Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment, stalking, or “being creepy?” Did you wonder what you did wrong? Were you ever just friendly to a woman and then find that she and her friends are avoiding you?
Let me give you an example. A friend of mine was once stalked by a stranger. The police officer assigned to her case really took an interest in the case… and her. He went with her to the civil protection order hearing. He called throughout the day to see if she was okay. He stopped by periodically when he was off duty to check up on her until the suspect was caught. When the perpetrator was finally caught, the officer asked my friend go out with him to “celebrate.” While my friend continues to act friendly with him, she tells me almost every day that he makes her really uncomfortable.
Some of what starts as really just a misunderstanding can be interpreted as sexual harassment. Sometimes a man can mistake friendliness for interest and politeness for warmth. While it may not be his fault that a woman is feeling uncomfortable, it’s a man’s responsibility to watch for that, to understand, and to empathize. It’s still—always—a man’s job to stop.
The way I learned to avoid harassing someone is to have my own boundaries. I don’t want to be a salesman; I only want to date women that already want to date me. So before I’m willing to ask a woman out, she has to show interest. She has to look me in the eye, initiate conversation, laugh and be warm. I don’t mean that she has to, as in she’s obligated to, or that she’s not ‘worthy’ of me if she doesn’t. I mean that if she doesn’t do these things, she’s not interested enough for it to be worth the risk of offending her.
So if she shows me the right signs, I may ask her out. What if she agrees to a date and then flakes? Oh well. Things don’t work out sometimes. We’ll try again, with an out: “Hey, you know, if the time comes and you’re just not feeling it, that’s okay. I’ll understand.” If she flakes a third time, or she never texts me back, unless she’s literally Spiderman, then I’m over it, you know? Why would you want to date someone you have to text ten times to get one response from?
At the end of the day, respecting a woman’s boundaries isn’t about not getting in trouble at work. It’s about self-respect. If someone doesn’t think you’re worth their time, they’re not worth yours. If someone doesn’t see the beauty and the wonder in you, man, she doesn’t deserve you. So don’t let the #MeToo movement or “Workplace Sexual Harassment Policy” make you nervous. Just remember what kind of treatment you deserve from a friend or lover and, if they don’t show it, just walk away. You’re a good guy! Treat yourself like one!
Photo Credit: Hans Dietman via pixabay.com
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