Socially Awkward Isn’t An Excuse

It’s that time of year again: convention season gets started, students go on Spring Break and we brace ourselves for a new round of stories about creepers, predators and generally shitty dating behavior. It’s Creep Week 2014: like Shark Week, except during Shark Week everyone is actually rooting for the shark. So it’s time to talk about creepy behavior, how to avoid it and what to do about it.

"It'sssss the mosssst wonderful time of the year!"

“It’sssss the mosssst wonderful time of the year!”

And today, I’m going to piss a lot of you off. I’m going to piss a lot of you off and I’m going to do it deliberately. Because today I’m going to take a whack at one of the greatest sacred cows on the Internet: the Socially Awkward Exception.

This is something I’ve seen over and over again whenever the topic of meeting women comes up: the plight of the guys who supposedly have been mislabeled as “creepers” when in reality they’re just socially awkward and we should all be giving them a break, maaaan.

All too often, we hear that someone who’s socially awkward should get a pass because, hey, he doesn’t know that he’s doing something wrong! He’s probably really just a nice guy! Shouldn’t she be nice to him, anyway? Or maybe she should just teach him what he did was wrong!

Sure, he stands too close, ignores people when they're trying to end the conversation and keeps saying incredibly inappropriate things to women at the drop of a hat... but he brings Chimay to the party!

Sure, he stands too close, ignores signs that people don’t want to talk to him, keeps trying to give women massages and says incredibly inappropriate things to women at the drop of a hat… but he brings Chimay to the party!

Except… no. No, we shouldn’t. More often than not the problem isn’t about being socially awkward, it’s about pushing boundaries; claiming that being socially awkward – or defending someone on the grounds that they’re just awkward – means that we shouldn’t be so hard on them becomes about excusing their behavior and helping them put pressure on women to tolerate that behavior. But even when someone genuinely is socially awkward, it ultimately does not matter.

Assuming you haven’t clicked away in disgust, let’s get into why social awkwardness isn’t an excuse.

The Socially Awkward Vs. Creepers

Being socially awkward is often held up as a defense against being labeled “creepy”; it’s another variation of “it’s only creepy if you’re ugly”, but with the vague hints of ableism or social justice for flavor. Almost everyone has been creeped out by someone out only to be told “Aw, he means well. He just doesn’t know any better,” or “Hey, he’s a nice guy! He does so much for us! He’s just a little awkward, you know?” There’s tremendous social pressure to look the other way, to “give him a second chance”.

Let’s run down just what makes someone creepy again:

  • Behaving in a manner that makes someone feel uncomfortable, unsafe or threatened.
  • Behaving in a manner that pushes against an individual’s boundaries – especially repeatedly.

That second one is incredibly important and forms a critical distinction: creepers and predators will frequently push against people’s boundaries in order to see what they can get away with. When they get caught, they’ll often claim to be “socially awkward” as a way of deflecting responsibility for their actions and – more importantly – putting pressure on their target to let them violate their boundaries with impunity. Many creepers will turn their actions around on their victim and make it seem as if they’re the one being unreasonable. “Hey, I was just paying you a compliment!” “I just wanted to talk to you!” “It was just a joke, geez, get a sense of humor.” “Man, don’t be so sensitive.”

"Hey, giving out random shoulder massages to women we don't know is how we say 'hello' in my country"

“Giving out random shoulder massages to women we don’t know is how we say ‘hello’ in my country. Why do you insult my culture?”

Someone who is socially awkward, on the other hand, is someone who has issues with basic social skills. They may have acute anxiety or nervousness in social settings. They may not be used to social norms, have a hard time keeping the conversation flowing naturally, or get nervous and say the wrong thing at the worst possible time. More often than not, someone who is socially awkward has poor social calibration; they may make people uncomfortable because their behavior feels off. When someone isn’t behaving in a way that’s congruent with the social context, we get uncomfortable because they’re inadvertently signaling that something is wrong; it might be that they’re dangerous or there’s a hazard the rest of us haven’t noticed, but that “off” behavior is going to make us instinctively look for a threat.

