Wednesday 16 January 2019

Dear Rosanna: My boyfriend's dad gives me the creeps

On coping with lewd remarks, a friend who 'dresses to impress', lending credit-card details and a boss who makes passes

Q My boyfriend's dad is very sleazy and I don't know what to do about it. The few times that we have been alone together he has made lewd remarks. I've tried laughing it off but it doesn't seem to make any difference -- if anything, it seems to encourage him. I can't say anything to my boyfriend either as he worships the ground that his dad walks on. Please help. We're both 19.

A This is an awkward situation but it's not fair that you should feel uncomfortable in your boyfriend's father's presence. By bringing it up with your boyfriend you risk him taking sides against you and causing irreversible damage to your relationship.

I would advise you to deal with it directly with his dad. Try making notes on everything inappropriate he says and how you feel at the time. Pay attention to the details to help support your story. Then either approach him face-to-face when your boyfriend is out, or else write him a confidential letter or email. Explain that you want to continue in your happy relationship with his son and not make a big deal out of this, but you feel uncomfortable at some of his comments and that laughing it off has been your way of dissipating the annoyance or embarrassment you feel. Keep the tone polite.

Hopefully, he will apologise quickly and be willing to alter his behaviour in your company. Being direct will show that you have no problem in standing up for yourself.

AGrowing into adulthood, it's normal to experiment with clothes and elements of personal identity. Your friend is simply going through a phase where she believes that provocative clothes will help her to get a boyfriend. This may be so, but she may find it difficult to gain the respect of her peers or to be taken seriously in a relationship.

Most guys don't want their girlfriends to dress provocatively, as it means more work for them to protect their girl from other interested men! As you say you have tried to speak to her, so I would just let her experiment and hope that this phase is a short one. You could still drop hints at appropriate opportunities.

Magazines and fashion websites and blogs are a source of good advice on personal styling and explain how the way you dress sends different messages out about the person you are.

With subtle encouragement and a bit of perseverance, your friend will hopefully begin to dress in a way that complements her better.

QA friend of mine asked me via email for my credit card number so that she could book a break away, with the promise of cash back asap. She is in debt already and I felt really uncomfortable about her request. She has now stopped taking my calls and responding to my texts. In fairness I never explained my reluctance to help her as I get embarrassed talking about money issues -- I just ignored the mail and moved on. I've tried to get in touch with her but she has cut all contact. I feel so hurt by her behaviour. How do I move on?

A As your friend is in debt already, the idea of asking for credit-card details from a friend to book a holiday seems bizarre and utterly brazen. I can understand your concerns with parting with a credit-card number, since you can't be certain that she will protect it properly or even use it on a secure website. Furthermore, you can't be sure that she will manage to repay the money owed to you.

She's out of order to ignore you because she didn't get her own way, but you could explain why you didn't want to get involved. More than likely she feels that she was let down and these situations between friends can quickly become dramatised unless they are properly resolved.

My advice is to send her an email directly addressing the problem. Sympathise with her financial situation, but be clear that you didn't feel it appropriate to share your credit-card details. Friendship should be about understanding and compromise, and you won't always reach agreement on everything. If she still refuses to respond to you, then it's probably best to move on. You don't deserve a friend in your life who will act so selfishly.

QMy direct superior in work keeps making passes at me. I've always thought that workplace romances are a bad idea and, while he is attractive, I am not keen on him in that way. I have told him twice but he keeps pestering me. He outranks me so I don't know what to do. This is a good job with a decent pay cheque, so I can't take any chances. How can I get him to back off? I don't want to be branded a 'hysterical female', which is what normally happens when women take a stance in a macho workplace.

ATo have a man who knows he is in a position of power above you, become what is essentially a sex pest, is highly inappropriate and will no doubt inhibit you from doing the best job you possibly can. It's a shame that you feel worried for the security of your job if you stand up to him.

As you tell me you have already attempted to tell him to quit pestering you, I feel it would be appropriate now to approach somebody senior to him -- it needs to be halted by a person he depends on for his job.

Don't feel guilty for putting him in an uncomfortable position. You have done nothing wrong and should stand up for yourself and your rights. Good luck.

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