Dear Thelma: Mutual friends are trying to matchmake us but I'm just not keen

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Dear Thelma,

I’m a single 40-year-old woman who is being harassed by a 60-year-old man.

Just because he’s single, our mutual friends want to bring us together. They have even told me that he is a good man and that I should consider him, as it’s better than being single. But he is really not my type and I have no interest. Others have sung his praises and he has his own share of admirers because he is fit and athletic and looks after himself. But I’m not one of them.

The problem is he fancies me and is encouraged to pursue me by those mutual friends.

But I really can’t accept him. I don’t care that people – him included – tell me, “You should be grateful that someone likes you at your age.”

I’d rather be single than with someone I’m not attracted to. I find his personality too strong and I think he likes to show off too much.

Also, I won’t consider a man in his 50s or 60s, and it’s my prerogative and choice. Furthermore, he is too short for me at 5’5”. When I wear heels, I would be taller than him because I’m 5’4”. Some women don’t mind, but I do mind.

Unfortunately for me, he lives near my house and every time when I come home from work, he will stand outside his house topless and preening. I have nothing against men going shirtless if they’re attractive but it was obvious he was trying to attract my attention and show off his body.

There was once he was even walking around in his garden in only his underwear! Unfortunately, I was more disgusted since I don’t like him and don’t find him attractive.

In the past, I used to be very active on social media and would respond and comment on my friends’ posts. But I noticed that because he is also friends with them, he would reply to my comments on my friends’ posts. He would like my friends’ posts that I’d liked too. I know that it isn’t against the law to do that but it is annoying to me, as he appears wherever I am online, and I can’t even talk to other men without him appearing.

Now, I’ve withdrawn from social media because of this. I've even thought of moving away from the neighbourhood because of him.

When I wanted to learn how to use a particular app, he found out and offered to teach me. But the truth is, I don’t want to learn from him! I don’t think it’s possible to learn from someone if you don’t respect them, and I already find it difficult to respect him.

He hasn’t actually done anything to me physically such as stalking but his behaviour is just annoying.

My friends say that I’m overreacting and am biased against him and should give him a chance. But such things can’t be forced.

Thelma, am I biased? What should I do? I’m so annoyed and have a phobia of him already.

Harassed and annoyed

So let's be clear here: People are telling you that you're old and unattractive and that your duty is to hook up with a man who repulses you.

No, you are definitely not biased. You are being bullied and it is causing you to doubt yourself to the point where you are leaving social media and cutting yourself off.

I have some strong opinions about these "mutual friends" but this is a family newspaper. So let's focus on getting you into a happier space.

The first step is to deal with the preening rooster.

A man has the right to stand in his garden topless if he wants, and there's no harm in saying hello as you walk past or leaving a friendly comment on your social media.

When everyone is polite, it can be difficult to disengage. Especially when some people are oblivious to subtle social cues that we're not keen on their company!

But this man went out of his way to demean and bully you. Therefore, you need not be polite.

Block him on all social media immediately. And the next time he accosts you, just nod and keep walking. If he pushes, say, "I have no time." Or simply, "Leave me alone."

Don't engage, don't entertain conversations about why. This bully who tells you that you're not good enough unless you date him is not worth your attention.

A safety note: Entitled men can turn nasty. If you are worried about repercussions such as vandalism and violence, talk to a lawyer. A warning letter from a legal firm can do wonders.

If you can't afford a lawyer, get legal advice from AWAM (ph: 03-7877 4221, helplines: 016-237 4221/ 016-228 4221, website: or WAO (ph: 03-7957 5636/ 0636, hotline: 03-3000 8858, SMS/WhatsApp Tina: 018-988 8058, website:

The second step is to deal with the people you call mutual friends. My dear, are you sure you want to maintain a connection? They sound awful.

In case you do want to give them a second chance, I think that a discussion on basic good manners is needed.

It's fine for people to ask if you want to be introduced to someone, or to suggest potential dates. However, once you say no, they should respect this and stop.

You don't need to explain why you don't want to date. No is a reason all by itself. You are an adult, and you decide what makes you happy.

So, next time this comes up, point out that pushing you to date a man who you cannot like is not an act of friendship. It is rude and disrespectful.

As for being disparaging about your attractiveness and age, that is abusive and improper. Shut it down immediately by pointing out it's extremely rude.

I hope that reminding them of their manners is a wakeup call. Should they persist in their thuggery, I suggest you drop them and spend time with your other friends.

Finally, this group bullying (it's called mobbing by sociologists) can have a very depressing effect. It can also make you doubt yourself.

For example, this nonsense has you wondering if you're wrong not to date a man old enough to be your dad and whom you can't stand.

So I think you should repair this damage by working on your self-esteem. Spend lots of time with good friends who respect you, love you, and support your needs. If you need a bit of outside help, look for a few sessions with a therapist.

When you're ready, go and date men you find attractive. There are lots of good blokes out there, and you deserve to be happy. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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