But being anxious or socially clumsy or inexperienced isn’t the same as being creepy. Someone who is socially awkward will occasionally trip over somebody else’s boundaries by accident because they may not necessarily understand where the line is in the first place. A creeper, on the other hand, knows exactly where those boundaries are… he just doesn’t care. A socially awkward person frequently realizes that they fucked up almost as soon as the words are out of their mouth and will often freeze up or try to verbally backpedal; a creeper who is using “socially awkward” as an excuse on the other hand, will wield their supposed infraction against the other person as proof that they didn’t do anything wrong… or rely on others to do their defending for them.

In fact, we have an excellent example of this behavior. Let’s examine a recent bout of internet infamy for “awkward vs. creeper”, shall we?

“She Should Have Been Clearer”

Last month, the tale of  “FedoraBeard vs. The Hot Topic Clerk” hit the popular image sharing site Imgur and rocketed across blogs and tumblrs into Internet legend. To sum up the situation: a guy developed a crush on a clerk he saw while shopping at a Hot Topic. After getting her name from a mutual friend, he tracked her down on Facebook and proceeded to attempt to woo her… to disastrous results.

FedoraBeard01 fedorabeard02

It's a master class in what not to say...

It’s a master class in what not to say…

After reading him the riot act, the worker put his conversation up online to equal parts applause for telling off a creepy guy with stalker-ish tendencies and prompting many others to excoriate her for – wait for it – not giving him a chance because he’s just a little awkward. After all, it’s not like she didn’t tell him to fuck off or anything right? She never once said “go away” or “I don’t want to talk to you”.

Except… she did. Notice the time-stamps. Her first response to him is on 2/16. She doesn’t say anything else until he prods her again a day later, and even then doesn’t respond until the next day, 2/18 … with a very curt and less than friendly message wanting to know how he found her. After three hours of no response he prods at her again, then yet again on 2/19.

The lack of response and engagement is what’s known as a “soft no”; a way of indicating a lack of interest without a direct refusal. This is something that men and women are very familiar with and use on a regular basis, not just in terms of sex and relationships but as a conversational norm. There is incredible social pressure for people – men and women – not to give a direct refusal or actually say “no”. Saying “no” directly is often seen as rude or needlessly hurtful and so we have a surprisingly complex system of refusing without actually saying “no”. In fact, a study from the University of The West of England and Loughborough University documents just how many ways we say “no” without saying the words. Women are especially socialized to be considerate of other people’s feelings – even at the expense of their own – and face greater pressure to offer a “soft no” rather than a direct refusal, as a way of sparing the feelings of others.

Now, often when dealing with stories about why this woman or the other didn’t “tell him no”, we will see people say that it’s impossible for a guy to realize he’s being refused because she didn’t say the magic words. In fact, returning to the story of FedoraBeard, we see this in the commentary on the blogs that reported the story – she didn’t say “go away”, therefore how could he have known he was unwelcome?

Except he specifically notes her silence and proceeds anyway. On 2/21 he comments on the fact that she hasn’t blocked him or shut down her profile, therefore she must be ok with this. In other words: he understands that her lack of response1  is an indication that she doesn’t want to talk to him but he has decided that these other signs – that she didn’t flee the Internet to get away from him – are a stronger indication that she’s OK with his tracking her down.

In other words: he knew exactly what she was saying, he just didn’t like the answer. This isn’t a case of being socially awkward and unfamiliar with social norms, it’s a case of him deciding that he’d rather choose the interpretation that favors his interests over hers. His desire to “worship” her trumps her desire to be left alone.

This is creepy behavior being excused as “socially awkward”.

“Just Give Him A Chance”

One of the undertones of the “he’s socially awkward” excuse is that he’s being misunderstood. That he’s harmless. He’s really a good guy… and this is why the woman maligning him should be willing to overlook the way he’s stepped all over her boundaries. Because he didn’t mean to.

