‘The Alone Alternative’ is Linda MacDonald’s latest book in a series of thought-provoking novels about relationships. Linda has written a very interesting guest post for my blog.
When is stalking, ‘Stalking’?
Do you remember being fourteen and following every move of the most fanciable boy in the school? He was probably a year or two older, supremely cool and confident and with a glamorous girlfriend. He may have had two or three equally desirable friends and they would roam the local park, talking music and girls, posing, preening, aware of the glances, revelling in the attention. They and their girlfriends were ‘key characters’; you watched adoringly, jealously, from the sidelines.
When you were fourteen, you might have been aware of their schedule, accidentally-on-purpose hanging out with your friends in a nearby location so you could swoon in a way that only teenage girls can swoon. Or you ‘arranged’ a meeting on the staircase or in a corridor at school, because you knew his timetable. Yes, you stalked your love-interest, you fantasised and imagined that one day he would notice you.
But this is normal behaviour for a young teenager and doesn’t mean any harm. Ten, twenty or thirty years on, the same thing would be seen as unusual; even weird or desperate. There’s an element of threat when an adult woman or man follows every move of someone who isn’t interested in her or him. This is when stalking becomes Stalking.
Who are the Stalkers?
There are those that stalk celebrities with a childlike obsession. Perhaps they have a high insecurity and fear of rejection, so chase unattainable goals. But most stalkers are known to their victims. Often they are reluctant exes, desperate to win back their lost love. Or they may be a friend or acquaintance who wants a relationship and is the victim of unrequited love. Research has shown stalkers have often suffered disrupted attachment in childhood and a recent rejection of any sort may start stalking behaviour. The stalker may link their own happiness with the attainment of a relationship with a particular person and when they don’t achieve their goal, they become distressed and try even harder. The unattainable person is often idealised, becoming an even more desirable goal. The stalker may adopt extreme chasing behaviour and is likely to misinterpret any signs as encouraging, even negative ones.
Cyber-stalking via social networking sites or email is a relatively recent phenomenon. Twitter is the perfect medium for the potential stalker because it is so easy to read someone else’s tweets or send them messages. But for it to constitute Stalking, there must be a threat of harm such as sending them malicious tweets or posting defamatory tweets about them. The law is beginning to catch up with this new type of behaviour.
In my latest novel, The Alone Alternative, stalking is one of the sub-plots, showing how an acquaintanceship can suddenly turn sinister; how friendliness may inadvertently lead someone into imagining you are interested when you are not. Stalkers see what they want to see; hear what they want to hear and if a person is known to you, it is not always easy to identify when the boundary has been crossed and the behaviour poses a threat. If you are interested in the psychology of stalking, you will find more information in the book.
About Linda MacDonald
Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’.
The Alone Alternative is the third part of a series of thought-provoking novels about relationships. It also stands alone as an interesting read for both men and women. The first two parts, Meeting Lydia and A Meeting of a DIfferent Kind may also be read independently although many readers have enjoyed following the characters sequentially from the start of their journey.
Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career. She hopes that with this new focus she can bring her books to the notice of a larger audience.