Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to not be creepy.



My name is Holly Pervocracy, and I used to be a creep.

Not the worst kind of creep; I was certainly never dangerous, and it wasn't to the point where I drove everyone away, but I was definitely called creepy a few times. And given the side-eye-while-edging-away a few more times. I had a strong and unusual sex drive, a tendency to be attracted to pretty much everyone I was friends with and a lot of people I wasn't, and didn't know how to express these appropriately. I made jokes that weren't jokes about "ha ha, we should totally make out right now, wouldn't that be hilarious," I shared my fetishes too loudly and way too publicly, and I expressed attraction by puppydogging my crushes pathetically. I gave people the goddamn creeps.

I don't agree with Clarisse Thorn that "creepy" is a meaningless or sexist term. (See Pandagon's response.) I think it has a very clear meaning: someone who is creepy is someone who makes you feel unsafe and uncomfortable in a sexual way. And while you may be unfair in your discomfort--for example, if you feel uncomfortable around anyone who admits they're into BDSM--it's still real. When it's realest are the times when you don't know why you feel it. If someone strikes you as "creepy" and you can't put your finger on it, you feel a little unfair applying the label because they're clearly so nice but you just keep having this feeling--do not get alone with them. "Creepy" may be a pejorative sometimes; other times it's the goddamn Gift Of Fear.

But what if people think you're a creep, and you don't deserve it? I don't think the answer is to tell them that they're being wrong and unfair--you can't argue with a feeling, and trying to debate a person into not being afraid of you is kind of creepy in itself. Sometimes you may just need to move on to another social group. But sometimes there are things you can do to make people feel safer and more comfortable around you, even as you continue to pursue sex and romance. Take it from a recovering creep.

1) Work on your social skills in general.
I'm not going to go in-depth on this because it's an entire topic unto itself. I wrote a post about social skills a while ago that expresses my thoughts on the topic; Succeed Socially is another good resource. If you don't know how to talk to people at all, you're going to come off double-extra-awkward when you try to talk to them about going home with you.

2) Don't treat your life as a quest for sex.
I've done this. I've shaved my pubes before going to social gatherings, gone to them with "am I gonna get laid, am I gonna get laid?" foremost in my mind, and come home alone with my head hanging. Not only did this make me miss out on all the other fun I could have had, not only did this hurt my chances of getting laid by someone who'd like to get to know me a little first, but it was creepy. It meant that I'd do things like:
-Only talking to people I wanted to bang, and ignoring others (people really notice this)
-Turning the conversation around to sex (and specifically, to my sexual desires) too eagerly and too often
-Propositioning people as soon as they seemed remotely friendly
-Giving the impression that I was desperate and would fuck anyone (people are not flattered by "so, you seem to have a pulse" as a come-on line)
-Publicly sulking when it became clear I wouldn't be getting laid
-Emitting loud, obvious vibes of "I'm only here to get laid" (people are amazingly good at receiving those vibes)

All of these were creepy-ass things to do. Once I started going to social events to socialize, with an attitude of "if I get laid, great, but if not, I'll definitely get to hang out with my friends and meet new people," not only did people feel more comfortable around me, but I got laid more often to boot.

3) Don't try to "cheat the system" to avoid rejection.
That is, if you want to date someone, don't come up with elaborate schemes to force yourselves together in inescapable situations--oh look, we got assigned to the same work/class group, guess we're stuck together now--or ask them on clearly not-date activities that you plan to secretly turn into dates. Don't try to arrange any romantic-comedy "coincidences." Don't target your efforts at people who seem like they'd have trouble saying "no" (whether because they're young, new to the area or the social group, or just meek)--you don't have to ignore these people, but everyone will notice if you're going after them preferentially.

And if you want to have sex with someone, for God's sake don't be this guy. In every case, just freaking ask. The point of asking someone is not to get a "yes" by any means necessary; it's to find out how they feel about you.

Realize that, post-high-school, most people are not cruel in saying no. Rejection is awkward and painful for the rejector too, and anyone worthy of your affection is going to be gentle about it. If you know each other at all as people (and sometimes even if you don't), they're not going to laugh or insult you or tell all their friends how gross you are. They're just going to tell you that you won't be dating them, which is a situation you were already living with.

If someone says no, that means no. Don't keep asking and don't ask "why not?" The answer to "why not" is never something you want to hear, and forcing it out of someone will never change their mind; it'll just be excruciating for both of you.

4) Don't get angry or resentful.
It shows. Oh god does it show. If you feel like you're not being treated "fairly" when you ask for dates or sex, if you feel like you're not getting what you "deserve," if you're just angry and frustrated by the world in general and by attractive members of your preferred gender in particular--go home, pour yourself a beer, watch some TV, take some deep, deep breaths, and don't go back in the dating pool (or, ahem, commenting online) until your head has cleared.

When it comes to sex and romance, get the concept of what you "deserve" out of your vocabulary--and as much as possible, out of your mind. You deserve safety and respect... but someone can give you those without going out with you. When it comes to deserving a particular person, or deserving to have a partner or to have sex--think of a job interview. Would you hire the candidate who tells you that they really need this job and it would be unfair to give it to someone else, or the candidate who seems like they'd be good at the job?

5) Don't scare people.
The feeling of being "creeped out" is, ultimately, a feeling of fear. And if you make people afraid that you could genuinely harm them, then it doesn't matter how smooth and sexy you are; you're going to be treated like the worst kind of creep.

Here are my handy-dandy hints on how to not be scary:
-Don't corner people. Propositioning someone in an elevator, a moving vehicle, a deserted area, or in the metaphorical corners created by their job or their academic career--super creepy.
-Don't talk about violence. When you say "I oughta have punched that guy for how he talked to me," what I hear is "if you talk to me wrong, I might punch you."
-Keep your grubby little mitts to yourself unless you have their enthusiastic consent. (If you're not in a BDSM/feminist setting, this consent may be with body language and implications rather than explicit words, but there's still a very obvious difference between "consent" and "not resisting.")
-Don't publicly insult your preferred gender or advocate politics that degrade them. No one believes you when you try to turn on a dime and say "but you're different, honey."

6) Aspire to be a friend to everyone; the sex will follow.
Not in the Nice Guy sense of "be a friend to get sex." But if you can become popular in a social group--be someone that people like to talk to and laugh with, someone they call when everyone's heading to the bar and someone who's likely to show up to help out before the party--then you're much less likely to be perceived as creepy. And you'll probably get laid, just because knowing people and having connections means that you're likely to know and be connected to someone who wants to fuck you.

