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This is dumb but...

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skeetermooch posted 1/17/2021 11:09 AM

So, the widower across the street hit on me. I've known him for about ten years. He's my age. Seems like a cool guy, but I don't know him super well. His wife died a few years ago and recently he's been a little extra friendly. Recently, he full on asked me out. I told him I wasn't ready to date but I'd be okay having a beer or something. So, we went for a beer and he asked to hold my hand - I just went along with it but hated it.

I really didn't know what to do - we were mid conversation, everything was relaxed and comfortable and then he just interjects and grabs my hand and it all happened too quickly for me to process and formulate a response. Now, he's right across the street and I'm freaked out. I would prefer to be friends without physical interaction. I'm no where near ready for that and may never be. He's already texting me today. WTF. I was happy to just have a friend.

Chili posted 1/17/2021 11:42 AM

It's not dumb. I think it is a good moment to look at your confidence in setting boundaries.

I would ask why you just went along with someone holding your hand when you hated it? I know it surprised you.

I don't mean you hand to yank your hand away and scold him or something. But perhaps saying, "that's a really sweet gesture, but I'm uncomfortable with this."

I mean - I always try and give others the benefit of the doubt initially. Maybe he mistook being receptive to a beer as wanting to be a little close. Maybe he hasn't dated in years and years. Maybe he's a little socially awkward. He's probably texting you because he enjoys you and wants to spend more time with you and is not sure where you are with all of this.

What piece of the situation freaks you out? Are you afraid he's going to stalk you or are you uncomfortable being on a different page and not sure how to express that to him? Or are you afraid he's just going to quit talking to you at all?

I think we can enforce boundaries without being cruel. I've also realized it can be kind of cruel to not enforce boundaries. I always say in dog training that dogs like to know what the rules are. They like to know how to behave.

Maybe start working on a little conversation about things you'd like to say to him the next time you see him outside across the street? Tell him what you're interested in - friendly neighbors or whatever it is.

Keep in mind if he is that interested in you, he might need to have his own boundaries too - at least right now if he's disappointed the interest isn't reciprocated.

skeetermooch posted 1/17/2021 13:31 PM

I don't mean you hand to yank your hand away and scold him or something. But perhaps saying, "that's a really sweet gesture, but I'm uncomfortable with this."

I had no words in that moment. I was trying to stay in the conversation while also trouble shooting what the hell I could do or say to slip my hand away. I felt a lot caught off guard because I thought I'd made it clear that I wasn't ready to date but would have a friendly beer so I totally didn't expect an overture. I am definitely going to rehearse the right words for the future.
I've also realized it can be kind of cruel to not enforce boundaries. I always say in dog training that dogs like to know what the rules are. They like to know how to behave.

True. I will have to say something to him. Maybe text is the way to go since I feel so uncomfortable.
What piece of the situation freaks you out?

Definitely that we aren't on the same page and I have to be super clear when I already feel like I was clear. Maybe he felt like not wanting to date didn't rule out being physical - who knows. Everyone seems to have their own definition of these things. I would enjoy him becoming a friend - that's it at this point. I don't know if I'll feel differently in the future but right now I don't need sex or a romantic interest.

I find men often get the wrong impression of me. I've got tattoos. I'm progressive and an artist - they seem to equate this with promiscuous (shitty word but you know, down for anything). Men just push and push at my boundaries - it's really disappointing.

phmh posted 1/17/2021 14:42 PM

I think this is an actions vs. words thing. You say you aren't ready to date, but then agree to a date-like situation. He's looking at your actions and thinking maybe you are just playing hard to get. Both for agreeing to go on (what is in his mind) a date as well as letting him hold your hand. He may consider you to be his girlfriend if he's not socially adept.

I experienced this many times when I was single. Male friends who had been completely appropriate when I was married (they were all part of a hobby group; never one on one when I was married) would ask me to do something. I made it clear I wasn't looking to date, but it seems like just by agreeing to go somewhere with them, they disregarded my words and looked at my actions. Put me in some super awkward situations.

It made me really sad, but I wound up not doing anything one on one with straight male friends when I was single because I wanted to keep myself safe and keep those friendships.

Sorry you have to navigate through this :(

skeetermooch posted 1/17/2021 15:29 PM

It made me really sad, but I wound up not doing anything one on one with straight male friends when I was single because I wanted to keep myself safe and keep those friendships.

Exactly - this has happened before and for some reason it super bums me out because you know, doesn't any man actually like me as a friend?? It would be a wonderful thing to be able to grab a beer with the guy across the street or help each other with a yard project simply as buddies but they have a problem with sticking their penises into everything.

