Weird guy at gym (mind my own business?)

Last week I went to the gym at a different time than usual, and there was a guy there doing weights. He was a bit too social, bumping shoulders with people walking past him, and chatting to people as they walked up to the machines. I saw him talk both to other guys his age (30+), and to girls about 15-20. He was friendly rather than threatening, but the girls obviously didn’t know how to react to him. I am a 40 yr old woman, and I feel a bit protective of the girls, because it is hard to know how to deal with such things when you are young (and even when you are older), and they looked uncomfortable. The fact that the guy didn’t only talk to young girls makes me thing he is socially clueless rather than creepy.

I think my options are

  1. Tell the management, who may or may not do anything.

  2. Talk to the guy, and say something along the lines of “I know you are just being friendly, but it looks a bit weird for you to be approaching such young girls. It makes them uncomfortable, and someone might take it the wrong way.”

  3. Do nothing. He’s not hurting anyone, and it’s not my business anyway, since he hasn’t approached me, or my teen daughter. (We discussed him, and she is not worried about him.)

What do Dopers think?


Nailed it in one.


Yeah, I agree. It looked really off at the time, but when I see it written down, it is all pretty harmless.

If you really want to do something to help, introduce yourself and your daughter so he’ll talk only to you two :cool:

Knee to the groin. But do it really slowly.

and repeat in three sets of 25

View him like a vaccine against creepy old men: it give the girls a chance to practice their social defenses against a harmless facsimile of a real threat.

He is socially clueless? You see someone nice and conclude that he must either be a social Quasimodo or a rapist.

What? Where on earth is that in the OP?

Someone who can’t tell when the people they are speaking to is uncomfortable and wants them to go away has a problem. It may not be a major problem (we all know That Guy or That Woman who just. won’t. stop. talking), but I do think knowing how they come off and being able to read people is something more people should be aware of, especially in situations like a gym where there’s a reasonable expectation of running into each other again and again, and (unlike a coffeeshop, for example) leaving immediately isn’t usually possible.

Well, Quasimodo might be a bit harsh, but I don’t think 30 yr old guys should bump teenage girls as a way of saying hello as they walk past. Maybe it’s a thing guys do with each other? It looked really odd to me.

Yeah, we’re going to ask the manager to do something about those pesky talkative people because teenage girls can’t handle small talk.

My understanding of the OP is that she was asking a question, rather than declaring she intended to go to a manager - I deduced this from this part:

I do think someone persistently bothering other patrons and making them uncomfortable is an issue. Whether it is an issue big enough to draw a manager’s attention to, or whether the invisible hand of the social free market (aka everyone looking awkwardly at him and moving away from him) will sort him out, is the question here, as I understand it.

And unfortunately for both men and women, the dynamic is different when it’s an older guy and younger women. It is uncomfortable, awkward and sometimes upsetting to be a teenage girl cornered by an older guy, whether he’s aware of his behaviour or not, and it’s to your credit, Weedy, that you’ve noticed that dynamic and are trying to do something about it.

Maybe lightly talk to the girls in the locker room, if it’s a gym with that kind of dynamic?

If you still think this thread is solely about the annoyance of being talked to by people then I don’t know what I could say to convince you otherwise.

Yes, as I said I agree that there is unfortunately a different dynamic at play when it’s an older man and younger women.

Which is sad, both for genuinely harmless older men and young women who are taught to be stringently wary of strange men or else be held responsible for anything that might happen to them, but that’s not going to change without a fairly major cultural shift. I hope that happens soon, of course, and I think we’re moving in that direction, but it hasn’t yet. Which is why I think Weedy is right to be aware and to consider how she can help both the clueless guy and the uncomfortable girls.

It’s not just small talk, it’s persistent unwanted physical contact, too.

And while some teenage girls are socially adept, quite a lot of them think that they don’t have the right to tell an older guy to go away and not to bother them any more.

WTF? Says who? Weedy? Is it anyone’s job to go around telling people how they need to behave when they’ve done nothing wrong? Weedy just seems nosy and quite holier than tho here.

If some random bitch came up to me to counsel me on my social etiquette at the gym it would probably be the first time I ever said “Fuck You” to a female strangers face in my life.

Maybe you should talk to the girls and see how they feel? I remember when I was about 18 and started working out at my track there was a guy who never actually did anything wrong but whose attempts at talking to me really skeeved me out and sent up red flags.

It set off your spidey sense, and that’s enough for me.

I’d give him the stink eye. Not in malice. But my eyes would never be off him, when he was in the gym. Also I would speak, privately, with someone on the staff, that you determine to be both, calm headed and trustworthy. Make sure you point out, you have no real evidence, saw nothing beyond social ineptitude, don’t want to make any trouble for anyone, expect this to be kept confidential, etc. Your teenage daughter attends this gym, you have a right to be concerned, and a right to voice your concerns. And that is all you’re doing, voicing your possibly unfounded concerns based on nothing but your spidey sense. They should be able to take such a conversation on board without freaking out and just keep their eyes open in the future.

For all you know, the initial bump and conversation opener, could just be first contact. Perhaps he later ‘runs into’ them in the parking lot or on the street. I’m not saying it’s so, or that there is any evidence it’s so, just that it’s possible.

When it comes to possible predators, I like to side with an ‘abundance of caution’. There is no need to ruin this fellows reputation, in the process. Simple discretion should do it. Who knows, maybe two months from now you and the gym manager will be having a laugh over how foolish your fears were.

If you were the gym manager wouldn’t you want to know that someone’s spidey sense was bring triggered? Women/girls are often victimized not because they didn’t sense it, but because the wanted to be non judgmental, lacking any real evidence.

I would speak up. But that’s who I am, I am a speaker upper.