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How would you respond to this situation?


PrincessMommy
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Not sure what to call this thread but I had an incident today that I'm not comfortable with, but wondering if I'm over-reacting...

 

So, there's this person in my life that I do not care to be around.  He is annoying and pushy. We pretty much keep our distance and I avoid him as much as I can.  I know he knows I dont' really appreciate his presence, but I keep myself away as much as possible.   I notice that he likes to do the over-nice thing with other people.  I try to ignore.

 

So today we had a service and he was there.  Just before service started he came up to me and was standing very close with a big grin on his face and said "Hi Debbi." and put his hand out for me to shake.  I stood there for a moment.  He looked down at his hand like -"aren't you going to shake it?"  I ended up shaking it, but I felt very uncomfortable and pushed upon.  I'm the type of person that knows the whole world isn't going to like me and when I suspect someone  doesn't like me I keep my distance.  Why provoke more animosity or hard feelings???  Esp. at church.   I would never force someone to do something like that.  Just no.  So, someone who does the "in your face" nice thing and tries to get me to do something I don't want to do just sets me off. (triggers -not going into here).  

 

My husband is clueless and he's definitely the "All Christians should love each other." etc.  He does not get triggers or anything like that. 

 

What says the hive...? Am I being too sensitive?  

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I think people know when somebody is a pushy creep. I think if he was a normally boundaried person who didn't give you the heebie jeebies, and who didn't stand too close, you would have just shaken his hand without giving it a second thought. That's IF greeting each other with a handshake is very normal in that setting.

 

Trust your creep o meter. Just say, "Excuse me," or "I'm not shaking hands during flu season," with a smile, if all else is well. But if he was too close, then gloves off. Put on your no nonsense expression and say, "You are too close." Glare at him until HE takes a step back. Then walk away. I don't care what setting, including church. Maybe especially church.

 

My two cents.

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A woman like this actually goes to our church, so I know how you feel. She tries to hug me whenever she sees me. But I think it would be a lot worse if it was a man, just because of the intimidation factor. A woman doesn't intimidate me. A man might. I don't think you're being too sensitive, but I don't really have an answer for you besides avoid and wait for him to find someone else to annoy. It's hard without a pointed issue you can use as a solid line in the sand to their face. 

 

We actually switched services to get away from this woman. I struggled with not being annoyed during service if we ran into her on the way in, and I didn't feel that let me focus on the sermon. I know we are supposed to love everyone and I am working on that, but I need some distance to do so, and hey, even Jesus went out on his own sometimes. 

 

I wish I had that option because his presence at church sets me off.  Thankfully, he only comes about 50% of the time.  But, I totally understand the guilty feelings too.  Thanks for understanding and putting your perspective.

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I think people know when somebody is a pushy creep. I think if he was a normally boundaried person who didn't give you the heebie jeebies, and who didn't stand too close, you would have just shaken his hand without giving it a second thought. That's IF greeting each other with a handshake is very normal in that setting.

 

Trust your creep o meter. Just say, "Excuse me," or "I'm not shaking hands during flu season," with a smile, if all else is well. But if he was too close, then gloves off. Put on your no nonsense expression and say, "You are too close." Glare at him until HE takes a step back. Then walk away. I don't care what setting, including church. Maybe especially church.

 

My two cents.

 

 

I wish I thought fast on my feet.  That's part of the problem... so now 12 hrs later I'm stressing about this and thinking of what I wish I'd done.  

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I wish I thought fast on my feet.  That's part of the problem... so now 12 hrs later I'm stressing about this and thinking of what I wish I'd done.

 

Don’t beat yourself up over what happened today. Think of it as a reminder to be better prepared in the future. Plan what you’ll say, and the next time he comes up to you, you’ll know what to do and you’ll walk away feeling proud of yourself.

 

We all mess up sometimes and get upset with ourselves afterward, so you’re not alone, but seriously, try to turn it into a positive and use it as a lesson to be ready for him next time. :grouphug:

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I have a lot of boundary issues, lol. Here is my advice.

 

If someone is in your personal space immediately take a step back. If they come towards you again step back again and say, "excuse me, but I need (or like) more personal space". You can say this with a smile and in a kind but firm tone. Practice it, because people like this will likely do it again. If you really prefer not to shake hands even with the more comfortable distance between you, then you really just have to tell the person that you don't like to shake hands or that you prefer not to shake hands. It will be odd if you go around shaking everyone else's hand though. It may be that you are fine shaking hands once you establish your personal space boundaries. Decide what your personal boundaries are and enforce them every single time til he gets the hint. Don't be vague, be firm and clear but in a nice tone.

