I have a situation at work and I'd like to get some input on a graceful manner to handle it.
I work at a school where there are only six full-time teachers. The majority of them are older except me (27) and another man (30). This man and I also share the position of being heads of the same department.
The situation is that he's very friendly to me, the problem is he's a little too friendly to me. He has a long-term girlfriend and I don't see it as him trying to make a move on me because I do understand that being the two younger teachers we will be more relatable to each other. However, it's making me feel a little too uncomfortable.
I haven't made friends with men since college. I'm a pretty warm and friendly person, which is such an RPW tenet, but I actively protect myself from getting too close to other men since I'm in a relationship. I personally don't believe men and women can be "just friends" because having a connection means there's chemistry.
Anyways! So my colleague and I have to work very closely often. He and I used to go on lunch breaks together (since we would be in a meeting immediately prior), he's also a friendly person, likes to ask me questions about myself, some a little too personal such as about my boyfriend or life problems, likes to compliment me on my outfits, sometimes slightly crossing the line by actually touching my blouse or skirt while complimenting, likes to make jokes, sometimes slightly too sexual jokes...you get the idea.
I've been noticing this increase in intimacy and subsequently discomfort on my end. There's no way I can avoid him at work. I've been a little more distant in my answers and not as warm to him lately, but he has such a strong (and funny) personality it's almost impossible not to respond to him.
What are some ways I can handle this situation with grace? How can I keep my distance yet still stay my friendly self? What are some responses I can use when he does say/do something I find uncomfortable? I'm trying to hide in my office more and have made excuses to not take lunch with him but I can't just avoid him like a plague. Trying to quash my instincts to respond is incredibly difficult, I feel like a soulless human being...!