I'm writing you as a young woman desiring to be married to a godly man. (Nothing new around here!) My question deals with a young man who has become a great source of irritation and embarrassment in my life. I would never consider marrying him, as I have had many opportunities to see that he is more interested in worldly pursuits than in building the kingdom of God and would not make a godly husband or father.
Unfortunately, he seems very interested in me. He "just happens" to show up when I am around at a church function. He always waves whenever he sees me. When I look up from a conversation with friends, he is staring at me, all cow-eyed. Whenever he can corner me, he has to ask me tons of questions about myself. He used to try to hug me every time he saw me until I got up the courage to ask him to stop. But although he has never tried to call or write me, the flirting and hanging around me, whenever he does run into me, continues as before.
My problem is that he has never actually said, "Can I get to know you better?" or given any kind of statement of interest. Since he has never actually said he's interested in me, I haven't had any opportunity to say I am not interested in him. I have tried to remain cold and distant toward him — I have even been rude at times — but he doesn't seem to notice, or maybe he doesn't care. My friends are beginning to notice, however, and they think the situation is funny. I don't think it's funny at all. I have cried over this privately, and I'm afraid I'm starting to feel very bitter toward this young man.
I don't know what to do. I dress modestly, and I don't flirt. I don't know why he won't stop. Do you have any godly advice for a situation like this?
I think the first order of business is to find someone you can confide in who will take this seriously. I remember feeling cornered by more than one young man when I was in grade school. There are three who come to mind, actually. And though I did all I could think of in my own strength to let them know I wasn't interested, nothing seemed to work. The worst part of it was feeling trapped whenever they were around as well as all alone when my friends and even my parents would just laugh at the humor in it all. Yes, that's looking back a long way, but I don't think it feels any better when you're in your 20s than when you're a preteen.
It never felt funny to me. It wasn't until I convinced my dad that I was really feeling uneasy about it, and in one case, he called the young man's parents, and the unwanted attention stopped.
Despite the difference in our ages, I think the principle of protection still applies. What you need is a pastor or mentor who will take your concerns seriously and approach this young man on your behalf, ask him what his intentions are, and let him know that his actions toward you are unwanted and inappropriate.
I would also suggest having a heart-to-heart with your friends about the way they're responding to it all. This is something you should do in a neutral setting — for example, a coffee shop, as opposed to the church lobby — and when the young man is not around. Let them know that you're really frustrated by his attention, that it's even brought you to tears, and ask for their help. They could be enlisted to speak up on your behalf when he does come around ("knock it off, Jeremy," or something to that effect) and be certain never to walk away, intentionally leaving you alone with him.
I'm not suggesting this rises to the level of stalking, nor that you should make more of it than it is, but that it's perfectly appropriate for you to create the circumstances where it will be harder for him to continue hanging on you leech-like. It's possible he's obtuse enough to not realize how uncomfortable he's making you feel. In that case, a pointed conversation with the pastor may be just the thing to not only get him off your back, but also move him down the path of self-awareness and increased maturity.
It really does sound like playground behavior, and that's not something you, as a grown woman, should have to tolerate. You have the ability to create some healthy boundaries, hopefully with the help of your church body and natural family (if they live close by).
But even if you can't find anyone to speak up on your behalf, it's time for you to get even more firm and let him know that his attention is making you uncomfortable. When he comes around with the cow eyes, for example, you might ask him to stop. When he asks questions, tell him kindly, but firmly, that you are not interested in having such conversations with him. This will be far more effective if your friends are on board and lend their support. If they keep laughing, it's time for some new friends. And if your church leadership is unwilling to step in on your behalf, it may be time to find a new church.
Most importantly, you need to ask your heavenly Father to protect you and give you the wisdom and courage to know how to respond in the moment. You should also pray for this young man, that God will open his eyes to the folly of his behavior. Ask God to bring an end to it and to show you what role you should play in the process. Ask Him to lead you to the right confidant and mentor(s). He is trustworthy and faithful, and He has your best interest in mind.
Copyright 2008 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.