 

Also, I would tell your husband specifically that this person makes you uncomfortable and ask him to run interference when possible. This is a small thing he can do that may really help. He can stick his hand out instead to shake the guys hand while you wrap your arm around your husband's arm and smile. Ask your husband to come to you if he sees this person approaching you and to stay with you at times when it might be convenient for this person to interact with you (just before or after service, etc).

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming
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re personal space:

 

He was pushy and he knows he was deliberately provoking you. This is not the time to be “nice†or subtle. Pull out your most authoritative scary mommy voice. Step away from him and tell him you need more personal space. No matter what he says next, simply repeat. If you need to feel like you are being nice or polite, then say it with a steely smile.

 

And also, tell your husband that this guy has set off your creep-o-meter. You don’t normally complain about men, so he better pay attention when you are uncomfortable. Period.

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re personal space:

 

He was pushy and he knows he was deliberately provoking you. This is not the time to be “nice†or subtle. Pull out your most authoritative scary mommy voice. Step away from him and tell him you need more personal space. No matter what he says next, simply repeat. If you need to feel like you are being nice or polite, then say it with a steely smile.

 

And also, tell your husband that this guy has set off your creep-o-meter. You don’t normally complain about men, so he better pay attention when you are uncomfortable. Period.

 

This is exactly how it felt to me.  

 

I will probably talk with my dh tomorrow about it but honestly, he just doesn't get it.  He tends to like just about everyone and doesn't understand the creep-o-meter factor.  

Edited by PrincessMommy
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This is exactly how it felt to me.

 

I will probably talk with my dh tomorrow about it but honestly, he just doesn't get it. He tends to like just about everyone and just doesn't understand the creep-o-meter factor.

It doesn’t matter if your dh gets it. All that matters is that he cares how you feel about the guy and supports you and trusts your instincts.

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This is exactly how it felt to me.  

 

I will probably talk with my dh tomorrow about it but honestly, he just doesn't get it.  He tends to like just about everyone and doesn't understand the creep-o-meter factor.

 

Remind your husband that some men consider women to be prey. They will not act predatorial around othe men, but they will around women. Let your dh know that he probably won’t be able to see what this guy is doing, because he’s not the prey. But the prey can tell and you don’t like the way the man acts around you. He’s acting predatorial.

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Shaking hands is such a social convention that I wouldn't worry about it too  much, particularly in such a public setting. And any excuse you may offer will be short-lived, so the choice is really to shake his hand occasionally or to not shake anyone's hand at church. To play devil's advocate a bit, it's a little weird and awkward to pull your hand back after offering it, so it may have been less "I'm going to force her to shake my hand" and more "This is awkward, do I pull my hand back? Does she not want to shake my hand, or does she not see it, or, oh, phew, we're shaking hands." 

 

I get the creep meter, and I listen to mine for safety purposes, but I also know that "socially challenged" and "unlikeable" can sometimes be mistaken for creepy. Thus, I personally wouldn't refuse to shake just one person's hand because they give off a creepy vibe. I guess I became immune to unpleasant handshakes through work, where you can't refuse to shake the hands of people you don't like. And again, it's a social convention, not an endorsement of that person or an agreement to be friends. 

 

If he gets in your personal space, absolutely you can step back and then say something if that doesn't do the trick. Being up in someone's face is not a social convention (in America), and it's not rude or unacceptable to politely address that. 

 

Dwelling on a handshake twelve hours later is an overreaction, imo. A completely understandable one if it triggered you emotionally, but an overreaction nonetheless. 

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When I was in my teens there was a really awful man who went to our church.

 

Every week the pastor would read out that verse about when you're bringing your gift to the altar, if you remember your brother has trouble with you, leave your gift and go make peace. 

 

This was before communion.

 

And I really took it to heart.

 

Every week I would think, I have to be at peace with this guy or I can't go to communion.  I'd pray hard and God would give me peace and I would greet him sincerely.

It was a struggle, every single week, but it was good for me.

 

I'm not saying it's like this for you, but I think that that is worth at least considering.

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I work in an ER. I do not shake anyone’s hand, period. When someone extends a hand, I just respond politely, “I cannot shake your hand, but, I can bow to you.†I then give a quick bow at the waist with a big smile.

