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How to Deal With Relationships in the Workplace/How does a socially anxious girl explain to an older male customer that I'm not interested and get him to stop flirting?

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I run a small business with my sister, a shop that caters to subcultures like anime and videogames.

There's a nice man "Dave" who comes in sometimes with his teenage step-daughter. He's good to her and sometimes takes her to buy costumes for conventions, Halloween, etc.

Anyway, I was a vendor at a convention over the summer, and at one point I looked over to the other side of my booth and saw "Dave" waving at me. I was surprised to see him there, but smiled and waved back. What shocked me and made me a little uncomfortable was that after I waved, he touched his lips to his mouth and blew me a kiss. I masked my own discomfort by mimicking him and pretending to blow a kiss back. Then I turned away and went back to dealing with the customers I was with. A few moments later "Dave" came over to me and started the conversation with "hey beautiful." (He knows my name and has never called me that before and I though I was a bit flattered, I was really uncomfortable.) I'm pretty nervous/shy around people, especially guys but I tried to brush it off and changed the subject. We chatted a bit about business. (He needed a costume, and afterwards he reminded me that if I ever needed help around the house with plumbing to call him.) He introduced me to his youngest daughter who was in a stroller he was pushing, and I talked a little to his teenage daughter that was there too. I noticed that when we were talking he would lean down, he's taller than me, and stand a little too close and make lots of eye contact. But that could just be because of all the noise at the convention.

**FAST FORWARD TO TODAY:** He came to our store today with his niece, and cousin. I was seated with my laptop and when he saw me for the first time in months he came over and his face hovered over mine for a second, close to the side of my face. I thought he was gonna kiss my cheek, but instead he kissed right below it, my neck. It seemed intentional given the time his face was hovering around the side of mine. I noticed that when he saw my sister whom he knows more, he just shook her hand.

I'm not hating on "Dave" at all. He's really nice and has even given my sister and I an old fax machine for our business since he saw we didn't have one. He also recommended a handy man to fix a plumbing issue we had at our new house last year. (His cousin) And he's always reminding us to let him know if we need anything.

I'm 24, female, and socially anxious. I don't have much experience interacting with guys my own age, never mind men (I think Dave is in his late 30s or early 40s). Would you say he was hitting on me or just being nice? He said he split up with his wife, though I'm not sure how long ago. I'm only interested in a friendly customer relationship. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

**p.s.** I don't know him too well. But I think we've known each other (spoken on and off) for almost a year now.

**p.p.s** I'm just a little troubled by all this because I'm actually more interested in his cousin, who showed quite a bit of interest in me in the past. I was hoping to get to know him more, he invited me to drinks sometime. He was actually there when this whole kiss thing happened, and I just feel guilty and ashamed about everything.

I worry the inappropriateness on Dave's part might have ruined any interest his cousin had in me now. I worry he might think I'm playing with his feelings, or that I don't really like him because I've never hugged or kissed him before. He's never intruded on my personal space before though. The most we've ever done is shake hands. I was actually so upset thinking about this last night that I cried.

Any potential relationship we may have had might be ruined but I hope that giving Dave a handshake next time I see him sends a clear message that I'm not interested.

Answer
Hey Jo,

Thanks for writing in and dropping a word. It takes a lot to open up about issues in the back of the mind and when its related to our heart, it takes guts to pen down left alone talk with someone about the same. I appreciate your gesture in pouring your heart felt emotions and seeking a helping hand for the same. Kudos to you !!!

Well to be pretty honest and straight forward, a girl can always sense from how the man behaves, what his intentions are and when it comes to physical touch, a girl has that extra sense to make out. You have been right in thinking about all this, as the man is casually just trying to take advantage of your helplessness by behaving very smart and taking chances when possible. He is possibly seeing how you behave and he has got his way most of the occasions, where he has left you in dilemma to think if you can react strongly or not, as he has helped your business and also somewhere he is related to the guy you have crush on. Most of the friends around, if you discuss this they would guide you to ignore, but trust me, this is the mistake which many women make. You have to draw the fine line to man at the initial stage, so that he doesn't take you lightly and behave in gentleman manner with you.

I would suggest you to go ahead and communicate him the same and also make your point put forward in very strong manner, so that he realize that, you not small kiddo nor by doing favour for your business, he can take you for ride and get his way. You need to press forward your authority and show him that you not pushover. When it comes to his cousin, if he is sensible man, he would understand your side of story and would respect and value you, else you should have an idea that a man who can't step in your shoes and understand you, how will he support you in future.

Just go out and give your best and  things would fall in place...

All the best !!

Cheers,
Relationship Counsellor
Bringing smiles on the faces on the way .....

How to Deal With Relationships in the Workplace

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I am quite experienced and matured enough to handle questions related to following topics: 1) Love- Friendship 2) Issues in all kinds of relationships. 3) making a relationship work. 4) Effective tips to sustain a relationship. 5) Sex related queries. Well as of now haven't come across any such questions, which would offend me or I lack expertise in, but am a straight forward person and doesn't hold my wordings back. I don't mind being honest in case I lack knowledge about particular aspect and quite flexible to accept genuine views of others or seek other professionals for my case studies, to help the clients out.

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I have been an IT professional throughout my work experience of 8+ years associated with IT MNC's like IBM, Infosys Technologies to name few. I have conducted effective counseling sessions for different corporates I have worked with in my private capacity and contributed effectively to employees striking quite a balance in work and personal life.

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