Let them know that you really like this group and you want to stay, but that this guy is behaving in a predatory and inappropriate manner and while you have tried to be polite he is getting increasingly aggressive and creepy. You don't want to be alone with him, you don't like confrontation, and he's preying on that. It's cool to ask if he's done that to other people, if they can have your back whenever he's around, or if they can back you up with the organizer.
5) Send a similar email to the organizers and let them know that someone in the group is making you feel uncomfortable, that you are sure this isn't the first time he's done something like this, that he is behaving like a predator, etc, and because this group means so much to you can they please take some kind of action because you feel like he is putting you in a position where you will have to leave the group if he doesn't stop. Play up anything you can here - this guy is substantially older, you have said no repeatedly, you really wanted to make friends, he is sending you inappropriate texts during meetups, he is trying to put you in a position where you can't avoid him and can't say no, he kissed you when you were too drunk to fight him off despite your repeated refusals, this is ruining the group for you and you would really like their help. If the organizer is a woman, approach her in a way similarly to the other women in the group. If the organizer is a man, approach them with the assumption that they are a decent man who doesn't want creepy dudes harassing or assaulting the women around them. Either way, let them know that this creep makes you feel unsafe.
6) Do not ever be alone with this guy, do not give him your number, and be prepared to miss a meetup or two while this is dealt with. If he somehow manages to get you alone, your line is "Stop harassing me, I told you NO repeatedly." Practice saying it loudly if you have trouble yelling at people.
7) if the organizer is a jerk and takes the creep's side, send a copy of the email you sent the organizer to the entire group, along with documenting the organizer's response, and that you are leaving because this is not a safe environment.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2017 [15 favorites]

Lots of great advice here. The kindest explanation for this guy's behaviour is that he is completely clueless and so entitled that he doesn't feel the need to listen to you or limit his demands for your time and attention just because you've told him you don't want what he wants. A worse--and in my opinion, more likely--scenario is that he is a predator who is actively getting off on your fear and embarrassment, and enjoying backing you into a corner. You deserve a lot of credit for trying to deal with this in a kind and gentle manner, but that hasn't worked and now you have to take a stronger stand. Sadly, I've been in this kind of situation a couple of times myself and there's no way to handle it without making things a little awkward. That's on him, not you.

I agree with the advice to tell a couple of the most approachable women what is going on and show them the texts. That would not only be an opportunity to get their advice-- and possibly their support in the highly likely event this due is a known quantity--it would also serve to put your concerns on record in case this guy decides to retaliate against you. The next time he sends you an inappropriate text, respond with something along the lines of "I've told you numerous times I am not interested and your repeated messages are not welcome. Do not contact me again by text or any other means." Then, when he inevitably texts you again, reply with "I told you on XX date not to contact me again. Your repeated messages are harassment. I am now blocking you."

Then, when you see the guy again, follow the excellent advice above to just look right through him. If you're seated at a table, position yourself so you're on the same side as him, a couple of seats down, never right across from him. Don't respond to anything he says, unless he sidles up to you and mutters something inappropriate, in which case you say "what did you say to me?" in a voice loud enough to be heard by the rest of the group. And ask someone else to help you get a taxi when you leave so this guy can't approach you on the way out.
posted by rpfields at 4:07 PM on February 27, 2017

What I would do:

x. Send him a text message which names his behaviour and makes it clear that it needs to stop.

"Cranstopher, you have asked me multiple times to go home with you and I have said no each time, yet you continue to ask. This is harassment and it needs to stop. Do not contact me again."

x. Save copies of all correspondence, including the final message to him.

x. Talk to others in the group and find allies. Maybe they're people he has harassed, maybe they're people who simply recognise that his behaviour is unacceptable.

x. I would not block his number because I would want evidence if he continues this behaviour. Blocking his number is a work around. All work arounds do is let people become the "missing stair" because no one tries to find an actual solution to the problem.

x. If he continues contact, save everything but do not respond. Explore options such as going to the police and/or getting him barred from the group.

x. Exercise appropriate cautions if the guys seems like a loose cannon.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:47 PM on February 27, 2017

This guy doesn't seem to get subtle, or even reasonable clues and, by reading your long explanation here, I suspect you have not been nearly direct as you think you have been. But look, there is no reason you need to talk to or see this guy. If he makes you uncomfortable, tell the other people in your group. If they knew this was going on, they would surely be skeeved out as well.