The least creepy people I know are the ones who can socialize with everyone in a pally, casual, undemanding way and just relax and have fun with it. This might be more important than everything else on this list; if you're good at being a friend, I think uncreepiness comes along almost inevitably.

7) Brush your teeth.
And don't wear a raincoat indoors, especially when it's not even raining.

79 comments:

  1. A-ha! This hit right home. I'm just getting off the "creepy train", I can definitely use this in being less socially awkward. Thanks!

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  2. Counterpoint: DO THE CREEP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLPZmPaHme0

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  3. The least creepy people I know are the ones who can socialize with everyone in a pally, casual, undemanding way and just relax and have fun with it.

    These are also, in my experience, the people who have the easiest time finding sexual and/or romantic partners. Which is implied in your phrasing, natch, but I think the point really deserves to be hammered home . . .

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  4. I remember your platitudes about how every person deserves respect even if you don't like him/her. Now I see where this creepy notion comes from.

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  5. After living in San Francisco for several years, then moving back home, this helps "the shy ones" such as myself navigate the not-always-so-clear waters of dating much more smoothly (no pun intended).

    I'm learning more each day, but your post helps confirm what I'm getting right, and where I still have room for improvement. Don't we all?

    Thanks for taking the time to write this! Hopefully, it will help clue in others as well.

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  6. Anon - Could you rephrase that in a way that makes the slightest amount of sense?

    I get that you're trying to insult me, but I honestly don't know about what. So it's not stinging very much. Try again?

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  7. This is a great list but you could do all this and still not get laid. Not being creepy doesn't mean you'll get laid it just means your not creepy.

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  8. Anon - Absolutely true. There is, in fact, no 100% certain way to get laid, and if there is, it is not addressed in this post.

    However, being not-creepy definitely helps.

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  9. Hmm. I wonder the extent to which this varies by gender.

    For a long time, I felt that because of that whole "men are expected to initiate everything" idea, that my only options were to engage in behavior that made *me* feel like I was being creepy, or to not engage in it and be constantly overlooked. (For what it's worth, I pretty much always chose the latter.)

    In other worse, I didn't get the message that being non-creepy helps; instead, I got the message that my refusal to engage in behavior I considered creepy was actually contributing to isolation. (Some of that may have been my own false positives about what's creepy and what isn't, but I still don't think all of it was.)

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  10. This is great! A lot of these seem like they could apply non-sexually too, like talking to everyone and not just the people you already like.

    or ask them on clearly not-date activities that you plan to secretly turn into dates.

    I have a friend who does this all the time with guys she likes, and it just doesn't work. She thinks if she just asks them out it'll be too forward and they'll be put off, or it'll be awkward because they'll know she likes them. It really sucks for her because then when the guy doesn't spontaneously turn their non-date into a date himself, she feels rejected, even if they had a good time together. Even if you ask people out and they all turn you down, you spare yourself a week of angst about what the coffee really meant. Also, you give them a chance to say yes.

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  11. Hershele OstropolerJuly 16, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    I wonder if the 1:07 anon is trying to say "I don't just give people respect for simply existing, they have to earn it," which to my mind means you go down the street punching people who are smaller than you.

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  12. Thinking of sex as "something one person can get", instead of "something that two people can do together" is fundamentally where a lot of people get it wrong from the start. If your approach is goal-oriented to the point of thinking of desirable partners as vending machines and sex as something they will give you if you put in the correct amount of change, you are going to "fail" a hell of a lot more than you "succeed" (though you will "succeed" sometimes, for various reasons, including the fact that sometimes these desirable partners are also, in fact, creeps). Unfortunately, that non-zero success rate is what keeps the PUAs and creeps trying.

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  13. (should have refreshed before commenting!)

    jfp - It might be worse for guys, but I think a lot of people, regardless of gender, have trouble escaping the creepy____________silent continuum (degree of forwardness?).

    I know when I was younger and less confident that anyone would want to be my friend, I felt like my only options were dialing the volume on how much I said things that basically meant "please like me!" It's probably impossible to perfectly calibrating your level of creepiness to silentness, since it depends on how forward other people want you to be.

    But getting out of that mindset of constantly trying to be liked helped me see that there are other dimensions in social interaction than how forward you are. I guess I would say I've been engaging people on their own conversational turfs instead of my own. That's another dimension that has nothing to do with forwardness, and I think it's helped me connect with people better.

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  14. This is a great list but you could do all this and still not get laid. Not being creepy doesn't mean you'll get laid it just means your not creepy.

    And ironically, if you do everything on Holly's list only because you think it'll get you laid, you're still creepy!

    I love this post. I was just telling a friend the other day that my social life (and sex life!) got way better when I a) only propositioned people I would've liked as friends anyway and b) dropped my attitude of "What, you don't wanna fuck? Then you're useless to me." A lot of guys think it'd be cool to be objectified and wanted only for sex, but in practice men don't appreciate an "orgasms or GTFO!" attitude any more than women do.

    Special bonus: when you're friendly toward everyone, it's a lot less scary to approach someone you have the hots for - because they won't immediately know you're attracted to them and you can suss out the vibe a little before deciding whether to take the plunge and express interest. Whereas if you go to social gatherings and only talk to people you wanna fuck, everyone will notice it and you'll be laying your ego on the line (in front of everyone in the room...) every time you say "hi" to someone.

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  15. Emma said: "...engaging people on their own conversational turfs instead of my own..."

    I agree, I've been trying to do the same, and it *does* make a difference! I think both women and men have the tendency to wait for the other person to "speak their language." This is reinforced by dating commiseration amongst straight men, straight women, lesbians, gay men, bottoms, tops, and so on.

    The title of Mel Gibson's movie, "What Women Want," is probably the most egregious example of this - talk about creepy, not a movie I would take *any* advice from, because he's generalizing way, way too much there! I wonder how many women actually helped write that script?

    I also agree with the Anonymous commenter at 3:03 PM, it's a related point. To refuse to think of sexual activity as "what can I get?" and instead "what would we like to do together?" is beneficial for both parties. Taking the chance to relate to someone different than you, instead of engaging in "conversational combat," could be the beginning of something more than a casual encounter!

    Not everyone may be looking for a long-term relationship, but I'm going to do my best to relax and not be so self-conscious the next time I'm around someone I like. Expectations are a relationship killer!

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  16. Excellent post! Of course, it is a shame that any of this needs to be said to grown adults.

