#1010: “Exit, pursued by a creepy dude.”

Hi Captain,

I have a friend (I’ll call him “Dave”) whom I haven’t seen in person in years, but am still in touch with on social media. Several months ago, he messaged me to tell me that he liked me and would like to go on a date sometime. I didn’t know him very well at the time, but I liked him enough to at least give him a chance. Though the date never happened, we did message each other regularly for a while.

I’m very involved in local theater (we met doing a show together, actually–I’ve stuck with theater since then and he hasn’t), and he mentioned at one point that he’d like to see me in a play sometime. I had just been cast in a show at the community theater in the town where we both live, so I gave him the details for that.

Well, it eventually became apparent that Dave is not a guy I’m interested in dating. I don’t think he’s a bad person; I’m just not attracted to him. At all. When I told him this, he put on the whole “but I just want to be friends, can’t we just talk and hang out as FRIENDS?” act. He then continued to keep sending flirty messages while denying that he was flirting. (“Can’t I tell my friend she’s pretty?” “Can’t I let my friend know when I’m thinking about her?”) I stopped responding to his messages and blocked him from viewing everything I post.

Now the aforementioned community theater play I’m in is just a few weeks away from opening, and I’m very worried that he’s going to show up. (I am very annoyed at my past self for telling him I was in it!) Anyone can buy a ticket, so I can’t exactly tell him he can’t come. At this theater, the actors always do a little meet-and-greet with the audience after the show, so if he does come I’m going to have to interact with him. My anxiety about this is sort of ruining what would otherwise be a really fun and exciting thing. What do I do? Help me, Captain!


Exit, Pursued by Creepy Dude (She, her)

Dear Exit,

This sucks and I’m sorry, but (good news!) you don’t have to interact with him if he shows up and you don’t have to suffer in silence or in secret.

Talk to the theater and to your friends at the theater. “I had an acquaintance who had a crush on me. He got a little stalker-y and wouldn’t take no for an answer, I’m afraid he’s gonna come to the show. He might not come, but it would make me feel more comfortable if we could put some safety measures in place just in case.” Ask the theater what they’ve done about situations like this in the past. Ask the box office to let you know if “Dave” buys a ticket in advance. You’ll still be freaked out and upset that day if you know he’s coming, but you’ll know what’s coming and you can tell the stage manager that you’ll be nope-ing right out of the post-show meet & greet that night.

If he shows up spontaneously, you can still handle it especially if you have the stage manager & fellow cast & crew to help you. Decide on a code word. You can say the code word if you spot him, and they can enthusiastically meet & greet him – all cheerful and friendly –  without raising a fuss while you slip out the side door.

Dave, if you’re out there reading this, nobody wants you to go to that show and everybody sees through your wisp of plausible deniability for your pushy behavior. SHE DOESN’T LIKE YOU.

Letter Writer, I’m wishing you a good show, free of having to see this dude.

This is a good callback to the discussion about persistence from earlier this week. If someone is saying no to you, and you keep pushing, it’s not just a “missed connection.” It can start to become a fear/safety issue very quickly. Is Dave dangerous? I don’t know for sure, but he’s demonstrated that he doesn’t take “no” for an answer, so he’s made danger part of the Letter Writer’s calculus and ruined what should be a fun thing.










80 thoughts on “#1010: “Exit, pursued by a creepy dude.”

  1. Great advice! I love the code-word idea.
    LW, please don’t be too hard on yourself for giving Dave the details of your play. Back then, you had no way of knowing he’d turn out to be such a douche-canoe. It’s not your fault, you just acted in good faith, which made perfect sense at the moment.

    I hope you have a blast during the play (and hopefully you’ll be so focused in getting the lines, the choreography, the costumes, and every other of the many important things that need to happen in theater right that you’ll forget all about that pest!). Break a leg 🙂

  2. Great advice as usual Captain! I don’t really have anything to add for this particular LW, but there is something I like to do with my acquaintances with crushes who use the whole ~plausible deniability of friendship thing.

    When someone whines to me, “Can’t I tell my friend she’s pretty?” I immediately take it out of the hypothetical. “No. Maybe some people, but you want to be friends with me and I’m not comfortable with you making those comments. If you’d like to remain friends then I need you to not comment on my looks anymore. At all, ever.”

