Ladies: in public, a man makes repeated, unwanted romantic overtures toward you. Your reaction?

A couple of things:

  1. Yes, I specifically am aiming this question toward women only and about men only. Why? Partly that is the way these things tend to happen in the real world, and I’m not pretending otherwise, and partly because the way women feel about and handle such things is what I’m interested in hearing about. If you feel left out, I’m sorry.

  2. I used the phrase “romantic overtures” rather than “sexual advances” because I wanted to exclude things like a guy groping a strange woman on the bus. That’s clearly assault, and I’m curious about the way Doper women respond to interactions that don’t reach criminal levels but are still unwelcome.

  3. Similarly I don’t think it’s necessary to complain that I’m only asking about UNWELCOME and REPEATED advances.Do I really have to explain why?

So let’s recap. Doper women: if a strange man approaches you in public and, without touching you or invading your personal space, makes romantic overtures, ad despite being rebuffed continues to do so, how do you handle the situation? How would you describe your emotional state during such a time?

No poll. There’s too many possiblities and I can’t be arsed anyhow.

As tactfully as I can ask, what’s the purpose of an obvious-answer thread like this?

Property owners, what’s your reaction if someone keeps trespassing?

Employers, what’s your reaction if someone unqualified keeps applying for the same job?

Buyers, what’s your reaction if a salesman keeps pestering you?

Etc. etc.


I’d like to say I’d call him out or be assertive, but I don’t really want to get yelled at and called a bitch, which experience suggests is the next escalation from there. So, I’d GTFO as quickly as possible.

Emotional state: Angry and anxious.

It would depend mostly on whether it was a place I could easily and reasonably leave. If I’m reading in Starbucks while drinking tea, I’d leave. Emotional state irritated.

If I’m waiting for a train, I’d start escalating the volume of my refusals or get out my phone, depending on how confrontational I was feeling. Emotional state flustered and angry.

Same. I’ll add another - I’ve had this happen on planes quite a bit, and being trapped escalates the feelings of anger, unease and irritation exponentially.

And I’m realizing now that getting on the train would be problematic. Someone who is not listening has a boundaries issue and is a threat.

Not all women have the same reaction.

My sister J is quite assertive. At 18, when approached by a man in such a manner, her response would typically be something like, “Nigger, please, don’t think I won’t hurt you. No, don’t look at my brother. He’s not the one who’s gonna smack you if you don’t get out my face.” (I’m remembering an actual incident here.)

My sister S was much more timid at that age. She’d feel obliged to be nice no matter how unwelcome she found the advances. Her most assertive reaction would have been to call for J (or me) to come rescue her.

Happily S has grown out of such timidity (though she doesn’t drop the n-bomb).

ETA: I am also curious about whether women feel more anger or fear in such circumstances.

I would tell him to leave me alone very, very loudly in as scornful and insulting a manner possible. Bullies tend to back down if they realize their victim will fight back. If I were in a public place that allows for concealed carry, he would be informed immediately that I have no qualms about taking his life for my own protection.

In a civilized society, I would hope that she would say “Sir, you are making repeated, unwanted romantic overtures toward me, and it would please me if you stopped.” However, a civilized society can no longer be taken for granted.

Emotional state: I’m the civilized one.

If this occurs at a party or a bar or someplace where drinking is involved, I’d try to tactfully ignore the person and chalk it up to al-kee-hawl. If that still doesn’t work, I’d make my excuses and leave.

If it’s a sober person, I’d rebuff him kindly the first time, be much more firm the second time, and if there’s a third time, I’d either seek help, if help was available in the vicinity, or very visibly call the police on my cell phone.

Emotional state? in example one, irritated, but not angry; in example two, escalating from mildly irritated to angry to fierce.

Yeah, they feel like the inverse of the “Day One Troll seeks advice from best & brightest” threads.

Oh hai someone keeps trespassing on my property, what I do?

Someone unqualified keeps applying for job at my company what should I do plz help thanks!!!

Salesman keeps pestering me do u think should I just let him? I am young cute Japanese teenager need ur advice!!@

No superheroes? Or cheesecake? What kind of a thread is this?

It depends on the guy and situation. Two guys could say the exact things word for word, and one guy could be annoying and the other creepy and threatening. But in general I’d probably rebuff with increasing force and less politely, and then leave. Probably not leave immediately but sooner rather than later, just like I’d leave if there was annoying salesperson or Jehovah’s Witness or someone like that.

Not every unwanted romantic overture is obnoxious or creepy. If someone humorously tries to get me to say “yes” to their repeated invitation, I might actually smile as I say “No thanks!” and walk away from them.

But if they are being obnoxious or creepy, then I’d probably be very cold in my response to them.

It also depends on my mood. I don’t suffer fools very well early in the morning before I’ve had any caffeine.

You’re also a man.

“Sorry, I’m not interested,” followed by “Please leave me alone.” Followed by leaving the area as swiftly as possible.

The moment someone touches me against my expressed wishes, I have no problem “making a scene”. Have done so, it usually works. But I’m pretty okay with being called nasty names or otherwise.

My emotional state would depend on how physically threatened I felt at the time. At best, “unsettled,” (and angry), at worst, “frightened” (and angry).

This reminds me of a thread I meant to start…

Yes, it would be quite nice if that’s all it took to make some men get the message, wouldn’t it?

I’ve always preferred avoidance to confrontation.
When these things happened when I was young, and it wasn’t threatening, pretending I didn’t even notice the advance was the first technique. If it didn’t work, I’d rebuff politely. Further advances would require firmer refusals. If he kept on, I’d start to worry that he was mentally ill and unpredictable, speak placatingly while figuring out an escape route, and then get the hell out of there.

Emotional state, some curiosity as to what was behind the unwanted persistence, some annoyance and some fear of what an irrational person might do, but nothing really strong or lasting.

Ignore and walk away, in the direction of other people, while pretending that I am deaf and he is invisible. Engagement of any sort is rewarding the behavior.

I’m hearing it as if the Goofy Gophers were delivering the lines.