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  17. Hi, my name is Jennifer Captain Awkward, and I used to be <a href="http://captainawkward.com/2011/01/14/reader-question-3-a-shy-guy-caught-my-eye/>Mr. Darcy</a>. I got better! You did too! People can learn to be not-creepy.

    This post is gold.

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  18. "And ironically, if you do everything on Holly's list only because you think it'll get you laid, you're still creepy!"

    You wouldn't really be following the list if you were just after sex. It kind of goes against point #2. But my earlier response was in response to point #6 "Aspire to be a friend to everyone; the sex will follow. It's true in most cases but not all.

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  19. PhysioProf: It's always going to be adults....kids don't have to worry bou these things much in the bubble of parents and school they live in.

    Social skills are tricky.

    I would make something of a distinction, though. I do agree with you, Holly - that when perceiving someone as "creepy" you perceive them as something of a threat or dangerous. However, a lot of the behavior you described I would classify rather as "awkward" or "off-putting." Neither one of those things are good things, but if I think someone is just coming on to strong, or annoying, or awkward or whatever I'm not necessarily afraid of them, I just don't want to be around them. If I genuinely thought someone was "creepy," I wouldn't do the shifty eyes thing, I'd stand up and move to the other side of the friggen room.

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  20. Y'know, even if following this advice doesn't get one laid, I would think that not creeping people the fuck out in social situations would be a worthwhile goal in itself.

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  21. "When it comes to sex and romance, get the concept of what you 'deserve' out of your vocabulary." I think there is a place for the concept of "deserving" certain things in your love life, although not in the sense that you get to make a formal complaint of you don't get it. For people who tend to settle for partners who treat them poorly or not appreciate them -- or just singletons who tends to worry that they're still single because there's something "wrong" with them -- an occasional reminder that they do indeed deserve a partner who's attracted to them & sees how special they are can be well-placed. Of course, your deserving-ness doesn't mean anyone else is obliged to do anything. And if you're not putting your personality out there in an appealing way, that's not other people's problem.

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  22. "a formal complaint IF you don't get it," not "of."

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  23. I agree with everything Holly is saying but some of these changes cannot take place overnight. I prefer saying I'm in the process of becoming self-actualized instead of not being "creepy" but I basically mean the same thing. I have a high sex drive, what do I do in the mean time w/o a partner? I know what the obvious answer is...but that too can become tired, plus I always have this guilt afterwards, probably the result of growing up in a repressive household. I've heard yoga can help to sublimate your sex drive, do you know anyone with this experience? Any help you can provide is appreciated. Thanks.-jonny5

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  24. Oh yes, this is great. I have difficulty with some of this, because I have a high sex drive and...yeah. I try not to be icky, but I'm sure I've weirded people out. I've gotten better, at least!

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  25. Thank you thank you thank you for posting that link to succeed socially! I'm finally ready to start working on my low self esteem and social anxiety and this looks like a great resource.

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  26. Emily H. - The problem with getting "deserve" into the dating world (beyond "you deserve to be safe and respected"), is that it sort of erases the other person. You can't just "get a partner"--someone's gotta take one for the team, if you get my overly-harsh drift. And no specific person is ever obligated to do that.

    Because it isn't possible to deserve a specific person, I don't think it's possible to deserve a partner.

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  27. Jonny5 - Getting comfortable with masturbating really is an important thing. It'll make you much better with a partner, both physically and psychologically--you don't want to be getting that guilt after partnered sex and making your partner feel bad as a result.

    (Oh no, did I just make you feel guilty about feeling guilty? Oy.)

    But I think the most important thing to do instead of sex is... anything that you love. Whether it's yoga, model battleships, dodgeball league or stamp collecting, having any interesting hobby that you really enjoy both makes you a more interesting person and gives you something engaging to do when you're not having sex.

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  28. Thank you Holly, another insightful post and helpful to the clueless. You might also mention that falling in love can be very close to an obsession, and can lead to creepy behaviour if one-sided.

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  29. ...and above all: Be Yourself!!! ;P

    I think saying "someone who is creepy is someone who makes you feel unsafe and uncomfortable in a sexual way" kind of glosses over "ownership of feelings" - if I say that someone "makes" me feel some way, I risk construing my feeling as an inherent attribute of the other person. But my personal triggers are my own responsibility, and while I claim the right to feel creeped out by whatever I choose, I don't feel it's justified to imply that someone objectively, inherently IS a creep just because they trigger my squicks. I also think we can identify behavior that *objectively* tries to limit someone's ability to consent, and that this is separate from behavior that simply makes us *feel* uncomfortable. Non-conformism or a mismatch of social standards will cause some people discomfort, but I feel there is a huge gap between scaring the prudes and acting like a rapist, and I feel very uncomfortable with labeling both as just different levels of creepy...

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  30. If I had had this guide 13 years ago, my high school years would have been a lot less awkward. My dad had basically told me (he's a bit old) that "men love a girl who plays hard to get," so instead of talking to guys I liked, I tended to sit there shyly in the corner near them, hoping they'd talk to me. In hindsight, this was the worst possible thing to do.

    It also doesn't help that I'm only touchy-feely with lovers and family members--apparently I flinch the first time a platonic friend tries to hug me. I didn't even know I did that until lately. Pretty sure that doesn't help. >.>

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  31. Anonymous at 3:16 - to an extent, sure. If there are personal things that bug you, but aren't inherently creepy in and of themselves, that's on you. The person isn't a creep just because they happen to hit a couple triggers that make you, personally, feel creeped out.

    However, I read Holly's post as addressing, instead, the kind of behavior that is going to make just about anyone feel creepy, and for good reason. I think you could make the case that treating every social interaction as simply a means to an end (whether that end is "get laid," "make a sale," or "convert people to my religion") is pretty objectively creepy.

    I get what you're saying about nonconformism, and no, I wouldn't label it as different levels of creepy but as different types of creepy, since they're two very different animals. Which just goes to show the diversity of the language :)

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  32. Creep is a sexist term in the way slut is. Men and women both be "sluts" or "creeps". But the sexual shaming is and labeling is gendered.

    Unless you want to argue that slut is not a gendered sexual slur because men can be sluts too.

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  33. Eoghan - I don't have to prove anything about "slut"; it's a term used more often and more hurtfully against women.

    It's also not magically linked to "creep" in some Eternal Pairing. They're quite different concepts. A slut is someone who has a lot of sex, and harms no one; a creep causes emotional distress, whether they mean to or not.