    It can feel awkward and mean, but if you truly do want to remain friends with someone who’s advances you’ve rejected (I usually do because we run in mutual circles) setting the parameters of the friendship you’re comfortable with is important. That way they can’t rely on their shield of plausible deniability because you’ve explicitly told them. I do it in front of other people if they’re flirting with me in front of people too. It’s awkward and I have a reputation as someone who’s too blunt, but idgaf.

    And I don’t ever get into debates about hypothetical “friendships” or how they act certain ways with all their friends. I always try to just bring it back to me and repeat, “that’s not how I want to be friends with you.”, “I don’t want our friendship to contain that.” ad nauseum and if they keep pushing after that then I’ll block and go no contact.

    Anyway, obviously that isn’t relevant for this LW, I think she definitely did the right thing. And hopefully with all the other people at her theater’s help, her show will go off without a hitch and she’ll have a chance to really enjoy it! Whether or not Pushy Dave shows up. 🙂

    1. Right? My first thought was the same as yours: “Nope, you can’t,” or “Not this one, no.” Pushy Dave’s bundle of awkward deserves to be regifted back to him, immediately. If it makes him not like me, well, so much the better; it’ll save me from having to repeat that conversation.

      1. ** bundle of awkward deserves to be regifted back to him, immediately.**

        I love this – relevant for so many situations.

        I also love, “I don’t care that XYZ is cool with all your other friends, it’s not cool with me.” Also relevant for hitting on situations or just friends in general. I had a friend say, “But none of my other friends care that I show up 40 minutes late to dinner without a phone call…” Well, too bad – I do care, and I think it’s really disrespectful of my time.

        This was an extremely social person who tended to treat all socializing like being at a big outdoor festival with a bunch of people – “Hey, if I run into you, I run into you, but if not, hey, we’re all out having fun in our respective groups.” Or, more simply and less charitably, you could just call him a flake. 😛 I have very little patience for that. I can respect that different people have different social styles, but fighting me on it when I assert my boundaries is a Bozo No-No.

    2. Seconded. I always side-eye the idea of friendship universals (“I should be able to do X because friiieeennnddshiiiippppp”), especially because they only seem to manifest themselves to try and logick their way past a boundary.

      1. I wish someone had given me the “there is no universal friendship contract you must abide by to have friends” memo when I was a teenager. SO MANY DUDES pulled the “But I do X with ALL my friends so you can’t expect me to stop doing it just because it makes you totally uncomfortable!” card (and one boyfriend who did “This is how I show my love whether you like it or not!”) and I should have told all of them to go kick a cactus, but instead I was like, oh, well, I guess that’s how it has to be then.

        1. I wish someone had given me the memo during the brief time in my teen years when I WAS the pushy person. A guy broke up with me and I just would not let go. I cringe at the boundary trampling I did during our “friendship” afterward. It’s no wonder he eventually quit talking to me. Daves of the world, just……don’t be that “friend.” It’s obvious what you actually want and you can’t have it, so do everyone (including yourself!) a favor and let it go.

        2. That boyfriend should go read Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.” Edmund KNEW how to love Fanny. He knew what she liked and what she did not like, and altered his behavior to make her happy and comfortable.

          While he could shower praise on others, he specifically avoided praising her, because he knew it made her uncomfortable. But he did show his respect and appreciation for her in ways that DID make her feel his love and devotion and made her comfortable. Mostly, he did it by making sure she was not ignored, and her needs were met. He had his own limitations on what he could do for her, but what he could do, he did, but always in a way that would work FOR HER.

          If a guy says, “this is how I show my love, whether you like it or not,” and you don’t like it, tell him to go love somebody else.


        3. Omg stellanor you might be me. Especially the “this is how I show my love” bit…. the exact wording in my case was “It’s not wrong to have sex with the woman I love”

          And it took me years to realize that YES IT IS WRONG IF SHE DOES NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU. WE HAVE A WORD FOR THAT. IT IS NOT “LOVE.”

