Recently, I have been redirecting a relationship with someone who had been very touchy-feely for the last ten years. I have finally been successful at establishing a boundary. This person was overstepping my boundaries, without taking the hints. I would take a few steps back from them to create a distance, but they would move in and grab my waist anyway — lunge at me to grab my arm — they were rather sneaky about it too. Years ago I thought I would have a talk with them, but decided against it. The situation was delicate. Maybe it was my own “boundary problem.” There is another woman who has an issue with this person doing the same to her, and she only brought it up after I mentioned it to her, so I don’t think she was planning to approach him about it — not to say that this makes it okay that I haven’t said anything.
We were friends and I liked this person a lot, and it didn’t happen often enough to be urgent, but whenever I saw them – maybe a couple of times a week, it would be an issue. They would rub my arms or shoulders, squeeze me, touch my waist, and generally stand too close. It was all under the guise of friendly touching – which makes it kind of sticky. I don’t shrink from confrontation and usually have no problem telling people what I think. But as an older adult, I’m attempting to be graceful, and I guess I chose this situation to exercise that trait.
Part of the problem is language. The person’s first language is Spanish, and they have a strong accent. They might have a problem understanding what I was saying, especially if I tried being tactful, using delicate language that isn’t literal, with subtleties that they might not understand. If I went the other way with a direct approach, saying, “You’re touching me too much and I don’t like it. It’s not necessary for you to touch me every time you see me,” there might be confusion since there were times when I expressed affection with a hug, after not seeing them for a while. I have also touched this person during conversation, but not often – so this might cause additional confusion. This person might see my touching them as an invitation to touch me whenever they want to – every fucking time I see them — five or six times, anywhere on my body. No.
The subject of how to approach the situation has plagued me for years. Finally I had just had it, and decided that I would simply recoil dramatically with my body whenever this person stepped too closely into my circle. I literally sway my body away from theirs, or take three of four steps backward. In addition, I keep conversation short, yet cordial. That was another boundary issue, excessive talking without respect for my time. I think they’re finally getting it.
I don’t care if they think I’m moody, or that I don’t like them anymore. I waited too long as it is. If they don’t see what I’m “saying” this time with body language, the next step is to tell them directly. At the end of this, I’m thinking maybe I will just tell them directly, if it happens again. This person is an adult who should know better, really.