    Also, yes, women can be creeps, but men do tend to be creepier--not because of some defect in the Y chromosome, but because they're more likely to pose a threat against or have power over the person they're creeping on.

    ("More likely," not "the only gender who could ever." Women can also pose a threat against or have power over men. But it's not as entrenched in our society.)

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  34. "Eoghan - I don't have to prove anything about "slut"; it's a term used more often and more hurtfully against women."

    Creep is a term used more often and more hurtfully against men. Creep doesn't apply to women, women can be socially awkward without being sexually shamed, as you go on to see here ..

    "It's also not magically linked to "creep" in some Eternal Pairing. They're quite different concepts. A slut is someone who has a lot of sex, and harms no one; a creep causes emotional distress, whether they mean to or not."

    Creep shaming and slut shaming are linked. They are both gendered sexual shaming.

    "Also, yes, women can be creeps, but men do tend to be creepier--not because of some defect in the Y chromosome, but because they're more likely to pose a threat against or have power over the person they're creeping on."

    No most creeps are just socially awkward people that have been labelled that n the process of bullying and relational violence, and the other things you describe are in part socially constructed through rape hysteria and misandric programming.

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  35. Eoghan - Men can be socially awkward without being sexually shamed. But there's a particular kind of social awkwardness--not shyness but the wrong kind of forwardness--that frightens people, and people should strive not to frighten others.

    "Creep" is not somehow the counterpart of "slut." Saying it--and trying to coast on the goodwill of anti-slut-shaming campaigns--won't make it so. The counterpart of "slut" is "manwhore."

    Ultimately, the "creep" issue is about fear. If you are creepy, you making the objects of your affection afraid. When they say they're "creeped out," it doesn't mean they're exerting power over you; it means they're concerned you're a dangerous person. Telling people "but being afraid is mean" won't really change their gut feelings (and is a bit frightening in itself, because if someone really is dangerous, the last thing you want to do is "give them a chance"). This post is about how to change your behavior so you won't set off those "danger" feelings in people.



    (Also, I know you have a history of commenting on feminist blogs in less than good faith, so if you replyreplyreply to this thread without introducing any new reasoning, I will start moderating you out at some point. Fair warning.)

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  36. Telling people "but being afraid is mean" won't really change their gut feelings (and is a bit frightening in itself, because if someone really is dangerous, the last thing you want to do is "give them a chance").

    Exactly. And it's not "misandric programming" to say that nobody - of any gender - is OWED a chance by anyone else.

    It's really amazing, Holly, you can write the most thoughtful and compassionate post about how to avoid behavior that is frightening and off-putting; you can even admit that you yourself used to have some creepy behaviors. And yet, the comments are full of complaints about how your advice won't automatically lead to sex, or about how it is "shaming" to tell people that cornering others physically or talking about violence will tend to make them uncomfortable.

    What else is that but pure entitlement? Entitlement to sex and positive attention. The idea that somehow "socially awkward" is a passport to inappropriate forwardness without consequences.

    It's disturbing.

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  37. Comment removed for derailing, endless repetition of MRA talking points.

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  38. F. - Sorry for zapping you too, but I'm just trying to shut down this entire line of discussion. It's going to nowheresville fast.

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  39. (Disclaimer: This isn't intended to be a continuation of the derail or an endorsement of Eoghan's misogyny and nonsense.)

    The whole framing of "creepiness" bothers me because it seems to conflate people who aren't acting in good faith and people who haven't learned the normative set of "social skills". If creepiness is really about fear, then why is "brush your teeth" on the list of things to do? Are people who don't brush their teeth really more dangerous than other people?

    It seems to me that "creepiness" is much more about social control and forcing people to act normatively than it is about legitimate fear, at least if we take this list as representitive. Your advice is good, but it's advice on how to fit into an arbitrary set of social norms, not advice on how to be legitimately less dangerous. (With the possible exception of numbers 2 and 6... like I said, I feel the two things are being conflated.)

    That also makes the whole thing pretty ableist, since there are plenty of people who just cannot follow the social norms you set out here.

    Basically: any list that includes both "realize people aren't walking sex toys" and "be an extrovert" seems pretty fundamentally broken to me.

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  40. Oh no problem Holly! I guess I just really wanted to get it out there that "creepiness" isn't a gendered problem.

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  41. Semiel - I'm writing this more from the "creep's" point of view; this isn't a list of "things you should shun people for" but "things you should try not to do." It's not a list of danger signs; it's a list of things that could be perceived as danger signs, so it would be better to cut them out if you can.

    (As for toothbrushing: yeah, that's more about "unappealing" than "creepy.")

    The whole framing of "creepiness" bothers me because it seems to conflate people who aren't acting in good faith and people who haven't learned the normative set of "social skills".
    The problem is, when I'm dealing with someone who seems "off," I have no way of knowing which they are. If someone corners me and talks over me, it may be that they don't know how to talk to people politely but they're really a sweetheart; or it may be that they are the kind of person who could misunderstand or disregard more serious boundaries as well.

    So, if you're really a sweetheart, it's in your best interest to do your damndest to learn to demonstrate respect for boundaries, rather than hope people will understand you're not that kind of boundary-violator.

    Having truly impaired social skills sucks, and I cannot hope to offer a solution in pat blog-post format. However, I think these are changes where if you are able to make them, most people will see you as less creepy.

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  42. Your advice is good, but it's advice on how to fit into an arbitrary set of social norms, not advice on how to be legitimately less dangerous.

    If treating other people as people and not walking masturbation aids is really an "arbitrary social norm" that's really fucking depressing.

    And I don't think the post was ever meant as a guide to "being less dangerous". It's a guide for clueless and/or social awkward people on seeming less dangerous so people will actually want to get to know you.

    The guide to being less dangerous goes something like this:

    1) Don't physically assault people
    2) Don't sexually assault people
    3) Don't rape people

    If there are people out there who need a guide like that, well, again...really fucking depressing.

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  43. *socialLY awkward people.

    And just to be clear, my issue with the phrase "arbitrary social norms" is the arbitrary part, not the "norm" part. It makes me sad that anyone could think basic human respect exists for, y'know, no particular reason.

    I'm not actually sure respect for people's autonomy and boundaries is the "norm", but when people do practice it, it's because behaving that way is the right thing to do, not because someone flipped a coin.