      2. In a social group I used to be in there was a lot of casual touch/hugging type stuff just as standard, and while I don’t mind hugs from friends WHEN I’m feeling okay with touch and WHEN they ask me first, I am a touch-repulsed person and I was not cool with random hugs from relative strangers.
        Luckily for me, rest of the social group was cool enough to recognise this was a fair request, and the few newcomers who tried to pull the ‘why can’t I hug you, I always hug new friends’ shit on me were generally pushed out by the group because hey, ‘ask before touching, do not touch if you get a no’ should not be a hard thing to understand.

        Seriously, I might be your friend, but I am also a unique person, just because ‘all’ your friends are fine with something doesn’t actually mean I am??

        1. I used to have a neighbor who always said, “Hi, little jennylinsky. Beep!” and then grabbed the end of my nose. I got tired of this and started saying the word “Achoo.” Dude got the message.

          1. What the actual hell. That’s annoying enough when people do it to little children, but to an adult? Who’s not even an intimate?!

    3. Yeah, that passive/aggressive stuff only works until you call them out on it.

      “Can’t I tell my friend she’s pretty?”

      “If you feel that way, then I’m not your friend.”

      But this is beyond that, if the LW has blocked the guy already. He knows he’s been rejected.

      Definitely talk to the theater management and whoever is in charge of the production. If they’ve been doing this for more than five minutes, they’ve dealt with overaggressive fans before, and know how to handle it.

    4. Actually, it’s not mean to be explicit with pushy people who don’t take the hint. If they’re genuinely clueless, you’re doing them a great service by letting them know they’re out of line. If they’re being creepy, that takes away the plausible deniability.

      1. Yeah, that too, jennylinskyb. I have been a genuinely clueless person and the nicest thing someone did for me my sophomore year of college was to gently tell me that although she liked me and liked hanging out with me, she needed to me to give her the “opportunity to miss you and then be glad to see you again”

        I still remember the wording because it was the nicest way I think she could have said it. She was basically like, ‘wait for me to text you first, trust that I will, and then you can be sure when we’re hanging that I WANT to be there’

        It can just FEEL awkward and mean, but it definitely is not. I now cherish the friends who I know will turn me down upfront if they don’t feel like hanging out. I trust that our good times are good for both of us and it’s SUCH a relief.

      2. I had to learn to be super direct when I was (a young woman) traveling alone through Latin America. I was not used to being hit on in the US, but I guess my solo status showed that I was seeking male companionship in Latin countries.

        I tried the code I had heard in the US, but it didn’t work. I had to force myself to say things like, “No. I do not want to talk to you,” “Leave me alone,” “Do not sit here,” and “Do not talk to me” to get them to leave me alone. It made me really angry that I had to resort to being so blunt – I felt like I was being really rude – but I was also very angry that they would not respect my boundaries.

        1. But you weren’t being rude, you were just being straightforward. We are socialized to dance around men’s feelings, when honestly, I think most of them would rather we just be direct. It saves everyone time. And the ones who want to be danced around… they’re Daves.

          1. Eh.

            For one, it doesn’t really matter what some, any, or most men would actually prefer. We are allowed, as non-men, to occasionally exist without prioritizing what men want.

            For two, even the men who SAY they would rather you be direct, have a very high probability of actually responding badly to a no, regardless of directness.

        2. I actually have to be rude to get men to leave me alone in my neighborhood. For the record, I am 42 years old and fat (read: NOT CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE!) As in telling guys to “”get lost” and “scram.”

    5. “That’s not how I want to be friends with you.”

      This is a great script for friendship in general. I don’t have to justify why my boundaries are looser with some friends than others.

      1. Yeah I like the script. I find that second part really hard though “you do x with sally!” is a hard one for me to handle without “hurting feelings”

        Like I want to say “i can do x with sally because x feels good and relaxing with sally and not you” but that goes over like a lead balloon.

        1. I like Libby’s brand of vienna sausages, but I do not like Armour brand of vienna sausages. I can eat other things that Armour makes, but something about their recipe for vienna sausages just doesn’t work for me.

          I can eat Walmart brand French onion dip, but I don’t like Braum’s French onion dip, although I LOVE Braum’s milk and sour cream. Braun’s uses too much salt in their French onion dip.

          The same applies to friendships, and actions you take in that friendship. What works with one may not work with another, because it has a different “flavor,” that you just don’t like.