You seem to want to keep things on the downlow, that's fine. If not, when he sends you a text message about coming home with him while the group is there, why keep it quiet? Why not say, if front of everyone, "Yo, why did you just text me asking to come home with you?" If he says it was a joke, say "no it's not, you've done this repeatedly and I've told you it's not gonna happen. It makes me uncomfortable so please knock it off." Otherwise, I wouldn't text him or respond to his advancements ever.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:59 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd start by meeting up with one or two of the women you like best and sharing the history of all of these texts. Then the next time he texts you something lewd and clearly across the line, I'd just pass my phone to one of my allies with a subtle, mild "get a load of this" eyeroll. Hopefully someone else then acts curious, so the phone could be handed to them with a preamble like "he's been texting her like this for months; she's told him no politely like fourteen times." With any luck, they'll get angry and be indignant for you.

Where my approach might differ from some above is in your tone. I think your responses are totally normal and natural, but I think he is enjoying this. Like an internet troll enjoys everyone's reaction. Or like an annoying little brother poking his sister enjoys getting entertained by her outrage. (This is straight out of the sibling annoyance playbook, actually. The best little sibling game ever is to subtly poke your sibling, like, with a toothpick, in a setting where they can't react or easily tattle, like at church.) I mean -- 'I've told you before this isn't happening, Cranstopher.' 'But life is short! We have such good chemistry!'? -- that totally sounds like he's enjoying the "banter."

So. I think the approach Squeak Attack suggests might be the best, if you haven't tried that yet. That's basically: I'm not playing, game over, the end.

Another approach to defuse things might be to not give him what he wants by not letting this get to you in quite the same way and see if you can somehow gain the upper hand. I fear this sounds a little victim-blamey, to suggest that you pretend it doesn't bother you and that you're reinforcing the behavior by being bothered, so if it doesn't feel useful, just ignore it. But could you try to just take it really casually, like the tone aimedwander offered here? "Hey dude you've gotta cut that out." Maybe give him some hassles if you can pull off that jock insult humor thing ("dude, you've gotta cut that out, 1978 wants its creepy come-on lines back") or otherwise keep the upper hand for yourself ("dude you've gotta cut that out, it makes you seem like a total stalker"). It kind of depends what the tone of the group is. If you try this, he'll probably see if he can bait you back into giving him your earnest attention and making this some private, sexy secret between the two of you. I do think the secrecy might partly be sexy to him, so I'd find a way to make these public no matter what.

Anyway, I wouldn't bother telling him no again unless you need to create a paper trail. It sounds like you've already tried that about fifteen times. He's already gotten way more of your attention than he deserves.
posted by salvia at 10:16 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

so sorry. i concur with the straight-up confront him publicly. also...parents, please teach your boy-children that this simple behavior is an absolute requirement to be feminist ally: take 'no' for an answer.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:22 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I urge you to reject in the strongest of ways all suggestions that he is clueless or ignorant or or somehow having difficult reading your subtle signals. He is the most socially adept person in your entire group by a mile. He is running social-interaction rings around the group (not only you). He is not struggling with anything.

You have to make yourself recognize that none of this -- your confusion, hesitancy, failed efforts to communicate, worry, sensation of being trapped -- is an accident. He didn't just engineer it, he reads people; he read you and he picked you. He read you as younger, prone to thinking carefully before acting, ready to take responsibility both for what you do and what others do, cautious about irrevocable decisions, and generous to a fault. You are smart so you probably know that plenty of women are not like this, for better and worse -- plenty of women are less tolerant, less kind, less self-doubting and less forgiving. some get that way by living as long as this prick has, and some are born that way. Men like this can smell women like that and they never go near them. He is a social savant, not a poor dumb bastard who doesn't know any better. Pity is your enemy here unless it is self-pity. Pity, and also this guy, are both your enemies.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:49 PM on February 27, 2017 [31 favorites]

What a creep. Give no quarter to aggro PUA dudes.

