By Gina B.
When is a stalker not really a stalker? When he’s Stalker Lite! No, it’s not a bad riddle. He really exists.
Years ago, after I moved into my first apartment, I met a man at a networking event who was gathering a group to attend a play that I’d been dying to see. I eagerly added my name and home number to this list on his official clipboard to be contacted with dates and logistics.
That’s when the trouble began.
That same night, before I returned home, he called and left a message. It started off very innocently. He said that it was nice to meet me, and that he would keep me posted about the dates of the play.
Then he digressed into an unstable rant about how attractive he found me. He talked so long that my voicemail cut him off, and he called back and left a second message, where he sounded more normal and ended it by saying that he hoped that I could make the play.
My vanity won the battle against my common sense. I decided to be flattered rather than disturbed. Bad decision.
A few days later, I made the fatal error of answering the phone when he called, and having a lengthy casual conversation with him. I was nice to him, but made clear that there was no interest on my part.
During our chat, I told him where I lived, and learned that he worked a half block away from my apartment building. Bad decision #2.
The next day, he personally delivered flowers to my building and left a message complimenting my red dress.
I had not seen him that day, but apparently I had been seen. Eerie.
I knew I had a legitimate problem when (cue spooky music), after shooing him off the phone by pretending that I was going shopping at my local grocery store, he actually went looking for me in the store. When he couldn’t find me, he left a voicemail saying that he would wait until I returned. He sat in the car in front of my building for over an hour – until I went downstairs and, with the supervision of my doorman, told him to go away.
Over the next few weeks, my concern grew as Creepy McCreepster ignored my request to leave me alone and continued his antics of randomly stopping by my building to hand deliver gifts, calling from blocked numbers, and leaving messages to compliment outfits that he could have only seen with a pair of binoculars from his office window.
Finally, I grew tired of selectively answering my phone and feeling like a prisoner in my own home. I enlisted the assistance of a few of my overgrown, morally questionable male friends, who called him and threatened to make him a memory if he ever called or went near me again.
So . . . was I legitimately stalked? That’s debatable. Did he threaten my life? No. Did he show up at my office? No (but only because I refused to tell him where I worked). Did he set up surveillance equipment? I’m not really sure, but I doubt it. But did he bug the living shit out of me and overstep personal boundaries? Absolutely!
Although, if I had reported him, Chicago’s finest would have laughed and sent me home.
I’ve since titled him Stalker Lite – my term for a person who makes almost all of the moves of a real stalker, but hasn’t broken any laws.
Most Stalker Lites aren’t harmful, just annoying. They don’t want to abduct you (yet) – they’re deluded and obsessed, convinced that their twisted efforts will result in a real relationship.
Keep in mind that Stalker Lite can escalate into a full-blown Dateline-esque stalker, if not handled carefully.
If you think you have a Stalker Lite in the making, consider the following:
Listen to your Stalker Lite. If he makes odd references to your non-existent relationship, eliminate contact.
Be wary of gifts. Flowers are beautiful, but even the most succulent roses have deadly thorns.
Be mindful of coincidences. “Wow, I just happened to be in your neighborhood, and here you are!” or “I happened to meet your ex today. We talked about you. What a small world!”
Realize that you can’t apply logic to crazy. Even though you are explicit about your feelings (or lack thereof), Stalker Lite only sees what he wants to see.
If you know that he wants more than you’re willing to give, don’t lead him on by spending a lot of time together. Or any, if you’re getting a bad vibe.
Don’t trust a stranger with personal information unless you wouldn’t mind a surprise call or visit. And don’t think that living in a high- or mid-rise building with security will stop a Stalker Lite.
The specific lesson I learned? Always buy my own play tickets!!
Have you ever had a stalker? Tell me about it in the comments.