 

No one ever asks why I do not shake hands, but, I would just say I am contagious if he did.

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I would have said "no" with no explanation. But I've never been one to do something I didn't want to do.

 

I personally see nothing wrong with not shaking someone's hands while shaking other people's hands. I regularly see the same group of friends, 2 of them get hugs, the rest do not. Different kind of relationships call for different interactions.

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Oh, man. I'd be leaving The Gift of Fear on my husband's bedside table.

 

I mean, I don't really get triggers and all that, but it seems to me that "All Christians should love each other" in this context undermines your personal instinct to keep yourself safe.

 

Sorry that happened. Betcha there are other women who feel that way about this guy and also feel extremely awkward and confused about what they should do about.

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I think it depends whether you feel unsafe or just irritated.

 

Case 1:

 

If you feel unsafe you did exactly what makes sense (when a person is threatened) and you need a safety plan. Predatory creepy people do not need to be welcomed. Their intrusions and grooming should not be overlooked. It's not your job to stuff down a sense that someone frightens you.

 

Case 2;

 

If you feel irritated -- I think you might need to make more of an effort to "get along" and find the value (or at least the privilidge of freedom) in each member of your community being themselves. (Or to be flawed, and free to remain that way.) There are very few irritating behaviours that justify an ordinary person refusing to be a polite acquaintance on handshake terms.

 

These might actually be his very best people skills, and yet they might irritate people. In Christ, it is not ok to punish or exclude people for having a deficiency of personal social skills (like being born awkward, for having a thick shell, or for having an overly obvious faux-smooth persona). We can dislike them, and distance is fine -- we are not all best buddies -- but rejecting a handshake is harsh.

 

Case 1 vs Case 2:

 

If case 1 is true, please completely ignore my assessment of case 2. Acting on the sense that you are personally unsafe is *essential* and should never be squished by Ms. Manners! Case 2 is only for use if you are perfectly safe.

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Bolt.. 

 

I've spent some time pondering your post.  I feel this is hard to answer because I don't think this person is a danger (physical), but this person has a pushy and controlling personality.  So I try to keep my distance because most interactions with him he is trying to dictate things (including monologueing at nauseum).    But, I feel like my last interchange went beyond being an annoying personality.  He definitely knows how I feel about him... he was trying to provoke a reaction or response from me.  At the very least I felt that it was rude.  He was definitely not going to walk away until I shook his hand.

 

My experience with this person is that he doesn't really listen to direction or criticism.  He has been told repeatedly not to do something (trying to be vague) and continues to do it.  This includes several leaders and our priest.  I was actually one of the first people to tell him this was a problem and he immediately made excuses and tried to make it sound like it was *my* problem.  Okay, fair enough - there was some room for personal preferences with this issue.. but then other complaints came in.  Still no listening or respecting others suggestions.

 

Anyway, not trying to give away the whole boring story, but through this experience I knew I wanted to keep him at arms length.

 

So yes, he's very irritating.  He's not a danger... but I also felt like he's crossing a line by trying to push me (as if he's trying to *make* me be his friend.)  I don't know if that helps clarify it. or not.. Your post has helped me to think a bit deeper than just my initial reaction.

 

 

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Bolt..

 

I've spent some time pondering your post. I feel this is hard to answer because I don't think this person is a danger (physical), but this person has a pushy and controlling personality. So I try to keep my distance because most interactions with him he is trying to dictate things (including monologueing at nauseum). But, I feel like my last interchange went beyond being an annoying personality. He definitely knows how I feel about him... he was trying to provoke a reaction or response from me. At the very least I felt that it was rude. He was definitely not going to walk away until I shook his hand.

 

My experience with this person is that he doesn't really listen to direction or criticism. He has been told repeatedly not to do something (trying to be vague) and continues to do it. This includes several leaders and our priest. I was actually one of the first people to tell him this was a problem and he immediately made excuses and tried to make it sound like it was *my* problem. Okay, fair enough - there was some room for personal preferences with this issue.. but then other complaints came in. Still no listening or respecting others suggestions.

 

Anyway, not trying to give away the whole boring story, but through this experience I knew I wanted to keep him at arms length.

 

So yes, he's very irritating. He's not a danger... but I also felt like he's crossing a line by trying to push me (as if he's trying to *make* me be his friend.) I don't know if that helps clarify it. or not.. Your post has helped me to think a bit deeper than just my initial reaction.

