I recently graduated from a post-grad program. Toward the end of the program, I met a man who was defending his research around the same time as me and we chatted several times while at the university. I’m a woman in my early twenties and this man is at least twice my age with an established career. He’s offered me quite a bit of unsolicited career advice and has repeatedly made vague offers to take me to the business office he works in to meet some of the higher-ups, even though I have no desire to work in the field he’s in. These offers always entail some sort of social interaction with him (like eating), rather than strictly business.
While I appreciate the value of networking, his persistent approach is making me uncomfortable. I’ve chatted with this man on no more than four occasions, but he acts as if we are old friends, repeatedly suggesting that we get together. Some of the comments he’s made have also given me feelings of unease, such as calling the way I speak “cute” and saying that I have an athlete’s physique. If he were closer to my age, I’d be sure he was hitting on me. However, he’s also mentioned his wife and kids, so I can’t help but think that he really does want to help with my career but just doesn’t realize how uncomfortable he’s made me.
I turned down one of his lunch invitations by saying I was busy, and I didn’t make any indication that we should get together another time. Now, he’s sent me an email asking me to meet him for lunch or drinks “sometime soon.” I really don’t want anything to do with him anymore, but I also don’t want to be rude if he truly has good intentions. If he had specified a date, I would have just said I was busy, but since he’s effectively asking me to pick a date (and he knows I’m unemployed), I know that saying I’m busy would be a clear lie…
How do I politely respond that I’m not free and will not be free anytime soon?