I think your right as well on actions versus words - ha, if only I'd looked at actions versus words when I met my STBX - things would be so different. But men need very little encouragement when they're in the market for love or sex so I can see why my agreeing to go encouraged him.

phmh posted 1/17/2021 16:03 PM

it super bums me out because you know, doesn't any man actually like me as a friend??

Totally - I'm right there with you. When I look at who my one-on-one friends are, they are all women (straight or gay) and gay men. I do have straight male friends but see them in the context of groups, except for a few guys I grab coffee/a beer with that are 20+ years older than me and in happy marriages (I'm also friends with their wives). My SO thinks it's crazy how many gay male friends I have, but I tell him they are all fun to be around, like me for me, and never are going to try anything with me!

Tallgirl posted 1/17/2021 17:14 PM

Skeeter, you were trying to be nice.

I think this is a good thing. You know for sure you are not ready.

You need to tell him it was just a beer with a neighbour and confirm you donít want to date. If he is a decent person, he should respect that.

Physical contact of any kind in these days needs to be agreed by both. Flat out. He was presumptive

I had one guy try to kiss me on a first date. I was shocked. He was like a bee. Buzzing all over the place. I realized I was not ready to be touched much less kissed, and that I am too freaking old to be imposed on. Ugh. Yes first and last date.

I actually pull away from touch. So not ready to date.


skeetermooch posted 1/18/2021 09:09 AM

When I look at who my one-on-one friends are, they are all women (straight or gay) and gay men. I do have straight male friends but see them in the context of groups,

This makes sense but why are straight single men so freaking pushy??? I mean if this guy hadn't gone for my hand I'd have been eager to spend more time together as friends and then who knows? But because he was pushy I'm hesitant to even return a text message.

skeetermooch posted 1/18/2021 09:12 AM

Physical contact of any kind in these days needs to be agreed by both. Flat out. He was presumptive

Yes! I felt like the consent was sketchy because he asked and then grabbed my hand before I could formulate a response - so he was definitely on the pushy side.

I really just want to be friends. I don't have any desire for touching.

crazyblindsided posted 1/18/2021 16:38 PM

I would have an issue with that too. Maybe tell him you enjoyed his company but that you are not ready to date yet and you would like to keep a friendship with him.

I had a texting friendship with a male on Facebook (but I think he wanted more than that) so I even cut the texting out. I'm just not ready for any of it yet

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 4:38 PM, January 18th (Monday)]

EllieKMAS posted 1/18/2021 16:57 PM

I haaaaaaate people who feel like they have a right to invade my personal space. I dunno if it's cus I'm round and look snuggly or people think I need a hug, but I always seem to run into folks that feel like they need to give me a hug or a pat or whatever. I've gotten fairly good at shutting it down, as bluntly as possible. "I am not comfortable with you touching me" usually works.

And for guys/dating situations? I'll be even more blunt than that - ie "get your hands off me".

*shrug* I suppose it depends on if you really want this guy to be a part of things going forward. But don't be afraid to set firm and hard boundaries.

Junior posted 1/18/2021 18:45 PM

I'm a widower of two years myself, after 42 years married. If he was married for a long time, you would be doing him a huge favor to offer insight into the rules and etiquitte for proper gentleman's conduct these days. I'm not quite as dim as he though. It's something I am unsure of myself, given the last time I was looking, Gerald Ford was president. Try that on for a culture shock fit. Talk about lost..... enough about me.

It will also be good practice for you setting and enforcing boundaries. As a bonus being prepared for the unexpected.

An aside, there two types of people I would never get involved with, neighbors whose house I can see and coworkers. If it goes bad you can always quit the job, moving? Thats a whole other ballgame.

skeetermooch posted 1/18/2021 19:36 PM

Maybe tell him you enjoyed his company but that you are not ready to date yet and you would like to keep a friendship with him.

Yep, that's pretty much what I'm going to say. I've been minimally replying to his texts and waiting hours or even overnight to respond. He seems to have slowed down on the communications, so maybe he's getting the hint.
And for guys/dating situations? I'll be even more blunt than that - ie "get your hands off me".

OMG Ellie! I wish I had the cajones for that! I was so shocked when he went for my hand - I can't even tell you how much I didn't see that coming. Even if it had been a date, it would've been unwelcome because we were just chatting, getting acquainted - not at all in a romantic place. Read the room, buddy!
I suppose it depends on if you really want this guy to be a part of things going forward. But don't be afraid to set firm and hard boundaries.

I have no idea what I want with him going forward - it's not like I'm looking at him thinking, "He's going to be the one when I'm finally ready to date." I don't know him at all, so I really don't have a clue. I'd like to keep the door open but in a way that isn't dating - just get to know each other and decide from there if I want to get romantic.
An aside, there two types of people I would never get involved with, neighbors whose house I can see and coworkers. If it goes bad you can always quit the job, moving? Thats a whole other ballgame.

