Dear Dr. Gay Nerd-
I’ve been out for a long time and figure that because I’ve been open with it for so long, that it’s an obvious fact that I’m gay. Most people who I meet in new situations figure it out pretty quickly, although I meet some here and there who are surprised. That always strikes me as funny because even though I’m not a super flamer, I’d never be picked first for football. The point is that even if you wouldn’t immediately realize that I’m gay, you’d figure it out pretty quick.
Now, my question is a little more awkward. There’s this woman who I work with. She’s a bit older and a bit… hard to handle. And I’m pretty sure she’s got a big crush on me. It’s pretty gross, to be blunt about it. She flirts with me a lot and she’s pretty touchy, although she hasn’t done anything overly inappropriate. I usually just smile politely and deflect the attention. I don’t want to be mean to her because that’s just not my nature and I don’t think she’s got very many friends at all.
I don’t really know what to do about it. I mean, she’s not bothering me all that much, it just kind of creeps me out when it happens. I don’t want to report her to the boss because she hasn’t really done anything that bad. It’s just weird because, like, forgetting the age difference and the fact that even if I was straight, it wouldn’t happen… she’s gotta know that I’m gay. I’ve talked about dating guys in front of her, just to make it clear. And yet, she still comes onto me on a regular basis. What do I do about this?
-Don’t Make Me Wear the Slave Bikini
Dear Princess Leia-
Maybe you should make it explicitly clear to her that you’re gay by officially coming out to her. The next time that she makes a pass at you, why don’t you just say something like, “You know that I’m gay, right?” I’m not sure how much good it will do, however. You say that you’ve made comments in front of her already and although they weren’t explicit, they should be enough to make her realize the situation.
That makes me think that this woman just doesn’t care. I believe you about not doing anything to lead her on, so she’s not acting this way under presumptions of false hope. She just seems to be one of those delightfully awkward people that we sometimes run into during life that we’ll always have to deal with.
You basically have three options for handling her. If she’s that bothersome, you can report her to your boss. You say, however, she’s not doing anything that makes you that uncomfortable. If she starts to venture into seriously unprofessional territory by talking explicitly or touching you inappropriately, though, this may be the action you need to take.
This, however, is not the most appealing choice, which is why you could opt to start being mean to her. That should teach her to keep her distance and stop being so forward and flirty with you. The catch is that this option comes with the price of you turning into a jerk. It’s not the kindest choice in the world, but it usually gets the job done.
You could also just put up with it. Like you said, she’s not bothering you all that much, she’s just a little creepy. It doesn’t appear like this woman has many friends and she’s a little bit off anyway, no? Her flirting probably makes her pretty happy and, in her eyes, she might not even be flirting because she might not understand how to joke properly. As long as she doesn’t get wildly inappropriate and truly make you uncomfortable… you could consider just letting her have her fun. It’ll make her feel good and it’ll give you something to laugh about later.
If she ever does become truly inappropriate, you can talk to her and tell her how uncomfortable this makes you feel. By talking to her directly, you can remain a nice guy, save her from embarrassment and even from being reprimanded, and keep things friendly and professional. I’m not sure just how unsettling she’s acting, so I can’t tell you what the best course of action is. Based on your description, however, I’d put up with a little creepiness if I was in your shoes, knowing that a weird old lady was going to feel good about herself because of it.
-Dr. Gay Nerd
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