Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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Can you offer advice how to handle these situations?
Being a female working in a male dominate industry, I fren find myself being hit on.
Example: I travelled to another country to visit our office there for training. I was waiting for the hotel shuttle when a man passing by found out we worked at the same company and offered me a ride (he had a rental car and was there for a conference. I said yes.
During the drive, I was polite and he asked me questions about myself and I told him. He said well we should get married youíre perfect. No other women are like you. I laughed and didnít say anything. We continued to talk about work and the area we were driving in. He said we should go for dinner as we were both there for work and foreigners in the area. I was like ok. I didnít see him for three days and bumped into him. He said to go for dinner that night and to let him know. I was like ok.
That evening, I emailed him if he wanted to go, he says sure. We went to dinner and again, I was professional, was not flirting I swear. He talked a lot about himself and I sat and ate my food. Again, he brought up marriage, complimented me, said twice, damn you smell good, I shouldnít say that. I said nothing. Just kept eating.
He wanted to go out more, I said I had to pack sorry no. I was like take the hint my god. Thinking to myself.
Back at the hotel, he texted me if I wanted to come to his room to watch tv. I said NO!!

How can I avoid this in the future? It seems to somehow happen to me, Iím very quiet person, Iím not beautiful where youíd expect guys to hit on me, Iím just plain and somehow stuff like this happens to me. Why canít I just hang out with colleagues without being hit on, guys hang out all the time. How can I stop It? I always feel so uncomfortable. Iím not brave enough to say outright stop, this is not appropriate.

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    Also, should I tell my HR or leave it? He hasnít contacted me since and we work and live in two countries but with the same company. I doubt Iíll see him again.

    reply to Sarah
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    Hi, Sarah!

    Well, there are several things going on, here.

    First is that I wouldn't report it to HR. The guy didn't actually do anything wrong. Weird, yes. But, he did eventually back off, didn't touch you, didn't show up at your hotel room door when you refused his TV-watching invitation, hasn't tried to contact you again.

    Second is that immature guys will basically hit on any woman who is friendly to them. You can't change their behavior, so you just have to get really comfortable with setting firm boundaries and not taking their propositions personally. I'm sure that you are lovely and wonderful, but believe me; this doesn't happen only to you.

    But -- it may be happen more than it should because of how you respond. I'm not saying that you did anything wrong, just that learning to be a bit less passive might help in these situations.

    I would not have laughed off his marriage proposal; I would have shut it down with a smile and "I'm here to work, dude." But, I also would not have gotten into a car with a strange man. I'm paranoid that way, so you're certainly braver than I am. <3

    Another way to have set a firm boundary would have been to talk about business at dinner instead of just letting the guy ramble on and get too personal.

    I do know what it's like, though. I spent two decades as the only woman at my level in my industry. One of the things I always did, in any group situation, was make it a point to befriend the women among the support staff, or even be friendly to the few women who were above my level. I was warm and casually open about not wanting to be forced to hang out with the boys by myself and I was never treated badly for it.

    So, that's my advice, for what it's worth. Learn to set firm boundaries, shut down flirty talk politely and with humor if you can, and make as many female friends as possible. I hope that helps!


    reply to Robynne
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