#1159: “Dude is misrepresenting me as an excuse to harass women. How do I stop it?”

Dear Captain,

There’s a guy, let’s call him Ted, who I’ve known for about 15 years and hasn’t been in a relationship during that time but sometimes pursues them, always with much younger women. His feelings are never reciprocated and that’s partly because Ted comes across as…well, a bit creepy and patronising towards women in general. Ted is in his mid fifties and his latest crush is Julie, who I’d guess is in her mid thirties.

Ted came to me really upset, asking for advice about Julie. He thought they were getting on well and had had lots of lovely chats but she suddenly ghosted him and stopped replying to his texts, unfriended him on Facebook and, in Ted’s words, “snubbed” him elsewhere. He continued trying to contact her because he didn’t know what he’d “done wrong” and really wanted to send Julie a message apologising for it. He also admitted he had posted FEELINGSPOETRY on his Facebook. Gentle questioning revealed that yes, this was indeed just before she unfriended him, gosh, what a coincidence. (Ted: “I don’t think she could have known it was about her. It was all abstract and metaphorical.” Me: “Oh Ted. She knew.”)

The advice I gave Ted was: don’t approach Julie, don’t contact her in any way unless she contacts you first and if she doesn’t, respect her need for space. Do not apologise if you don’t know what you did, because then she’ll feel obliged to accept an apology she doesn’t want because you probably didn’t do anything that needs an apology. Also, stay away from her social media and distract yourself with hobbies. Julie probably realised you had feelings for her that she didn’t reciprocate; here’s why that can be frightening when it’s a woman being pursued by a man, especially a significantly older man.

After our chat, Ted cheered up and said he would definitely take my advice. But days later he went on Julie’s Twitter and sent her a message saying how upset he was, that he felt awful about whatever he’d done to upset her and that he’d got advice from me about it. I was pretty angry he’d told Julie I’d given him advice while doing the exact opposite of what I advised him. I don’t really know her so don’t feel comfortable approaching her, but she and I have a lot of mutual friends and while I’m not bothered if she thinks I give terrible advice I don’t want her to think I’ve been encouraging men to harass her. We all spend a lot of time at the same very male-dominated events and I want Julie to feel safe and feel other women have her back. I haven’t spoken to Ted about this but if he’s going to use me as an excuse to do shitty things by pretending it’s because I advised him to, I really would like to nip that in the bud before it starts spilling over into our group of mutual friends and making things really awkward. Any advice for dealing with this?


Reluctant Advisor (she/her)

PS Just to add, in case it’s relevant: I was once one of the much-younger women he pursued, although that was a long time ago.

Hi there, Reluctant Advisor:

I understand the temptation to track Julie down and clear your name, but she’s had enough of Ted and thinking about Ted and worrying about Ted for right now, and your “I have your back, I swear!” apology message just pulls her back into Ted-drama, especially since you don’t have a direct friendship with her. Chances are that she doesn’t blame you for Ted’s bad behavior, but, if you are friends/”friends” with Ted on social media and within your shared hobby circle, she does know you generally as a friend of Ted and might give you a wide berth as a result, and that is fair on her part! So maybe wait, and if/when you run into her at an event, and if/when the topic of Ted comes up, you will have a chance to clear the record and the air – “That Ted guy, amirite?” 

You’re not responsible for Ted. But if you feel like you want to do something, let me ask you this:

Why are you still friends with Ted? What do you get out of this? He creeped on you long ago, he has a pattern of creeping on younger women, he does this weird thing where he asks you for advice that he’s clearly going to ignore (which reads to me like an excuse to get attention from you ABOUT Julie and indulge his crush even more, and then drop your name to try to get access TO Julie). He’s not a clueless teenager, he’s in his mid-fifties, he’s been doing this crap for at least 15 years, why not assume at this point that he knows exactly what he’s doing and that he’s doing it on purpose? He uses female “friends” to give him cover for his creepy behavior toward other women. Yikes.

The block button is riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight there. So shiny. So useful.

If you organize social events or gatherings, you can take Ted right off your invite list.

Or, hey, you could have a conversation with him along the lines of “Hey, what you did with Julie is really gross, and I don’t appreciate you dropping my name into it. My advice was to leave her ALONE. Why can’t you just leave her ALONE?”… 

…But is he worth the effort? You already know that Ted will ignore all advice and cues when he wants something (even without your advice, Julie’s “snubbing” actions were not exactly mysterious and his “confusion” is bullshit). Of course if you do unfriend/block/disinvite he will want an explanation, but “Eh, I’m just not feeling our friendship these days, best wishes” is a more than sufficient one (You’re not responsible for him learning from his mistakes). Any future conversations you have with Julie will ring much truer if she doesn’t have to risk more creepy behavior from him to be around you.

Update: Comments are closed as of Tuesday, 11/27.

149 thoughts on “#1159: “Dude is misrepresenting me as an excuse to harass women. How do I stop it?”

  1. I think the most powerful thing thing I learned as an adult is that I don’t *have* to be friends with people.

    1. Oh gosh yes. Internalize this. Memorize it. So important. There are some guys who aren’t necessarily “bad dudes” but with whom I’m just not comfortable and/or who make other people I know uncomfortable and I just… I slowly stop being friends with them. (Or hard stop, or ghost). There are so many other people with whom one could be friends.

    2. This a million times. You only have so much energy and time. It’s ok to realize he’s not going to change and just pull back.

    3. Right?! I had this lightning bulb moment in my early twenties when Friend X vagueposted something like: ‘torn between not wanting to excuse a friend’s inexcusable behaviour and wanting to defend them from accusations of things I know they wouldn’t do’

      and without even hearing anything about the event I thought ‘Christ, I wander what Friend Y has done now’. And I realised that:

      a) there was someone in my friendship group who I default assumed would be the person to be accused of assault, whether or not he’d done the thing this time
      b) actually I could just, like, not be friends with him
      c) OR with the person who was going to excuse him for ever and ever

      and I unfriended them both on all possible channels and it was fucking marvellous.

    4. I used to feel terribly guilty about disliking a co-worker. (He wasn’t a creep, just an incompetent time-waster.) And one day I thought to myself, “But he’s such a nice man,” and then I backed up and thought about it and realized that the truth was that he really wasn’t a nice man … but he acted as though he liked ME, so I felt guilty about not liking him back.

      Which is all primate behavior, as far as I’m concerned. It was a relief to say to myself, “I need to be civil to this person, but I don’t need to try to change how I feel about him.”

  2. This is what vaguebooking is for 🙂 “Don’t you just hate it when someone makes a big deal of asking for your advice, then does the complete opposite?”

    1. I feel like that’s just an excuse for Ted to start explaining his sorry-ass self on her wall to be honest. Y’know, in public, where everyone can see that he’s a good guy who’s done nothing wrong and maybe someone might tell Julie if he’s lucky. Either tell Ted directly he was an ass, or leave it imo.

  3. As said above, he seems to have been more trouble than benefit even before this nonsense, so, yeah, I’d say pick up your stuff and leave (the friendship, that is), and just be minimal if he whines (he will whine).

  4. LW, the best way to make sure other women at the events feel supported and know that you have their backs, is for you to support them and have their backs.

    Stop making special excuses for Ted.
    If you have any sort of administrative or organizational power, use to exclude him from opportunities to creep on women.
    If you don’t, offer your time and support to those who do.
    No “but he’s nice *TO ME*” excuses allowed. Not if you want to actually support other women who are not you.

    1. I don’t think he was nice to the LW, either. It’s not cool to name-check someone to justify crappy behavior,.

      1. He’s not. He’s using her as well. Which only increases the questions about why she continues to support a serial harasser, who also harassed her.

  5. This is such great advice. In Julie’s place, I’m not necessarily going to buy whatever he says about the women in his life, and I certainly appreciate being a good friend even to the imperfect–but I’ll definitely notice who keeps him in her life and will tend to generally steer clear of women who harbor known oinkers. Maybe it seems unfair, but my safety and well-being come before Dude’s Large Ick Tendencies.