Can you imagine why this argument isn’t going to go over well with women?

Here’s what’s happening when you’re telling someone that somebody deserves a second chance or should be forgiven for being awkward: it’s reframing a woman’s right to enforce her boundaries into a discussion about why the man shouldn’t be inconvenienced. He deserves a chance to convince her that no, she really does want to keep talking to him because he doesn’t want to intrude but how is he supposed to make her realize that he’s worth talking to? It is somehow inconsiderate or rude of her to enforce her boundaries because this person is actually a good guy. He’s a little weird, sure. He may have said things that are creepy, violated her personal space, followed her when she was trying to leave the conversation and otherwise ignored signs that she was uncomfortable… but he didn’t mean to. It’s just not fair for him to be treated like a potential rapist just because of other people’s bad behavior; he didn’t have anything to do with that!

"So what if other clowns hid under your bed and grabbed your ankles at night. That had nothing to do with me!"

“So what if other clowns hid under your bed and grabbed your ankles at night. That had nothing to do with me!”

Except it doesn’t matter. All too often women have given someone the benefit of the doubt – either because they questioned their own instincts or because of social pressure – and realized that it was a mistake to do so. Having an aversion to people who trip up against their boundaries is important because predators use boundary testing to see what they can get away with. It’s how they pick their victims – looking for people who can be pressured into going along to get along, who have a harder time making a strong objection because of the possibility that “it was an honest mistake” or because the predators are skilled at using plausible deniability to convince others to persuade their target that no, he was just being friendly!

The pressure to give someone a second chance – that they were just being awkward and the woman should just relax her boundaries a little – is telling a woman that she doesn’t have a right to establish her limits or to control who she does or doesn’t talk to. It carries the message that the right of a maybe-awkward-maybe-creepy guy to talk to her is more important than her right to feel safe and secure. It means she’s not allowed to trust her instincts and instead should either magically intuit somebody’s intentions or just let the crowd override her decisions.

And this is where excusing creepy behavior as “just being awkward” gets especially insidious.

Why Socially Awkward Isn’t An Excuse

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m beating up on the socially awkward. I’m not. I actually have a lot of sympathy for people who get nervous dealing with others, who may be socially inexperienced, or who otherwise have problems interacting with people. In my bad old days, I used to be one of them. My life from 6th grade through… well, most of college, honestly, was one long cringe-fest of not knowing how to talk to people, saying the wrong thing at the worst time and generally flailing around making things worse. I creeped out a lot of women and when I was starting out in the pick-up scene; I creeped out even more through my awkwardness.

Let he who can't relate to the meme throw the first stone.

Let he who can’t relate to the meme throw the first stone.

Here’s the thing about the socially awkward: they don’t want to trip over people’s boundaries. You can almost always track the exact moment they realize that they’ve done something wrong by the way they desperately try to backtrack, apologize and generally try to reassure the other person that they didn’t mean to and they’re so embarrassed and are kind of freaking out and, and, and…

You know what you don’t see? You don’t see them justifying their behavior. Or turning it around and making it about the person whose boundaries they just blew past.  They don’t rely on social pressure – either through making a scene or through other people justifying their actions for them – to make the other person submit to their demands. They don’t argue that the other person is obligated to forgive him, to give him a second chance or otherwise pretend that the awkwardness just didn’t happen. Creepers and predators rely on other people insisting that their social awkwardness is a mistake because it gives them cover. When the “socially awkward” exception is in play, other people are less likely to call him out on his creepy behavior .2 It becomes a way of isolating somebody from potential allies and tricking others – people who might otherwise object to his bad behavior and assist his target – into being complicit in his actions. The Awkward Excemption teaches other people to tolerate, even expect creepy behavior… and to forgive it because hey, “he means well.” It gives the creeper cover and allows him to continue being part of the community; he’s not “Johnny the creepy predator”, he’s “Johnny the decent guy, a little weird sometimes but harmless.”

