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Ask Amy: Solo hiker is creeped out by a stranger

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Most mornings I walk by myself on a forested walking trail.

Like most women, I keep a special eye out for my safety (regularly checking over my shoulder).

(For context, I’m a fairly attractive 33-year-old, or so I’ve been told.)

Recently, one man (aged in his late 40’s) has starting appearing on my walks. At first he seemed OK, and so I said “hello” back to him after he greeted me.

But very quickly I started to get what can only be described as creep-vibes, based on the way he was looking at me, the way he’d try to engage me in conversation (as opposed to a simple hello), the way he’d show up on the more secluded parts of the track I walk and seemed to be waiting for me.

I stopped saying hello because I wanted him to get the hint: I’m not interested, so leave me alone. And yet, he keeps persisting; his behavior is getting weirder.

 

I’m changing the time I walk so I won’t run into him. But I want to know what is socially acceptable in these situations.

Women seemed conditioned to think that we must be friendly, but I don’t buy it. And while I want to expressly tell this man to get lost, I don't know how to say it in a way that doesn’t engender a dangerous response. What if he is a deranged stalker? What if he has deluded himself into thinking that my not saying hello is a signal for interest?

I’m worried that’s the level of crazy I’m dealing with.

What would you do?

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