When Was the Last Time You Did Something Like That?

Photo by Helga Weber
Photo by Helga Weber

I don’t really know who to go to with this because it’s hard to even talk about. Basically, my good guy friend of several years came onto me the other day and got really aggressive when I told him I wasn’t interested. Nothing too bad happened, but now I’m scared to be around him. He acts like nothing happened, which sometimes makes me wonder if I made a mistake or took the whole thing out of proportion. The other problem is that his friends are all my friends, and I’m worried that if I say anything, they’ll think I’m lying or take his side. I don’t know what to do or how to handle this situation. Help?

You came to the right ninja.  First, I have an important question to ask you.  When is the last time you did anything like that to anyone? I mean it.  When is the last time you tried to cuddle up to a friend – of either sex – and when they said no you grabbed, pushed, pressured, felt, or groped your friend?  When is the last time a friend showed you something precious, and you asked to have it, touch it, or borrow it  and refused to take “no” for an answer?  I’m going to take a wild, leaping, flying side kick ninja guess and say “Never.”  Or, “Not since I was five.”   Here’s another question: If you had $1,000, and your friend tried to take it and make you feel lousy for keeping it, would you think he was a good friend?

I’m sure you see where this is going.  You are more precious than any amount of money,  and you are more precious than any cherished belonging a friend may have.  Unless I am mistaken, you also do not get aggressive with people when they ask to not be touched; and, even if you do, your friend’s behavior was not OK.  You are not blowing anything out of proportion,  and he, at the very least, owes you quite an apology.  The feelings you are having about the situation are not only very common, but they are also healthy responses to an intrusion into your privacy.  The fact that your friend has introduced this kind of doubt and uncertainty into your life is just one of the many reasons that what he did is not OK.

So, what’s next?  First, it’s important to find someone you feel comfortable talking to about the experience.  You did nothing wrong, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t have every support and encouragement that you need.  Whether it be a trusted friend, family member, adult, or counselor, it’s important to talk.  Why?  Because talking breaks down that sense of isolation that a person feels after an experience like a betrayal of a friend’s trust; and, it breaks the power the experience has over you when you see that  others will offer you the concern and support you deserve.  It helps to know what you need for yourself,  and it will help you to decide if this is a friendship that is worth keeping at this time.

If not, then the path is a bit simpler. You don’t need to be alone with anyone who makes you uncomfortable.  If he is acting like nothing happened, it is because he is embarrassed by his behavior and lacks the maturity to own his mistake and poor treatment of you.  It’s easier to try and make it your problem than admit that he was such a jerk; but, that approach simply underscores that you are right about him.  If I had a misunderstanding with my friend about something important I had done, I would try and be the one to clear it up.  I wouldn’t pretend that it didn’t happen and leave it on them to deal with.

If you still want to be friends, then there needs to be a conversation in a place where you feel comfortable.  You have two issues to deal with:  the original aggressive advance and the inability to acknowledge what happened.  If you decide to go this route, don’t have this conversation alone in a private place.  In other words, you can still be somewhere with other people around and speak privately.  Believe me, I’ve been near enough people in the local ninja coffee shop to know this is true.  His response will tell you a lot about whether or not he is a friend that you want to keep.

As far as your mutual friends go, while I realize that’s a difficult point, you still have good options.  First, what happened is personal, so tell only who you feel you need to tell in order to make yourself feel better and safer.  Don’t turn it into gossip.  Your whole circle of friends doesn’t need to know unless you want them to.  The important thing is to do what you need to do and to not act out of fear of what he will say or do.  Refusing to act out of fear is how we stop being afraid.  If you are matter-of-fact and truthful, your friends will believe you. You may also be an example and a comfort to others – many of whom may have had experiences very similar to your own. You’re strong.  He caught you by surprise because you trusted him.  You’re still strong.  Live that.

R. Shannon Duval is a Ph.D in philosophy, Fulbright Scholar, second degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, and a national champion in kali arnis.  Known as "The Wonder Ninja" for her dual careers in philosophy and martial arts, Germ's Educational Director (and Consulting Editor of Germ U) has traveled to lands far and near, and has discovered that while the pen is mightier than the sword in all of them, swords are still an awful lot of fun.  She loves playing hide and seek in things that are bigger on the inside than the outside, simultaneously wielding distinctions and edged weapons, and pondering the original nature of snowmen. Have a great idea for using Germ in the classroom? Contact her at shannon@germmagazine.com

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