How Do I Deal with Unwanted Attention?

A.E. Freeman

The way you deal with unwanted attention depends on the particular situation. In isolated instances of unwanted attention, ignoring the person or persons involved may be effective. Situations of unwanted attention that occur at work or in another location where you need to continually interact with the person may be dealt with by confronting him. If the attention is persistent and abusive, you may need to get help from law enforcement or another authority.

Abusive attention is cause for talking to law enforcement.
Abusive attention is cause for talking to law enforcement.

Some types of unwanted attention involve strangers making comments to you on the street. Usually, men will say things to women as they walk by concerning the woman's appearance or other characteristics. While in some cases the attention is harmless, in others it can make you feel threatened or insecure.

People who are rejected by a member of the opposite sex may resort to stalking.
People who are rejected by a member of the opposite sex may resort to stalking.

One option is to ignore the person making the comments. Usually when someone says something to a stranger, he wants to grab her attention. The best way to handle the attention is by pretending you do not notice it. If the comment is so inappropriate that you cannot resist responding, it's best to stay calm. In an even tone, ask the person to repeat himself. Don't make witty remarks back him.

You may receive unwanted attention at work, either from a supervisor or a co-worker, or in a social setting from an acquaintance. Deal with unwanted workplace attention by first speaking with the person who is bothering you. Remain calm and collected when speaking to him and explain that you are not interested or that you feel his actions are unprofessional. If the attention continues, you should go to a manager or human resources supervisor and report it.

If an acquaintance is paying you too much attention or a friend is asking for too much of your time, you may need to deflect his phone calls or emails. Don't answer the phone when he calls or call him back. He should understand after a while that you are not interested. If you were previously close friends, you may need to explain to the person why you are taking a step back and are no longer interested in spending time with him.

Sometimes unwanted attention can escalate to a stalking situation. If a person continues to call you, write to you, or shows up at your house uninvited, you may need to get the authorities involved. In some cases, a restraining order or other legal action may be necessary. If you ever feel threatened or scared of the attention you receive from someone, report it immediately.

Some individuals may receive unwanted attention while dining at a restaurant.
Some individuals may receive unwanted attention while dining at a restaurant.

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Discussion Comments


Someone please help! My neighbor will not leave me alone. She has sicced her dogs on my children, and called the city code compliance four times in the two months I have lived here. Today while I was at work she threw chemicals on my grass and her grass and called the state environmental people.

She emails my landlord every day and tells him she's out to get me. What does that mean? What can I expect? Get me how? Who can I call for answers?


I had a boyfriend who really freaked me out when I broke up with him. We were seventeen, and he started stalking me.

He would call my house all the time, so I had to get the answering machine to screen every call. He would show up at my friend's houses when I went there, and instead of knocking, he would leave letters on the porch.

I thought I was going to have to call the police, but eventually, he stopped doing these things. I wouldn't call him back, and I never confronted him about any of it.

He did show up at my door years later, just to tell me that he had a wife and kids and he was happy. I found that a bit strange but comforting.


Unwanted attention in the workplace is easier to deal with than in your personal life. Bosses usually take sexual harassment very seriously, so unwanted attention isn't taken lightly when you report it.

If it happens to you outside of work, it may be harder to prove or to get anything done about it. It's your word against someone else's.


@lighth0se33 – It's unfortunate that you have to deal with this. Normally, living close enough to work to be able to walk there would be an awesome experience, but they are ruining yours.

I think the wisest thing for you to do is just ignore them. Don't even glance in their direction. Don't speed up, either, because that will show them that they have affected you.

I believe that totally ignoring this behavior will probably cause it to subside. At the very least, they may start making their comments quietly to each other instead of yelling them out to you.


There are some construction workers whom I have to walk past every morning who make me really uncomfortable. I just want to cover my whole body with loose clothing so that they will stop whistling at me and yelling out comments!

It's bad when you are afraid to walk down the street to work because of unwanted attention. I really don't know what to do in this situation, because I think that the crew's boss is in on it!

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