It turns him from being a potential threat to a missing stair problem – something everyone knows about and dismisses, right up until someone slips and breaks their leg because they didn’t know to watch out for the missing stair.

And not only does it end up continuing the idea that being socially awkward is inherently creepy – and thus alienating good people who just need to work on their social skills – excusing the behavior makes it harder for the socially awkward to not be creepy by accident. See, the socially awkward want to improve. They aren’t interested in getting people to tolerate their fuck-ups, they want to not fuck up in the first place. Part of why being awkward isn’t an excuse is because, frankly, sometimes the only way you realize a line was there in the first place is because you tripped over it and landed on your face. Fucking up is part of how we learn; we know not to make the mistake again in the future and – more importantly – learn how to respond when we screw up.

Being awkward isn’t a permanent condition; it’s something you can overcome with education and practice. But getting a pass on creepy behavior doesn’t help you learn, and it’s not on other people to teach you. Being willing to own your mistakes – not to explain them away as not your fault, to make it about her failings or otherwise pretend it’s not a problem – and being able to do so with grace and sincerity is the real way you show that maybe you’re not a bad guy after all. You don’t insist that you “deserve” a second chance or the benefit of the doubt, you earn it.


  1. To forestall the inevitable argument: yes, part of the reason why she didn’t respond is due to a lack of Internet access while she was moving. She also tells him that this is a sign that no, she isn’t interested, he should have taken it as such and fucked right off. []
  2. HT to []


  1. Maximilian says:

    As someone others have called (using the literal meaning of the terms) a socially awkward nice guy, I really need to find new labels for these things.

    To counter losing those 2, would it be possible to make disabled into a positive label?

    • celette482 says:

      The best way to counteract it, I think, is to have some proactivity on your part. For example, if you have a diagnosis to work with, you tell people who are new to you "Hey, I've got *blank* which means that I don't always read nonverbal signals well. Please tell me if I miss one of yours and make you uncomfortable. I will respect that." (Or some variation on the theme).

      Disabled as a positive is an idea that's getting a lot of traction in some circles. The underlying theme is not "We are disabled" but "We operate differently than the average person" (particularly when it comes to neurotypicality- there's a growing body of research that suggests that what we label as "disorders" are actually perfectly adaptive… for not the Western World in the 21st century). And a big part of that movement is regaining agency. And a big part of regaining agency is being willing to make the effort to meet other people where they are. You can ask someone to be forgiving of your slip-ups if you make it clear that you realize there will be slip-ups and you won't be trying to take advantage.

      • Maximilian says:

        I'm socially awkward (or socially retarded as it has been phrased before) to the point where I just don't bother going after attractive women at all. I'm not worth their time, they know it, I know it, so why waste 30-40 seconds that could be better spent say…counting the tiles on the ceiling?

        • celette482 says:

          …You don't go after attractive women. What about "unattractive" women?

          • Maximilian says:

            Nope. I also don't go after men, I didn't mention them either. Or small animals. Or indeed large animals.

          • celette482 says:

            Yep, you're wasting their time, but not because you're "socially retarded"

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh I do apologise. I figured after your pitiful attempt to turn me into some guy who looks down on "unattractive" women purely because I used the word attractive in a comment you'd expect to be treated in the same heavily sarcastic whilst judging you on something you didn't say style.

          • celette482 says:

            See my response below. going after only people you want to sleep with is a bad social strategy and THAT is why I think you're wasting their time.

          • Maximilian says:

            I don't go after ANYONE (woman, man, attractive, unattractive, underage, undead, imaginary, only visible through a prism, virtual reality, accessible via hole in the spacetime continuum or otherwise) because I'd be wasting their time if I did, I offer nothing and do not make up for it in the looks department – unless they have a rather unfortunate sexual attraction towards the person in a wheelchair icon used to label disabled facilities.