Based on this post, I’m wondering why your dh isn’t taking your concerns more seriously.

 

Honestly, I’m more annoyed with your dh than I am with Creepy Guy.

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Based on this post, I’m wondering why your dh isn’t taking your concerns more seriously.

 

Honestly, I’m more annoyed with your dh than I am with Creepy Guy.

 

Thanks Catwoman...  

 

My dh has not talked to the guy as far as I know.  But, he has come to my aid with him in the past.  He has spoken to those in leadership about this issue.  

 

But, I also haven't spoken to dh about this particular incident and I can definitely see him thinking, "Well, if she's okay then I'm okay too."   Yeah, very clueless.  

Edited by PrincessMommy
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I would talk to the priest again.

 

Be firm. Say no. Back away. Do this even if you have been taught that it is rude. Give yourself permission to protect your personal space.

 

Read (or reread) The Gift if Fear.

 

Fear of being impolite is how people let aggressors like this get away with abuse.

 

I am more blunt than many people on this board, but church should be a safe, comforting experience. If his actions make it necessary for you to be blunt/rude to him then that is his problem, not yours.

Edited by Jyhwkmama
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Had similar boundary/personal space/controlling/slightly manipulative/not taking the hint issues with a friend's neighbour, who happened to be bipolar. It was, in his case, one manifestation of his mental health issues and was worse when his health wasn't being managed well. I'm absolutely not saying that this is what all bipolar people do, I wouldn't want to make any assumptions, but it does make me wonder if this guy has other issues that mean he doesn't - or isn't able to - "get the message" (whatever the message is).

 

Whatever it is, whatever the reason, or whether he's just being a PITA because that's the kind of person he is, it shouldn't be a problem that you have to deal with on your own. I would speak (tactfully) with others you trust, to see if they can support you, or intervene if a similar situation happens again. And, however chilled your dh feels about it, tell him you don't feel comfortable and that you need to come up with a plan between you for any future encounters.

Edited by stutterfish
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Hmm.  Well, he sounds creepy.

 

However, I think shaking hands is a basic social nicety in most of North America.  Kind of like saying "Hi" when you see someone.  Unless I thought I was actually in danger - which I don't think I would in that setting - I'd say hi and shake his hand.  I's consider my liking or disliking him to be irrelevant, and if he is doing it to be a jerk (something difficult to be sure about), that is really his problem and not what dictates my response.

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Bolt..

 

I've spent some time pondering your post. I feel this is hard to answer because I don't think this person is a danger (physical), but this person has a pushy and controlling personality. So I try to keep my distance because most interactions with him he is trying to dictate things (including monologueing at nauseum). But, I feel like my last interchange went beyond being an annoying personality. He definitely knows how I feel about him... he was trying to provoke a reaction or response from me. At the very least I felt that it was rude. He was definitely not going to walk away until I shook his hand.

 

My experience with this person is that he doesn't really listen to direction or criticism. He has been told repeatedly not to do something (trying to be vague) and continues to do it. This includes several leaders and our priest. I was actually one of the first people to tell him this was a problem and he immediately made excuses and tried to make it sound like it was *my* problem. Okay, fair enough - there was some room for personal preferences with this issue.. but then other complaints came in. Still no listening or respecting others suggestions.

 

Anyway, not trying to give away the whole boring story, but through this experience I knew I wanted to keep him at arms length.

 

So yes, he's very irritating. He's not a danger... but I also felt like he's crossing a line by trying to push me (as if he's trying to *make* me be his friend.) I don't know if that helps clarify it. or not.. Your post has helped me to think a bit deeper than just my initial reaction.

Given this information, I don't think he wanted a polite handshake... he wanted the kind of handshake that meant demonstrate that he is in control of the situation between you (and/or to prove he is in the right of the situation between you). I think you were able to infer the power-move content of him initiating the handshake.

 

It sounds like he was seeming to say, "I'm going to force you to either shake my hand (demonstrate that you have no problem with me) or not shake my hand (prove you are rude and vindictive). Either way, I win."

 

Does that interpretation fit with your perception? If so, that's not exactly case 1 or case 2 -- he's neither dangerous nor merely annoying... but controlling and power hungry in kind of a sociological way?

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Honestly, I think it's basic politeness to shake his hand.  I don't think it's acceptable to refuse to do so, regardless of who he is, especially where there are others around.  (If you were in private, you could just give him a piece of your mind and walk away.)

 

Afterwards, you could act real hurried or make an excuse and get away from him.

