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Alcairm

Did I do the wrong thing?

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I am a grad student and had 2 senior phd’s overseeing my project. I knew one of them was attracted to me the day I met him and I would catch him fixating on me. It didn’t feel sexual, but aesthetic or romantic, like glassy eyes. I was worried he was going to try dating me at some point so I tried to keep our conversations work related but eventually I decided I was being paranoid and showed him my personality and we became friends. Then he quickly developed an intense crush on me and I immediately became uncomfortable because I’m SUPER SUPER romance repulsed. I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t even look at him. He could tell I was uncomfortable so he tried really hard to leave me alone. He stopped overseeing my project as a result and I worked with the other phd mostly. Whenever I went into the office to talk about my results with the other phd, the guy who had a crush on me would look at me wishfully and ask me if I was going to also go to whatever drink night was coming up. I always said no, partially because I was avoiding him and partially because I’ve been very antisocial lately. I can tell he isn’t trying to make me uncomfortable and he feels very bad that he’s making me feel that way but also just misses hanging out with me. I felt too anxious to go into the office and even the lab since he was there sometimes and I’d have to deal with this conversation and wishful looks. I got in trouble for not doing enough work or going in, so I finally told my professor what was going on. She issued a no contact rule so he’s not allowed to talk to me anymore. Through my professor he said he didn’t have the intention at all to make me uncomfortable and is very sorry. Although I feel so much more at ease going into work now, I feel like I reported someone who really is a good person and was trying his best to not make me uncomfortable. It’s not like he was sexually harassing me but I also can’t help my romance repulsion. Do you think I did the wrong thing? Whenever I look up harassment examples, they’re always about sexual not romantic situations. Most people brush off romantic attraction no problem so I’m confused if what I did was wrong. 

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53 minutes ago, Alcairm said:

Do you think I did the wrong thing?

 

Not at all. An issue arose and you addressed it. Since you said that you were previously feeling too anxious to go into the office/lab, and since you said that you feel much more at ease going into work now, that tells me you did what you needed to do in order to make life easier on yourself as a student and a person.

 

I know it's hard not to feel guilty, withdrawing from or establishing "hard" boundaries with people that "didn't do anything that bad," but interaction with you isn't anything anyone has A Right to, and it's not like you sent him to jail. All you did was create the conditions necessary for yourself to continue working on your goals.

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2 hours ago, Alcairm said:

Whenever I look up harassment examples, they’re always about sexual not romantic situations.

This is the exact problem that plagued most of my life. I have been in the same sort of situation but because it was years ago and the people responsible for issuing the rules were the sort to brush off romance and not see it as a problem nothing was done to help me even if I when I was brave enough to try and articulate my problem. Literally the advice I got once was "Did he follow you home? no? then don't worry about it"

You did nothing wrong. Your professor was great! giving you a solution to your immediate issues. Even the PhD is not really being penalised, he's just learning that not being able to control his reactions to maintain a cool professional demeanour can hurt others (which is a lesson he would have had to learn eventually, especially if he wants to be a good professor in the future ...even going into private industry, being open and uncontrolled in this way can leave you open to manipulation). 

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I wholeheartedly agree with everyone above. The key thing here is that consequences like these are based on behaviour, not intention. I'm sure we"ve all been in situations where we've gotten in trouble for saying/doing something, even if we didn't mean it in a bad way. Getting in trouble doesn't make you a bad person, just someone who was in the wrong in the situation. What is important is controlling the situation for who was hurt first, before then addressing others. He did try but it wasn't enough, so this outcome will be good for both of you.

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Deffinatly agree with everyone above, if he was making it hard for you to work then you did the right thing.

 

12 hours ago, Alcairm said:

 Whenever I look up harassment examples, they’re always about sexual not romantic situations.

 

This is a really good point, and actually I might end up writing someone or starting a thread about romantic harassment at some point because that's deffinatly something I've exsperianced and it might be helpful for other aros if that discussion was started 

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Let me know where I can find it if you write something. I’m still confused about when I can report romantic advances. 

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13 hours ago, Alcairm said:

Whenever I look up harassment examples, they’re always about sexual not romantic situations. Most people brush off romantic attraction no problem so I’m confused if what I did was wrong. 

There do appear to be some very different standards when it comes to unwanted romantic vs sexual attention.
An obvious example being shown in this news story. Whilst half of the people surveyed think his behaviour is "creepy" there's a fifth who see it as "romantic".
He was stopped by a member of the public after several hours. I'm sure had his actions been sexual he'd have been stopped by the police a lot sooner.
(A possible factor here is the "sex is private" whereas "romance is public" situation.)

There would also be the situation of a welcome sexual advance combined with an unwelcome romantic advance.

There are very different standards when it comes to consent, content warnings, classification and restrictions between sexual and romantic.
The likes of motion picture content rating systems being rather useless to many romance repulsed aros.

If anything romance which is clearly non-sexual may be more likely to be considered acceptable by mainstream society :(
 

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Thanks for linking the story. How the woman must have felt in that situation is similar to how I feel. People keep sexual advances private but not romantic advances. In my situation, I suspect the guy told others in the group that we were going to date and he was too scared to ask me out so he made the other phd ask me for him. It felt like a violation of my privacy. It put societal/peer pressure on me to say yes to him and made my interactions uncomfortable not only with him but also with other members of our lab. But society doesn't consider such repercussions or take them seriously so it shames people into putting up with a very real violation. 

 

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21 hours ago, Alcairm said:

Thanks for linking the story.

I found a follow up in the same paper. 

 

22 hours ago, Alcairm said:

But society doesn't consider such repercussions or take them seriously so it shames people into putting up with a very real violation. 

Which could be what happened in  the second case.

It seems to be acceptable, even expected, for alloromantics to behave in these ways. Especially straight men.
Whereas outside of romance neither of these stunts would be that acceptable. At least not without  requiring permits and, in the latter case, complying with applicable health and safety laws.

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Yeah, if you felt disturb to the point that you can-t work with him, then you did the good thing.

I have been friend with a guy who had a crush on me, and he never make me feel unconfortable. Some people think their attraction justifiés everything and that you are the one who should make all the efforts. But no.

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On 4/9/2019 at 4:28 AM, Alcairm said:

He could tell I was uncomfortable so he tried really hard to leave me alone. He stopped overseeing my project as a result and I worked with the other phd mostly. Whenever I went into the office to talk about my results with the other phd, the guy who had a crush on me would look at me wishfully and ask me if I was going to also go to whatever drink night was coming up.

I think this part of this is crucial - he understood that his crush made you uncomfortable, but didn't distance himself and didn't move on, but tried to reestablish some relation (whether in hopes of friendship or romance doesn't really matter - you don't owe your friendship to anyone either). So in this case it sounds like a good call for me, that it was beneficial to you.

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