Hey, Bonita!

Addressing Inappropriate Behavior

Hey Bonita,

My girlfriend of almost eight months is upset with me and thinks I’m overreacting because I don’t want her talking to another guy who I think is sexually harassing her. Is this a red flag that she’s consenting more than I know? He’s a family friend around our age, and around a year ago he started asking her for nudes and if she’d ever want to hook up. She says she always said no, and not long after this we started dating. But he still asks her these things often. She says he’s joking around and this isn’t that serious. As a dude… I know this isn’t a joke, and if it is a joke, then he’s not a good guy anyway. I don’t know if this is a sign to cut ties and move on. I don’t think I want to be in the relationship if she won’t put up stronger boundaries with him.


Hey there Anon,

This guy’s behavior is 100% inappropriate. Since he started this buffoonery not long before you two began dating, there’s a chance that she hasn’t told him that she’s seeing anyone, so he still thinks it’s OK to hit her up. I am going to resist assigning any malfeasance to your girlfriend because women are taught to tolerate and abide by this type of stuff from guys, and that’s almost certainly what she’s doing. Maybe it’s never occurred to her that she’s allowed to say no, or to lay down a hard boundary with men who won’t stop barking up her tree. Then again, there are plenty of guys out there who will soldier on in this manner even after hearing that a woman either isn’t single or even interested. Men are literally taught to push on and wear women down until they get the yes that they’re looking for, which should be their first sign that she’s actually starting to get scared and is throwing them nothing more than a bone with hopes to finally be free of their pursuit. What kind of guy keeps asking for nudes after getting a no? A creep, that’s who.  

But your issue is the effect that his behavior is having on your relationship with your girlfriend, and I want to encourage you to move past your feelings of jealousy and betrayal here. I want you to resist projecting feelings or intentions onto her if you haven’t asked her what her feelings and intentions are. The woman is the person who can say if they are being sexually harassed, not the person they’re dating—that’s a very charged term that I worry you’re using because you feel trespassed upon as a boyfriend. I recommend asking her directly if she feels harassed, and to do so in no uncertain terms. “Is this guy bothering you? Do you feel harassed or put-upon in any way?” And make it about your relationship, not you personally. You feel that this guy’s advances violate the conditions of the monogamous agreement that you have with your girlfriend, which of course would upset anyone going through this experience. 

Those feelings are totally valid, but I’m just getting major vibes of this being more about territory than actually supporting a woman being creeped on. Taking the fact that she hasn’t asserted herself in the way you want her to as a sign to “cut ties and move on” really says way more about you than it does about her. She’s doing what a lot of women would do in this situation, and sadly I don’t get the sense that you’re as concerned for your girlfriend’s well-being as you should be. Your language speaks more to feelings of disrespect and wanting to control your girlfriend’s behavior than wanting to protect her from possible harassment. Dude, she’s not a trophy or something to lord over. She’s a woman dealing with unwanted advances in a world that tells women that any man’s attention and approval is more important than her safety or comfort.

Be supportive, be kind, and build her up so she can lay down the law with this creep. You ain’t running anything, bro—you’re in a partnership with this woman, so act like a ride-or-die. Treat your girlfriend like a person.

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