 

Refusing to treat the guy like a human will only reflect on you as far as any observers are concerned.

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I think if you only see this guy at church, where you are safe, it might be better to just say hello, shake his hand, and move on. "Good morning, Joe...hope you have a good day" and walk away.

 

It's possible that he enjoys seeing you discomfited. If you took that away, maybe he would stop.

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Given this information, I don't think he wanted a polite handshake... he wanted the kind of handshake that meant demonstrate that he is in control of the situation between you (and/or to prove he is in the right of the situation between you). I think you were able to infer the power-move content of him initiating the handshake.

 

It sounds like he was seeming to say, "I'm going to force you to either shake my hand (demonstrate that you have no problem with me) or not shake my hand (prove you are rude and vindictive). Either way, I win."

 

Does that interpretation fit with your perception? If so, that's not exactly case 1 or case 2 -- he's neither dangerous nor merely annoying... but controlling and power hungry in kind of a sociological way?

 

I agree with this assessment.

 

I personally would not allow someone to have that kind of power over me. So If I couldn't shake his hand and walk away and act as though it didn't bother me, I would literally just walk away from him.

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Given this information, I don't think he wanted a polite handshake... he wanted the kind of handshake that meant demonstrate that he is in control of the situation between you (and/or to prove he is in the right of the situation between you). I think you were able to infer the power-move content of him initiating the handshake.

 

It sounds like he was seeming to say, "I'm going to force you to either shake my hand (demonstrate that you have no problem with me) or not shake my hand (prove you are rude and vindictive). Either way, I win."

 

Does that interpretation fit with your perception? If so, that's not exactly case 1 or case 2 -- he's neither dangerous nor merely annoying... but controlling and power hungry in kind of a sociological way?

This is what I perceived as well from her post.

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I was going to make the same comments about The Gift of Fear and being more annoyed with your DH for not getting it and intervening.

 

Also, maybe re-read Protecting the Gift and see that you are absolutely NOT WRONG to get the creeps from men who don't understand or purposely ignore social boundaries.  They do this to help choose victims.  And you are CLEARLY on his radar.  Don't treat him with scorn or derision, just insist on NEVER doing whatever it is he's trying to manipulate you into doing, with a smile on your face.  If he makes a comment or face like you're being the weird one, just say something like, "You very well know I don't want to shake your hand.  Don't make it weird, man."  Smile, and walk away.  And if he says something else that's wrong you could also say:

  • "Awkward!"
  • "No means no, (his name)."
  • "Don't push, you're giving me the creeps, (his name)'

 

Also, make it very clear to your DH that this guy gives you the creeps and he is ALWAYS to put himself between you & the creep.  ALWAYS.

 

And if you feel guilty, don't.  This is a really good time to talk to your children and husband about instincts and intuition and fear, and listening to them while also being as kind as possible, but NEVER letting anyone guilt or manipulate them into any sort of contact that doesn't feel right.  You made the wrong choice today, and if you did that in front of your kids, I would honestly have a conversation about it.

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Given this information, I don't think he wanted a polite handshake... he wanted the kind of handshake that meant demonstrate that he is in control of the situation between you (and/or to prove he is in the right of the situation between you). I think you were able to infer the power-move content of him initiating the handshake.

 

It sounds like he was seeming to say, "I'm going to force you to either shake my hand (demonstrate that you have no problem with me) or not shake my hand (prove you are rude and vindictive). Either way, I win."

 

Does that interpretation fit with your perception? If so, that's not exactly case 1 or case 2 -- he's neither dangerous nor merely annoying... but controlling and power hungry in kind of a sociological way?

 

 

Yes, this is exactly how I read the situation.  I think you described exactly how I felt manipulated by the situation.   He purposefully came over to me (went out of his way past others) to shake my hand.  He has never done that before in the 3 or so years I've had to deal with this.   In fact, it's not something anyone else ever does, so I couldnt' even say - well this is how we all do this at our parish.  It's not.  

 

To give more explanation.  We are in the choir.. I'm a soprano, he's a tenor.  He's on the opposite side of the choir loft and came over to me in the soprano area.  Even if I'd had no issues or history with him it was a very weird thing for him to do.   He was not walking around shaking everyone else's hands.

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Honestly, I think it's basic politeness to shake his hand.  I don't think it's acceptable to refuse to do so, regardless of who he is, especially where there are others around.  (If you were in private, you could just give him a piece of your mind and walk away.)

