Leave Me Alone
March 6, 2020 1:30 PM   Subscribe

How to get someone to leave you alone in the safest way possible.

I was briefly dating saw a regular at the bar I work at. He felt way more strongly for me than I did for him. He didn’t really accept my breakup (he kept saying he hadn’t given up, and wouldn’t accept what I was saying) but I finally got through to him that I only want to be friends and nothing more. That was earlier this week. Last night, he kept calling me and I finally picked up. He really wanted me to come to his neighborhood where it was “safe” and he told me he loved me, which was weird. I told him I was hanging up and not to call again. He called me a bunch around midnight, and I picked up again to tell him I was going to bed and to please stop calling. Late last night he sent me creepy disoriented texts and called me many more times, but stopped around 2am. I fell asleep, but woke up to a text that he was outside my house, and he kept calling for over two hours, and sending more odd and concerning texts. He seemed to have lost touch with reality. I was really scared for my safety, and now no longer trust that he’ll react in a normal manner. He texted an apology today, saying that he was sorry and in a “bad spiral”.
He’s a real regular at the bar, and everyone knows him and likes him, as he’s never shown this type of behavior before. How to I best let him know that I never want him to contact me, see me, or show up to the bar when I’m there ever again. I’m afraid that he’s not a rational person, and I need to phrase this correctly to get it through to him that this is not up for discussion. What should I say in a text that best conveys this, and what should I do going forward?
posted by Champagne Supernova to Human Relations (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
DO NOT TEXT HIM BACK.
1. Tell your boss (courtesy heads up for the following...)
2. Call the police
3. Get a restraining order that includes the bar, aka your workplace where you should be able to have a reasonable expectation of personal safety
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:33 PM on March 6, 2020 [68 favorites]


First of all, this is NOT your fault or your responsibility. You are doing your best in a bad situation that you did not cause.

Second, I want to suggest that you contact a domestic violence hotline that can hopefully give you some resources and help you navigate this. They may have information about dealing with police (or not) or other kinds of safety planning advice.

In terms of talking to this guy, I'm not sure it's a great idea. I really just don't know. I don't think that there's necessarily anything you can do or say. I would recommend that if you do contact him, make it in writing.

Going forward, this is a really complicated situation when it comes to work. I think, after getting advice from a local DV expert if possible, that you should talk with your boss about this and feel things out with them. Show them the texts and missed calls and make it really clear, don't minimize it. Say out loud "I am worried for my physical safety."

If they are 100% on cooperating with keeping this guy out of the bar, willing to trespass him, and gung-ho about it, then great. You STILL don't have to go back to work, but with support, you might be able to do so.

It is your boss's responsibility to ensure a safe environment for you, and your boss should be 100% supportive, but that does not mean it will happen. So I want to try to give you some other "asks" that could still be helpful to you.

It may be that looking for another job is your best way forward. If your boss won't keep this person out, you can try asking for paid leave or another means of financial support from your current boss while you look for something else. You might also ask your boss for an excellent reference (even calling other bars or friends), or similar.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2020 [15 favorites]


I think that contacting the police can be a good idea but can also be a bad idea. I think you need local resources that can guide you through it. Local police departments vary a lot in terms of how good they are with these issues.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:42 PM on March 6, 2020 [12 favorites]


Well, that's true. My first impulse was "get a new job" but it was overruled by the righteous indignation of "why should the consequences fall on her, not him?" I agree calling a domestic violence hotline before the police is a good idea - insert it as step 1B.
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2020 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it's a tough situation because there's the world that should be, and the world that is, and unfortunately the police are sometimes really bad on these issues. Not always, though, and it's really hard to predict without local knowledge.

OP, don't feel like you're letting bad stuff slide or contributing to the problem by being pragmatic and putting your immediate needs first. Your only responsibility right now is you and your well-being.

I'm rooting for you!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:56 PM on March 6, 2020 [5 favorites]


He is not interpreting contact with you (even just a text) in a logical way right now. The way that logical people can see contact like a stoplight—some messages are red (“please don’t call me again”), some are yellow (“I’ll get back to you with a time we can hang out”), some are green (“yes I’d love to date you”)—this guys sees all contact with you as green. He cares about getting a response from you, not the content of that response. A text saying “don’t ever talk to me again” is a positive to him. So texting him back after that horrible series of events from last night is to him “aha! This is what it takes for her to contact me!” Don’t contact him even to tell him to leave you alone.

