Luke Howard’s plan to play the piano on College Green, one of the main public spaces in southwest England’s Bristol, until he won his former girlfriend back has sparked a fierce debate across social media.
“I will play if it rains, if it snows, if I fall over or if get arrested,” Howard told the Bristol Post. “I will be here as long as I have to be here, hope the girl, she knows who she is, will come talk to me and maybe we could give it another go.”
— Bristol Post (@BristolPost) September 9, 2017
The 34-year-old from Bath, who was in a four-month relationship with the woman whom he calls ‘Rapunzel’, said he just wanted to let her know just how much he loved her “to give us a chance rather than leave it there. I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet”.
But not everyone was impressed. Some are questioning as to when does an exaggerated romantic gesture, straight out of the movies, step over the line into a coercive behaviour.
While some called his act ‘romantic’, others branded him ‘creepy’ for being so pushy and not respecting his ex-girlfriend’s decision. There were many who even hoped he never got his girlfriend back ever again.
3. He even says that this is his last attempt to save his relationship. To call this stalking is to diminish actual criminal stalking.
— Scott Stenholm (@ScottStenholm) September 10, 2017
He is THIRTY FOUR!!! And it was a FOUR MONTH thing. Somebody do him a favour and push him into the sea.
— emmanuel koda (@KodaEm) September 10, 2017
Not romantic – creepy, controlling, emotional blackmail in public, embarrassing and pressuring her. Yuck.
— Aleksandr Voinov (@AleksandrVoinov) September 10, 2017
Once someone says the relationship is over, there’s the line. It’s over, respect it. They change their mind, let them come back to you.
— Andi Loveall (@ms_andiloveall) September 10, 2017
I hope he never gets a girlfriend ever again. This is beyond creepy.
— Cath Bore (@cathbore) September 9, 2017
“Men, women are allowed to leave you…,” the founder of Bristol Women’s Literary Festival, Sian Norris, in a no holds barred tweet criticised Howard.
Men, women are allowed to leave you. You are not entitled to a girlfriend.
Media, stop romanticising controlling, stalker behaviour. https://t.co/qN3g0fa9DQ
— sianushka (@sianushka) September 9, 2017
One user thought the problem lay in the dramatics of the act:
It’s similar to unsolicited or unplanned marriage proposals in public. There’s a heavy tone of peer/public pressure involved.
— The Fizzicist ?? (@kyuofcosmic) September 10, 2017
And right now half of her “friends” are urging her to take him back. The more attention this grandstanding gets, the harder her life gets.
— Adam T (@tffiddler) September 10, 2017
After being showered by the online hatred, the Bath man abandoned his mission. Or maybe because someone punched him in the head on Monday.
“Much to the great relief of many, I’m sure, I stopped playing,” he told UK-based news website iTimes.
“My intention was never, ever to coerce, emotionally force, or use pity to bring this girl back into my life. She is one of the strongest-willed, intelligent, decisive human beings I have ever met, so to suggest she would succumb to such a tactic is insulting to her,” he said.
“I stopped playing yesterday because I realised that what I had wanted to do had spectacularly failed,” he said.