            I was raised by parents and family members who treated the idea of a girlfriend as something worthy of being mocked for and by the time I had removed this as my default position on the matter I was socially inept and gradually, with a little help from my metallic friend and his wheels, became a glorified shut-in. I don't sniff women's hair, I don't jerk off while sat behind them, I don't mis-read signals and try to kiss them when they don't want it, I don't follow them home from pubs or clubs in the early hours of the morning, I don't find their name out before chasing them up on Facebook or Twitter and I don't pretend to be nice to them in order to get them to let me into their bed.


          • celette482 says:

            You asked whether making disabled into a positive label was possible. I gave you a scenario in which it is in fact possible.

          • Maximilian says:

            But my disability isn't a "disorder" – my legs don't work.

          • celette482 says:

            And? Does that mean that my scenario is invalid? And your attitude is shitty. Legs not working or not.

          • Maximilian says:

            Why thank you. Well my disability being physical completely negates your point that I can put my inability in social situations down to some sort of mental barrier in reading body language. At what point after:

            "Hi, if I miss any signals it is probably down to me being a shut in for 3 years after my parents raised me to the point where I found the idea of having a girlfriend to be something to be ridiculed for which coupled with getting sick of random people shouting TIMMEH at me everytime I went out the house. Luckily I grew out of the idea that dating was worthy of mockery so I had a go, unfortunately this went as badly as me strapping a F1 engine to the back of my chair and entering Le Mans would have done so self-confidence wise, particularly in the department of ever being attractive to anything above pond life, I'm all over the shop"

            …do I move on to talk about their hobbies?

          • celette482 says:

            Socially uncalibrated is socially uncalibrated, whether because of brain chemistry or being a shut-in. The point is being willing to be open to correction to avoid giving offense.

          • Maximilian says:

            I'm more than open to correction. It is difficult not to be on here, in the last few weeks I've found that the few friends I do have calling me a "nice guy" in what I had previously thought an attempt at encouragement that I did offer something to someone somewhere and my medically diagnosed social anxiety actually turn out to be a serious of massive insults and mean that I'm a creeper who is only nice to women for sex.

            All that despite being a kissless virgin. I can't even get pseudo nice guy trying to get his dick wet, creepy sex pest right. Sums me right up!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Oh Max, Maxmaxmaxmaxmax. I've been doing some online dating on and off these last couple of months, maybe one or two a month tops. You know who the only person worth a second date has been? The one in a wheelchair, who also has a kid. Now she has lots of physical issues besides that, enough that I'm not sure how things will go in the long term but she's charming, sweet and is the only person I don't have to slow down my walk for. She just turns the speed on her electric up.

          • Maximilian says:

            Congratulations to you both. I'm also reliably informed that Stephen Hawking has been married twice and has fathered 3 children.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yes, so its not the chair. Yes, I get that makes it more difficult but its your attitude towards that difficulty that is getting in your way.

          • celette482 says:


          • Maximilian says:

            Oh I'm not saying that is entirely the chair's fault or that it even holds a 50% of the blame – I look like an even more useless sack of manure out of it.
            I've been using the chair increasingly frequently since being told to do so in 2011, 2010 I was more Vauxhall Nova than Casanova.

          • As someone with able-bodied privilege, I cannot know how it must feel to use a chair–or to have grown up in a household in which the idea of my having a girlfriend was "something worthy of being mocked for." I am genuinely sorry that your family was less-than-encouraging about this; that's an awful thing to tell someone. But I *can* say that chair or not, awkward or not, the biggest hurdle in your search for a healthier social life will never cease to be the "useless sack of manure" mentality–until you make a conscious effort to stop thinking that way. Considering the personal history you've shared, this may be easier said than done; however, self-deprecation is a pretty universally disliked quality, and it's something most people can sense about a person even if that person never comes out and says self-deprecating things directly. One of the biggest reasons for this is that people with a low sense of self-worth tend not to be the most nurturing friends or partners. Trying to nurture ourselves (before approaching a relationship or a friendship) is the most important thing any of us can do, because we can't truly care for others until we care for ourselves.

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh that is a shame. A single life it is then.