What is your boss like? You deserve for Regular to be 100% banned from the bar, no entry, no exceptions. Not “banned on nights she’s working” but banned 100%. This is not extreme or too much for you to ask, it’s entirely reasonable and right. Regular doesn’t need an explanation for why, he knows exactly why and it’s not a discussion. Your boss or coworkers shouldn’t care that Regular hasn’t shown this type of behavior before. If this is the only time in Regular’s life that he does this, great, he can become a regular at a different bar and proceed with his life. He is the best customer this bar has ever had? Tough. I saw a bar’s longtime top regular get an immediate lifetime ban once for seriously endangering someone during a fight in the bar. Too bad, so sad, immediate ban. Your bar will get other regulars.
posted by sallybrown at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2020 [50 favorites]


The Gift of Fear is the bible on dealing with this kind of behaviour. Do not contact him, at all, ever.
posted by Lanark at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2020 [39 favorites]


What Lanark said.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:18 PM on March 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Don't get a restraining order until you read The Gift of Fear.
posted by caek at 2:20 PM on March 6, 2020 [5 favorites]


Where I live the legal bar is set pretty high for a police enforceable no-contact order. There basically has to be a history of physical violence or an actual threat of violence or refusing to leave your residence or something. There is also a difference between a civil restraining order and a police enforceable restraining order in my jurisdiction. It may be different where you live.

"Not rational" and disorganized/out of touch with reality may not necessarily mean dangerous. But your gut is right that it could mean dangerous. In terms of doing your own risk assessment, look for signs of violated boundaries and misuse of power. They'll be better indicators of risk than signs of cognitive disorganization, out of touchness, or other mental health symptoms (the exception being threats of suicide).

I would try giving him a very clear message: "Do Not Contact Me or Come to my Workplace Again" and see how he takes it. Use short sentences. Don't include any hedging or caveats or anything that could possibly be misconstrued. If he continues to violate that request, you have better evidence in terms of getting authorities to take it seriously as a safety issue.
posted by unstrungharp at 2:20 PM on March 6, 2020


You can send 1 email saying Your behavior is not okay. We do not have a relationship. Do not text or email me. Do not come to my home. and then block him *everywhere*. Be polite but distant at work. If he follows you from work, drive to a police station, go in and complain. Save his emails and texts, document any further unacceptable behavior in case you need a restraining order. Call your local family violence shelter and ask for their advice; this is their are if expertise. Keep their number handy, but in an emergency, 911.

If he has friends and family, explain that his intensity and behavior are not okay with you and see if they'll help him disengage. This is horrible, I'm sorry it's happening to you.
posted by theora55 at 2:25 PM on March 6, 2020 [9 favorites]


How to I best let him know that I never want him to contact me, see me, or show up to the bar when I’m there ever again.

Tell your boss and coworkers, and be frank. He needs to be banned from the bar. If he shows up, go into the kitchen or office immediately until your boss gets him to leave. It should be your boss who kicks him out EVERY TIME, not you. Do NOT interact with him anymore at the bar.

I have had this happen to me when I was a waitress/bartender, it's pretty common, unfortunately. So don't blame yourself.

My bosses were always very supportive about this issue in particular, so I have high hopes that yours will be, too. But if your boss is weird, remind them that this is not someone who they want getting served alcohol in their establishment because, regardless of how he's been in the past, he's clearly unstable now.
posted by rue72 at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2020 [37 favorites]


Save all those texts.
posted by seawallrunner at 2:33 PM on March 6, 2020 [22 favorites]


You should tell everyone at work that is staff, especially the manager, owner and any security. Show them this post and the texts and any voicemails. They need to deal with him coming to work however you decide and all agree to deal with it, not you. I'm not saying how you should deal with him as customer but whatever you decide all need to be on board with. Also tell your building management, family and basically anyone he might encounter in his stalking of you so they know who is he is and what to do. Because he is stalking you.

Women always feel like they need to handle this stuff personally but no, it's a crime, therefore it's a society problem and you need everyone to know so they are watching out for you and so that he gets a consistent message from everyone about what is acceptable.

don't worry about his feelings, he doesn't care about yours. And don't fall for the sob stories and explanations- don't be a sucker! Trust yourself.
posted by fshgrl at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2020 [12 favorites]


Response by poster: I should clarify that at this bar, there’s only one bartender on at a time, and that’s it. No security, no manager, nothing. The regulars are my back-up support. Additionally, my manager has not been great historically with having our backs re: safety and security measures. I’ll let him know, but I think it’s time I look elsewhere for work. As for the guy, I’m still not sure if it’s better to send one clear message to let the guy know not to contact me, or if radio silence would be better.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 3:15 PM on March 6, 2020 [5 favorites]


Radio silence. Grey rock. Do not respond or react. Reaction equals attention to him. Do not give him that.

Changing jobs is a great idea if you can easily do so. Moving is also good if possible. Sounds over the top? It isn't. Crazy persistent people are dangerous for a reason.