          If your friend can understand brand loyalty for one thing versus another, he can understand this.

          1. That’s a good metaphor. I have single straight male friends who could say “Goddamn, you look smokin’ hot today!” and I’d take it as an innocent compliment. I also have single straight male friends who could say “You look nice” and I’d be like NOPE GROSS STOP. Of course a lot of that has to do with our other interactions, our shared history, what I know about their tendencies and how strongly/frequently I have to enforce my boundaries around them–but it’s not really productive to try to explain all that, especially as the ones who are most likely to push are the least likely to get it.

            This metaphor, on the other hand, is quick to explain and easy to grasp. It’s all about the flavor!

          2. Yeah, you can usually tell if the guy is looking at you “that way,” or if he’s just looking at you as a person in whom he is not sexually interested, for himself, but knows that other people might be, and wants you to find your happiness with the right person. It’s great to hear a “smoking’ hot!” compliment from such a person, because you know they aren’t coming on to you, but they are rooting for you, instead.

    6. Friends can tell their friends that the friends are pretty, IF the friends want to hear it. You say it once, and the friend laps it up? Keep doing it. You say it once, and the friend shies away? Stop. Some people just aren’t comfortable with that type of compliment, regardless of the relationship.

      Also, some people hate having their personal appearance complimented, but would appreciate a compliment on their taste in clothes, or their skill in hairstyle or make-up application, or nail art, or the like. “That dress looks good on you,” is way different. It’s way less personal and invasive, while still being friendly and a mood-booster.

      FRIENDS make the other person’s comfort and happiness a priority. If you are complimenting a person to boost YOUR OWN sense of importance, then you’re not being a good friend.

      In other words, LW, you have every right to be creeped out by this guy. He’s not being “friendly.” He’s being selfish. He may not be a creepy stalker, but he’s definitely selfish, and not respecting your stated wishes and needs.

      Laughingrachel, I really like your statement of “I don’t want our friendship to contain that.” It leaves it open to friendship, and gives every opportunity for the “friend” to prove real friendship by respecting the boundary. It’s hard to respect boundaries if you don’t know where they are. Once clearly defined, though, boundaries are proofs of who’s who and what’s what. Your statement is both wide open to friendship and specific to a boundary, and it can be used for all the boundaries!

  3. For what it’s worth, my community theatre program has banned creepy dudes from our shows before. This was before I started here, but there are pictures in the box office of people who will be thrown out, and it is because they were creepy. I really hope that your organization is as supportive, and also that you don’t need to find out whether or not that’s the case.

    1. Same – I’ve been involved in community theater too, and there were definitely people who were not welcome to attend (and they’d also stop people from participating if they were creepy in the dressing rooms, etc.)

      1. The dressing-room factor is huge for us. We do a lot of work with kids and teens, and we absolutely cannot have anyone around who has been creepy that way. We’re responsible for the kids and that creates a zero-tolerance policy toward the creeps of the world. At least one of the people banned earned that by hitting on teenage girls, and nope, not gonna do that again, not here in our program. The mandatory fingerprinting for all backstage volunteers/workers filters out a lot of the people with bad intentions, but not all- and that’s where we come in to close the gap.

    2. The only reason my partner’s workplace wouldn’t commit to *immediately* bouncing their Awful Ex is because my ex works in a [self-redacted place with specific policies about being open to the public]. The workplace did commit to warning my partner if someone saw the ex enter and doing everything they could to insulate my partner from the ex. They also made it clear that one — just one — misstep on the part of the ex would result in the ex being invited to leave and never return. (The ex, fortunately, did not choose to test the staff’s patience.)

      Places with policies that allow them to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason have a little more latitude than that, hopefully…

  4. I also second the idea of letting the theater management know about this. This is especially important if you need to be “in character” for the audience interaction part. You don’t need to be thrown off your acting game by this guy. I had a job in politics and had to attend fundraisers and schmooze as part of my job. I had my share of creeps that would show up ‘cuz, hey, the fundraiser is in a bar and bars are strictly for picking up women in, right? Ugh. I found the older folks to be my best allies. Seniors love talking, they often need you to lean in close (implies initimacy), they like to hold onto your arm while they talk to you (so I can’t just rip away to talk to the Creep). Some of them need things repeated. I genuinely do love talking with the senior crowd but the added bonus of them needing extra time and attention comes in handy.

