I want a married man to stay away from me!
I am renting my dream home in upstate NY from a married, all-American family man (or at least that’s how he portrays himself). The rent isn’t cheap, but the house and location are perfect.
I thought his kindness may have been bordering on flirtation and now months later, I know my Spidey senses are right. He’s sent me pictures of himself, often with his beautiful boys. Innocent enough. Well, now he threw in that he’d like a pic of me.
And the latest is, he’d like to have a drink sometime since it’s a shame he never even got to know me. (What’s to know? Other than my credit score and background check!)
So now I’m positive that my married landlord has the hots for me. This isn’t cut and dried even in this day and age. I’m worried he’ll suddenly start playing hardball with me when it comes to repairs etc. and I’ll have to move, or it’ll be super awkward.
So far I’ve just laughed it off, but I feel like I need to do something since he’s passed the invisible line! Telling him “sorry, not interested, but thanks” may anger him, and putting him off, like I’ve been doing, is stringing him along.
So how do I deflect this married man?
Julie N. Upstate NY
What a drag! I’m so sorry he’s put you in this obnoxiously uncomfortable situation.
In a perfect world…
- Anyone could ask for exactly whatever they wanted from anyone.
- Recipient of said request could easily say “no thank you” without repercussions.
- All would be cognizant that the request would never be asked of that person again.
Wouldn’t that be awesome? If we knew we could simply say “no” without pushback or retaliation, we wouldn’t feel so much pressure to not be displeasing.
Unfortunately, this is not our world (yet – I’m an optimist).
Look, I don’t know what people know, but we can reasonably expect your landlord to know that he has leverage over you, and he’s using that leverage to his advantage. So, document EVERYTHING. You want to be able to paint a clear picture down the line if it comes to that. This guy is likely blindly optimistic and used to using his power, so it might get worse before it gets better.
Here’s three different styles for handling this awkward sitch:
- Next time he makes a move, say — in your big sister voice, “Hey, so what’s this thing you’re trying to do here?”
In other words, you’re calling him out right in the middle of it. You’re showing him you see him, you’re not afraid and this is not happening.
- You can state the boundary at the moment.
Requests of drinks, photos, or whatever he lobs your way could be…
“Hey, I don’t think ____ is appropriate. I’m not available for that.”
Short and sweet. Seriously, stop talking. You do not owe him any extra words on the topic. You aren’t blaming him. You’re making it about you, and you’re not giving reasons.
- You can hand him a letter setting a boundary.
Write it now, then print and/or cue the response via email for when he makes his next move. Send this letter instantly – like seconds after he makes his move, so he knows it was pre-written – if that’s possible.
“Dear Mr. ___.
You’ve been reaching out, requesting photos of me, sending photos of yourself, and asking me out for drinks. I’m not available for a relationship beyond a professional one, and these requests are crossing that line.
I enjoy living in your rental home, I treat it well and I thank you for the opportunity to rent it. I am grateful for an easy and seamless working relationship with you as my landlord. I hope that we can both maintain and continue this professional relationship. Please respect my request for professionalism here.”
Use your good judgment and your intuition to determine what path feels right for you and this situation. Good luck!