"Please don't do that."
"It's fun, don't you think so?"
"No, I don't. It makes me uncomfortable."
"But it looks that way to me."
"Not everyone thinks so. *I* don't think so. Please stop."
"It's just the way I am."
"I. Said. No."
But they don't stop. And you keep trying to explain, to convince, to withdraw, to defend. On the one hand, you feel as though forcing the issue by severing the relationship would hurt even more - they are so well-connected that you hesitate to be classed as "the Enemy". On the other hand, you have your own boundaries, you've posted the warning signs, "Keep out", "No trespassing", "Never mind the dog, beware of owner."
But they don't see them. They don't hear them. Once they've managed to cross the line once - including that first time when they didn't know the line, and you had to tell them, *did* tell them - and verbally, not assuming that they could interpret the sudden coldness, the cessation of laughter, the stiffening spine, the veil behind the eyes - they will not stop crossing that line.
And you can't escape them. You go places and hear their name, see them around. You try a new venue, and they appear. Your friends know their friends - may even be their friends. A few even understand and a few have even been through it, but they don't have any more solutions than you do. You don't want to have to restructure your social circle. You don't want to tell your friends who they can socialize with. You don't want to drag your friends into the class of "the Enemy" - because no-one can be friends with "the Enemy" and not *be* "the Enemy". You want some safety, some sanity, even just some silence.
There is a compression that you feel - have been feeling - to the point that you wonder what it would be like if it weren't there. Your speech is guarded, trying to eliminate openings. Your reactions are scrutinized before they are expressed - how will that be interpreted?
Some people notice the change, ask you about it. Some of them can be told. Others can't. They don't see that the line-crossing is just as unnerving as a stalker or a persistent crank-caller. Some of them may even try to reassure you that "Oh, don't worry about that - they do that to a *lot* of people. Just ignore it." But it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. You can't ignore it, and just because others have had the same experience doesn't make it acceptable...does it?
Why is it that other people who are accused of this behaviour - wrongly or rightly - get flamed, get ostracized, get the hairy eyeball from the group 'W' bench? But this person, who casually waltzes across the boundaries that others have set, is treated with at least outward toleration.
You start to doubt your interpretation. Did you invite this? Is it something you did? Is the blame - any of it - yours? If it is a *real* problem, why doesn't anyone else say anything?
Or you tell yourself - or someone else tells you - that you should confront that person *yet again* when they cross the line.
But how do you tell them? How can you make them understand?
Stop means stop. No means no.
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