EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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A Year of Living Positively -Day 37

I am pursued by two 70+ white haired men who live in the US. One is "uncle". The other is an anti-nukes lobbiest.

"Uncle"'s the acquaintance I made back in 2002 on a research internship when an organization referred me to him as he being a good informant who was knowledgeable about the area and its history, and could refer me to other sources and get me started. People in that kind of relationships with researchers often develop friendships because of all the hours you spend with them, and because you encourage them to talk about things of great personal interest to them. So that's how I first met "uncle". He was 70 then. As he aged he got to communicating with me on a regular basis. Maybe I should not have given in and told him my phone number back in '05. He started calling me, and was indignant when I wasn't available, and took to calling me every three or four days, so I told him it was inappropriate and that he was bothering me. He moved to another state and was busy, and didn't bother me for periods of months at a time, then resumes his bad habits. In the past 3 years, his calls have been more frequent and persistent again. He never has anything particular to talk about, though he's insistent and persistent and often tries calling me at times I've specifically request that he not call me, like in the middle of the afternoon, especially on work days of course, or really early in the morning or late at night. I still have to scold him and blow him off, and set him straight on my terms of the friendship, and insist he make it every few weeks and in the morning or on weekends. If I sense it's him calling and I'm in the middle of something, I don't answer, though I'm never quite certain if it's something important. A couple weeks ago, after I hadn't answered his repeated calls that day, he called me at 11 in the evening. I thought it might be important, because I regular take calls at that hour. Last week he called me around two o'clock in the afternoon and interrupted an interview with a student, that is the final oral exam. Both those times I just told him I didn't want to talk. Today, my phone kept chirping and it was him but he kept cutting himself off and when he got through I was washing up after my lunch and brushing my teeth. I told him to wait for five minutes. He didn't call me back so I reached him over Skype. I don't mind doing that once in a while, and would even prefer to be the caller over Skype, but he calls so much I don't usually get the chance. Anyway, I took the opportunity to explain to him once again how I viewed the relationship and my terms regarding his phoning me.

I actually arranged to pay him a visit, and took the time and expense to go to his part of the world and see him for a few days as he had been asking for several years. He was supposed to see me when I was in Vancouver the previous year, but he didn't do it, so I realized he probably could not afford to take such a trip. I did not want to send misleading signals by flying directly to his neck of the woods expressly to visit him. Rather, I created an itinerary that included visits with other people in the region, and in a Canadian city where I have dear friends. It all worked out, more or less, and I spent three and a half days visiting him, meeting him where he could also spend time with his relatives. Thus, I facilitated a reunion between him and his half-brother, with whom he spent a whole week in the brother's house. After that visit, I actually felt that I had accomplished something, and resolved a problem. Of course, he, and I, felt closer so he started pursuing me by phone again, bothering the friends I was visiting in Canada and causing confusion. He was pestering me soon after I arrived back to Korea, where I had to get back into work mode and so on.

The other guy is quite a different case. I only met him last summer, when I was at a summer lakeside resort for progressive thinkers and doers, and he was speaking on his concerns about a local nuclear power plant. He has carried on quite a campaign for about 25 years, and is well informed. He has discovered some problems and been researching and raising concern about them. His work has involved a steady lobby to state and federal officials, which has sometimes gotten him in court and hot water. I spoke to him at the camp because I had missed his presentation, and he had a conversation for a while and gave me some materials. I told him I would share the information with others. I empathized and expressed political support. He then showered me with emails and then sent me a whole box of papers, which I couldn't keep because I was a visitor returning to Korea. When I got back to Korea, I wrote a statement on the subject and emailed several people about it. He replied with great appreciation and more emails. I told him I'd tell people in Korea about his campaign and see if there was any group interested in hosting him in Seoul. He immediately wanted me to arrange a tour, but I told him I couldn't and it would have to be a group that agreed to take it on and host him, but after repeated appeals, no one took the bait. He got sick from working on this matter too hard, and was hospitalized. Last month, he resumed his crusade. I had to send a note stating directly that I could not take this on myself, and that there had been no replies in the affirmative willing to organize a tour for him in Korea or Japan. He backed down a bit, then asked me to write a personal letter of appeal to the US government. I agreed to it, and he continued to bombard me with stuff electronically, most of which I have never opened. Today, I had the time and initiative and energy to write the letter, and sent him and my associates copies over email. I hope that tempers his fire somewhat, but these kinds of guys, like the one above, usually are egged on further when you comply with a request that you thought would resolve a situation and get them off your back.

Why do they latch onto me? They're both unattached white males and they feel good talking with an attractive, intelligent younger white women who listens and empathizes, of course. Sometimes, people can be manipulative and try to take advantage of someone who is receptive. They can drag you down. You don't have to be so polite that you let them do that, though. You can tell them where you draw the line. You have a right to do so. Don't let someone force a relationship on you. Don't let yourself be cornered by the goodness of your heart and the concern and compassion for others. You can still maintain that attitude and approach with people, and that integrity in relations, while stating your preferences and rights. You don't have to run, burn bridges and forfeit the friendship, as long as the other person concedes and conducts her or himself accordingly. I used to break off things with people easily, but it is not healthy, unless you feel they are predatory, criminal, dishonest or disrespectful.

All that said, I realize that it is a tactic of some types of men to manipulate and impose a level of intimacy that you don't want in order to control you. They want to instill a sense of obligation and loyalty, and gain the right to be in your life in order to benefit, but you don't have to feel and live up to that if you have been manipulated or coerced. Be aware of that.

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