          • Caring for yourself is a very important thing for having a happy single life too. Either way, your most important relationship is going to be the one with yourself, so it's worth trying to figure out a way to make it a better relationship.

          • Maximilian says:

            I worked out what would make it better, now I just need the manufacture of robotic legs to become cheaper.

          • * * *
            Dear Max,
            there are millions of people walking around in much better health than you who think as little of themselves as you do. . . How do I know?
            I'm one of them. . .
            * * *
            The ability to walk won't make you a better friend… the ability to be a friend will …
            You'll first have to overcome your dislike of yourself and become your own best friend if you expect to become anyone else's best friend.
            How. . .?
            Practice giving yourself a compliment …
            Do yourself favors …
            Take yourself out into public doing things you like …
            IF you had legs, and the ability to walk, where would you go …? In this day and age, those places should be handicap accessible…
            * * *
            If you want a friend, be one. . .
            to yourself first, then to others…

            Just know that there are many more like you, in much better circumstance than you, who fight the same battles you do through their youth, their abuse, and their poor self-images. . .
            * * *
            I'm not saying that you'll get better when you WANT to … it'll take hard work and a long time.

            What I will say is this:
            if you don't want to try, you'll never get any better.

            Keep on doing what you're doing …
            You'll continue to be how you are …

            Good luck, Brother. . .

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh I don't think it would suddenly turn me into someone people want to spend time with or better looking but having legs that work would absolutely stop me from being shelved before I even got time to open my mouth and I'd consider that progress.

            It isn't self-image. If people were frequently telling me amazing I am and the phone was never not ringing from people agreeing to come out and do something or inviting themselves I'd see it as a self-image problem. It certainly appears that I'm seeing exactly the same useless sack of manure on wheels as everyone else does.

          • enail0_o says:

            You know most people don't have people frequently telling them how amazing they are, and don't get constant invites without a fair bit of initial and ongoing effort in building a social circle (and possibly in developing social skills, if they had problems with those), right?

            It's not something we acknowledge, I think because everyone feels like a happy social life is something that's supposed to come by magic and never go away or falter, or there's something wrong with them. But making and keeping friends and other positive relationships is hard for a lot of people who are not useless sacks of manure! It sounds like you've got additional factors that make it harder for you – so why not recognize that it's hard, and that it would likely be hard whether or not you were a useless sack of manure? And then maybe consider the possibility that you're not, that you might have good qualities. And then, if you want to, you could try to figure out ways to get past the obstacles that might have held you back to build a circle of people who appreciate those qualities. Wouldn't be easy, for sure. But you might find the results are worth it in the long run.

          • Maximilian says:

            The group of friends I've had for near enough 20 years and completely grown up with couldn't give two fucks about me anymore – they're shacked up with kids and wives/husbands. Why should any stranger I could possibly befriend have more reason to stick around than they did?

          • enail0_o says:

            It's very common for people's childhood friends to drift apart and lose touch as they and their lives change in adulthood. Really, really common, and not just among the socially awkward.

            I can see why you'd feel really hurt and abandoned, but again, I don't think it's reliable evidence that no one will find you worth sticking around for.

          • Maximilian says:

            It is 100% more evidence than the case for the opposite has.

          • enail0_o says:

            Well, it's your decision. Just know that there are lots of people out there who have had the same kind of evidence you have, and yet are not worthless sacks of manure, and do eventually find people who appreciate them. You could be one of them!

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh I'm sure there are and all the power to them.

          • enail0_o says:

            I realize you're being sarcastic here, but in case there's also the non-sarcastic version of this question lurking in there, I'm going to pretend you're not and give a serious response.

            Don't give them your backstory, just the info that's relevant to the interaction. "Just so you know, I'm not very good at reading non-verbal cues (or whatever), so please don't be shy about telling me if I'm standing too close/whatever else. I won't be offended. …So, how did you get into guerilla knitting?"

          • Maximilian says:

            If that ever gets more than a "Huh?" from anyone (male or female, human, animal or alien, attractive or not) I'll tell that story to my fictitious grandchildren.