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  44. OK, I just had to provide an example of what I meant by "creepiness is not a gendered problem":

    http://annalsofonlinedating.tumblr.com/post/7620135448/i-prefer-my-obligation-free-head-to-come-unattached-to

    May 11, 2011 – 3:44pm Let me know if ever you want some obligation-free head sometime. I’m very easy, I can deepthroat, I love eating cum, and I don’t get lock-jaw.
    May 11, 2011 – 9:47pm Are you even remotely interested?! I mean, I don’t wanna be buggin’ you if you’re not into it and I got no chance at all in hell, but if I should keep on messaging you in the hopes of getting your dick in my mouth, I will. Just let me know. You’re really cute; it’d be my HONOR to suck your cock.


    (In case you're wondering, the tumblr writer's commentary makes it clear that this was a woman writing to a man)

    Yeah... I mean, I don't think the guy who received these messages was deathly concerned she'd literally track him down and sexually assault him. But the messages on their own are disturbing, aren't they? We shouldn't have to expect to be treated this way, whether we are male or female, correct?

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  45. I almost wish I had this list in college, because we had a couple people who were really really creepy and it was not okay.

    One specific chick that comes to mind actually stalked the people she wanted to get laid by - and I'm not talking just internet stalking. She actually walked into one of the guys dorm rooms at night and watched him sleeping. Twice.

    Though, I don't see creepy as completely associated with sex. I had one particular guy that was so interested in dating me that he went out of his way to stick poetry under my door and follow me (literally) around campus, offering to carry my stuff and help me out. It wouldn't be so creepy if he hadn't gone completely out of his way to make sure that he knew where I was at every point in the day, and then be there. Cute can get out of hand and go right into creepy.

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  46. @Holly: Writing a post about "how to fit into an oppressive culture as an oppressed person" seems... unhelpful to me. Yeah, it's probably true that it's in your own best interest to fit in, but that's not exactly new information since they get that from culture already. It's sorta like writing a post about how to be less fat: maybe in your own best interest socially, but no less fucked up for that.

    And I'm not sure I really believe that these things are actually indistinguishable from being dangerous. Presumably dangerousness and social awkwardness are orthogonal variables, so I'm not sure why you're treating one like it's a predictor of the other? (I propose a simple test next time you can't tell: ask them to stop whatever specific thing they're doing that makes you uncomfortable. If they stop, then they're ok, if they don't, they're not. Bonus: this works just as well for suave people as it does for socially awkward people.)


    @perversecowgirl:

    The fact that you think this list is about "treating other people as people and not walking masturbation aids" is precisely the problem. If you read my post, I explicitly separated #2 and #6, the ones that are actually about that, from the other five, which are not. It's precisely that conflation that I'm unhappy about.

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  47. Semiel - I don't think it's all about oppression. A lot of social rules are there for a reason--even toothbrushing isn't arbitrary, it's because a dirty mouth smells bad. And things like "don't be resentful, manipulative, or suggest violence toward people" are definitely not arbitrary at all.

    I think posts on how to be less fat can be very useful, actually, when they're phrased not as a mandate but as a "if you decide you want to be less fat, here are steps that can help." In the same way, I'm not trying to order people to be extroverted; I'm just saying that they're more likely to be trusted by others if they are.

    Presumably dangerousness and social awkwardness are orthogonal variables, so I'm not sure why you're treating one like it's a predictor of the other?
    Again, I'm not saying this is a list of danger signs. I'm saying it's a list of things that may make people feel creeped out if you do them.

    I propose a simple test next time you can't tell: ask them to stop whatever specific thing they're doing that makes you uncomfortable. If they stop, then they're ok, if they don't, they're not.
    No. Lots of genuinely dangerous people will stop when called out in public. This doesn't mean that they'll do the same in private, or that they aren't hunting for someone who won't/can't tell them to stop.

    Again, I'm not saying that awkward people are dangerous. Only that from the outside, sometimes I can't tell the difference. "Pushy because he's awkward" looks the same as "pushy because he's manipulative."

    And if you're able--even partially able, able to avoid being threatening even if you can't be extroverted--to change your behavior to look less like the bad people, I think that's good for everyone. I don't have an awesome solution to offer people who truly can't, but I think anyone who can, should.

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  48. Semiel:

    Let's see here.

    #1 is about social skills, so fair enough.

    The main takeaway point of #3 seems to be "The point of asking someone is not to get a 'yes' by any means necessary; it's to find out how they feel about you." Badgering or coercing someone into going out with you is not the behaviour of someone who sees the object of their affections as an autonomous human being. It's the behaviour of someone who thinks "I want to date this person, whether they're interested or not". That is tantamount to treating another person as a walking masturbation aid.

    #4 advises people to try not to feel angry when people turn them down romantically; to avoid feeling like "I deserve this person's attention/sex/etc.! It's not fair!" and again, feeling entitled to someone else's body or company simply because you want it, regardless of the other person's opinon on the subject, is treating them as less than human.

    #5 talks about not hitting on people when they're "trapped" with you on an elevator, in a deserted space, etc. If you do proposition someone who's "trapped" (especially if you're man and the other person is a woman), it can be perceived as using intimidation to make someone say yes - or at least as having a blatant disregard for the other person's feelings and personal space. I would have to say that "not hitting on someone who can't get away" does constitute respect and not an "arbitrary social norm".

    #5 also recommends not touching people without their consent - which, again, constitutes respecting the other person's autonomy. This is not an "arbitrary social norm". This is how we behave when we believe someone's body belongs to them and not, like, whoever happens to walk by.

    #5 goes on to suggest that we don't make threatening or sexist remarks, because a person is unlikely to want to date someone who has a violent temper and/or hates their entire gender. Admittedly the recommendation is "don't say those things," not "don't feel that way," but the point is still clear: people want to feel safe and respected. If you clearly don't respect others - if you get rampant urges to physically assault people or you think all women or all men are somehow beneath you - chances are, you'll make people feel unsafe. Being a sexist, violent douchebag is not tantamount to treating other people like sex toys, but it's sure as hell not tantamount to treating other people like people.

    #7, brush your teeth, is totally about arbitrary social norms. People equate a high standard of hygiene with wholesomeness and goodness, and there's no good reason for this (in fact a lot of serial killers have been clean-cut preppy types...). Another point for you.

    So, two out of seven tips are about living up to people's arbitrary standards, and the rest are about understanding that other people are autonomous beings with no obligation to talk to you, date you, or fuck you. And all of the tips will in fact make it much easier to function in society, make friends, meet partners, etc. I'm not seeing a problem here.

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  49. Sooo, basically Semiel didn't want to contribute to one derail, but has started a whole OTHER derail about how ableist it is to not appreciate being cornered, being the target of resentment and manipulation, or even being threatened with violence.