    1. Absolutely. That’s true of more than creepy dudes too; I steer clear of people who routinely associate with anybody . . . off. If I find myself wondering why somebody is friends with so-and-so or noticing that someone hangs around such-and-such type of people, I know I don’t need to be around the first person. Result: I don’t have creepy dudes, drama queens, etc. in my circle of friends, and it is WONDERFUL. (Not that it was easy; I had to be asked “How do you meet these people?!” or some variant a few times in my younger days before it clicked that I needed to weed out bad friends better.)

  6. Yes, Ted,Julie knew the vaguebooking was about her. And so did all of your mutual friends who messaged her and asked, “What’s Ted’s deal? Was that status about you?” (No, I don’t know for sure that happened but it’s happened to me and other people I know.)

  7. Dear LW,

    I’m with the Captain:

    Why are you still friends with Ted? What do you get out of this?

    I think Ted sounds really unpleasant.

    Good luck in getting rid of him.

    1. Agreed. Ted is a fucking creep and if OP wants to be friends with him that tells me something not good about the LW. If however (more likely) LW is friends because she has been for a while and has naturally been socially indoctrinated to think of the males first and foremost over all other people including herself, then I do understand being friends with him still.

      OTOH, he is a creep and she should dump his ass yesterday. Personally I would read him the riot act about dragging my name into his BS. Particularly because as we all know he did it specifically to have “support” from a woman so he could say “see…this female person agrees with me.”

      I really kinda want to reach through the screen and stick an ice pick in Ted’s neck. I’d be doing the world a favor.

      /r (for the moment)

  8. If Ted had @ mentioned me, or tagged me in any way in that post, I would have replied honestly and directly. Something like “Ted, don’t bring me into this. This is not at all what I said.” <- maybe not quite that since the last sentence could open up some unwanted discussion, but you get the drift.

    1. Yes, this is very smart! If he tagged you into the conversation, it’s absolutely ok to reply back in kind. I got the impression that this was not the case (that the LW is finding out about it from Ted, like, “Oh, I even mentioned you and your advice”), but if that’s not the case, go in (and then block!)

    2. This!

      Nothing clears your name and shuts down bad behavior faster than a reply to his tweet, “What about the part of my advice where I said to leave women alone who clearly don’t want anything to do with you?! Stop stalking women dude!”

      1. Yes, this. You can be as vague as Ted about the person involved, but still call out his behaviour VERY explicitly.

    3. My first thought as well! If he’s citing you publicly, it’s fair game to respond publicly, “Uh Ted, I advised you NOT to contact her!”

      1. Yeah maybe call out the BS /once/ publicly (bonus if you make it clear you will not discuss further with Ted in the one snd only post). Then disengage. Completely. Ted will prob try to argue to proxy engage julie but ignore. Julie is probably tired of Tednanigans but probably won’t mind/might appreciate one shutdown. (Again, key is that it’s a shutdown and not an invitation to argue/obsess)

        1. And to be clear, do not direct this at julie, just at ted (not sure of the context of ted’s referencing you but either a reply or a post tagging his post or sonething)

      2. Yes, if he mentioned you by name (or twitter handle) then respond to his tweet explicitly saying “and you clearly ignored that advice, which was not to contact a person who has made it very clear that they are not interested”

    4. Or just ‘Ted leave me out of this! I told you to leave her alone!’ Which is the same length and more proactive in getting the ‘real’ message across, which is what LW worries about. An added ‘creeping on women is wrong and gross and kind of stalkery’ wouldn’t go amiss either. Public shaming in this context isn’t a bad thing.

  9. If you aren’t going to end your friendship with Ted (which you should do because he is a creep at best and is probably dangerous given his combination of entitlement, refusal to respect boundaries, and manipulations of people around him, notably you), then you need to stay the hell away from Julie and the rest of his victims. Because not only do you not have their back, given you support the man harassing them, but you are an active threat given your impulse to pull them further into his orbit and to put “clearing your name” over their right to be safe from Ted and his games.

    In short, the Julies of your world know whose side you are on, and right now it is Ted’s. I hope you realize what a problem this is an change that, but in the meantime accept that being on Ted’s side means not being friends with Julie. Because her friends would never support her harasser.

    I wonder what you are getting out of all this. Ted harassed you, harasses other women, and uses you to gain access to more victims. Yet you are giving *him* your time, effort, and loyalty. This seems like something worth exploring with a counselor, because that is not remotely healthy.

    I hope you get out and get safe from Ted. But whatever you do don’t go making things worse for Julie. Her safety is paramount. Not your reputation (which is damaged by *your* actions, not by Ted’s). Not Ted’s reputation, which is deservedly awful. And definitely not Ted’s access to Julie.

    1. Yes. You wouldn’t need to “clear your name” if it hadn’t been tainted by association with Ted in the first place. It seems like you’re trying to clear yourself of association with him, and the best way to do that is to not associate with him.

  10. Oh LW – Ted asked for advice, didn’t follow it then threw you under the bus he did the absolute opposite… Zoinks.

    Unfriend him immediately.

    Do not contact/apologize to Julie – I have no doubt she knows you didn’t give him that advice.

    Follow her lead on this whole Ted thing and be rid of hiim!!!!

    1. Even if Julie DOES think you gave him that advice, LW, there’s a good chance she assumes that he didn’t tell you all the pertinent information. That’s certainly what I’d assume in her position, absent evidence that the advice-giver was willfully ignoring my desire to be left alone.

  11. I would be very interested to know what LW gets out of her friendship with Ted.

    Because right now LW is Ted’s reputation shield/pretext to keep in unwanted contact with younger women. If he gets any creepier than he is now, LW will be the one to suffer fallout. Ted, who knows?

    I don’t think these types of dudes change. And if this is even the second time Ted has gone on about his romantic life to the LW, sought advice (and ignored it in a similar fashion), cut bait. It might be my triggers speaking but I would run screaming from petulant, unsuccessful in love, creepy men. Even as friends. They are emotional drains at best and often take out their frustrations on their female friends.

    1. They don’t change. Harassment/stalking are abuse.

      Why do abusers abuse? Misogyny and entitlement. They never change. They never go to anger management, counseling, etc. unless they are court ordered to do so and then only in order to stay out of jail.

      Interestingly enough even when they go they just sit there and complain about “females” and talk about how the “b**ches” made them do whatever it is they had been doing for however (sometimes years) much length of time.

      They don’t change. They can’t be fixed. They don’t want to change. They are a lost cause. We shod reopen Devil’s Island and start shipping them there instead of wasting out time/resources on them.

      1. ” We shod reopen Devil’s Island and start shipping them there instead of wasting out time/resources on them.”
        Excuse me, but which part of the prison system are you referring to? The part in which prisoners are deported and kept in inhumane conditions for 75% of them to die? The part in which the West ships off their “undesirables” for Native populations to put up with? The part in which Native lands and resources are stolen and exploited to establish a colony? Or the part in which Western women are shipped off, or Native women kidnapped, in order to maintain such a colony?

        1. seriously. @Kaos, I have a serious problem with how you’re slinging violence and sh*t around in these comments.

      2. Damn. What’s the over/under on when you start to openly advocate vigilante justice? And if we’re killing off men for being creepy, what possible punishment are you reserving for, you know, rape and murder? Bad things clearly happened to you in the past, but the slaughter and torture of tens of millions of men isn’t going to make you whole. Something is triggering you, and maybe you should step away from the Internet for a little bit?

        1. It is truly dreadful how often over-defending results in an attack, in this case on perfectly innocent people who happen to have been hurt.

          Bad things happened to me in the past. I often get triggered by the slightest thing, such as graphic descriptions of violence in what I thought was a safe space. I don’t appreciate the suggestion that my own damage will make me more prone to suggestions of extreme violence against other people; quite the opposite, in fact. When I am triggered by comments about violence that makes me want to protect people, not hurt them.

          Kindly note; trauma related emotional damage does NOT result in advocating vigilante justice.