Paper trail for all his contact attempts. Document, document, document. Restraining orders aren't always so easy to get. You want all available evidence at your disposal if you decide to attempt to get one.

Above all, please watch your back.
posted by Crystal Fox at 3:42 PM on March 6, 2020 [22 favorites]


I’m afraid that he’s not a rational person, and I need to phrase this correctly to get it through to him that this is not up for discussion.

There appears to be an inherent challenge when trying to find the right words to convince a seemingly irrational person of anything. I suggest that you reach out to a DV hotline for feedback and support from a trained counselor in your area. Links to hotline and other resources are available at the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page.

You may also want to get a lawyer, and specifically start with a local legal aid organization, for questions both about protection orders and whether you can draw unemployment insurance under these circumstances. Your local DV hotline may also be able to help you through the intake process at your local legal aid or be aware of other local resources, so you can ask them about whether they can assist with the referral process.
posted by katra at 3:46 PM on March 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Take screenshots of your texts as well and upload those to a cloud if you can, in the event that your actual texts get deleted somehow.
You've already told him to not contact you again so I don't see the point of contacting him to reiterate the point. It's good to have it on paper that you put up this boundary in an explicit way.
Take care. Carry pepper spray. Let your closest friends / family know where you'll be for the majority of your day if not your entire day so people know where you should be in case you're out of touch for a while. Doublecheck the locks on your windows, doors, etc. Look for a new job. People like this rarely give up no matter what you say or do. Be safe.
posted by erattacorrige at 3:58 PM on March 6, 2020 [7 favorites]


Don't send one last e-mail or text or whatever. Don't ever communicate with him in any way again. He is trying to get a response from you. So if you contact him to say "Stop contacting me," he gets what he wants. You say "fuck off," he thinks, "It worked! I'll text again!" This will go on and on and on and on and on. There is not a way to explain this to him that he can understand. He is not rational. If you can't get support from the manager, then it's quitting time. I'm sorry: it really sucks.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:59 PM on March 6, 2020 [15 favorites]


You’ve said everything you need to say to him. If he doesn’t understand by now, yet another message is not going to change that.

Nth-ing The Gift Of Fear, which should be required high school reading for everyone.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:04 PM on March 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Just to repeat something from The Gift of Fear that really clarified this for me. If you answer his fiftieth text, you’ve taught him that it takes fifty texts to get you to respond. So no, don’t send one last text.
posted by FencingGal at 5:26 PM on March 6, 2020 [20 favorites]


it was overruled by the righteous indignation of "why should the consequences fall on her, not him?"

Because he knows where to consistently find her at her job and that way can easily stalk her? Hell, I think she should find a new one, especially since it sounds like she has little to no backup at this bar. It can only hurt for him to know where he can always find her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:03 PM on March 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Last night, he kept calling me and I finally picked up. He really wanted me to come to his neighborhood where it was “safe” and he told me he loved me, which was weird. I told him I was hanging up and not to call again. He called me a bunch around midnight, and I picked up again to tell him I was going to bed and to please stop calling. Late last night he sent me creepy disoriented texts and called me many more times, but stopped around 2am. I fell asleep, but woke up to a text that he was outside my house, and he kept calling for over two hours, and sending more odd and concerning texts. He seemed to have lost touch with reality. I was really scared for my safety, and now no longer trust that he’ll react in a normal manner. He texted an apology today, saying that he was sorry and in a “bad spiral”.

I think this says all you need to know about whether or not it's worth texting him again. The kind of person who would respect a new text to leave you alone is the kind of person who wouldn't NEED such a text after the behavior you're describing here. Can you imagine being in his shoes, coming out of whatever "spiral" he claims he was in, realizing how badly you'd no doubt freaked out the person you were focused on, and still actually needing that person to spell out for you that you should not contact them again? I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you would be rightly horrified by your behavior and realize you had crossed some uncrossable lines, and voluntarily leave your victim alone. The fact that that's not what he's done should make it clear that there are no magic words you can supply - the shame of his own behavior should already have been enough to get him to leave you alone.

As FencingGal says, if you respond at all, you're only teaching him that it takes that level of behavior and that number of texts to get you to "communicate" with him. No communication is the way to go here.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:48 PM on March 6, 2020 [8 favorites]


at this bar, there’s only one bartender on at a time, and that’s it. No security, no manager, nothing. The regulars are my back-up support

This is not ok. If you can contact the owner(s) do that, if not get out of there and find a new job. I'm a very seasoned restaurant/bar/hotel/whatnot guy and leaving an employee alone with no backup if there might be drunk people is wrong in four or five ways. You should not have to protect yourself and the business at the same time with no help. Mefimail me for more FandB specific advice.
posted by vrakatar at 8:27 PM on March 6, 2020 [20 favorites]


I'm so sad to hear youre dealing with this. DUDE yes to most of what they've said above. I dealt with something similar with my ex. I had to change my number & address, and tell my friends/family not to give any info to the guy re my whereabouts or anything. Some thought i was overreacting (as a side note, it's interesting to see which friends are worth their salt), but this guy followed me abroad to try to 'win' me back so really follow your gut on this.

