New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
The last six months he and I have become much closer and share almost everything with each other. He started asking me to wear different shirts because when they were low-cut and bothered him. Then last week, when he was bugging me about my clothing again, he called me in to see him and he had his erect penis out. I asked him what the hell he was doing, and he said he thought I was curious so he decided to show me. I was having a terrible time being around him, and then this week he asked to see my boobs. He said, “I showed you, now you need to show me.” I said no way, not ever. He promised that he just wanted to see and there was nothing sexual about it.
Do you think it is possible that he is just curious? How do I stop this from happening? It has taken me years to trust a man to get me to open up again and now I don’t know what to do. — Not So Curious
It may have taken years for you to trust a man to get you to open up, but you have chosen the wrong man to trust. He is a sleazeball, and I’m afraid you are in a very bad position having trusted him and opened up to him as much as you have already. Obviously, he is LYING when he says there’s nothing sexual about him showing you his erect penis and asking you to show him your boobs. I mean, come on, he’s a grown man, not a toddler who is wondering how a girl looks different from him. And the idea that you would even entertain his argument of being merely “curious” speaks volumes of the vulnerability and naiveté you must exhibit. This is clearly a man who has been preying on you, and now it’s time for you to stand up for yourself and put a stop to it.
The fastest and, hopefully, most surefire way to put an end to this is to go to your HR department (or boss, if you don’t have an HR department) and file a complaint. What this man has done to you is clearly sexual harassment. If you have anything in writing, please save it and show it to your boss/HR officer. If you don’t have anything in writing — a text, an email, a post-it note — see if you can get him to send you something confirming his behavior. You could send an email saying that you were uncomfortable with him showing you his erect penis and his request that you show him your boobs and that you don’t ever want him to behave that way toward you again. Then, see how he responds. If there’s anything in his language that conveys confirmation of his behavior, you’ve got him.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid your friendship with this man’s wife will be a casualty in this whole incident. I’m not sure how you can call someone out for showing you his penis at work and expect to still remain friends with the guy’s wife. I hope you’ll take this as a lesson and, in the future, don’t “share everything” with a married man, let alone a man who is married to your friend and discussing his marital difficulties with you. And since you seem to have questionable boundary issues and questionable judgment when it comes to men, I hope you will consider therapy to help you work through these issues. To go years and years without trusting a man, because you’re still reeling from an abusive marriage, only to finally confide in a man who sexually harasses you, points to a larger issue that I’m not qualified to address, nor could I in a short advice column. You need professional help, and I urge you to seek it out so that you can begin to properly heal from the transgressions and betrayals made against you and can start making healthier choices going forward.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.