Full support for making sure your mechanisms are in place (locating allies, seeing if there's anyone else he's bothering, giving him the "seriously, stop" business at the next Meetup and ignoring all other contact, etc.) and then entering the launch codes for full nuclear.
posted by helloimjennsco at 9:56 AM on February 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry I haven't read all the replies; here's mine.

You are great. Your responses and the way you think about this are all perfectly fine: you aren't doing anything wrong or over-reacting or misgauging the situation. If anything you are under-reacting.

I'm in my late 40s and I've met tons of guys like this. He is the first one you've met, but next time you will recognize him. He's creepy. He wants to fuck you, and he doesn't care what you want. He has probably been doing this, probably targeting younger women, for decades. I'm guessing his results are something like 1% yes, 49% no and it ends roughly where you're at, and 50% women who say no, who he eventually hassles/coerces/manipulates into having sex. (Which yes, is rape.) You don't want to be in that 50%. I would not be surprised if there are other women in this group, who are.

Men like this get away with it because they are counting on women to stay quiet about what's happening, because we're trained to be polite. And also because if we speak up, we risk people thinking we're troublemakers or drama queens or just no fun to be around. So, you will need to have a little finesse in how you handle this.

I would start by speaking with other women in the group. Just tell them what's going on -- that he's aggressively pursuing you, that you've said no clearly many times, and that he won't stop. You can just be honest and be yourself: everything you wrote here is relatable and sympathy-engendering. Talk with as many women as possible. I am guessing you will find out that he's done this before. For guys like this silence and fear are their friends, so try to be as transparent and forthcoming as you can. Help people connect the dots. Have other women left the group for seemingly no real reason? Has anyone ever expressed ambivalence about this guy in a way that didn't seem to make sense? Has anyone observed anything weird?

If you think you can succeed, try to get people to agree to kick him out of the group. Why? Because he is creepy and making you tremendously uncomfortable, and people in the group have a right to enjoy themselves without being stalked and hassled. (Related: the paradox of tolerance.)

If you don't think you can win on kicking him out, then your backup plan can be blocking his number, calling him out publicly when he does stuff, making sure you're accompanied by friends as you leave and enter, etc. But I would first try to have him removed. If you can, it would be great for you and for everyone! And I think your odds are pretty good because the group is majority- female. Good luck!
posted by Susan PG at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster:
First of all I want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU TO EVERYONE for their excellent, thoughtful advice. Every single comment is spot-on. When I woke up the morning after posting this I couldn’t believe the number of responses; clearly this is a far more common problem than I had imagined, which is…disheartening. But thank you all again for confirming that I’m not just an oversensitive prude or paranoid/nuts/whatever, and that outside observers can understand why I’d be bothered by this.

To answer a couple questions people had asked :

- Both the man in question and I are Anglophones, though from different parts of the world. Men in our host culture are expected to be a bit more aggressive sexually, but his shenanigans would still be considered pretty weird overall even if he were from here.

- A lot of people suggested taking screenshots of his texts. It’s a great idea and I should have thought of it before; unfortunately I deleted them all after our last encounter in a fit of rage, because they just made me feel so gross and embarrassed and angry I didn’t want to have to see them even accidentally in my SMS folder (or run the risk of my partner seeing them and getting the wrong idea). So that was dumb of me. Though if/when it happens I’ll be sure to both screen-shot and block, in that order.

So, for anyone who might be interested, the following is a run-down of what happened. The results were overall pretty negative, I’m sorry to say. (Teal deer at the end)


Our most recent group meeting was last night. I had taken everyone’s advice to heart and decided on the following plan of attack:

- Show up early to the venue and ask the hostess in a low-key way to seat me with other people/far away from him;

- Ignore my phone throughout the meeting to deny him my attention;

- In the event he did text, reply after the meeting telling him to stop contacting me or I would report him for harassment (+ screenshot + block, etc.);

- Try to discreetly find out from the people (women) around me in the course of conversation if they were aware of anything odd with him, and depending on their reactions either tell them outright or, if reception was negative, skip the heart-to-heart and email the group admins directly about the issue to ask what course of action they suggested.