          1. +1000
            Glittering Girl, I agree with you that Kaos is out of line, but there’s no need to lump in all survivors of bad things *waves* in such a patronizing manner.
            We don’t know what Kaos’ past was like, and it doesn’t matter, because the issue here is not their past but their behaviour: their graphic descriptions of violence, their threats of deportation, torture, and imperialism, and their systhematic dehumanizing (imho) of half the world’s population (by always referring to men as “males”, in the same line that MRAs use “females”).
            As cathy said, surviving trauma or having triggers doesn’t turn you into a violent vigilant.

            cathy, thank you for speaking up. I’m sorry you had to.

          2. Agreed with your comment but i think the previous posters were disagreeing with Kaos’ comments and not trying to make a generalization re: ‘emotional damage = advocating vigilante justice’. The comments from Kaos were a little off. Kaos it sounds like maybe you’re new? This blog is pretty anti violence, which is a good thing. We all (well maybe lots of folks) think that stuff in words but how many really think about the real thing? Maybe not many? but the space is kind of about not advocating more extreme things like ‘icepicks in the neck’ and ‘ship them all to prison islands.’ If this were a safe space for that sort of writing then it might attract more troll-minded folks and… well… that’s never good. And probably loads of other bad things. It’s cool to be mad. Ted’s a creeper and a lot of us have experienced Teds. Myself included. The post reminded me of the Teds in mylife and made me mad too. It’s cool because you’re probably just using words as hyperbole to make the point you’re mad. But then no one really knows you here, so what if you’re serious? I doubt you are, but what IF… there are nutters everywhere.

          3. Jers.

            I am a ‘nutter’. I am not dangerous.

            There must be a way of saying that certain behaviour is not appropriate without using words like this.

        2. Well, in Ireland men get bullshit sentences for beating and taping women. Usually single digits with a portion of it suspended. Google Jonathan McSherry ex soldier and see what he did to his ex-partner and how little time he served. And it keeps happening.

          Don’t get me wrong. Capital punishment is wrong. Vigilante justice leads nowhere good. But I’ve thought about it. I understand the impulse. Men won’t stop. They keep raping and murdering women and part of me – a dark part – feels maybe terrible revenge is the only way to make it stop.

  12. Yeah, I wonder about that – because there are some things that may be annoying but don’t mean you can’t be friends with someone – like we all have That Late Friend but otherwise they’re awesome or whatever – but being patronizing towards women in general is not a quality I could see ignoring in a person. Especially as a younger women. Like, what, you think half the planet are just childish idiots?

    1. I firmly believe it isn’t possible to be friends with bigots. Not in a “you shouldn’t” sense or an ideal world way, but literally not possible Bigots, which Old Guys who Creep on Women are wrt gender, do not see others as full people and therefore you physically, literally, manifestly CANNOT form a friendship with them.

  13. Even if you are still wearing rose-colored glasses about Ted’s harmful behavior, or still somehow think that you will convince him to change his behavior (despite his behavior remaining the same for the 15 years he’s known you), the fact that he used your name to continue to harass someone you expressly advised *NOT* to harass is a perfect opportunity for you to send an “I am done with this friendship” message.

    I am in full agreement with the other comments: If you want to approach Julie in good faith, you need to stop giving her harasser a +1 into your spaces. Decide whether to cut ties with Ted now- if your answer is “no,” you would be exposing Julie to more danger by talking to her. What is right is not always what is easy. There is a part of you that knows what the right thing is, and there is a part of you who is worried about how hard this is going to be. Which part are you going to listen to?

  14. LW, no matter what you said, Ted was _always_ going to contact Julie, because that’s what he wanted to do. _Anything_ you said about it, including something as non-committal as “IDK, LOL” would have been twisted into “LW said she literally _doesn’t know_ why you won’t accept my apology!” because the only reason Ted talked to you at all about it was to get to use you as an excuse and endorsement of something he knew damn well he was going to do no matter what.

    LW, Ted used you. And if you continue this friendship, he will continue to use you to harass women, because Teds gonna Ted.

    I’m adding my voice to the Greek Chorus of Awkwardeers telling you to drop this guy like a bad habit and enjoy a beautiful, Ted-free life.

    1. Totally. Ted didn’t want advice about what to do about Julie, he just wanted you to tell him that her cutting him off was unfair and totally not his fault

    2. Also, I just realized that I missed a golden opportunity to end my comment with “This has been my Ted Talk,” and now I hate myself.

  15. I get a feeling that LW possibly isn’t so much _friends_ with Ted as ‘staying on cordial terms with Ted out of a feeling that it’s better to keeps some kind of tabs on what fuckery he’s perpetrating in the friends’ group.’

    But, yeah, this is the flaw in that strategy. The only way not to get dragged into Ted’s shit is not to be around Ted.

    1. Agreed! LW does not call him
      a friend just a guy she knows who asked her advice. Maybe for her own reasons she is stuck being in contact with him. She may not be able to avoid him completely. Although refusing to be his sounding board sounds about right for now!

      1. I was sort of assuming he’s a coworker or something but maybe I’m reading too much ask a manager

        1. That’s what I thought too, but I guess the letter never does say that. If he’s a work friend, this makes more sense. If he’s a regular life friend, yeah, there’s no reason you have to keep him around.

        2. Yeah, I was thinking coworker or maybe in-law – someone who’s part of her life for reasons that aren’t friendship related, but has been part of it for so long LW is maybe a bit blinded to the fact she doesn’t have to treat him like her actual friends just because he’s been around as long as/longer than they have

    2. Okay, I was scrolling through comments and looking to see if someone had already made this point and — hi, we are really, really married, aren’t we?

      But yeah, it immediately jumped out at me that LW never refers to Ted as her “friend,” it’s just, “there’s this guy […] who I’ve known…”

      That, and the reference to her and Julia spending a lot of time at the same male-dominated events, makes me wonder if Ted isn’t a friend so much as That Guy She Feels Obliged To Get Along With because he too is at all these male-dominated events and based on their respective ages, may in fact have been attendeing them considerably longer than she has.

      Ted sounds like a Missing Stair to me, and I think LW is only just catching on to how much she’s been detouring around him.

      1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what Ted is to me, and I’ve really struggled to get our mutual friends to understand it.

        1. I’ve said to aikido friends “I don’t like X. He’s not my friend. I attempt to be civil and that’s it.”

          But it’s relatively easy for me: I’m fairly senior in the art. I get that this is not always a comfortable choice.

    3. I dunno. It’s true that the word ‘friends’ covers a wide range of meanings, and it’s definitely possible that LW and Ted aren’t ride-or-die BFFs. But they have conversations about his feelings, he seeks her out for advice when he has an upsetting problem…those are at least casual friendship things, not just “we’re reasonably sociable when we happen to run into each other at friend-group happy hour”.

      And even if it is just staying on cordial terms within the friend group, the base problem–that LW is part of a friend group that includes Ted and isn’t objecting to his behavior or making it socially uncomfortable for him to keep it up–is still there. There’s no point in keeping tabs if you’re not going to do anything when his creepiness flares up. At some point you have to step up and object, or decide it’s gone too far and bail, or accept that you’re not actually having other women’s backs–you can’t just keep watching quietly forever and claim you’re trying to keep women safe.

      1. This.

        The LW is enabling Ted’s abusive behavior. The why really doesn’t matter. She needs to stop doing that. Or, if she won’t, then she needs to accept she has made an affirmative choice to support a serial abuser and that she is not only not keeping other women safe, she is actively putting them in more danger. And then accept the consequences of her own actions – that she is Not Safe for Ted’s victims.

        LW, if you don’t want to support Ted, then stop enabling him. And definitely stop demanding that Ted’s victims don’t hold you accountable for helping him.

        1. Hi. The LW has commented that Ted is not a friend, he is someone she runs into occasionally at sporting events. We don’t need to keep stacking up reprimands for the LW or make her responsible for Ted. She gave him advice one time (GOOD ADVICE) and he ignored it. She is asking us for help with how to mitigate the harm of Ted, not looking for excuses to keep hanging out with him. Some of these comments are mirroring a trend I see, where, a man behaves badly and everyone grabs the closest woman to make her accountable for him by association (because we have access to her and not him). I strongly agree that it’s okay to kick creeps out of our social groups, but sometimes you can’t do it singlehandedly. Enough.

