Are Unwanted Touches "Affection"?
Q: I'm an affectionate kind of guy, I was just raised that way. But sometimes people take me the wrong way. If I like someone, I put my arm around her. Sometimes the ladies at work laugh and smack my arm to tell me stop. But I know they like it. Same for my wife's friends. If I've had a few, I'll rub their shoulders or maybe even squeeze their butts if we're hugging. My wife never says anything. But the ladies sometimes act like I'm doing something terrible. I'm just trying to tell them they're good looking. What's wrong with a little mutual affection? Why do they get so angry? Maybe they don't really like guys? -- Joe, 35
Dr. Susan: Are you for real? If you were 80 years old, I might believe you were raised to ignore women's boundaries, but for a guy in his 30s? How can you not know that "Stop" means "Stop"? You're lucky no one has (yet!) reported you for harassment or assault. If one of my husband's friends squeezed my butt, I'd jump so high and stare him down so long, he'd never dare show up again. These women you're putting your arm around, and so on, and who are smacking your arm away, do NOT like your obnoxious behavior. This is not "mutual affection" but the actions of a clueless guy who wants to believe women enjoy his physical attentions when they clearly don't.
Let me put it in words even you should be able to understand: It's not that most women you encounter don't like guys. Not at all. They don't like YOU and your disrespectful behavior toward them.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.