Well, most of this became moot because for the first time in over a year he didn’t show. He had sent me a weird little “hi how’s it going” message via the Meetup site, which is unusual for him; I didn’t respond. He then canceled at the last second, also very unlike him.

I decided to take advantage of his absence to find a way to approach the topic obliquely in order to try and feel out the general group on the subject. This too became unnecessary, because during the group discussion one of our regulars referred jocularly to the fact there seemed to be something ‘going on’ between me and Cranstopher, to general assent and laughter from the others. I interrupted her to say that all that was ‘going on’ was me having to rebuff his repeated advances. No one seems to have believed me and they cut me off when I tried to explain/complain further. (Thinking about it now I wouldn’t be surprised if he had made insinuations to others in the group about whatever the hell it is he thinks our exchanges are.) I did however find out the following:

- This is not the first time this kind of issue has come up in this particular group. Another occasional attendee, a guy in his fifties who had lied about his age to join (this is a group specifically for expats in their 20s and early 30s), had aggressively pursued a female member in her 20s, who then quit after breaking things off with him. This man is still on good terms with the organizers and shows up regularly if infrequently.

- I would seem not to be the only woman in the group Cranstopher has been interested in: another member implied heavily that she went out/hooked up with him a few times last year, but said she found nothing strange about him and seems to have genuinely liked him. She was visibly annoyed by my hints that he’d been acting like a creep and didn’t want to continue the discussion.

- Despite living here for nearly two decades, Cranstopher is not a naturalised citizen, having apparently lived on a string of spousal visas while being married/divorced 4 times, typically to women several years younger than himself and always natives of our host country. (I am not a citizen but do have permanent residency rights here, which he knows.)


TL;DR : the main members of the group are not especially bothered by older guys using it as a forum to creep on women in their 20s; Cranstopher is an all-around horndog and possibly shopping for a new ‘anchor’ spouse; he is well-liked by the group, who all believe/suspect that we are hooking up consensually and don’t care to hear my protestations to the contrary, let alone discuss removing/blocking him from meetings. I’m angry and disappointed but not 100% surprised.

Thank you again to all of you for your encouragement and amazingly helpful input!! The outcome is pretty shitty but I guess I’ve learned a valuable lesson.
posted by TinyChicken at 2:43 AM on March 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, TinyChicken. I wish I could say I was surprised, but this is how it's gone down every time I've seen this. Queenofbythnia has it right: he's been preparing the group for this for a long time. At this point they are committed to enabling his fuckery, because if they admitted what he was like, they'd be complicit. Hence gaslighting you about there being something consensual going on.

Again, I'm sorry. This isn't going to get better. It's time to find a new group.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:47 AM on March 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

I am so sorry that the group responded badly, but please do what you can to take care of yourself.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:30 AM on March 1, 2017

If/when you quit the group:

Watch out for good ol' Cranstopher. I am totally pissed off that he's done this to you; you genuinely enjoyed the group. If he enjoys getting people to quit the group, then so be it .. but I am very suspicious still.

Abusers like this "man" seek to isolate their prey. I swear, I am not trying to make you more suspicious than you need to be, but please take care of yourself.
posted by dwbrant at 5:42 AM on March 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Wow. Just... wow. I'm so sorry your group is being that way. It sucks that you need to find a new group, but these people are so clearly not the group for you. Seriously, what kind of group hears "A man is making me really uncomfortable and aggresively pursuing me despite my constant rebuffs" and responds with "Yeah right, [suggestive knowing wink]".

Fuck them all. If you lived near me I'd be your friend and kick them all in the shins for you.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:12 AM on March 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

Best answer: If all that happened while people were drinking heavily, you might try once more (if you want to pursue it) with the organizers when everyone's sober.
posted by lazuli at 6:27 AM on March 1, 2017

I'm sorry for your group's response. If you're lucky, C's absence means he has taken your response correctly. However, if the group is explicitly for a younger age range and yet they're okay with older guys showing up to prowl, that should set off red flags itself.