          1. Thank you, Captain! I was uncomfortable with the amount of LW-blaming I saw in some of the comments.

    1. The vibe I get is that this Ted is one of those “it is never my fault” sorts of fellows. My Ted was, so I might be reading too much into these things.

  16. I ended a friendship with a Ted-like dude recently. We’d been “friends” for years which actually meant the following:

    1) He would contact me to hang out only when he wasn’t pursuing/in the midst of another romantic adventure
    2) When we did hang out, he would forget basic things about me despite knowing me for years. He would ask me verbatim the same questions, every time, despite the fact that I’d answered them the same way, every time (no, I’m not a fan of your sports team. I’m from another city. ‘member?)
    3) His social media presence made everything about him — including personal and global tragedies.
    4) Mansplaining would be masked under a veneer of naive idealism
    5) He would ask my advice about women. Constantly.

    The block button was finally pressed after I was told how I should feel about an ethnic genocide that happened to my ancestors.

    In spite of this I was friends with him for a LONG time. I think we underestimate the power of attractive, charismatic men, even if we don’t want sexy-times with them. They’re fun. They’re interesting. It can be enjoyable to hang out with them, for whatever reason — the stimulation of exciting conversation, maybe? It can feel good. So finding out they can be gross is often a real let-down. We want them to be how we see them, but they’re not.

    As someone else said on here, Ted’s gonna Ted. Having him in your life is just gonna keep bringing the same stuff. If you wanna put up with it, I honestly don’t judge — I’ve been there. But, it sounds like you’re not okay with it. I can tell you from personal experience that life is still pretty okay without my Ted, and I don’t regret letting him go.

    1. There’s also the thing where these sort of guys are easy to be around. All you have to do is smile, nod, and mumble the right sort of “hmm, yes” noises at the appropriate points in the monologue. You don’t have to think about how to hold up your end of the conversation, or come up with points to match theirs and so on – you know they’re not really listening, so you can almost literally get away with things like “my mother is the Queen of Klatch and my father is a tray of small raspberry puddings” in conversation with them.

      (Their female equivalents are equally easy to be around, and equally exasperating when they go off the rails).

    2. I ghosted on a Ted-type guy well over a year ago now. I’d met him when I was 19, and he was in his mid-to-late 30s, and we were both dancers, and when we first met Ted wanted to dance with me ALL THE TIME. And he was a really good dancer, so that was fine with me, and the time he suggested that we should meet up for a drink I sort of dismissed it and pretended it never happened, and it never came up again.

      Only then I got older, and Ted drifted in and out of my life depending on how into dancing I was at any given time, and I started noticing that Ted ALWAYS just wanted to dance with the (young) (hot) (skinny) women. It didn’t necessarily matter how good they actually were at dancing, just that he wanted to bone them. And over a decade I got less young and less skinny, and it was clear I was NEVER going to sleep with him, and I started noticing Ted wanted to dance with me less and less and less. That was disappointing, to realise that he’d probably never really cared about dancing with me because I was a good dancer. It was all about whatever other boxes I’d been ticking.

      Meanwhile he was also running this gaming group that I’d been invited to join, and that was good because I didn’t really know many other people in the area. But the more time I spent with Ted..the less I actually I liked him. He did all these Things (dancing, gaming, photography, art, filming) – all sorts of activities that you often find interesting people partaking in. But I was gradually discovering that it was all completely hollow. He wasn’t an interesting person – he was a void looking for things to fill it, in order to give the appearance that there was something there. Preferably with younger women in attendance.

      In the end the final straw was getting a bunch of messages from him that accused me of having been ‘off’ with him in some indefinable way, I’d upset him, he couldn’t be specific about WHAT it actually was that I’d said or done, but could I make sure not to do it (whatever it was) again, please, smiley face emoji?

      At which point I decided that, you know what, I was sorry if I had offended Ted in some way that he wasn’t quite willing to specify for me, but also I was not up for managing the feelings of a guy almost two decades older than me, and perhaps the kindest thing I could do for him was not to inflict my presence on him any more.

      I continued to get ‘Happy Friday!’ messages (with some sort of animal gif), and various other communications from him for over a year. I have ignored every single one. The last thing he sent me was in early October (nothing since, so hopefully he’s finally given up?), and WhatsApp tells me it is a video.

      I do not want to know what is in the video.

  17. I slightly disagree with the “don’t contact Julie” in the sense that it’s not about clearing Reluctant’s name, it’s about letting Julie know she isn’t going up against both Ted and Reluctant should she speak up. Julie may be feeling isolated and ganged up on. Telling her the facts and indicating willingness to back her up if she needs it could be welcome–just don’t go through mutual friends. Give her a note or email directly.

    “Hi, Julie.

    I want you to know that when Ted asked me for advice about your relationship I told him in no uncertain terms not to contact you. If you want to bring this up with Boss/Review Board/Member of the Press, I would be willing to tell them what Ted said and that I told him not to contact you. I will never again speak with Ted about you under any circumstances. I’m extremely sorry for this situation. I won’t contact you again unless you contact me first.


    However! Seeing as I’m in the minority with this opinion, I would be interested in what other readers think!

    1. Here’s the thing, the LW can’t be a safe acquaintance (let alone, friend) to Julie as long as she perceives herself as a friend of Ted’s. Unless the LW is dropping Ted, any claim that she supports Julie is meaningless.

      The note you suggest makes no mention of dropping Ted. I think LW shouldn’t write it.

      Here’s a note I’d support:

      Julie, I am writing to tell you that I’ve just dropped Ted.

      I wish I’d realized sooner what a jerk he is. I apologize for camouflaging him.

      Take care, and I’ll see you at $Hobby

      1. Agreed. We can disagree with a friend, but when they’ve behaved badly towards someone else and they’re still your friend, it is a sign of whose side you are on. You can’t tell me “I’ve got your back” when you’re still hanging out with someone like Ted- or you can, but I won’t believe it.

        1. The thing is, if i were Julie i might be feeling even worse and more ganged up on if someone sent me a letter. Some folks (like me) are avoidant and just want to curl up in our little isolation booths. Any mention of an unmentionable is super stressful. An email/text from someone we don’t know very well, if we’re feeling super creeped on, might make us (me) feel way more creeped on. Because it’s weird drama. In this case LW doesn’t know that her reputation has suffered, and so just wait. Bothering Julie when she’s made it real darn clear that she’s so over the Ted talk (hence her ghosting on him) about Ted, is not something she wants. I think it’s a little selfish to risk upsetting her even more, bc of LW’s feelings. Julie isn’t on this earth to forgive LW for a bad friendship call. And that’s what LW’s advice ask seemed about to me. LW wants to ‘have women’s backs’ but is unwittingly enabling Ted to continue his obsession by providing a space for him to obsess. I think she did it unwittingly. We’ve all been there. We think we’re giving good advice, ‘leave her alone,’ etc instead of ‘leave her alone and never mention it to me again you’re being a creeper’ followed by hanging up. And if the person says the name again, hang up again. If they were much younger folks it’d seem more normal that some of that would be ‘teachable moments’. At this point Ted’s got a pattern, he’s in his 50s, and so this is just creeping on LW, creeping on Julie, and LW may be unwittingly helping and may have fab intentions, but why should Julie suffer a single second of discomfort so LW can feel better about herself? That’s not cool.

        2. This. This. This.

          I don’t like the feeling of “making people pick sides”, but I decide if I’m going to stick around.

      2. I like that. I’m also sympathetic to LW’s desire to reach out to Julie in that Ted is a blot on the emotional landscape but Julie sounds pretty cool, and having cool people think one is a jerk is always depressing.

        Sometimes letting it be is the correct thing to do, but it’s depressing.

    2. Honestly, if I were Julie, excuses on behalf of Ted’s friends would be irrelevant to me. No matter what they said, I would think of them as Ted’s friend, and I would view their apology as trying to eat their cake and have it too by supporting Ted but wanting for me not to be angry with them.