- block, block, block on everything. do not engage. any type of contact just feeds the fire
- save everything (texts, times he calls etc.)
- your local domestic violence group/women's shelter are an excellent resource - use them
- look around for another job if he keeps showing up
- kind of a lot, but do you have anyone who is willing to lend you their dog for awhile (lease/other circumstances willing) if you're feeling unsafe? if you lived my area (we live in finland tho :/) we have a 90 lb doggo that would love to sleep on your bed
- try to just stay safe and happy, this will pass but you're gonna have to cover all your bases

take care!!
posted by speakeasy at 9:57 PM on March 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Nthing all the recommendations to get in touch with your local domestic violence support organization, who will help you navigate this situation. Recommending *against* reading The Gift of Fear, which I find very victim-blamey.
posted by epj at 10:17 PM on March 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


Agree that you should not text him. If you do have to go back to the bar and suspect he will be there, could you enlist one of the other regulars at work to be your unofficial "bouncer"? It sucks but sometimes "crazy"/irrational dudes are not actually as out of control as they seem and claim to be, and getting a talking-to from another man can sort them out amazingly quickly and effectively, whereas you yourself trying to get him to be reasonable will only backfire.
posted by Balthamos at 2:45 AM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]


...I need to phrase this correctly to get it through to him that this is not up for discussion. What should I say in a text that best conveys this, and what should I do going forward?

His mind is not rational, there is nothing you can write that will get it through to him. If he comes to his senses, he will understand without a text from you. If he doesn't, then nothing you can write will make any difference. I have an acquaintance who had a similar experience to speakeasy above, literally nothing she could do or say would get through to this guy. Hopefully it won't come to that for you but don't think about him as a person at all, just focus on practical measures for yourself for being and feeling safe.

To put it another way, his "feelings" have nothing to do with you as a person, it's just about him, he is going off the rails in a very standard pattern, therefore nothing you feel, think or say will make any difference to him. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You need to manage the situation on a practical level without any consideration for him. Good luck.
posted by riddley at 3:28 AM on March 7, 2020 [2 favorites]


- Block his number (please stop responding to him, I don't understand why you're doing that as it's giving him something to respond to).
- Save everything he sent you.

His last contact with you appears to have been the apology and the explanation of going on a downward spiral. Leave it there. Avoid him as best you can at work.

After this, see what happens.

If he continues then go to the police. Sometimes people don't realise how serious or disturbing their behaviour is until an official steps in. I would also speak with your manager.

EDIT - Just read your response about your strangely unsafe work environment (one bartender at a time and no manager in attendance or security???) and about your manager not having your back. Definitely leave.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:19 AM on March 7, 2020 [2 favorites]


"why should the consequences fall on her, not him?"

Because safety. She should both report this and leave.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:24 AM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]


I hope you'll come back and update this. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 5:45 AM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]


Nthing what others have said. There’s literally nothing you can text to prevent him from being creepy and/or dangerous. Your workplace sounds dangerous and scary even before this happened. I am so sorry that this is happening to you OP. Please go total no contact, look for another job, and if you cannot quit immediately please call a domestic violence line and work out a safety plan for what to do when that guy shows up because he has no boundaries and he will show up. He may not be dangerous but why take the risk?
posted by Bella Donna at 6:40 AM on March 7, 2020 [3 favorites]


I'm cautioning against blocking him SOLELY because he may send you crucial data as to his level of obsession and plans.

If you aren't getting any of his texts, you have no idea if he's still obsessed with you. It makes sense for your peace of mind, of course, but if he's actually dangerous and deranged he will continue to text you in ways that give you information if he has any plans or is escalating his behavior, or even if he starts to lose interest in you (texts wane). Also, getting those obsessive texts helps you in theory when it comes to legal situations, such as working with the cops, getting restraining orders, stuff like that. You'll have the most recent info to point to that will validate your concerns. It's really easy for the law to be like "well in the absence of proof we can't do anything about this" but those texts ARE proof. So, archive them when they come in, but do read them in the event you're getting information that will enable you to stay safe ("I'm coming over to your house" "are you working tonight?" Etc etc). Don't respond, ever. But don't block him. Good luck 🍀
posted by erattacorrige at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2020 [4 favorites]


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