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I have a friend, A, in my group that is very annoying (physically). They act the same with other friends in our group, but they are okay with that. I seem to be the only one with an issue. Problem is, when I tell A not to do that to me, they don't care or dismiss me as the party pooper or similar things. What's worse, other friends jokingly say I should "give up" and let A be annoying with me, as resisting only makes it more fun for A.

This whole thing started as a joke, and I'm sure still is, I don't think A does it in bad faith. I firstly played along and laughed myself, while pushing back. It got repeated over and over to the point that it started irritating me, so I tried letting A be annoying, while not caring at all to undermine their enjoyment. Didn't work. Now the joke has gone too far for me, but I don't seem to be taken seriously when I ask to stop.

This is the kind of stuff that if a guy were to do it on a girl, it would be immediately frowned upon (or worse), but being us the same gender seems to make it not serious at all.

Beside pushing back on the specific occasions, I also wrote to A and said they need to cut with it, but they got defensive ("come on it's just a joke!") and made no difference.

I did not get a chance to confront them face to face (A did not pull that joke the few times we have been alone, seems he needs a crowd to amuse), but I'll be honest, I would have a hard time to confront A as I am not confrontational with friends and also seeing how many things have already failed has left me with little hope.

This situation is putting a toll on my mind as I keep revisiting those memories which upset me more and more and also every time I know they will be around, I get stressed.

How do I ask my friend to stop doing inappropriate things to me?

Additional info: our group is in the mid 30s.

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    Since you have to pick the kind of interaction you want to have, I've edited the body to be more specific and use the question in the title. If you're looking for a different kind of interaction than asking him to stop, you can edit both body and title again. Your question may also benefit from some additional info on how you've asked him to stop before, the wording/explanations/arguments you used.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jan 8, 2023 at 16:57
  • If it was a younger person you could tell them to grow out of it, but if they behave that way in their 30s, it's probably impossible to change. I guess punching them hard in the face is out of the question?
    – Stuart F
    Jan 13, 2023 at 12:04

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You don't mention how old you are, but I see this sort of thing often among teenagers, who are still working out their judgement about how far is too far and so on. Clearly, what A is doing has gone too far. You have said so. The rebuttals you get back are trivial and obvious ones. Sometimes "it's just a joke" is true and things are just fun for all, and often it's not true, and the joke hurts and needs to stop. Nobody is going to win a medal for their brilliant rebuttal and defense of "lighten up" and "I was just kidding", are they?

My mother used to say "half in joke, whole in earnest" which is a very old saying meaning that the things people choose to say or do as jokes reflect an underlying truth that should be acknowledged. For example, endless harping about some aspect of your appearance, or A's wish to kiss you, or your intelligence - these are probably based in a truth A can't tell you, like feeling very jealous of you or very attracted to you. Knowing this, you may be able to understand why A cannot stop doing this: they can't find another way to let out what they feel the need to express.

How I handle this "it's just a joke" rebuttal is this: if it's no big deal, and just a joke, and doesn't mean anything, and is nothing at all, then the joker, who asserts all this nothingness, should have no problem at all stopping. It's so nothing that not doing it would be super easy!

I generally don't spend time with people who consistently annoy me, but when I have had to, I adopt one single reaction to the thing I don't like. It might be getting up and moving away, it might be saying one exact sentence "oh I see, back on your one joke again are you?", it might be locking eyes with someone else and making a face. You should choose something that doesn't make you feel you're "going along with" or "agreeing to" the teasing. Do that every time. Let your annoyance show, but in a boring or non entertaining way. If anyone objects to your reaction, say something like "if A wants to give up on that one single alleged joke, you won't have to worry about how I react to it." But no more. Don't try to create teams within the friend group who are taking sides on the matter of the teasing.

Long term, either A will grow up (no matter how old you all are) or you will find different friends. In the meantime, understanding a little of why A won't stop may help you cope with it a bit better.

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    Because OP mentions that "they act the same with other friends in our group, but they are okay with that", when you say "If anyone objects to your reaction, say something like...", it's close to being the best (only?) move, I was doing that in the exact same situation of the recurring bad joke, and even saying to the friend objecting to my rebuff: "if you like that joke that much, I'll give you my turn, so he can do it twice to you, be my guest...".
    – OldPadawan
    Jan 9, 2023 at 10:43
  • In our group we are mid 30s years old. Regardless, I feel your answer is still pertinent. I would like to stress that, while it is true that they act they same with other friends, I don't see the same level of insistence and freedom that they take with me. Of course I might be biased, but if it were more even I would have less of a hard time to accept it and go along. Instead I feel quite singled out.
    – user61801
    Jan 9, 2023 at 17:44

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