Yes, I'm sort of amazed he wants to risk dating a neighbor - I sort of view neighbors and coworkers as untouchable.
It will also be good practice for you setting and enforcing boundaries. As a bonus being prepared for the unexpected.

Yes, I need to get some serious practice in with boundaries.

Karmafan posted 1/19/2021 18:26 PM

I would prefer to be friends without physical interaction. I'm no where near ready for that and may never be. He's already texting me today. WTF. I was happy to just have a friend.

He wants a relationship, you want a friendship. The two are incompatible. You need to tell him that.

skeetermooch posted 1/20/2021 11:28 AM

Yes, I definitely think we're incompatible at this stage.

He texted this morning asking to go camping for two nights - in his tiny camper van!! Yikes. Luckily, he texted again and said he had a conflict so needed to rescind his offer. I still haven't responded.

Junior posted 1/20/2021 14:42 PM

I can't help but laugh out loud. Good lord he's taking either being clueless or pushy to a new level. Talk about making assumptions, wow. Makes feel like I'm possibly NOT the most pathetic excuse for an enlightened man in existence.I apologize for him and thanks for sharing. You made
my day.

shakentocore posted 1/21/2021 07:40 AM

He doesn't want to be your friend. He wants to a romantic partner. You can be "just neighbors" who say hello as you get your mail, but you can't be "friends" who hang out and get a beer.

If you want companionship for beers, find some girl friends to go out with.

Use his invitation as the opportunity to spell things out and end it. Tell him you enjoyed going out for a beer with him, but as you suspected, you are not interested in dating. Wish him well and tell him good luck in his search for a romantic partner.

skeetermooch posted 1/21/2021 10:42 AM

Talk about making assumptions, wow.

Right? We had one beer and he's sent umpteen texts since, but no idea how this put us at the going-away-for-the-weekend stage!?
I'm kind of irritated. It's one thing to be clueless, but I feel like he's got some idea about me that isn't too flattering - like I'm desperate or easy or I don't know what. It's funny because before I got married I dated a colleague of his wife's. I kind of liked the guy. We went on maybe 3 dates when he randomly sent me a very explicit text about what he wanted to do to me. I promptly put him in his place and that ended that. I guess he doesn't know that story. Maybe I should share it.
Use his invitation as the opportunity to spell things out and end it.

I told him I wasn't ready to stay overnight - he assured me there were separate bunks or something - whatever. I also told him that at this stage I only want to be pals and nothing more. He's still texting though

skeetermooch posted 1/21/2021 10:46 AM

One question I have is - does this constitute a red flag?

Pre-marriage to a cheater, narc, SA, I might have excused this as him being over eager or socially inept, especially if I had a strong attraction to him (I don't in this case). But I excused some off-putting moments with my STBX and I'm now second guessing the crap out of myself for that. Should I take this dumb-assery as my cue to rule this guy out totally??

My inclination is to strictly be friends and see if that grows into something down the road - it probably won't because I don't find him terribly attractive - but you never know.

phmh posted 1/21/2021 19:14 PM

I don't think it's a red flag because you are not being clear and you are sending him conflicting messages. He might be moving too quickly generally, but that happens a lot when people don't have a lot of experience dating and are moving from married to single (including lots of people we see on SI - you're used to one level of intimacy and forget that it takes time to build.)

Do you know what you really want? Are you possibly interested in dating him or not? From the beginning of this thread, I thought you only wanted someone to have beers with = friend. But by the end of the thread it sounds like you are considering him as a potential romantic partner.

But then you are telling him "you weren't ready" to stay overnight and "at this stage" you just want to be friends. You also allowed him to hold your hand - he is not a mindreader, and the words/actions you are putting out there, well, you can't blame this guy for being confused and for thinking you are working on progressing to other stages, or that maybe you are ready now.

If a guy in their NB posted here from the guy's point of view, a lot of posters would say that you sound interested but maybe are playing hard to get - if you weren't interested, you wouldn't have held his hand (he even asked first!); if you weren't interested, you would have just said so instead of couching it in "not ready" or stages.

I'd recommend that you take some time to think about what *you* want - when you post it's what he wants. For example, you posted this:

Yes, I'm sort of amazed he wants to risk dating a neighbor - I sort of view neighbors and coworkers as untouchable.

If you view dating a neighbor as untouchable, why are you even considering dating this guy? Why does it matter if he wants to date you as you wouldn't date him because he is in the untouchable category of neighbor? (I tend to agree that neighbors and coworkers are off-limits; most relationships fail, and I want to keep my safe spaces safe.)

Good luck as you figure this out! I know I spent so much of my marriage living my life around what WXH wanted that it took some time to understand what I wanted.

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