    3. Any time you feel the need to open or close an email/text/whatever with “I won’t contact you again…”


      Because that sentence right there? That tells me that you (the generic you, not you Noopnope specifically) know the person you’re contacting doesn’t want to hear from you in the first place. And that your contact might make them uncomfortable. And that you’re choosing to send an already discomfited person a feelings!mail of bonus discomfort.

      Just don’t. LW, it sucks you’re in this place of feeling that you’ve been made responsible. Ditch Ted, and as far as Julie’s concerned write it off to “I can’t control what Ted did with the information I gave him, and wow, it sucks that he did that but any additional stepping in on my part will make this work for Julie” (Julie being the person you say you want to stand in solidarity with.)

      (now, there may be professional situations that require such an email with such a sentence be sent, though I can’t think of any off the top of my head. All generalizations are false, including this one.)

      1. I sent an email along those lines recently, saying I wouldn’t be in touch for a while except with very good or very bad news, because I was afraid I was taking up too much time, and didn’t want to take the friendship for granted.

        The reply was that I was not any trouble, and that this person regards the friendship as a gift to be treasured. I shouldn’t worry about being in touch, because I am greatly valued.

        So it can happen. And I am still being careful not to take this person for granted.

        1. Yeah but that’s apples and oranges. LW has no real relationship with Julie and she knows Julie is the victim of a stalker-creeper. So contacting her about the stalker-creeper to talk about her own relationship with the stalker-creeper and discuss with Julie how she and stalker-creeper talked about her…. big world of difference between that, and your own email to your own friend about a completely different issue.

    4. I think it might be useful to contact Julie if there’s a concrete action you’re taken/concrete offer for her. Something like, “Sorry Ted’s been creepy. It’s been an ongoing problem in the group. I hoped he would change, but the way he’s treated you has been the last straw for me. I will no longer invite him to board game night at my house and hope you will still come. You’re a valued member the of the group, but please do whatever makes you most comfortable. If you wanted to talk the monthly board-game meetup organizers together, I think we could get them to take action. Let me know if you’re interested. I don’t want to do anything that makes things more difficult for you.”

    5. I kinda agree. It’s difficult to know from the letter whether Julie is super strong and confident in her actions and nothing will pierce her armour, or whether she blocked him but is feeling guilty or uncertain and pressured to recapitulate. When I’ve blocked guys in the past it’s felt a lot more like the latter and it’s sometimes taken a couple of goes to make it stick for me. If this is the case for Julie then maybe a show of understanding and support from LW could help, especially as lw’s being used to add pressure to Julie to respond (‘other females in the group think you’re wrong not to talk to me’). It also exposes his ‘bumbling fool just accidentally getting it wrong’ act for what it is if Julie knows he is going against explicit advice not to contact. But I’d try to dial down the melodrama of statements like ‘i won’t contact you again’.

  18. OP I want to underscore this piece of what Captain is saying about Ted talking to you as “an excuse to get attention from you ABOUT Julie and indulge his crush even more, and then drop your name to try to get access TO Julie.”

    I would be curious to see the Venn Diagram that intersects Ted’s contact with you vs. whether he has a Julie in his life at the time. My experience of dating around in adulthood is that sometimes people will circle back to someone they tried-but-never-quite-connected-with when the current “whoever” doesn’t work out. I’ve had it take years for guys I dated ever-so-briefly to stop texting me again the next time they found themselves single, and I just have a sense that this sounds a bit like that.

    1. There was a guy who kept contact with me for years after I was married. He’d randomly call after months of no-contact and ask if I was “still with that guy?” “Um…the guy I married and who has fathered my two kids? Yeah still with him and I think it’s pretty serious.” He would then start talking about himself, usually trying to steer conversation around to something sexual in an attempt to get me to have phone sex with him because we’d done it once about 15 years prior. I ended up getting so frustrated that he kept doing this I changed my phone number. He found me on social media and LW, that big shiny block button is awesome!!!! Use it!!!!

  19. I used to work with a Ted (worked with – was not friends with). Older dude, divorced, creeped on ladies in their twenties. Creeped on me, even though I was married, until I aged out of his preferred range. Then he switched to “wanting my advice” about how to get young ladies to date him. (My advice was always, “probably not gonna happen, dude.”) It went on until he started harassing a younger woman who worked for him directly. Higher-ups pointed out that it was directly against company policy to date those that answer directly to you (and also had to point out that she had made it very clear she did not want to date him, and, in fact, requested a transfer to another department, which was granted). This dude always tried to play off his inappropriateness with a sort of clueless, Older Gent persona – i.e. “In MY day, ladies didn’t freak out if you paid them a compliment”, etc. The happy ending to this story is that this Ted was eventually let go, and I no longer have to work with him.

    1. (Hit post above before I was finished). I just wanted to point out, LW, that your Ted may employ some of that same demeanor around you, which might make him seem just bumbling and harmless. But if he’s anything like my Ted, he picked out who to seriously harass with an eye toward people he thought were particularly vulnerable. Now he’s using you to try to get leverage with Julie – like, telling her that he’s talked to other women she knows, and they think she’s overreacting, etc.

      1. To build on that profile: I am recognizing two former friends in this description, one of whom has achieved some small bits of social power around judging a prize since. Even though he’s in a stable relationship now, there’s no retribution too small for the younger women who did politely, kindly turn him down back when I was telling him that “I’m not dating right now” didn’t mean to wait for her.

        I would agree that Ted knows exactly what he’s doing.

    2. Creepy story! Why don’t some men get it that our careers shouldn’t have to take a hit (dept transfer) just to be able to financially support oneself AND not get creeped on at the same time? It’s too bad they don’t just transfer the problem instead of the victim.
      LW: your Ted sounds a lot like the ‘nice guy’ in ‘nice guys syndrome’ where they hang out, never explicitly state they want to date you, but give little hints here and there that are always going to allow them the b.s. plausible deniability. It’s to gaslight women into not ghosting them once they figure it out. What? What did i do? I thought we were friends? When in fact Ted feels entitled to Julie’s company, demonstrated by the fact HE KNOWS why she ghosted him and HE REFUSES TO ACCEPT IT but instead continues to contact her, using other women as his fake backup. Like ‘I thought we were friends and well she cant just walk away like that!’ Ugh. Big.. ugh.
      You didn’t ask for friend advice but sadly it’s kind of the only advice. Get better friends than Ted. You will never change the Teds of the world. This is a longstanding pattern of behavior. It’s the old ‘lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.’ You worry that Julie will think badly of you for the bad things Ted said when he dropped your name. This is the inherent problem in being friends with dishonest creeps. When will you NOT be in danger of this happening? How much is Ted worth to you? Vs the Julies of the world? And I’ll go on a limb and hazard the guess that he’s done way creepier stuff and just not told you.

  20. It sounds to me like Ted is hoping to position you as the dreaded Relationship (even though there’s not one!) Middleman.

    Step 1: Ted cries for advice regarding Julie, which you give.
    Step 2: Ted contacts Julie, name-dropping you and fully aware this will get back to you.
    Step 3 (he hopes): You contact Julie to clarify the situation, and thus keep Ted on her mind.
    Hopeful Step 4: Ted contacts you. “I heard you spoke to Julie at That Event I Wasn’t Invited To. What did she say? Did she mention me? Would you like to hear my latest Petrarchan sonnet that’s totally not about her at all?”
    Hopeful Steps 5–Infinity: Ted continues to be a creep because he is happy to use your friendship to feed his unwanted crush and keep him on her mental radar, any interactions with Julie become a repeating loop of “Sorry about the latest thing Ted said/vaguebooked/tweeted”, and interactions with him become a repeating loop of “Julie’s not interested and I’m sick of talking about her, what part of that don’t you get?”.

  21. Ted’s behaviour is something I would expect from an entitled teenager – if he is really that clueless and marinated your advice in his head until it was it suited his taste, he is immature to the extreme (and delusional). If he is moderately clueless, he thought you were dead wrong and thought he could get away with mentioning you and that it would net him Julie’s approval. Even if malice is not taken into account, this doesn’t look good for him.