    Sometimes you may be able to take advantage of a louder crowd and, if you feel safe doing so, stop fast when he approaches, wait til he’s about a foot away and in a very sharp tone say, ‘I’m not sure why you came. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in a relationship.” Then walk away to your next guest before he can argue. But only do this if you’re safe.

    Also, is there an usher or stage hand or some other person who you can explain the situation to and who would be willing to walk you to your car in case Creep wants to follow you out after the event is over?

    . Creeps that show up to stuff like this are the worst. They know you can’t just not show up or leave on the spur of the moment. All the best, LW

  5. You’ll just have to see how the situation unravels or unfolds and see how to act from there on.
    Telling everyone at your theatre is great, but tell everyone you know about Dave also Increases your safety. If people know who he is and what he’s like, they’ll try to inform you what he’s going to do next if he hasn’t done anything yet.

    Furthermore, don’t just give in to fear thinking he’ll come and do something. Keep thinking that your play is gonna be amazing and keep thinking that. It’ll help take your mind of this stress.
    I hope you set fire 🔥 🔥 to the stage with your act (Metaphorically 😅)


    1. Also, anyone who hears this and says you should just give Dave a CHAAAAAANNNCE needs to be shut down right quick. You gave him many chances. He effed them all up.


      1. THIS. First off, no one is OWED a chance. Secondly, he already had his. You do not need to give him any more chances to trample your already-stated boundaries.

        I once had an acquaintance who blew my mind. I told her that my deal-breaker was lying. I could handle all sorts of things in a relationship, as long as the guy was honest about it, but if he lied to me, then it was a deal-breaker. (Note – I have since become a bit more nuanced – and won’t leave a man forever because of a white lie here and there, but outright deceit and cover-ups are still a definite nope). When I told her about my deal-breaker, she said, “But, he might be the love of your life!”

        She did not understand the concept of deal. breaker. It means that this person is NOT the love of your life, because they have the one (or more) characteristic you simply cannot abide. But she thought I should give the guy a chance.

        Mind you, this was a hypothetical guy, and she was still insistently arguing for me to “give him a chance,” because “he deserves a chance” and “I owed it to him.” A hypothetical guy? Think what it would have been like with a real one who could give puppy dog eyes and solicit more sympathy.

    2. This is such a good point. I feel like whenever a dude acts creepy – the woman is the one to try and keep it quiet and not tell anyone. Which really just creates a sense of isolation and increases a sense of fear or intrusiveness. Looping in Team You can really be hugely effective in not feeling overwhelmed. And if Creepy Guy ever becomes Violent Guy, you’ve got a posse of people who have your back and know what’s up.

  6. Solid advice. If you have any clear pictures of “Dave” you could also put one on your phone to show the theater staff. Make it clear you’re not asking him to be harassed or escorted out, just that you want to feel safe, and you would feel safer if they were able to keep an eye out.

  7. Great advice (as usual!) and I’m glad the Captain covered the safety side of things. Just wanted to add that even if you feel really certain that this guy isn’t a threat to your safety, it’s still ok to not want him there, and it’s still perfectly reasonable to be pissed off with him for glomming all over you and the cool thing you’ve been working on.

    1. LW here. Thank you for this comment! Dave *probably* isn’t a threat to my safety as far as I can tell, but I just really don’t want him there, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I don’t want him there, and yet there’s a very good chance he’ll show up anyway.

  8. Also, just from my workplace experience… It’s actually not a bad thing to have this discussion pop up just as a reminder that it’s a thing even if Dave turns out to be a complete false alarm. We have a lot of customers who have personal and/or friendly relationships with staff, and that’s good, mostly… But I’m also kinda glad that we have one co-worker with a slightly dodgy family situation, because it means we all think “should I be answering this question?” before giving out info.

    1. That’s a great way to think about it, that it’s a valuable and productive interaction even if Dave turns out to be a false alarm.