Any chance of forming a splinter group? Otherwise, I think it's safe to say that most of those people aren't necessarily people you want to hang out with.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:56 AM on March 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is why I'd suggested doing it with one or two to start with, because the dynamics of you vs the whole group (who is there to have whole-group drinky fun) vs you one-on-one with one or two sympathetic people, is different. When the whole group's together it can be much more "we're here to have fun, don't kill the buzz" and less "we're here to earnestly discuss our ugly truths."

Before you leave the group you might try to hang out with one or two of the women and get them on your side - at least to convince them personally that he's the problem. Not the one who went out with him, as obviously she feels like her social status goes down if her former boyfriend, that she liked perfectly well, is a gross predator.

Or, maybe they're all pretty garbage and you'd be better off without them. I don't know. I hate to have the story end by ceding social space to this guy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:14 AM on March 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

> run the risk of my partner seeing them and getting the wrong idea

That's kinda not good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:20 AM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I hate to have the story end by ceding social space to this guy.

Sadly, that's usually how the story ends. I've rarely encountered a mixed gender group where the asshole gets thrown out. I'm sorry.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 9:18 AM on March 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've rarely encountered a mixed gender group where the asshole gets thrown out.

Well, women get run out for "causing drama" but men never do. Said "drama" is usually a woman calling out a dude for abhorrent behavior.

I'm sorry it went this way, but I agree with fingersandtoes that difficult conversations don't always get handled the best right away when they are unexpected. Reach out to your favorite people from the group and even address this explicitly – "Hey, I just wanted to follow-up from our last meeting when the issue with Ballbag came up just to get your take because I really enjoy your company and would love your insight. I don't want to bail on the group, can we have coffee?" If you have a personal connection with others in the group (not the ex-gf, poor thing) I bet they would be receptive. And, if nothing else, you could at least share your story of just repeatedly telling him no in increasingly firmer terms and him continuing to persist. This way you at least know that some people have your take and can back you up in private conversations.

Boo! Sorry this happened. Yeah, very common and frustrating.
posted by amanda at 9:37 AM on March 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Well, women get run out for "causing drama" but men never do. Said "drama" is usually a woman calling out a dude for abhorrent behavior.

Basically this in a nutshell.

OP I agree you might be able to salvage a few individuals from this group, but please don't do it at the expense of getting gaslighted. That really messes with your head over time.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:41 AM on March 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

TL;DR : the main members of the group are not especially bothered by older guys using it as a forum to creep on women in their 20s...

I'm sorry it turned out that way. Now you know. My call would be to DTMF Group Already. Toxic people bring you down.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:39 AM on March 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

The group might just have a different narrative that they are working from, and don't see it. I wouldn't let that stop me. Personally, I wouldn't say to him that I was 'uncomfortable' as that puts me in weaker position. I would just belittle him, which makes you an unattractive target for him. And this is just me, I'm not saying it's right. But I would say (out loud, in public) something like, 'oh, sweetie, that is so adorable and cute, but you are so out of my age limit, it makes my head spin.' ("Bless your heart" would be awesome here.)
posted by Vaike at 4:42 PM on March 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am so sorry, but, unfortunately, not surprised. The odds tend to be in the man's favor. It is typically a Herculean effort to have any hope of getting a better outcome than this, so please do not blame yourself.
posted by Michele in California at 6:05 PM on March 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Wow. I'm actually sitting here with my mouth hanging open, and probably looking really dumb. I thought this would go better for you, for sure. Call me naive if you want.
I'm angry on your behalf!

Seems like this group is not as cool as you thought. That sucks. In your place, I'd try these two things:
- see if a friendship can be formed with one or more people from this group, but outside of the group
- see if there are different groups around that might be nice to join. I'm in BookCrossing, maybe you'd like that, or maybe there's other stuff around.