    I'm not seeing it.

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  50. f. - Semiel has a point that people with social difficulties or disabilities may be perceived as creepy, even though they're not dangerous.

    But the following point--that they shouldn't have to make any effort to seem less creepy--is where things go off the rails. You can't simply tell people to trust you; you have to show them why they should, even when that showing is harder for you than for others.

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  51. You can't simply tell people to trust you; you have to show them why they should, even when that showing is harder for you than for others

    I think this is where awkwardness comes off as creepiness sometimes. A lot of social basics like brushing your teeth really are about making an effort to please other people. Whether the specific things you do are arbitrary or not, the effort isn't. A person who doesn't brush their teeth appears (fairly or unfairly) to not care if they're pleasant to be around. Telling people they ought to be friends with you anyway implies that they exist for your enjoyment but don't deserve enjoyment of their own. Which is creepy.

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  52. Hey Holly,
    I wanted to thank you for your response, I know you must have to wade through a few of them. However, your article also made me think about some general differences between men and women. In your post about creepiness. You wrote, "Emitting loud, obvious vibes of 'I'm only here to get laid' (people are amazingly good at receiving those vibes)". I noticed that even in your heyday of "creepiness", you preferred sending signals or vibes as opposed to direct communication. I once had an argument with a very good female friend of mine about kissing. She was perturbed about a date who asked her if he could proceed to kiss her. She said the man should just know. It should be instinctual and u lose the moment as soon as u ask. I said that was bs, the first move is one of the most nerve wracking things, the very fact that he asked shows his politeness and tact and frankly a lack of presumptuousness. (I'm making up words here.) What do you think? What's the line between politeness and passivity? - jonny5

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  53. jonny5 - I don't say this very often, but "you lose the moment as soon as you ask" girls really are ruining it for the rest of us.

    As far as I'm concerned, they can go without ever being kissed until they wise up.

    However, I think (or would like to think? augh) that most girls are not like that, and that you should not plan for girls to be like that. I'd definitely rather offend someone by asking than offend them by not asking.

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  54. Personally, I assumed #7 was a joke-- "bad breath is unappealing" I'll accept, but "bad breath makes people worry you'll rape them" not so much, and that's the point of this list, right? Part of the problem here is that we're getting away from the definition of creepy that Holly proposed-- "when you feel unsafe and uncomfortable in a sexual way" and sliding back into defining creepy as "anything that's outside your preferred set of social norms". It's true that you can't just tell people to trust you, but I think it's possible to avoid making people feel *unsafe*-- to comply with rules 2 through 5-- without being social easily and often a la rules 1 and 6. You don't have to be charming and outgoing and have lots of friends to respect people's boundaries. Rules 1, 6, and 7 don't fit with the others.

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  55. *Waves hand* I would love it if someone asked to kiss me instead of just doing it. So respectful! It doesn't happen much, though, mostly because I'm too busy making the first move, myself. :D

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  56. "'Bad breath is unappealing" I'll accept, but 'bad breath makes people worry you'll rape them' not so much, and that's the point of this list, right?.... We're getting away from the definition of creepy that Holly proposed"

    I dunno -- is there *no* connection between obvious violations of hygiene expectations, and other forms of "creepiness"? A person who goes out to mack on girls with obviously unbrushed teeth and BO-smelling clothes doesn't necessarily make you go "OMG how rapey." But it does suggest a worrisome disregard on that person's part to whether they are actually appealing or attractive, when attracting and appealing to people is supposedly what they're trying to do. They're willing to subject their interlocutors to mouth stank, said interlocutors feel pressure to be polite and pretend nothing's amiss. Are the hypothetical non-brushers oblivious to the impression they make? Do they just not care that the people they're hitting on are grossed out? What other social unpleasantness are they unlikely to commit -- will they buttonhole you and subject you to a conversation that bores you to tears?

    The line about "brush your teeth" was probably part joke, but there is a common thread, in the idea of "if you're trying to attract people, don't ignore their wishes."

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  57. Asking for a kiss can be made incredibly hot, no? I'm picturing it a few different ways and it's a win-win: If you totally misread the vibe (it happens) and they DON'T want to kiss you, then it's a hell of a lot better to get a no or brush-off to a question than a face-turn rejection or worse. If they DO want to kiss you, asking the question in a nice seductive tone ramps up the tension and excitement. And there are a lot of ways it can be done. The classic, "May I kiss you?" or "Do you want to kiss me?" or how about: "I've been thinking about kissing you - would you like that?" Whew, hot! It's not just me, right?

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  58. It depends on if you view the brushing teeth issue as
    - an example of disregard to the rules of polite society
    or
    - as a random example of "this guy is so unattractive he shouldn't be legally allowed to ask me out."

    That said, I admit I've been "guilty" of #1,#2,#4 and #6, and I'd like to thank Holly for spelling this out so clearly.

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  59. "something one person can get", instead of "something that two people can do together"

    *or, you know, three. Or four or five or whatever. :)

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  60. This is a bit of a derail, but you are missing the point of Clarisse Thorn's article, just like Marcotte did. On top of that Marcotte also accused her of being brainwashed through the patriarchy. This is incredible rude even more if you keep in mind that Clarisse is into BDSM and exactly the same accusation was and still is made from radical feminist against women who like BDSM.

    Clarisse wrote a thoughtful article. If you reread it you will notice that it's less about the word creep itself than about the perception of male sexuality in our culture.

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  61. I like Clarisse's article a lot, and I think she makes mostly valid points - though when it comes to discussing sex and sexuality, I think there is tremendous variability in what is "creepy" or "appropriate" to talk about, depending on your social circle. And I think that as Holly points out, attempting to not make people feel creeped out--i.e. threatened--is a good thing.

    I don't think a social norm/rule is inherently a bad thing. I wish we (generalization all-of-humanity "we") were better at recognizing and critically evaluating social rules, but they aren't all bad.

    If you show a lack of respect for personal boundaries and space - especially after I have asked you once to please not lean that closely towards my face - I am going to mentally file you away as a person I don't want to ever be alone with.

    As for ableism...well, it is tricky. But I don't think that someone's lack of ability to pick up on social cues excuses them from being considered creepy. I recognize that it is probably a lot harder for those people, and I wish we lived in a world where someone could say "I have trouble with social cues, please be direct and tell me if I'm bothering you" without having to worry about stigma. But as Holly as said, I still don't know if you're cornering me because you're being awkward or because you're being threatening, and I'm not willing to just assume the former.

