To the Stranger Who Hits on Women in Public Places: I Don’t Owe You Anything

I almost considered not writing this post because my last post was very similar. But this time I’m putting a different spin on things.

The weekend before last, I was approached by yet another guy at the library who tried to hit on me. This one was the most persistent yet: telling me his name and age, asking the same of me (my answer: “Too old to answer that question”), and wanting to know if I was there with a partner.

To the last question, I said, “I plead the fifth.” Then, realizing that was an American phrase, I spelled it out for him: “That means I’m not going to answer.”

At long last, after him asking his barrage of questions and me evading them, I turned back to my bag, started unpacking my writing gear (I had just sat down when he approached), and ignored him until he left.

Comically enough, shortly after he left, “I Just Talk” Guy from my previous post walked by. At least he did no talking this time. That might have put me over the edge.

I considered making the angle of this post “What To Do If This Happens To You.” As usual, I’d thought of a half-dozen things I could have said afterward. But no, this post is going to be directed to men.

Firstly, don’t be the guy who ambushes women in libraries, or coffee shops, or anywhere where she is sitting alone, and ask her a slew of personal questions. My solitude is not an invitation. I am there for a purpose, and it is not to get hit on by a stranger.

Secondly, I don’t owe you my life story, my relationship status, my age or a smile.

Third, it is not flattering to be hit on by someone who literally knows nothing about me other than my appearance. It is only creepy. And it will make the woman you do it to mull over all the ways to not be put in that situation again.


I think women in particular feel inclined to be polite – or, at the very least, civil – to strangers. As a people-pleaser and someone who hates rocking any social boat, I would typically describe myself this way. As a Christian, I feel called to be kind to everyone. Thanks to these things, just being blunt and saying, “Leave me alone” – or, more likely in my case, “Please leave me alone” – is difficult.

But then I figure, this is exactly what the creepers bank on: women being too nice to turn them down. Or working their way down the bank of library desks until one woman is too nice to turn them down. Ted Bundy often snared his victims by pretending to be injured and getting sympathy from a kind female stranger to help him lift his kayak onto his car. Now, to be clear, I am not comparing the overeager kid at the library to one of the most prolific serial killers. But there is something to be said about women being too nice for their own good.

In short:

  • Guys, don’t be an ass.
  • Ladies, it’s OK to be rude to a guy if he’s being one.

About Andrea Nicole

NZ enthusiast in the PNW. Internationally published writer, educator, grammar nerd, genealogist, and all-around storyteller. Recovering homebody. @Whitworth and @WGU alumna. #edchat
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4 Responses to To the Stranger Who Hits on Women in Public Places: I Don’t Owe You Anything

  1. Absolutely YES! I am so glad you shared. Stories like this are so important because most people do not see that as dangerous and see women who just turn men away as “ball busters” and “closed off” but that is not fair or right at all. It is a woman’s right as a human to feel comfortable in the world no matter where she is, what she is wearing, or who she is with and men need to get used to that idea. Women have to be more comfortable with being assertive about who they are and what they want. I was approached by someone recently. I told them very quickly that I was flattered but uninterested when he pressed the issue, wanting to know if I had a boyfriend I told him that my reasons for not being interested were my business not his and I walked away. So thank you for sharing. I appreciate you so much.

    • Andrea Idso says:

      I’m glad you agree these stories need to be shared. On their own they almost feel trivial, but collectively they show some serious flaws pervading our culture where gender issues are concerned.

  2. One thing I have learned from some of my single girlfriends is to wear a fake wedding ring when in public and dont want attention from the guys. Im sure there is no walmart down there but any cheap ring will do. Guys dont know if it is a fake diamond or not.

    • Andrea Idso says:

      Actually, I wear two real wedding rings on my right hand; my great-grandmother’s and her sister’s. And funnily enough, I’ve had people see them and ask if I’m married, despite them being on the right hand. If I really needed to, I could easily switch them to the left hand. But I also don’t think women should have to be taken – or claim to be – in order to be left alone.

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