over-reacting? - FamilyEducation
05/10/2010 at 16:40 PM

Hi, I wanted to see if anyone had opinions on this.

I have a friend in her mid-20s. She has never had a serious relationship and doesn't date.

A mutual friend expressed interest in her. She declined, but he persisted. She eventually went to dinner with him, and they still hang out with the same group of people.

He started to e-mail her somewhat obsessively... and said some other things about how much he likes her that are a bit weird/extreme. She told him to stop contacting her 2 weeks or so ago, and he complied. But he still obsesses about her to mutual friends.

She is intensley afraid of him, says she can't concentrate in class because he is staring at her, feels very unsafe and intimidated, is scared to go to school etc.

I am pretty sure I have the whole story... though I think it is hard to evaluate these things if you aren't physically there.

This guy's behavior is a bit weird and pretty annoying... but do you think it is normal to have this type of reaction? I'm trying to speculate if maybe something happened to her sometime in the past that makes her afraid of men, or what is going on here... any thoughts?

Her reaction is not that weird. His is. I'd talk to him about getting some new interests.

Thanks for your reply maya, maybe I am off-base, and that's why I wanted to posted this. I just can't shake the feeling that this sort intense fear is out of context. There's no denying that this guy is weird and socially awkward, but I don't think I would fear for my safety if someone never tried to hurt me or follow me or anything. Then again, it is hard to tell b/c I haven't met this person. I also don't know why her friends are still friends with this guy if he is being so creepy that she should fear for her safety. I was wondering if it could be PTSD or something like that, but I don't have any experience with it other than what I read on the internet. If this fear isn't objectively justified or "normal" I'd like to talk to her about getting some sort of counseling or help somehow, so she doesn't go through her life being afraid. I don't know how to approach that. Maybe I should just leave it alone and not meddle?

You haven't met the guy, she has. It could be that her life experience has made her overly fearful, it could be that she is milking the situation so she can be a drama queen, it could be that her instincts are good. Their mutual friends or a court order could make clear to him that he needs to leave her alone. If her "friends" are passing along information that only serves to make her more fearful, but doesn't lead her to take substantive action, perhaps she needs new friends.

I don't think this is an issue about over-reacting. But even if it is, this is real to her! If she has asked him not to contact her anymore and he continues to obsess about her to mutual friends(probably knowing that they will tell her),and stares at her in class, it is reason to raise a red flag or so. She should trust her instincts. I agree with mayamay, the friends should not relay information to her, it is encouraging him to continue. They should remind him that she wishes to be left alone by him. They should also refarin from engaging in any conversations with him about her. Hopefully he will get the message. Be a supportive friend and help her feel safe by validating her feelings. We can't always control how we feel; but we can control how we react to those feelings. Helping her develop a safety plan may help decrease some of the anxiety around issues of safety. Is this the only time you feel she has over-reacted regarding her safety? Is it isolated to just this guy? Then she may be perceiving something that you don't see. If she tends to have anxiety around all men, then devloping a safety plan may help increase her feeling in control of safety. If this guy continues, she may want to notify the authorities. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Thanks guys. She has now talked to someone about it and they are going to keep an eye on the situation. I'm hoping they scared him enough and it just goes away. I'm not sure if she has overreacted in the past or not... but not that I know of. Like I said above, I know she doesn't date or have any male friends... reading into it I guess that could mean she is distrustful of men.. or it could mean nothing. I agree that these people don't seem like real "friends." A "friend" wouldn't even talk to this guy if he was being this creepy, IMO. I just wish I could somehow empower her to be more assertive with people that are crossing boundaries. She is a very sweet person and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.