    Needy, immature and entitled teenagers eventually grow up to be adults. Needy, immature and entitled men in their fifites eventually grow frustrated and resentful. These are harsh words for a comparatively “harmless” act like harassing a woman online, but what you describe is a pattern in Ted’s behaviour. He isn’t going to change anytime soon. The question is if that changes the way you see him, LW.

  22. Why are you so worried about Ted having said he got advice from you? Personally, I doubt that’s changed Julie’s opinion of you.

    When I’ve been in Julie’s position of being pursued by a creepy guy, frankly everyone who is friends with said creepy guy gets tarred with the same brush in my mind. By continuing to associate with Creepy Dude, they’re telling me that either a) they don’t see anything wrong with his behavior (and therefore probably also have issues with boundaries and creepiness), or b) they see something wrong with it but have decided it’s tolerable for them (not actually better).

    You’re worried that she’ll think you’ve been encouraging him and therefore think badly of you. But you HAVE been encouraging him–you’ve spent 15 years showing him that he can be a creep over and over again, to a bunch of different women, and it won’t have any serious social costs for him (he won’t lose friends, he won’t lose your support). If I were Julie here, I’d be thinking something like, “You know he’s a creep, you’ve seen him be a creep repeatedly, and you’re still friends with him. No thanks–I don’t need that in my life.”

    Maybe Ted has some major redeeming qualities. Maybe he’s a great friend to you. But he is also his bad traits, just as much as he is his good ones. When you decide that you’re OK with being friends with a creep, you have to accept the reality that people he creeps on probably won’t feel safe or comfortable around you–even if you say you disagree with his creepiness.

    1. “Why are you so worried about Ted having said he got advice from you?”

      Good question! I think the answer is because as a woman at the male dominated events we attend (I’ve been going since I was a kid) I’ve sometimes felt unwelcome or unsafe and what has really helped with that is knowing that I can trust certain people there and they are on my side if any dickheads try to harass me. I have always felt I can trust the other women I see there. Julie is in the same situation and I kind of worry she won’t feel she can rely on fellow women in the same way if she thinks I support his actions.

      To answer the rest of your comment, Ted is NOT my friend and I have told him when he’s made me uncomfortable in the past. I think he approached me for advice just because I’m female and vaguely know who Julie is. And yes, when I ask myself why it had to be a woman he approached about it, I’m getting the same answers you probably are.

      I wouldn’t say any of my friends are close friends with him, but they are happy with him to hang out with them and just see him as a bit eccentric. They haven’t seen his creepy behaviour first hand. I think they think I’m exaggerating when I tell them.

      1. I’m glad to hear that you don’t consider Ted a friend (for your own sake if nothing else–he sounds like someone who will take and take and never give back, when it comes to the women in his life at least). But unfortunately I don’t think it makes a big difference to what I said. Think about it from Julie’s perspective. She doesn’t know how you feel about Ted–she can’t read your mind–and she doesn’t know what private conversations you might have had with other friends about him. All she knows is that you hang out in the same social circle, that as far as she can see, there are no major social repercussions for his creepiness in that circle, and that you’re on good enough terms with him to have one-on-one conversations. If it were you being creeped on, wouldn’t that be enough to make you hesitate about someone?

        If you want Julie (and other women around you) to feel like you have their back when it comes to creeps, I think you need to take some serious steps to push yourself away from Ted. Stop having any kind of one-on-one interaction with him; if he approaches you, shut him down. If you see him being creepy in public, call him on it right there where other people can see/hear and tell him to stop. Push your friends harder when it comes to their tolerance of him–you can’t force them to believe that he’s a creep, but you can say “I’m not hanging out with someone who makes me so uncomfortable. You have to choose whether it’s more important for you to have him at this thing or to have it be safe for me to be there. Let me know what you decide.” If your friends decide that they’d rather enable male creepiness than make their group safe for women to be in, seriously consider what that says about them and whether you need a new friend group. Consider warning women you meet at your events that he’s got a history of this behavior.

        Being reliable support for the women in your circle doesn’t just mean knowing that what Ted is doing is wrong. It means taking tangible, visible actions to shut him down. If you’re not doing that in your day-to-day, you can’t really expect people to trust you to do it in the extreme moments, either. I know a lot of this probably sounds disruptive and rude and possibly scary depending on how you think your friends will react–but Ted’s behavior has put you in a position where you have to either be the disruptor and embody the support for women that you want to see in your community, or let it slide and accept that you’re not actually reliable that way. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry you’re in that position.

  23. Yes, good lord, what is with this dynamic? I had several women friends locked into these weird tangos with Teds where half of our freaking conversations would be about “WHAT DO I NEED TO SAY TO GET THROUGH TO TED ABOUT HIS ATTITUDE/BEHAVIOUR?” One woman, just about every time I spoke to her or she posted something on FB, it was yet again “Ted said something horrible about women/POC because he continues to think that he as a straight white man is uniquely persecuted in the world today, and somehow none of my emotional labour to this point has been enough to force him to change his mind! Tell me, what unused strategy can I try this time? What kind of gentle handholding/scolding/exhausting education/analogy is the surefire key to making him change?”

    Or the woman I was friends with, until I learned that she was friends with a couple of men who had physically assaulted their girlfriends–but she said “they’re just depressed and broke” so she bought them anti-depressants. !!! And just went on and on about how sad it was that these promising men had derailed their lives because of mental illness, the stigma is so sad you know, but surely with her love and support they would change.

    I came to realize that this is a particularly insidious form of internalized emotional labour, in which a) man dumps his feelings on a nearby woman to fix, because that’s her job, and then b) woman dumps those feelings on the women in her vicinity to fix, because that’s their job, and c) no one dumps the damned feelings back on the man in question, because clearly that’s not his job. That these women have, consciously or not, accepted the masculine entitlement to our emotional labour and attentiveness to their issues and wounds. And that I was not required to provide emotional labour to men, any men, particularly men I don’t know and don’t care to, not even by proxy.

    And when I saw that these women had really no interest in talking about anything else, I stopped talking to them. They can fix their own internalized misogyny. If they want to. But I don’t think they do.

    1. “Ted said something horrible about women/POC because he continues to think that he as a straight white man is uniquely persecuted in the world today, and somehow none of my emotional labour to this point has been enough to force him to change his mind! Tell me, what unused strategy can I try this time?”


      1. I am, on a very visceral level, opposed to the psychological damage that shunning does to a person.

        That said, a) a Ted will not be universally shunned, alas, and b) it wouldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

        1. I think there’s a difference between coordinated shunning and the isolation that is the natural and predictable consequence of being a creepy jerk.

      2. I’m not sure how flippant you intend to be, but whatever the answer, I applaud this response!

        In the case where the goal actually IS to change the behavior and not simply to disengage (which is a perfectly reasonable goal – there’s no good reason Ted has to be their personal concern), strategic shunning is a great strategy. The tactical problem described in the dynamic above is that the women in question are rewarding the behavior they DON’T wish to reinforce: when Ted does something awful, they do a bunch of emotional labor, which is what he wants. In the cases where they do really want to change him – if that’s even possible, and it isn’t always – they should be shunning him when he behaves badly and rewarding him with attention/emotional labor when he behaves well.

      3. this right here made a big lightbulb go off in my head. there’s such a fallacy that if we just *explained* to creepy dudes that their actions are creepy, they would say “gee, now that you put it *that way* it all makes sense”, and magically stop. And the Teds of this world are feeding this fallacy by asking people for their “advice” and pretending that they “just don’t understand” why the Julies don’t want to talk to them.
        But Ted doesn’t need advice. He has 15 years worth of feedback that his approach doesn’t work. He could’ve adjusted his behavior, but he hasn’t. No advice from the LW was going to change his actions.
        As others have said, Ted is manipulating the LW, too.
        Dear LW, you have very strong evidence now that no advice of yours will make Ted change his creepiness. You don’t have to believe this talk of “good intentions” and “i just don’t understand”. He understands. Do yourself a favor and put lots of distance between yourself and this person who is using you as cover for their harassment. ❤

    2. It’s the loathsome ‘noble women redeem bad men no matter how they feel about them’ trope in real life, where of course it doesn’t work.