If your European capital happens to be in my country, give me a holler. Small, but fun MeFi meetups have happened there before and I'd be interested.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:32 AM on March 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Tiny Chicken, I am sorry that people are assholes. Please be kind to yourself and keep in mind that you did nothing wrong in this entire shitshow of a situation.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:27 AM on March 2, 2017

Response by poster: So it's been a month since my last post, and I happened to get the automated "follow-up" nudge email from MeFi precisely on the evening of my most recent group meeting. Things have changed considerably and I thought it might be worthwhile to give an update before marking this "resolved".

I decided to attend the meeting because Cranstopher had announced in advance he'd be absent. I had a creeping sense the subject of "me and him" would come up again and I wanted to try one more time to regain control of that narrative and salvage my spot in the group.

As the night wore on the same member who'd previously joked about the subject again asked, now more explicitly, if Cranstopher and I were sleeping together. Since most people had already left, I was able to describe to the remaining attendees (the so-called "core" group) exactly what had been going on and for how long, including some of his more crass remarks.

This time they actually listened and were appalled. They believed me but were flabbergasted at this behaviour from someone they had all thought (as I initially did!) was just a laid-back, flirty divorcé. I found out he's been continuing to see the woman I mentioned in my last post (the "fling") for months, convincing her that he shows up to meetings in order to be with her, etc. (Which, I mean, maybe he really does, what do I know.) She had no clue he was interested in me, let alone that he'd been hitting on me for 9 months. She was quite upset; it seems like he's been able to mindf*ck her pretty thoroughly.

The other women said they'd never been approached by him, but commented that they had noticed him hitting on a newer member a few months prior.

The general consensus was that he has been an unbelievable creep and the possibility of kicking him out was floated. Our coordinator copied me on an email she sent him this morning, telling him I'd "confided" in her that I was uncomfortable and that he needed to stop immediately.

In a separate message to me she offered again to kick him out of the group; frankly I think he'll remove himself now that he knows the jig is up.

I sort of wish she hadn't been so direct with him, because looking at the situation now it's clear to me that he very much gets off on being able to upset me/women in general and her email is just further proof that he's succeeded. On the other hand, his cover is well and truly blown and now he knows it. Hopefully he'll figure out that this sort of nonsense is not at all the foolproof gambit he seems to have thought, and knock it the hell off permanently, but realistically I figure he'll just move on to another group to continue doing the same thing. I wish there were some sort of mark I could put on his forehead that would only be visible to the women he tries to hit on...

I'm frankly appalled that it took our entire group of very smart, very perceptive members a year and a half to suss out such an obviously destructive person; it's humiliating, and infuriating, and a very scary lesson I won't forget any time soon.

Thank you all again so very much for all your help and empathy. À bientôt.
posted by TinyChicken at 6:48 AM on March 31, 2017 [23 favorites]

Best answer: Glad that happened! I'd make a point of getting her to formally remove him from the group, honestly-- he doesn't seem to have enough shame to stay away on his own.

FWIW, if you want to be an absolute ass (which I would be, honestly), you know what other groups he is attending if he's on Meetup, and you know the names of the organizers of those groups. It's quite likely they won't take your information seriously, but, having run a group or two, I would not have taken a chance on a new member I had been warned was a serial predator.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:33 AM on March 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! I'm so pleased there's a happy ending for this!
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:06 PM on March 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ahhhhhh I just stumbled across your update in Recent Activity and I am so happy about how this worked out! Seriously, you are so great. Kudos to you for figuring out what was going on, and just fixing it.

You fixed this for yourself and your group, and you also put this guy on notice, which may make him a little less emboldened in future. That is a great, solid outcome. Really the older I get the more I believe the answer to creepy bad-behavior guys is just telling the truth, every time you get a chance, in whatever your natural tone and style is. Silence and shame are their friends: they are destroyed by honesty and openness.

Thank you so much for what you did. You have made the world better and safer for yourself and other women :)
posted by Susan PG at 11:19 AM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

« Older Songs like E.T.?   |   Story Question: A guy walks into a bar... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.