 

Afterwards, you could act real hurried or make an excuse and get away from him.

 

Refusing to treat the guy like a human will only reflect on you as far as any observers are concerned.

 

I know... this is why it is difficult and subtle.  It is not like he is clearly a danger to me or anything like that.  And yeah, what does it say about me if I can't shake someone's hand - even if I don't like them.  

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I know... this is why it is difficult and subtle.  It is not like he is clearly a danger to me or anything like that.  And yeah, what does it say about me if I can't shake someone's hand - even if I don't like them.  

 

You ABSOLUTELY CAN avoid shaking his hand.  He marches up to you, sticks out his hand  in front of the rest of the choir and you can say, "What's up, Paul?  What are you doing?  You need to leave me alone."  If he's only focusing this behavior at women you can optionally throw in, "I'm a married woman and you keep insisting on making this awkward. This is not appropriate.  Leave me alone." That will not reflect badly on you.  It will make it quite clear he's doing something socially unacceptable.  And frankly if he keeps ramping up on behaviors like this, I would seriously consider threatening to get a restraining order.  I disagree that he's not dangerous.  Perhaps he's not dangerous now but it is exactly this personality type that becomes very dangerous with very little warning.

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Yes, this is exactly how I read the situation.  I think you described exactly how I felt manipulated by the situation.   He purposefully came over to me (went out of his way past others) to shake my hand.  He has never done that before in the 3 or so years I've had to deal with this.   In fact, it's not something anyone else ever does, so I couldnt' even say - well this is how we all do this at our parish.  It's not.  

 

To give more explanation.  We are in the choir.. I'm a soprano, he's a tenor.  He's on the opposite side of the choir loft and came over to me in the soprano area.  Even if I'd had no issues or history with him it was a very weird thing for him to do.   He was not walking around shaking everyone else's hands.

 

 

If he can tell you aren't keen on him, it might be that he felt he should make some sort of social gesture.  Some people are just weird and don't behave like other people.  Ultimately, you lose nothing by shaking his hand in that case.  

 

If he really is doing it to discomfit you, if there is no payoff he'll likely stop.  OTOH if you don't, he can keep pushing it, or escalate, or more likely make you escalate so he seems innocent in the interaction.  And even here, you lose nothing by shaking his hand.  With people who are like this, the best thing is almost always not to even notice what they are doing, so you aren't part of their game.

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I know... this is why it is difficult and subtle. It is not like he is clearly a danger to me or anything like that. And yeah, what does it say about me if I can't shake someone's hand - even if I don't like them.

It says that you have set clear boundaries with someone you are uncomfortable with. Just because people view shaking hands as a social norm does not mean you need to buy into that. There are plenty of ways to still be kind to him while having your own boundaries.

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Even an, "Um, I'd like to be left alone, please." Or "I don't really want to shake hands." Or, "I don't like it when you approach me like I owe you a handshake" -- are very strong phrases, even though they sound meek. They might be easier to spit out if he does it again. (Or you can practice stronger scripts.) Then you can turn away and immediately chat with the nearest regular person.

 

People underestimate the power that exists in bluntly saying "I want" / "I don't want" / "I like" / "I don't like" -- it's very difficult to argue with them, and you always found reasonable and level headed with a phrase like that.

 

(If I could do one thing for the social and relational health of every woman in my life, it would be to teach them to truly say "I (don't) want" / "I (don't) like" when a situation calls for it!)

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He gives you the creeps, and pushes your boundaries in a public way that seems to have been a challenge. He’s a jerk. If your husband doesn’t see it, let him know he doesn’t have to. He just needs to make you feel protected, regardless.

Ask dh to stick by you and intercept the guy with a quiet “no†when he sees him approaching. Quiet, eye to eye “no†is very clear.

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I know you don't feel like he's a danger, but pushing your boundaries like that is a red flag. It shows that he doesn't respect you as a person and he feels entitled to violate both your emotional and physical boundaries. In public - so he wants to shame you too.

 

I would practice some quick get away responses. I wouldn't confront him, he's been told by others in authority (priest) and doesn't care so I doubt a 'stop being creepy' would help, it may just prove to him that he's getting to you. I would avoid him, keep in groups.

 

I'm sorry you're going through this. Its not okay.

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I know you don't feel like he's a danger, but pushing your boundaries like that is a red flag. It shows that he doesn't respect you as a person and he feels entitled to violate both your emotional and physical boundaries. In public - so he wants to shame you too.