  24. Ugh, I’ve had so many arguments with a past Ted from the LW’s position. I’ve definitely gone from trying to be “helpful” to “you’re being a jerk, and when it blows up in your face I will absolutely say I told you so” to “Dear Friends, I’m tired of putting up with Ted’s bullpoopy at the gaming table and parties. You may choose between us, but I’m done interacting with someone who treats women so poorly” over the years.

    Interestingly, once there were social consequences for his actions and my group’s Ted was down to one couple who would interact with him at all, he learned to change his ways. I still won’t game with him for other issues, but he’s at least well-behaved at parties now.

  25. Can I take a moment to distill what the Captain and the other commenters have been saying?

    You can’t be friends with unsafe people and support their victims as well.

    Why not? First, if you’re associating with unsafe people, it marks you as unsafe as well. How could you be safe, if you think their behavior is OK enough to keep being friends with them?

    Second, your friendship gives the unsafe person what they need to keep operating. You saw this with the way he used you as an excuse to keep harassing Julie, and surely this won’t be the only time.

    You used your words with him, and he chose not to listen. I think you’ve done all you can here.

  26. Hi folks, LW here. Thanks so much for the great advice, and thanks Captain for taking the time to reply. I feel kind of silly about this, but I missed out a pretty crucial detail (because word count and because it honestly didn’t occur to me that it was really important). Ted is not my friend. I haven’t considered him a friend for a long time, although many of my friends (mostly men) do. I don’t seek to spend time with Ted, but because of the nature of the events we attend I can’t really avoid him. These are sporting events, you don’t need an invitation, we all follow the same team and go to their games so uninviting or avoiding Ted isn’t a thing I can do. I mean, I could not sit or stand near him but then I won’t be near my friends and to be honest, I’d rather take Ted as part of the package than not spend time with my friends. But on the rare occasion that I get to do other things with friends, I don’t invite him.

    1. Sounds like it might be time for the cut direct! Let your male friends field his questions about “Whyyyy isn’t LW talking to me anymore?”

    2. Since he’s not your friend, you’re allowed to block him on social media and your phone and otherwise ignore him. You are not required to give him advice or even speak to him.

      I say this as a woman practicing a martial art with which has at least two boy practitioners to every girl. There are male aikidoists I don’t talk to. There were more fifteen years ago (when I had been training for fifteen years). I still go to seminars. I still have friends.

      Please consider not interacting with Ted.

    3. You say these are sporting events — are they the sorts of events that have assigned seating? Do you all usually sit in the same section? Could you maybe say to a few of your fellow sporting enthusiasts (using my own sportsball preference of baseball as an example) “Hey, I thought I might try sitting over behind the third-base foul pole this coming game, instead of where we usually sit. Do you want to join me?” If you’re up for it, and you think they might be receptive, you could even say “I thought I might try sitting over behind the third-base foul pole this coming game because I’m tired of Ted’s attitude and behavior. Do you want to join me?”

  27. His feelings are never reciprocated and that’s partly because Ted comes across as…well, a bit creepy and patronising towards women in general.

    No, his feelings are never reciprocated because Ted is creepy and has an unwarranted sense of entitlement towards women in general. If someone drops all contact and blocks someone on social media, the reasonable course of action is always for the person who was blocked to keep their distance. It doesn’t matter if they actually deserved getting iced out or not. If they didn’t, then the other person is unreasonable and an overreactor, which means that one must stay away in order to avoid escalating the situation. I guarantee you that Ted adheres to this when it doesn’t involve a woman he’s pursuing romantically.

    I’m going to speculate that Ted was reasonably attractive when he was younger and has not accepted (or even realized) that his appearance is no longer enough to capture a young woman’s interest, much less compensate for his his terrible behavior.

  28. I don’t think there’s anything in this letter that suggests LW and Ted are BFFs, just that they spend a lot of time at the same events. This probably makes him difficult to avoid, and they’ve known each other a long time, which may compound this issue. So all the people commenting versions of “he is a terrible person and you are his friend which makes you also a terrible person” are jumping ahead a little. It’s all very well to say BLOCK but there is no block button in real life other than not going to these events – which sound like an important part of LW’s life.

  29. There’s no reason for you to contact Julie. Your problem is that Ted lied about you in public. Julie did not cause that, nor can she fix it. Follow your own advice to Ted and leave Julie be.

    You can’t ‘nip this in the bud.’ You can’t make Ted see young women as people rather than stalkable targets. He’s just demonstrated that anything you say to him will be run through the meat grinder between his ears and emerge as encouragement to keep on harassing – and Ted will put your name on his interpretation in public.

    What you can do:
    1) Nothing. Go along to get along. Ted, Julie, and everyone else will (correctly) see that as you taking Ted’s side.
    2) Quietly block Ted. To the outside world, this will look very much like option 1.
    3) Loudly block Ted. In the same venue where he lied, call it a lie, say you’re done with him, then block.

    Option 3 will have unpredictable consequences. You’re in a far, far better position to make a cost/benefit analysis than anyone here, but even so, people will surprise you. Folks you thought would close ranks around Mr Harassment may support you. People you thought would support you, or stay silent, may go out of their way to sabotage you. Ted almost certainly will. It may take years for the ripples to smooth out. Awkwardness is actually the best-case scenario for option 3. But if making Julie (and other younger women) ‘feel safe and feel other women have her back’ is a priority for you, it may be worth it.

    1. Follow your own advice to Ted and leave Julie be.

      Follow your own advice to Ted and leave Julie be.

      Follow your own advice to Ted and leave Julie be.

  30. I want to apologize for being so vocal about my feelings today.

    I have mentioned before that I work with women in domestic abuse situations. Over this wonderful holiday weekend I was deeply involved in a situation where a woman, and her daughter were both killed by the Nice Guy™ who had been harassing her and so my patience for any of their crap is at an all time low.

    That doesn’t excuse anything, and my apology is sincere. I just hope you all understand a little that I’m still kinda raw. I probably should have just not said anything. Sorry everyone.

    1. Hi Kaos, that’s awful to hear. Thanks for the work you do and the apology. Violent comments are over the line, and I am going to put you moderation for the next few months. This means you can still comment, but your stuff will go to the moderation queue before showing up on the site. Less troubling reading for other community members, less for me to clean up later.

  31. I think dropping Ted is a strong choice!

    If you don’t WANT to drop Ted, I think entering OPEN CONFLICT with him and making your future friendship contingent on his changing his behavior is ALSO a valid choice.

    One reason I’m saying this is that not contacting people when they don’t want to be contacted **IS** a lesson that can be learned. It’s ABSOLUTELY symptomatic of sexism, but men don’t have to unlearn all their sexism in order to stop doing this one behavior.

    In fact, I’ll never forget this–when I was 13 I contacted my favorite author, and then sent her an angry e-mail when she didn’t write back. **But I learned,** and now I don’t do that.

    My advice is to speak to Ted (or text him) so harshly and honestly that his feelings are hurt, and then, when his feelings ARE hurt, do ZERO work around it. Set a requirement: “we can’t be friends until YOU tell ME why what you did was wrong” and just don’t even reply to anything that doesn’t meet the requirement. The worst that can happen is you end up not friends, which many of us would rejoice at anyways. Be the uncompromising feminist bitch! If you have the safety and liberty to do so, why not go for it, it’s so fun!!

    If you’re willing to throw the friendship away (which I applaud), that puts you in a strong position, and if you’re going to chuck the friendship anyways why not spend it on something nice, like a nice big argument in which you have the unassailable moral high ground, and one more person in the world who does not e-mail unwilling recipients.

  32. I don’t want LW to feel judged about having stayed friends with Ted for this long. I absolutely agree with everybody who’s encouraging LW to rethink why she still feels the need to stay Ted’s friend. It doesn’t sound like she gets anything out of it. And cutting ties would help avoid Ted taking advantage of LW’s friendship and hurting LW’s reputation.