      1. In fact the more I think about it the more powerful I think it is. “You’re probably overreacting” is such a devastating way to shut people down when they are trying to protect themselves from unwanted advances. I’ve always been a fan of the flat contradiction: “no, I’m not overreacting” or “no, she’s not overreacting.” But this one is good too: “hopefully you’re right! I’m so glad she’s raising the issue so we can all get better at protecting people from harassment.”

        1. Yeah! “Hopefully you’re right, but it’s good practice, anyway. And then we’ll all be prepared when we need to handle the REAL stalkers.”

          Of course, ideally, you shut down the “you’re overreacting” types, who don’t believe your problems are real. But if you can’t shut them down, you can at least get them to work with you.

  9. LW, first off- break a leg! Second, if your production team is worth their salt, they will have your back. I’m a stage manager, and it literally our job to ensure that the actors can do theirs- including protecting them from awkward situations. Definitely let them know (to the extent that you’re comfortable!) and ask them to help. I hope he doesn’t show up, but if he does, I hope your theatre family has your back.

  10. Rather than have someone [try to] occupy Dave so LW can sneak out the back, how about a code word for someone or two to swoop in in a flurry, “LW! We need you backstage right now to help with the flux capacitor! Oh, I’m sorry, Dave, theater policy doesn’t allow guests back stage. Insurance, you know!”

    Then it’s not LW ditching Dave, which could trigger him; it’s circumstances beyond LW’s control. He already knows she doesn’t want a relationship, so she doesn’t have to ditch him to make a point. Getting swept away gets her out of there safely while (hopefully) minimizing the “blame” on her.

      1. (Person A hurried over, looking extremely anxious)

        “LW! It happened again. Can you help me?”

        (Worried faces, exit stage right)

        1. I work retail, and my co-workers and I have a hand signal – if we’re holding our hands a certain way, that is recognized by all store staff as COME GET ME AWAY FROM THIS PERSON NOW OMG PLEASE, and at least one person will beeline to intervene. In my last store, it was if we had our hands behind our back. So maybe a non-verbal cue might work – and would help set a precedent for any cast/crew who Need A Rescue.

  11. When I had a stalker, I had a big mental hurdle in telling other people about him. I felt embarrassed, stupid, and ashamed. But doing so ended up being a really big help in making me feel less isolated, and consequently less scared. If this applies to you, LW, take a deep breath just like you do when the curtain goes up. Shout it to the cheap seats!

    1. And how long before you stopped counting the “You have one, too?” reactions? How many people shared their own experiences with you?

      I used to think I was alone. Now, I think the people who have not been at least pseudo-stalked at some point in their lives are the ones who are alone. I’m thinking, what, two, maybe three percent of the human population?

      Fortunately, MOST people who do a bit of creepy stalking when they are young are really just clueless, and when they learn better, they stop doing it. That’s where being blunt to them can really pay off. It stops the behavior and teaches them better.

      The ones who don’t learn and continue their behavior, and worse, hold paid workshops where they teach others to do the same things, are much more problematic. But at least, they are becoming more visible in our modern world, making it easier to avoid them.

  12. With a title like that, please tell me you’re performing Cymbeline. 😀 Break a leg!

    As for creepy dude, front of house staff and stage management will be your best defense, just as CA and others already have. Also make friends with the crew, if you haven’t already, as they tend to be fiercely loyal to awesome actors who treat them well.

      1. Whoops, I worked those two in one year and got them mixed up. Thanks for clearing that up!

  13. “Can’t I tell my friend she’s pretty?”

    “Not if they ask you to not do that”

    Good people will respect that, others can be blocked (hopefully).

  14. LW, you have all my sympathy. I have been in your situation before, and I definitely used the “slip out the back” strategy. (I was also playing a role who had some good angry lines, so I was able to channel my frustration at Creepy Dude into the play before slipping away.) My specific Creepy Dude was a friend of an acquaintance, in a ridiculously interconnected activist community, where everyone knew everyone else, so he kept popping up at places I went, and refused to respect my stated boundaries. (I could accept that we might show up at the same public events. I could not accept him touching me.) I really hope things go better for you and that you never have to worry about creepy dude again.

