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)
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.