They Hit on his Girl
Q: My girlfriend, who is the sweetest, most gorgeous person I have ever met, has a problem, or should I say I do. She is an assistant manager at an apartment complex. She is constantly being hit on by the vendors there. While I expect this to some degree (I know this happens when dating a beautiful woman), the problem is that the manager, an older lady, thinks this is cool and fun. My girlfriend tells them she is seriously dating someone but they keep asking. She is so nice that she doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so instead of being mean and getting her point across so it is understood, she just keeps telling them she is involved. I know it is petty and childish, but I cannot help being offended by this. She also doesn't want to say anything to the manager who in my opinion could and should stop it instead of it looking like a singles bar around there. Anyway, just wanted your advice on this. -- Jack, 42
Dr. Susan: Two thoughts: either your girlfriend actually gets a little kick out of all the attention she's receiving from those vendors, and so she's not trying TOO hard to make it stop entirely, or, and this is just as likely, she's doing exactly the right thing by telling everyone she's seriously involved. In which case it's you who's lacking in trust.
I wonder, though, how you know about all this one-way flirting that's going on. Apparently she's telling you, time and time again? If so, two possibilities again come to mind: she's so honest and open with you that the idea of NOT telling you wouldn't occur to her, OR she gets just a tiny kick out of your jealousy.
My advice? Stop trying to get your sweet girlfriend to turn mean. You might try role-playing with her, if she's willing, showing her how to go from being a little too passive in her responses to slightly more assertive, so these persistent suitors finally get the point. She may not understand that a half-hearted response to a flirty invitation is likely to be taken as a come-on by many men. Then again, she may know exactly what she's doing and have no intention of changing the way she responds. In which case, you have two choices. One is to tell her to stop informing you of these harmless efforts to hit on her, since you trust she'd tell you if someone was truly bothering her or if she had any intention of acting on any of this. Or, finally, recognize that there's nothing for you to be offended about, and don't give it another thought. It's not the manager's job to protect your adult girlfriend. So just try the "mm-hmm" method next time you hear of someone hitting on your lady friend. That is, instead of getting riled up, say, "mm-hmm" and change the subject. Men will continue to flirt, and ladies will continue to deflect. It's the way of the world, so relax.
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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.