 

I would practice some quick get away responses. I wouldn't confront him, he's been told by others in authority (priest) and doesn't care so I doubt a 'stop being creepy' would help, it may just prove to him that he's getting to you. I would avoid him, keep in groups.

 

I'm sorry you're going through this. Its not okay.

 

I agree with most of this post, but IME "stop being creepy" in front of a room full of people he is trying to humiliate you in front of can and will stop this behavior in most people.  He won't stop being a jerk, but he will realize you won't keep putting up with it.  Bullies like targets that take it, and if you cease taking it, one of two things will happen: he'll move on to a different victim or he'll escalate, which will make it clear he is dangerous and you do really need to get a restraining order.  Either way this situation will be moved closer to a resolution.

 

Chances are it's the first.  95% of bullies aren't brave enough to target someone who will fight them back, which is why abuse tends to happen to women and children, rather than other men.  Not that women and children can't abuse others too, but when they do it is generally to someone they feel is weaker than them.

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I talked with my dh tonight.  He understood.  He did see what happened (from a distance) and could tell I was very uncomfortable.  I explained how it made me feel and how I felt like this person crossed boundaries and tried to force a response out of me.    He asked me if I wanted him to talk with this person.  I told him not just yet.   He also encouraged me to think ahead how I'm going to handle it next time and be prepared.

 

 

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You ABSOLUTELY CAN avoid shaking his hand.  He marches up to you, sticks out his hand  in front of the rest of the choir and you can say, "What's up, Paul?  What are you doing?  You need to leave me alone."  If he's only focusing this behavior at women you can optionally throw in, "I'm a married woman and you keep insisting on making this awkward. This is not appropriate.  Leave me alone." That will not reflect badly on you.  It will make it quite clear he's doing something socially unacceptable.  And frankly if he keeps ramping up on behaviors like this, I would seriously consider threatening to get a restraining order.  I disagree that he's not dangerous.  Perhaps he's not dangerous now but it is exactly this personality type that becomes very dangerous with very little warning.

 

She could certainly vocally refuse to shake his hand in church, but that's a bit of a DEFCON 1 reaction, and she'd need to be prepared for the fallout. It will definitely get people talking. If she throws out, "I'm a married woman," that is really going to get people talking. 

 

His behavior is not in the universe of behaviors that qualify for a restraining order. Alas, you cannot order all of the creepy and annoying people to stay 300 feet away from you at all times. 

Edited by katilac
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She could certainly vocally refuse to shake his hand in church, but that's a bit of a DEFCON 1 reaction, and she'd need to be prepared for the fallout. It will definitely get people talking. If she throws out, "I'm a married woman," that is really going to get people talking. 

 

His behavior is not in the universe of behaviors that qualify for a restraining order. Alas, you cannot order all of the creepy and annoying people to stay 300 feet away from you at all times. 

 

She's not disclosed every creepy action this man has done.  Several people have intervened with his other incidents and he has not changed.  Instead he's getting more confrontational.  No, she may not be able to get a restraining order yet, but since he has already violated multiple social boundaries it is absolutely reasonable to say if he keeps this up she will speak to the police.  Continuously violating boundaries, depending on the context of the other situations, may very well constitute threatening and/or stalkerish behaviors that, IME, police take seriously. Multiple interventions being ignored is more than just a red flag.  Chances are very high that more than just she is uncomfortable with his behaviors and it is absolutely okay to tell someone who is being creepy that they are.

 

I have personally seen more than one situation like this where when a few people in a church got the creeps from someone, a few quick google searches helped them figure out the man had a dangerous criminal record, and in one case, was in the process of violating his parole by being in the presence of children.  There is no benefit to letting someone harass and manipulate her.

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I talked with my dh tonight. He understood. He did see what happened (from a distance) and could tell I was very uncomfortable. I explained how it made me feel and how I felt like this person crossed boundaries and tried to force a response out of me. He asked me if I wanted him to talk with this person. I told him not just yet. He also encouraged me to think ahead how I'm going to handle it next time and be prepared.

I think you should tell your dh to stick close to you when the guy is around, or to come right over and put his arm around you if the guy approaches you.

 

I’m glad your dh is willing to talk to the guy, and I think you should have him do it the moment anything happens again, preferably while you’re standing right there with him. If the guy sees that you are united as a couple, he will probably knock it off and go find someone else to annoy.