  15. LW, I just want to let you know that I was a house manager at a theatre for a while, and in one show a performer told us that there was a creepy dude who would certainly be at the show every night, with tickets under a different alias each night (so we wouldn’t know which seat he was in, etc.), and that she needed not to be left alone at all after the show and for no one to be allowed to visit the dressing room. No one thought this was weird at all (on her part, I mean) or an overreaction, at least one crew member hung out with her from the end of the show every night until she boarded her subway home, but in a seemingly casual way like we were all just really friendly – because she was, in fact, awesome, and we all liked hanging out with her! I predict your colleagues at the theatre will 100% have your back if (as the Captain wisely recommends and as I hope you do!) you tell them what’s going on.

  16. I recently performed in my first burlesque show, which an ex of mine was aware of from when we were going out. He ignored my clearly stated boundary of no contact to email me the morning of the show to give me his “best wishes”. This was also a show open to the public. I let the organizer and several friends who were going to be there who knew him as well know that he’d contacted me. I didn’t think he would actually come (and he didn’t), but I felt better knowing people were aware of the situation and on the lookout, should he show up. It also helped me concentrated on my performance and enjoy (or freak out in peace, depending on when it was!) the show without having to spend the mental energy on an asshole.

  17. As a stage manager myself: DEFINITELY tell your stage manager! If they’re worthy of their title, they will take care of things so that you never have to see or deal with this guy at all, including talking to the box office and notifying relevant cast and crew if you’re comfortable with that. Granted, you could always have a mediocre stage manager, so I’d be prepared to take those steps on your own regardless, but definitely approach them first. That’s what SMs are there for (among, you know, 365367 other things).

    Sorry you’re dealing with a creepy dude, LW. :\

    1. Also came here to say this! I’m a stage manager who’s been on the edges of a situation like this and if the theatre is good they will SPRING into action to protect you. Please please always let the stage managers/general managers/producers know (however your theatre in structured).

      1. Have you ever seen one of the many movies/plays/TV shows, set in a theater, where a pushy boyfriend comes backstage and makes a situation for the struggling actress, who is then FIRED by the stage manager/producer, because her boyfriend made a situation backstage, and they blamed her for it?

        I always want to yell at the screen (and sometimes I actually do), “It’s not HER fault for being stalked! It’s YOUR fault for having such lousy security you let this non-cast-member walk right in and make a situation!”

        Granted, if you already know it’s an issue, give as much warning as you can, so the stage manager/producer/staff can be prepared for it. Ideally, they have processes in place that they can use, even if Stalkers Strike Unexpectedly.

  18. I hate dudes that use fake friendship to get more opportunities to win you over

    I had a “friend” who made it no secret he wanted me and of course I rejected him. He stayed my “friend” and hung out regularly. I always thought he was a cool dude when he wanted to do things with me that I liked like my other friends did but it became obvious he wouldn’t have wanted to make that awesome cake recipe if there wasn’t the possibility of winning over a girlfriend

    And I can’t get dudes to understand how shitty and fake it is. We are supposed to be flattered and see them as some great guy who will do so much for us. No you’re a liar who is putting on a show trying to get points with me and don’t actually care about what I like outside of how you can use it to your advantage.

    1. “And I can’t get dudes to understand how shitty and fake it is. We are supposed to be flattered and see them as some great guy who will do so much for us.”

      Yeah, plus it usually just builds up resentment and ends in an explosion of “You bitch! I did so much for you! I went with you to those plays and concerts and art shows that I lied to you about liking but actually hate! I went on a road trip with you to a town I lied about always wanting to have seen when actually I was just hoping to get lucky! I lied and said I liked that one dish you make so you kept making it for me and I had to eat it! How could you be such a manipulative user?”

      1. “How could you be such a manipulative user?” I LOVE (sarcasm) that bit. “Yeah, sure, I lied through my teeth to you, but how dare you BELIEVE me and act accordingly?!”

  19. Something that seems, unfortunately, to be a fairly universal experience for women and woman-perceived people who stay in retail for any length of time is the eventual stalkery customer. There is a little old man in my town who comes to the store and tries to give me presents and get me to go out to eat with him. Because the development of the situation took place at work, my managers saw it happen and I never had to ask them for help with it; they came to me and asked me if I would prefer not to continue to interact with this person, and it’s been over a year now since I’ve seen him because my other coworkers send me to hide in the back room when he comes in.

