Our friendship has continued this way although he doesn’t see much of the rest of my family anymore. The issue is John has become particularly demanding of my time and attention recently. Two and a half years ago I moved overseas, so contact with John was limited to the occasional email. I returned home a few months ago and now live on my own. John started turning up at my house whenever he felt like it, and within a month of my being home he told me he has had feelings for me for a long time and wanted us to be together. I have no romantic interest in him whatsoever and told him so (but a bit more nicely than that).
I thought I might see less of John after this most recent event, given how embarrassing it was. But instead he actually started showing up at my house more often — two or three times a week. I’ve now told him I’d prefer he ask my permission if he wants to come over. But after my saying this to him, he seems to want more contact. He now calls me a couple of times a week, as well as asking to see me throughout the week. It’s exhausting. He will sulk or get emotional if I tell him I can’t talk or that I am busy. Last week when I said I didn’t feel like visitors, he called me trying to persuade me to let him come over.
I have no problems with boundaries within other relationships, but I’m at a loss here. I don’t know what to do. I now feel very uncomfortable around him and I really don’t want to see him or talk to him several times a week anymore, but, after knowing him for 17 years, how do I make that happen? — Friend of John’s
You need to change the way you think of this guy. John is not your friend, no matter how long you may have known each other. He’s a stalker. At best, he’s a former family friend, with emphasis on former since it doesn’t sound like he has much to do with the rest of your family anymore. And just because you’ve known the guy for a long time doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to be nice to him or put up with him or treat him any differently than you’d treat any, well, John who refused to stop turning up at your home uninvited and against your explicit requests that he stop.
I’d say you need to completely cut off all communication with John. Stop answering his phone calls, stop letting him into your home when he knocks, and stop engaging him completely. He has definitely crossed a line by harassing you and, if you don’t let him know in a very clear way that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior, he will only continue pushing your limits. To be on the safe side, I’d alert your brother and family to not discuss you or your private life with John, and I’d even make a cursory search on how to obtain a restraining order in your area. Hopefully, you won’t ever need one, but it wouldn’t hurt to at least have an idea how to go about getting one if you begin to feel that your privacy and safety is in jeopardy.
If I’m making this sound more serious than you think it is, it’s only because I want you to understand that it IS serious. That discomfort you feel around John is a warning sign, and I hope you won’t ignore it. You’ve been in denial for a long time about the relationship between you and John, and he has taken advantage of your politeness and kindness. Now is no longer the time to be kind and polite. It’s time to protect yourself.
John is not your friend. He is a menace and a stalker and not someone you can casually let be in your life. Cut off all ties with him and alert your support network — especially everyone who knows John — of the potential danger you’re facing. Hopefully, in time John will get bored and move on. But with 17 years invested in pursuing you it may take a while, so be prepared to be diligent in your separation from this person. Good luck.