DEAR NATALIE: I was at an event last week and I met a woman and her fiancé. They seemed like really nice people and so we hung out with them for a while. Well, at one point, the woman went to the ladies’ room and her fiancé proceeded to hit on me. He told me that they have an “understanding” and that he found me “sexy” in the dress I was wearing. I was so taken aback that I didn't say anything. Then, later that evening, he came up behind me and put his arms around my waist. I spun around and told him to back off. At that point, she came over and asked what was wrong. I told her that he was a creep and that she should know he had been hitting on me. She then proceeded to flip out at me, called me all kinds of horrible names and walked away with her fiancé. My husband said I should have told him what was going on, but I wanted to handle it myself. My best girlfriend told me that I shouldn’t have even bothered telling her. “Women never listen,” she said. But, I would want to know! What should I have done? -DISGUSTED BY BAD BEHAVIOR
DEAR DISGUSTED BY BAD BEHAVIOR: You did absolutely nothing wrong. He was a total creep and you called him out. If she wants to be with him after he acted like that in front of her, that is her choice. Your friend sounds jaded, and while I understand her perspective, you had every right and reason to say and do what you did. We may not be able to control other people’s reactions, but we can control our actions. I applaud you for standing up for yourself and I’m so sorry that this happened in the first place. No one has the right to put their hands on you and he knew exactly what he was doing. I’m disgusted for you and I hope his fiancée wakes up and realizes that his disrespectful behavior isn't worth her time.
DEAR NATALIE: I am a retired female business owner in my late 60s who has been married for more than 30 years to one of my clients. (I handled all of his business matters for decades). Perhaps the fact that I worked for him caused him to develop a bad habit of “shushing” me during social conversations. If I would try to interject a comment during one of his long discussions, he would stop to scold me by raising his finger in front of my face and asking: “Was I talking, or were you?” Usually I would ask him if what I was saying was right or wrong — and he would admit that my information was correct — but then he would just continue talking. Only once did someone call him out on this disrespect when he shushed me a few times during dinner with a younger couple. The husband finally told him, “She’s allowed to talk.” During the pandemic, he shushes me, even when I’m not speaking! If I just walk by him at home while he’s watching TV, I’ll hear, “Shhhh!” I have often complained about this infuriating behavior but the disrespect continues. Is it too late to teach an old dog a new trick? —WIFE OF AN OLD DOG
DEAR WIFE OF AN OLD DOG: I don’t know if you can teach an old dog new tricks, but I do believe you can teach yourself to engage with him in a way that makes you feel better. It isn’t acceptable that he disrespects you and “shushes” you at home or in front of company. The fact that your friends even called him out makes me think that this behavior of his is obviously upsetting to not just you but the people around you. Moving forward, if he “shushes” you, I would tell him that you find it incredibly disrespectful that he does that. You are not a child, you are not an employee that he can bully, you are his wife. If he can’t treat you with dignity and respect, he doesn’t need to interact with you. Then walk away. If he does it in front of other people, let him know that he is embarrassing himself with his behavior and that no one appreciates it. Then, redirect the conversation. The problem with people who have been successful for a long time and are used to getting their way is that they feel as though they are entitled to treat others however they feel like. The best way to deal with a bully is to confront them. It may feel awkward at first, but my guess is that if you push back, he’ll retreat.
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