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I haven't read all the posts, but I agree this is absolutely a power play. I have two suggestions:

 

1) When he starts coming at you, suddenly have a coughing fit and cough all over your hands. Then "Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry!" and stick your hand out to shake his. Do it every single time. "Oh my goodness! I just cannot shake this tickle--must be allergies!" I think he'll decide pretty quickly that it's not worth the effort. If he does, shake gladly and enjoy the moment :lol:

 

2) More seriously, when he comes at you with his hand out, just hold up your hand and say with a big smile, "Oh, no thank you! Have a good day though!" and turn and walk away. Be polite, smile nicely, but NO THANK YOU. Keep doing it. You're being friendly and polite, but you're setting and holding your boundary. 

 

I'm all for being a good person and being kind to others, but that does not extend to letting people manipulate me over and over. Not even for things like church. You can be a good Christian and love your fellow man without letting him control you physically and emotionally. Nope. 

 

This is my tactic with Jehovah's Witnesses at the door, solicitors, direct sales people who stop me in stores, telemarketers on the phone, etc. I won't be rude, because they're just doing what they feel they need to do, and that's on them. My response is on me. No thank you! :D

Edited by ILiveInFlipFlops
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<snip>

 

My experience with this person is that he doesn't really listen to direction or criticism.  He has been told repeatedly not to do something (trying to be vague) and continues to do it.  This includes several leaders and our priest.  I was actually one of the first people to tell him this was a problem and he immediately made excuses and tried to make it sound like it was *my* problem.  Okay, fair enough - there was some room for personal preferences with this issue.. but then other complaints came in.  Still no listening or respecting others suggestions.

 

<snip>

 

I guess I don't understand this.  He is ignoring church leadership and doing things they told him not to do?  Is his behavior toward you a result of you talking to him about it?  Or is this behavior part of what he was already admonished about?  (I understand you don't want to give a lot of detail so you don't have to answer, of course.)  

 

Does your church have a process for administering church discipline?   Are they following it with him and is he ignoring it?  

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Even an, "Um, I'd like to be left alone, please." Or "I don't really want to shake hands." Or, "I don't like it when you approach me like I owe you a handshake" -- are very strong phrases, even though they sound meek. They might be easier to spit out if he does it again. (Or you can practice stronger scripts.) Then you can turn away and immediately chat with the nearest regular person.

 

People underestimate the power that exists in bluntly saying "I want" / "I don't want" / "I like" / "I don't like" -- it's very difficult to argue with them, and you always found reasonable and level headed with a phrase like that.

 

(If I could do one thing for the social and relational health of every woman in my life, it would be to teach them to truly say "I (don't) want" / "I (don't) like" when a situation calls for it!)

This post is very true. Made me think this morning! :)
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Let me start by saying that I like that you and your husband are supportive of each other, and teamwork is lovely... but I want to tell you that you are not a damsel in distress. You are a woman of strength and valor. You should be respected for the sake of your worth, not because of the presence of your nearest male relative.

 

Chivalry can be comforting, but it is also weakening. It has the potential to prevent you from ever learning to speak your boundaries and demand respect and dignity. It's like a life jacket -- it can keep you safe in emergencies, but it can also prevent you from leaning to swim.

 

Please do work on speaking for yourself. Your husband can help you best by mostly supporting you in learning to do that -- and by standing ready stepping in if there is a genuine need.

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 <snip> 

 

I have personally seen more than one situation like this where when a few people in a church got the creeps from someone, a few quick google searches helped them figure out the man had a dangerous criminal record, and in one case, was in the process of violating his parole by being in the presence of children.  There is no benefit to letting someone harass and manipulate her.

 

A google search is a very good idea in this situation, with the caveat that not everything will show up. 

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remember "the gift of fear"?   God gave you that inner voice for a reason.

 

this guy knows you don't like him - but pushes himself in your face anyway?   what you describe sounds like he's enjoying rubbing your face in trying to avoid him.

 

your dh is naive.  yes - christians should love each other, but they need to beware the wolf in sheep's clothing.

 

many years ago, we had a new man join our church congregation when he married a member.  I knew little about him, other than she was very happy.   I had a *very innocuous* conversation with him one day . . . . about sheep.   I was floored when the overwhelming impression I had was he was trying to snow me.  it was very distinct and strong.

it wasn't six weeks later before he was arrested for fraud.  (I believe he was sentenced to three years in prison.  the wife was devastated, and did divorce him.)

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