    However, I think LW can get some compassion for having let inertia to allow this “friendship” to exist as long as it has. If they run in the same social circles, it *is* going to make things difficult in the short term to cut this guy off. And he’s not the kind to take a hint, so it will probably require some more firm boundary setting than just being unavailable to chat. And he *will* take it personally and go complain to other mutual friends. Despite all that, it may still be worth getting rid of the friendship if it causes you mostly annoyance with no positive aspects. But it’s understandable if this has not occured to you yet.

  33. Like many women, I’ve had my share of Teds. The older guys who lurk pretending to be platonic but eventually reveal theyve been lurking and then poof! They ‘cant’ understand why you shun them?!?! That’s gaslighting 101. Ted knows. He knows. The Teds of the world who aren’t teenagers, know. Ghost: run. Do you really want to be this guy’s pretend fake wingman:whatever it’s called when creepy jerks pretend they aren’t jerks bc one woman still talks to them??? I have a Ted in my life now, well he’s not but he wants to be. Into every life Teds will fall but do feel free to stop explaining to him what he’s doing as if he doesn’t know. That’s his plausible deniability.

  34. Dear LW: Imagine your life with a Ted-shaped hole. Now, imagine that hole filled with the peace of mind and self-respect that comes from not being complict, even marginally so, in creepy, stalkerish behavior. Also, don’t contact Julie, don’t, just don’t.

  35. What I learned about shitty behavior: no matter what a good or great friend someone is, there will be a time when you will be at the recieving end.

  36. One of the most heart breaking thing a friend said to me, after she disclosed that a mutual friend had been crappy and creepy to her, was that she didn’t want it to impact my relationship with him. I could never look at him the same way again, not because of what she said but because of what he did. He is no longer in my life and thank goodness for that.

    LW, the Teds of the world ruin everything for everyone. Unblock him with a quickness. Whatever he brings to your life isn’t worth it.

      1. The thing I wish I did is cut him off sooner. See, stupidly I thought I could do as she asked (on top of everything he was coaching both of us in something) and it only brought me a tonne of pain. I wanted so much to honour her wishes, because she didn’t want the wider group knowing her private business, but I discovered that once you learn certain things about certain people, you cannot ever respect or like them again. No matter what they do, or how much they clean up their act – I just could not be comfortable around him again.

        Thing is: Ted is not the only friend in the world, just like the guy in my story was not the only coach in the world. There are other friends and coaches out there who do not perv on friends or make friends feel uncomfortable and recruit other friends to be their impression management flying monkeys. (Let’s face it, pervs operate a lot better when there is a group of non-creepy people acting to provide them with a shield of plausible deniability. When we stop giving them cover, it becomes just this little bit more difficult for them to perv on others.)

    1. Seconded; you’re an awesome friend, and there need to be more friends like you in the world. I told a friend once about how two guy friends of hers had said inappropriate things to me, and she just went “Huh; didn’t think he was like that” and remained friends with them but distanced herself from me, meaning I dropped her pretty quickly after that. Any time you catch yourself not wanting to tell a friend something because you’re worried about their reaction, that’s a sign that person is not your friend.

    2. One of the most heartbreaking things a friend said to me, after he finally broke up with the girlfriend that I explained was abusing him, was that he didn’t want it to impact gf’s standing in the social group. So now I pretend she doesn’t exist. I’ve had to explicitly tell her not to touch me (hug?! noIdon’tthinkso), then explicitly tell her that I was not going to ‘move on’ a year later, but she seems to have gotten the message. I don’t know what explanation she’s given for my coldness, but it doesn’t seem to have had a big impact, and it’s been a couple of years.

      I’ll support the survivor to a point, but there’s no way I’ll be polite to someone I know is abusive.

      Abuse spoils everything. There’s no good answer to my friend’s request, either I hurt him or I risk covering for her next abuse. I have said ‘don’t date her’ to one guy who asked, and the group is mostly settled relationships, but bleah. I hate abuse.

  37. The whole time I read this letter, all I could think was “Why are you friends with this person?!” repeatedly in increasing volume.

    You don’t have to put up with other people’s shit. So what if you see each other around and have mutual friends? You can unfriend, unfollow, block, whatever, and limit your entire conversation when you can’t avoid each other to a nod of acknowledgement and nothing else. It’d be nice if people weren’t shitty, but that won’t change. The only thing you can control is your own behavior. LW, you’re being told repeatedly here to disengage, leave her alone, stay out of it, STOP BEING FRIENDS WITH THIS JACKASS, etc. Do THAT if you want to clear your name.

  38. Maybe this is a case of “Captain knows more than we do because of cutting the letter to fit the space” but I see a lot of people jumping on LW for being friends with Ted, but the letter doesn’t actually call him a “friend”? (I assumed from her wording it was something more like “coworker I can’t avoid”). While I agree 100% with the sentiment “continuing to be friends with creepers is not a neutral position” are we sure we’re not putting words in LW’s mouth?

    1. Friendly-enough acquaintance that Ted goes to LW for advice, and LW responds? Emotional helpmeet? Unsuccessful life coach?

      She didn’t block him and cut him out of her life after he initially creeped on her. She’s known him for fifteen years, and well enough to know that he 1) hasn’t been in a romantic relationship, 2) pursues romantic relationships sometimes, and 3) always goes after much younger women. He comes to her for advice, and they converse, presumably not via Facebook (the fact that Ted told LW about posting wangsty poetry on his Facebook page suggests that she didn’t find it there independently, suggesting she might not use Facebook or that they don’t interact there a lot, plus Facebook didn’t exist in anything like its present form fifteen years ago when their friendship started – it was restricted to particular schools, with most of the social networking features only functioning within a single school’s network and not between schools). They have a group of mutual friends who spend a lot of time together at some kind of male-dominated events.

      They have some kind of friendly ongoing relationship – while LW didn’t use the word “friend,” others are because that’s a descriptor that fits the relationship as described to us, at least in my assessment.

    2. That was the impression I got as well. A few months ago, an older man who works in the same building as me asked me for advice on a relationship problem. I was surprised but gave advice because he seemed really upset. Mostly when we interact it’s cordially wishing each other a good day. We’re friend*ly* but I wouldn’t consider him a *friend*.

      I could see Ted taking advantage of an acquaintance being agreeable to request emotional labor in a way that she wasn’t comfortable with.

      1. Yeah I’m also coming from a place of having had similar experiences where older male colleagues seem to think “young woman = free source of emotional labour” and been uncomfortable but felt pressured to engage. That plus the fact that LW says she’s been on the receiving end of being “pursued” by Ted makes me uncomfortable with jumping straight to blame. Again, I don’t know enough about the specifics to judge, but I think in general “don’t know how to respond to inappropriate behavior (some of which is directed toward me) by a person I have to deal with regularly” is a very different position from “I’m friends with this guy even though he harasses women.” Some of the same advice still applies but I don’t think the same attitude does.

  39. Stalking. The word you’re looking for is stalking. After Ted annoys/intimidates someone into blocking him, and he goes to a new avenue of communication, this is a sign that he’s willing to ignore pretty damn direct requests to leave Julie alone.

    Who organizes hobby events, and are they aware that Ted is stalking Julie and that he stalked you in the past?

    1. Yep. The company you keep is a CHOICE; your choices reflect on you. I think the LW needs to take a long, hard look at herself and the rest of the company she keeps and what that says about her.

      1. Hi!

        Enough of these nasty comments blaming the Letter Writer, who has posted to update that Ted is not a friend, he is someone she knows peripherally, and who is someone who asked for HELP to mitigate the damage that Ted is doing.

        I think it is good to eject creepers from one’s social circle (I’m on record about it, like, a lot, including in the OP).

        I think it is predictable that people will avoid you by association if you associate with creepers (Julie may not welcome any communication from LW if Julie perceives that Ted and the LW are friends – this doesn’t have to be fair.)

        I do not think women are responsible for the behavior of every shitty dude they know.

        Comments are closed.

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