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  62. So I enjoyed reading this article, and I like the points you made about "creeps." My girlfriend has a tendency to do things she believes make her a social butterfly, but which I would view as "creepy." To the point where I have several friends that no longer hang out with me because of my girlfriend.

    But I would also take it a bit further to say that even non-sexual things can make you creepy. I usually associate it with making the people around you uncomfortable to a strong degree. I don't care about what other people think normally, but making others around you very uncomfortable I consider rude.

    Sitting in an eating establishment's public area talking very loudly with your friends about your private life and trying to draw strangers into your conversations by asking about their private lives or opinions on yours, asking other people about their food, asking if you can try their food, offering to let them have some of yours, all of these things tend to make the average person who is just reading a book and eating their lunch very uncomfortable. And worse is not being able to read the signs that they are creeped out. Or the tendency to break personal space boundaries in these situations.

    I was actually getting her to calm down a bit around people she doesn't know until she got a new "best friend" she just met, who does it even worse. Now she's convinced its ok again because they do it together. =/

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  63. Hey, Holly, did you see this yet? Maggie Mayhem wrote an article recently encouraging people to stand up to that creepy guy in the BDSM dungeon and the very first comment was basically "saying any behavior is creepy is ableist!" Even when she provided an example of a dude not just being awkward, but doing something that was a health risk.

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  64. As a follow-up to Emily H.:

    There's an old anecdote about a band - I don't remember the name and I'm fudging the details, but bear with me here. Basically, they were known for making silly, prima donna-esque demands when they were on tour. For example, they might insist that there be a bowl of only blue M&M's backstage. If they got there and it wasn't there - or if there was even one non-blue M&M in it - they would leave and refuse to play.

    Later, however, in an interview they explained why. See, they used a lot of special effects in their shows, and some of them could be dangerous if done wrong. They rarely had time to doublecheck everything when they got there, so they were basically trusting the people who were setting up the show to follow their instructions and do it right. This was kind of a big deal, because if they didn't follow the exacting specifications, bad things could happen - think fires, explosions, heavy things falling on people's heads, etc. So things like the blue M&M's got snuck into the contracts and instructions. Like a canary in a mine, they were early warning signs. If there were no blue M&M's backstage, it meant the people organizing the show hadn't read the instructions carefully. If it had M&M's of other colors in it, it meant they were sloppy in following the instructions. Maybe they cut corners, maybe they assumed they knew what was important and what wasn't - and cutting those corners or making those assumptions could be dangerous when it came to things other than backstage snacks. So the band wouldn't go on stage. They didn't know for sure that the stage itself was unsafe, but given the sloppiness in fulfilling other instructions, they didn't want to risk it.

    For me, and probably many others, certain basic hygiene practices and social skills are my blue M&M's. Now, I'm a D&D-playing, boffer-larping geek, and so are most of my friends, so it's not like my standards are impossibly high. But there are some very, very basic things that I expect from anyone trying to be friendly to me (keep the body odor down to a dull roar, don't pick your nose and eat it in front of me, don't stand two inches in front of my face and talk at me, don't tell me everything I say or think is stupid [unless you really think that, but in that case what you're doing is called "starting a fight," not "flirting"] - basic stuff.) If you can't pull those off, I start to wonder if you've got the rest of your shit together. You make me nervous, not because picking your nose = rapist, but because you are obviously not used to socializing with humans, and I can't help but wonder what ELSE you may think is ok that really, really isn't.

    So that's why I'm perfectly ok with "learn social skills" and "brush your teeth" being included on a list of how not to be creepy.

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  65. Mary, I believe the band was Van Halen, and the demand was for the brown M&Ms to be removed. And it's an awesome example. I've tried explaining to a guy before why I didn't feel safe with men who made inappropriate sexist remarks, and he didn't seem to get it. I think I'll use Van Halen the next time :-)

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  66. Holly, thanks for this article, because I can definitely see myself in danger of falling into a couple of those points.

    The biggest thing I'm not sure how to work out boundaries on is the fact that I am attracted to or would be willing to play with pretty much everyone I'm friends with (there are a few exceptions, but not *that* many). I see them doing interesting things or talk to them about mutual sexual interests, and start thinking things like "man, maybe we could do that together? It would be hot and awesome! Win for everyone!" But I realize that being friends with me does not sign you up for sexual advances, and so I'm not sure how to (or if I even should) pursue those trains without stepping on toes or making friends uncomfortable.

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  67. Oh man you tool out my joke about the house of cards...O guess it wasn't funny.

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  68. If I were to write the post you cite at the beginning of this post today, then I would write it differently. I've thought about writing a followup for a long time, but it's a complicated topic and, frankly, I wasn't particularly inspired by responses like Ms. Marcotte's. One thing I will say is that the definition of "creepy behavior is behavior that makes you uncomfortable" has the advantage of being consistent, but the disadvantage of being unclear in terms of the creeper's observed behaviors.

    In re: the "asking for a kiss" tangent, you might be interested in this comment left by a reader on one of my threads:
    http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2011/04/18/guest-post-detrimental-attitudes-of-the-pickup-artist-community/#comment-49381

    Note that the thread in question is one that focuses on pickup artist theory, and is an uncomfortable and challenging environment for many feminists, sometimes including me. I have drawn some insight from it, however.

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  69. People who are lucky enough to believe that good people always get their sexual needs met and that bad people/bad behaviors are punished by a lack of sex say things like:

    "If your approach is goal-oriented to the point of thinking of desirable partners as vending machines and sex as something they will give you if you put in the correct amount of change, you are going to "fail" a hell of a lot more than you "succeed"" Really? Think about someone with a really high partner count, like 60 people before their 30th birthday. They certainly treated people like they were just there for sex and were able to attract lots of partners. I'm not trying to shame people with a high partner count or those who enjoy having sex for the sake of having sex since it's common enough for someone to be in a relationship just for sex.

    and

    "And ironically, if you do everything on Holly's list only because you think it'll get you laid, you're still creepy! " No, doing these things, increasing your confidence and strengthening a few other areas will greatly increase your chances of regularly getting laid AND no one can get creeped out by going inside your head to see why you did that. That's you being creeped out by thinking that someone who is bad or unworthy might slip past your creepdar.

    also

    "...and above all: Be Yourself!" No, simply being a good person doesn't emit magic rays that make potential romantic partners attracted to you. Some people are so sick of being their naturally dateless selves that they are taking advice from posts like this and radically altering their behavior. I agree with everything else Anon 3:16 said, but "be yourself" obviously doesn't work if you are creepy/awkward and need to improve your skill set to succeed.

