There was a young man, that I met with through mutual friends in college who has been asking me out. I considered him an acquaintance — an acquaintance I had become increasingly unfond of. He has asked me out to lunch/dinner, and it has not been easy to say no. He asks things like, are you free anytime this week? How do I tell someone, who may see me on campus not being busy, that I am available never?
The article above took me down memory lane and reminded me of a similarly deluded chap I had befriended many years ago, who took it upon himself to convince me that we were the perfect match. That I was the Bonnie to his Clyde, the poetry to his rhyme, his midsummer night’s dream, and his kryptonite.
Or at least that’s what I was told repeatedly. And I was sick of it!
I would often try to relieve him of this delusion. Claim to not be this ‘amazing person’ he was imagining me to be and urged him to move on from this obsession. He liked to be argumentative (I am sure he thinks of it more as intellectual debate). And I have actually found him rather offensive (although I am sure he does not know). I would avoid arguing or disagreeing with him to save my precious mental space. But he went ahead to think that we had everything in common and lots to discuss. fml.
He would claim to like me more than anyone I’ve ever dated. He would claim that his adoration of me started years ago. In the hallways of high school when puberty hit us and we were awkwardly figuring out how to be teenagers. Clearly- he was obsessed. He was speaking about being in “love” with somebody he had seen YEARS ago and had never been with. I suspected that it was a fabricated fantasy that he wanted to desperately live out. I sympathized.
But as Miss Manners rightly points out, any attempt of turning him down would only invite uncomfortable questions about why we couldn’t be together. And what about him made him unsuited for me. He would cry about how he was never good enough for me, and how I noticed everyone but not him (Again, I repeat- I noticed him but I was not interested). He wailed to his friends about how much he liked me. About how I “wouldn’t agree to go out with him” as if it were an offense to turn someone down cause you don’t like them. As if it’s okay for him to act overbearing and stalkerish! Such persons often invite their own doom by demanding answers. Answers that could result in harsh truths and unpleasant insults. What would I say?
“I think you need help. I think you’re sad, desperate, and lonely and are clinging on to some elaborate idea of happiness that you could get only by being with me. You should speak with someone and work on yourself. So that you attract people who care about you and invest in genuine relationships”?
Nah- he didn’t seem to think much about my two cents.
So I tucked away my superhero complex, and thought about how I could rid myself of this nincompoop-
I could come up with only one thing. If you want to drive an obsessive crazy person away, then you gotta act a little obsessive crazy yourself.
So at my own risk, I texted him something like this:
Me: “Hey, you’re right. We should give this a shot”
Him: “Oh whoa! What changed your mind?”
Me: “You did. You keep telling me how I’d be the happiest with you. How you care about me more than anyone. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve wanted to confess too. You’re right, I’m obsessed with you. And I’ve been waiting for you to ask me out forever. So, now’s your chance – ask me, and I’ll say yes.”
Him: “I’m not so sure anymore… ”
Me: “I thought so. It’s unpleasant when someone forces themselves on you, isn’t it? ”
There is an unfortunate Double Standard common in the kind of approach the Persistent Suitor took. Stalker type behavior in a man can make him a romantic hero but the same behavior will almost always make a woman dangerous or pathetic. But, It’s creepy! MOST INDEPENDENT SELF LOVING MEN AND WOMEN DON’T WANT TO BE STALKED.
Most characters of this type are intended to be sympathetic. The lengths the fella goes to is supposed to show just how much he loves his beloved (or she hers — this can happen to characters of any gender). But characters like this can be very unnerving to readers and audiences who realize just how far things have gone. All these unhealthy attachment patterns start when we are kids and often end up disrupting a lot of our adult relationships. I was completely happy with this acquaintance being a childhood friend of the past, but anyone with a reasonable sense of self does not want to be pushed into a relationship. And that’s not up for debate. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there who feel the need to push and hurt others to force a relationship.
It doesn’t work this way.
As Phil Collins Says:
You can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait
She said, “love don’t come easy
But it’s a game of give and take”
You can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes