My godmother told me about her friend whose son needs tutoring in programming. I contacted this woman, and referred her to my boyfriend, whom I thought would be able to be of more help than I. I gave her my boyfriend's number and Facebook account name.

The problem is, this woman now keeps contacting me by phone text message every time my boyfriend doesn't reply to her son's message or something similar.

She's relatively polite and all, so I'd feel bad for not using excessively polite and nice words such as "I ask you kindly". However, I'm very angry and I want to express my dissatisfaction with her constantly contacting me because of something my boyfriend did or did not do. It's basically like she's pestering Person A (who has referred you to Person B for help) when Person B is not available. I have nothing to do with it anymore! It's my boyfriend's responsibility now! My boyfriend is the one she should be pestering! Not me!

Is there an aggressive and assertive way to tell her to stop bothering me and to bother my boyfriend instead, but still not impolite enough for her to be able to complain about me being rude?

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    @KlaraRaškaj Did you ask your boyfriend why he didn't contact her?
    – A J
    Mar 16, 2018 at 8:22
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    @AJ Yes, and he told me the reason, but that's not the point. The point is that it's his responsibility now, not mine, and I want the woman to stop bothering me about it, and bother him instead.
    – user14389
    Mar 16, 2018 at 8:23
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    How does your boyfriend feel about having this responsibility passed to him? It sounds like he's not thrilled and doesn't want to dedicate time to this. Also, what kind of work is it. You started by saying it's teaching her to program computers, but the rest seems to be ongoing work. Is he actually being expected to fix her computer on a regular basis? Or teach her how to use it? (It's a common bug-bear amongst programmers, being asked to do this kind of tech-support). You may want to address this.
    – AJFaraday
    Mar 16, 2018 at 11:23
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    There are many aggressive and assertive ways to handle this, but what are you looking to accomplish? Do you just want her to not contact you, or are you looking to maintain good relations with her still as well? One is easily solved with a lot of profanity and and essentially saying "beat it", the other is a bit more nuanced. Also, is your boyfriend being paid for this tutoring?
    – Anoplexian
    Mar 16, 2018 at 15:47
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    Has your boyfriend spoken to her (or her son) about this? Not about why he isn't responding as quickly as she'd like, but about the proper channels for contacting him?
    – 1006a
    Mar 17, 2018 at 4:09

7 Answers 7


This is the problem with favours and recommendations that come through family or friends - it mixes business with friendship/family and people have unrealistic expectations. Plus in this case the link is pretty tenuous - your boyfriend is being hounded by his girlfriend's godmother's friend's son. Very few people, but by the sounds of it this lady is one of them, would see that as entitlement to special service.

You didn't say specifically that your boyfriend works as a tutor, but as you were happy to refer someone to him for this I am going to assume that it is something he normally does.

What you say to her needs to make her understand (a) that your personal relationship with your boyfriend has nothing to do with his work, and (b) that she has overstepped the mark with her persistence.

When you separate business from personal matters you can speak in terms of what you do not do, rather than will not do. A business has a specific focus and either does something or does not do something. If you walk into a hardware store and ask for a burger and fries, they are most likely to say "we don't do that", and this isn't a refusal - they aren't refusing to go out back and cook you a burger because they are being mean, it is simply a statement of fact and the request was unreasonably out of scope.

So with that in mind, perhaps you could say:

Sorry, I have nothing at all to do with my boyfriend's work. I was happy to refer you to him but I am not involved in his work activities. I do not forward any work-related messages to him.

So you're not refusing to pass on a message. You're keeping it professional, saying that is something you do not do because your work and personal lives are separate, and hopefully you are steering her back into a more professional approach.


Maybe tell her something similar to: "If you want to contact him best try his mobile number xzy. And if he does not answer leave him a voice message or a SMS."

And if she calls you again tell her: "If you want to contact him best try his mobile number xzy. And if he does not answer leave him a voice message or a SMS."

If you did this 2 or 3 times she should get the message.

Unfortunately lots of people react just like her. If you recommend someone then they make it your responsibility. I suggest next time you recommend anything to anybody make sure you tell them you just do the initial introduction (or phone or whatever). That's it. Make it clear from the beginning that anything what might happen in the future is not your responsibility. Unfortunately some people have to hear that very clearly to understand it.


You can say,

Hi [first name], I'm a little tied up with work right now; please be sure to follow up with [boyfriend's first name] on this matter. Thanks - Klara

This is both polite and assertive.

If they are still persistent, you can say

Hi [first name], I don't feel that I can help you with this; please reach out to [boyfriend's first name] regarding this issue. Thanks - Klara

If that doesn't work, then you have to be a bit more firm, by saying

Hi [first name], I would like to reiterate that I am not the right person to contact regarding this matter. Please speak with [boyfriend's first name] going forward. Thanks - Klara

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    I feel like OP doesn't want to be pestered about that issue ever again, not just right now, which "I'm a little tied up with work right now" seems to imply. If I were to receive such a text, I'd just assume I can text back about it in a couple hours, or even the following day. The probability for that person to try again is pretty high in my opinion, making this step somewhat useless.
    – BlindSp0t
    Mar 16, 2018 at 9:53
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    I would add the next level is to just not reply.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 16, 2018 at 10:09
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    Although I agree with BlindSp0t, I think you've saved it with that third variant, which sort of makes the first and second okay as well. Mar 16, 2018 at 17:46

What would you do if she called you up and said that someone you had NOT introduced her to, and had no personal relationship with, wasn't responding to her communications? Do that.

Me, it'd be something like "Sounds like X can't do the job or doesnt have the time to do it. You should look for someone else, unfortunately, I don't have anyone better to recommend. Good luck".


According to other answers, no need to repeat what I was about to write and that they already told you: you can use any of their option to let Alice know how upset you are.

But I'd rather deflate than escalate.

I'll focus on an important part that, IMHO, has been skipped.

Q: Did you ask your boyfriend why he didn't contact her?

A: Yes, and he told me the reason, but that's not the point.

It IS the point! And you even mentioned why:

The point is that it's his responsibility now, not mine, and I want the woman to stop bothering me about it, and bother him instead.

It seems like you folks are playing "pong" and your boyfriend is the net...

You both go over his head...

In order to solve this, I would ask BF why he doesn't answer (doesn't want to? can't fix the problem? whatever reason...). Then, from there, HE shall tell her why this should stop:

Hi Alice, sorry for not answering, but [ good reason not to answer / not to fix the problem ]. Will do it by [ day / week ] / won't be able to do it.

If he doesn't want to tell Alice, at least, he must tell you exactly why, and you can, honestly, tell her. Usually, people are more willing to understand and respect your POV if they know what's going on. In this case, she might just stop and look for someone else to help her son.

For years, and on a daily basis, I tell people/co-worker/customer the why-and-how, and don't let them be in the dark. They appreciate, because they don't waste time waiting for something that will never happen... Honesty is an easy (but difficult, I know) IPS.

  • 2
    Thank you for the answer, but I still disagree. This is not about my boyfriend. It’s about me standing up to this woman who is wrongfully bothering me.
    – user14389
    Mar 16, 2018 at 9:17
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    It is not her place to communicate why her boyfriend is not responsive. She wants to get away from this mess not in the middle of it.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 16, 2018 at 9:46
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    @paparazzo Yes it is, since she indirectly takes on the responsibility of the BF and will continue to do so so long as he continues to avoid responding. The OP actively seeking out only responses that encourage her to do what she wanted to do in the first place is doing her no favors. And no, forgetting is not an excuse.
    – user7334
    Mar 16, 2018 at 10:54
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    @northernGateway I don't agree OP has any responsibility here. She was just an introduction.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 16, 2018 at 11:06
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    @northernGateway Not going to debate with you. Direct contact does not mean she has responsibility.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 16, 2018 at 11:14

Is there an aggressive and assertive way to tell her to stop bothering me and to bother my boyfriend instead, but still not impolite enough for her to be able to complain about me being rude?

I had a similar situation where I was asked by someone to refer to my friend to get that person a job. When my friend was busy and couldn't reply, he kept contacting me, so I said him like,

I did what I could. I gave you his number. Please call him. If he doesn't answer, try to text him on Facebook1 or leave a message or voicemail on his number.

1. I added it for your case.

If she calls you again, say the same thing again. Getting the same reply a couple of times will make her stop as it did in my case. If it doesn't, try a more direct approach.

I can't really do anything about this. I already gave you his contact details. Please try calling him or leaving a text.

And as @Edgar mentions in his answer, next time try to say that your job is done here, but don't say that it is not your responsibility anymore because it'd sound more rude.

  • 1
    The "I can't really do anything about this" followed by a line about contact details is likely to lead to a rude rebuttal about how, being the boyfriend's girlfriend, you certainly can because you probably see them in real life quite a bit and can therefore easily pass on the message. Which, indeed, is almost certainly true. So you should frame it not as "can't" but as "won't". Carefully. Mar 16, 2018 at 17:47

There seems to be some debate on responsible.

The way I read your question you just introduced the two and never made yourself part of the arrangement.

I get she is frustrated with your boyfriend (bf) and calls (well texts) you as he is not responsive. It is unfortunate she is not satisfied with your bf but it is not your fault nor responsibility. If you had said he has tutoring experience and knows C# when he does not then you gave a false reference which is on you. I am not reading that you gave any false representation.

As for your bf not telling her that is between him and her. It is not your place to share the reason with her. If your bf wants her to know then he should tell her.

I take it your bf is aware you don't want to be called. If not tell him.

I don't think it is appropriate for her to call you in the first place so I think you will need to be firm.

This is matter between [his name] and you. I have already provided you with contact information. Those contacts are still valid.

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