    Some people who are not happy with their sex lives feel that they must be bad people since other people won't have relationships/sex with them. Understanding that the sexual market place just doesn't work that way is a really big step in informed confidence, and that always helps.

    There is a lot of blame and very little understanding for good people who are using flawed methods in this post. Holly, it feels like you are trying to call out those people and make them feel worse about their actions more than trying to let them know that their behaviors need tweaking so that they can get what they want. For example "Don't try to cheat the system to avoid rejection". Yes, apparently creeps are cheaters as well and everyone can smell a cheater because bad people get what they deserve. No, if there is a system then it certainly doesn't work that way. In "Don't get angry or resentful" you essential tell creepy people to get away from the good, healthy and happy people. How about "go do other things that you can succeed at (with or without others) and remind yourself that the body of your life is worth more than component of your sexual life"

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  70. -Only talking to people I wanted to bang, and ignoring others (people really notice this)


    THIS. Dear god, a thousand times THIS. I find this the most disturbing of all creepery.

    Also, Anonymous? If you can't put your name to it, you, too, are creepy. Holly started out this post by saying she used to do all these things. I hardly think this was a "you guys suck" post.

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  71. revisiting this one, because I had an experience tonight that I don't normally have - being creeped out (and made a little afraid) by a guy hitting on me.

    So I'm walking to the store to buy soda. It's about 1 am; this is a pretty standard thing that I do. (I'm a night owl, I live in a decent neighborhood, etc.) To get to the store, I walk past a bar/restaurant with a lot of outdoor seating. It's a nice place; sometimes if I don't have anything else to do, I'll stop in and have a beer if I'm walking past, but tonight I just wanted to get my Diet Coke and go home.

    Guy starts yelling "Hey, beautiful!" I didn't turn around, because frankly, that's not something people say to me too often. Eventually, I realized he meant me. When I turned, he shouted out, "Can I buy you a shot?"

    And... I blushed, giggled, gave him a smile and a wave and called back "No thanks, I'm good," and kept walking, feeling a little flattered.

    And if it had ended there, it would have been great. It was a compliment; albeit a clumsy one, but hell, he was obviously drunk, I'm not gonna take offense at that. And I certainly wasn't rejecting him as a person or anything; I just had an errand to run and a project to get back to at my house, and I didn't really have time to hang out at the bar.

    And then he kept asking.

    After my third (still polite and cheerful) No Thank You, he started shouting at me. "Oh, come on! Why the hell not? Damn, I'm just trying to be generous!" As I got further from the bar, the words became harder to make out, but the general theme was how unappreciative women in general can be. Possibly in less polite terms, but frankly at that point I was actively attempting to move out of earshot, so I can't say for sure.

    And that, my friends, is how you cross the line from "poorly-timed and executed, but sweet nonetheless" into "fucking creepy."

    (I'm ashamed to say I crossed on the other side of the street on the way back. It's not that I had any physical fear of him - worst case scenario, I can totally take a drunk dude - but I'm shy and socially awkward, and I just didn't want to have to deal with him again. And I kinda hated him for that: turning one of my favorite things - walking alone at night, in the cool October air - into something that made me nervous and uncomfortable.)

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  72. "But what if people think you're a creep, and you don't deserve it? I don't think the answer is to tell them that they're being wrong and unfair--you can't argue with a feeling, and trying to debate a person into not being afraid of you is kind of creepy in itself."

    and then

    "4) Don't get angry or resentful."

    I can see what you did there... You can't debate a person into not getting angry :)

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  73. This is really good advice. I was a huge creep in my teen years, I'm a lot better now. I used to be very mentally ill as well though, I was very very depressed and so lonely and it was the only way that I thought that I could show affection. Not that I'm excusing my behaviour at all. I was terrible to the girl I was in love with but I definitely grew up. And in case anyone was assuming things, I'm a girl, girls can be creepy too. She was pretty messed up towards me in a lot of ways, though I think that if I was less creepy than she probably wouldn't have been so messed up.

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  74. Sorry for the ridiculously-late comment, but I'd like to extend the creepiness theory to non-sexual situations too.

    I say this becaues I'm a girl had a creepy-fucker experience at an LGBT night out, during which someone I was talking to, after spending about half an hour sitting too close to me and giving me condescending unsolicited career advice, responded to my casually mentioning that I was tired and would probably leave soon with ''What am I going to do then? I could come to your place and sleep on the sofa...'' and responding to my fairly polite refusals with ''Why not? You know I'm not a serial killer'' - supposedly in a jokey way. Afterwards when I mentioned to my friend how uncomfortable he'd made me, he gave me a confused look and said ''but he's gay...''

    I think it's the same kind of prnciple as sexual creepiness - it's about entitlement, although I feel like we don't have as much of an approved script for saying ''I don't want to be your friend'' as ''I don't want to date you.''

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  75. I really struggle with this and am pleased I followed the link here from fet. It seems just standing still, avoiding eye contact and trying to be as innoucous as possible still gets you labeled as creepy in the BDSM world. In my vanilla life the issue never comes up and it's confusing. I've all but given up on events and parties. I've no idea what I'm doing wrong.

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  76. As a former very, very awkward teenage girl, I like to think I can relate to guys who get frustrated when people are put off by them at times in social settings. It does suck because I did come from a background where I started believing a lot of the snide things people would say about me just in earshot. It does suck.

    The thing is, if this keeps happening over and over to you and you want it to change, then YOU have to change. Whether that means figuring out what you're putting out there and adjusting or finding a new social group, it's not THEIR responsibility to change for you. Part of being an adult is learning how to socialize with people and if you don't want to learn that then don't be surprised when people are put off by you.

    And as others have mentioned above, if you're just hanging out with a group to get sex, then you're doing it wrong, or at least doing it for the wrong reasons. People pick up on those sort of intentions very quickly, especially women because we're taught that it's our responsibility to check for men who can hurt us and it's our responsibility if we get hurt (which sucks for us when we're just trying to enjoy being social, but that's rape culture). So as mentioned in the article, one of the very best ways you can avoid being a creeper is stop focusing on a underlying motive and just have fun in a group setting.

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  77. I've gotten a lot better in the social department, even though I still have a long way to go. I honestly wish I had seen this blog post in my teen years, or even just a few months back. Thanks so much for this post. I had no idea I was creeping people out, and while I wish I could take it all back, posts like this will help me make sure I learn from the past and improve in the future

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