    (In an ideal world, in a just society, and especially since this particular person has harassed in turn every redhead who has worked at our store, he would no longer be allowed inside. But that’s not the world we live in.)

    I definitely recommend talking to your stage manager about this, and spreading the word among the other people involved in the show with whom you feel comfortable talking about it. Ask those people to help you spread the word to those you’re less close with, and unfortunately be prepared for at least one person to make an upsetting joke about it. There is a coworker I no longer talk to more than absolutely necessary because she thinks it’s funny to tease me about my “boyfriend” and tell me that her parents are 30 years apart and I need to give this dude a chance. This may not happen to you at all, but be warned that it might. And that’s why I recommend if your gut tells you you don’t want to talk about it with a particular person, don’t, and if it’s necessary for that person to know, enlist one of your other friends to talk to them about it.

    1. Good for your managers in keeping you safe!

      As for your nasty little coworker…*sends over an angry, incontinent, flea-bitten cat to pee in her bed*

        1. Good news, she may not work here anymore! I heard she walked off the job yesterday for being asked not to text while she was supposed to be cleaning the store…

    2. It’s not the age difference. It’s the attitude and behavior.

      If a man his age treated you the way you wanted to be treated, you’d give him a chance, and probably enjoy the ride, even if it doesn’t work out long-term.

      May-December relationships are not uncommon, and can be quite happy, but only if the people involved have the right attitude. Stalkerism is NOT the right attitude.

      Your co-worker is a twit.

  20. I work in youth theater, and we actually did this the day this was posted! A teenage castmate had had a harasser threaten to show up. The box office manager got a pic on their phone and checked it against people buying tickets. Jerk didnt show, but our team activated in a cool way.

  21. As an avid theater-goer, who always meets and greets with the actors afterward, I can tell you that it is not at all unusual for one of the actors to leave quickly, after greeting only a few people. They have lives and other obligations, or they may be feeling ill, and having pushed through the performance, have reached their limit.

    In fact, I did see a leading man nope out of the meet and greet, when he had three squealing girls ready to pounce on him. He bumped into me on his way, stopped and said, “YOU CAME!” and gave me a big hug, then looked at the girls, got the “deer in the headlights” look, and dashed out. Nobody blamed him, except perhaps his squealing teeny-fans.

    So, unless your theater group has specific rules denying you the right to leave the meet and greet, I think the Captain’s advice is spot on. Giving them a heads up is great, even if you don’t use the code word, because they won’t be surprised if you dash out. Ask if you can be situated later in the line, so that while he is greeting the others (or just passing them), you have a chance to see him coming, and make your exit.

    Good luck!

  22. Hi, LW here! Thanks so much for all the great advice and kind words. Talking to the box office is a great idea and I will definitely be doing that!

    I wanted to clarify that the meet-and-greets are done pretty informally (we all make our way to the lobby after bows and then leave on our own time once we’re done meeting and greeting), so I wouldn’t be breaking any rules if I were to duck out early or skip it entirely. The issue is more that 1) it might come off as weird and antisocial to the rest of the cast, and 2) I normally enjoy the meet-and-greets and don’t WANT to have to skip them! Talking to the box office will solve this issue, though, since I’ll know in advance if he’s coming and therefore won’t have to skip all the meet-and-greets on the off-chance he’ll be there. Also, I’ve gotten to know the cast a bit better since I wrote this letter, and they are all AWESOME and wouldn’t judge me for leaving early. (I’ve told a few people about the issue, and they’ve all been really understanding.)

    I also wanted to mention that I don’t *think* Dave is dangerous–he’s never threatened me or anything like that. (Though I will say that his persistence and inability to understand the word “no” is a bit of a red flag.) I just really, really have no desire to interact with him and I’m worried that he’ll use this show as an excuse to have the in-person hangout/definitely-not-a-date that he’s been trying to set up for months.

    Lastly, I’ve been making an effort to really focus on the fun parts of the show, and that’s been helping a lot. Like I said, the cast is awesome, and rehearsals have been really great lately. And now that there’s a plan in place for if Dave shows up, I can really enjoy myself!

    Again, thanks so much for all of the advice. It is much appreciated!

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