          • eselle28 says:

            I've had someone say something pretty similar to me (it was about cultural differences in personal space, but with the same general message). No one said "Huh."

          • Maximilian says:

            Actually, 30-40% would probably wonder how generous carer's allowance is these days, so I withdraw that last comment. The grandchildren's factitious ears are safe.

          • Okay, I give up. What do you want here? Some secret signal to let people know what you need without actually telling them? Sorry, there is none. You've got to say things with your mouth.

            I have face blindness, which means I risk offending people by not recognizing them out of context. Embarrassing as this is, I've gotten used to telling folks up-front that it may be an issue. Nobody's ever sneered or given me the stink-eye or whatever you think is going to happen if you just use your friggin' words.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I hope this isn't prying but I'm really curious – so you still process faces in the abstract, right? Like "oh, that guy's got pretty eyes" or "blonde, brunette, redhead" or whatever. They just don't link up as belonging to a particular person?

          • I see faces and features just fine. The part of the brain that connects a face to information about the person just…doesn't work very well. It took me a long time to realize that this happens automatically for most people.

            My husband is phenomenally good at recognizing people–he's one of those guys who knows every character actor in Hollywood and can identify them in movies made decades apart–so he's kind of my seeing-eye dog when we're at parties and such.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            So, lacking a seeing eye dog, what's your primary cue? Voice, build, shoes?

          • I have face blindness as well. When I meet someone new, I try to make an abstract notation "blonde hair in a ponytail and plastic red frame glasses equals Jane." I'm still prone to not recognizing Jane later if she's changed her hair or not wearing her glasses. But I have to make a verbal cue for myself (even if it's in my brain) because the automatic function of recognition doesn't work.

          • I recognize people eventually; it just takes me a lot of time, especially if there isn't anything unusual about their features that I can latch on to. It gets most confusing if they're out of context, like I meet someone on the street when I've previously only encountered them at work.

            Voices are helpful. I recognize voices as well as the average person, so I try to pay attention to that.

            Brains are weird.

          • Maximilian says:

            I don't need anything as a signal. Most people have discounted me as being worthy of an approach the second they see me roll into a place and the rest I'm not going to approach anyway.

          • Some Chick says:

            I know it's three weeks later but I have to chime up to add at least one more number and say 'legitimately, it's OK.'

            I've met people who have within the first occasion of meeting given me head's up about various things and it's OK. I have real friendships that have started that way. I've also gotten seriously pissed off at people who've tried to tell me that I'm not allowed to feel uncomfortable being hit on/touched/followed/verbally harangued because 'I'm socially awkward/nice/whatever.'

            In summary guidelines for off the internet when meeting someone for the first time:

            Admitting meeting people is generally hard = generally OK if not dwelt upon.

            Long back story about why that is specifically for oneself = not advisable until subsequent meetings.

            'You're not allowed to be uncomfortable ever because…' = absolutely not OK.

            Specific 'heads up I'm good/not good at so please let me know if…' = absolutely 100% OK.

            To quote you from an above post ' I move on to talk about their hobbies?' yes actually exactly that, and then your own. enail's absolutely right.

          • Maximilian says:

            The situation was highly hypothetical and soaked in sarcasm, the idea of anyone giving me the time required to say any of those things is pretty laughable.

            Thanks for trying though.

          • I'm sorry to hear that because of your disability that you were treated badly by your family and given the idea that you are not worthy of being loved by someone. That REALLY sucks!
            Personally, I feel that when parents don't teach their children to comfortable engage in conversation with other people, it's paramount to abuse and neglect.
            I have a child with Aspergers, which means that he is wired differently and truly has a difficult time catching social cues. Sounds to me like you just weren't given the confidence that a family is supposed to give in order to allow you to reach out to others in the world.
            Might I suggest looking into a support group or even some therapy to help you build up your confidence? I know a lot of people get freaked out when therapy is suggested, but going to a professional and learning how to overcome some of those wrongs that were stamped on your psyche and heart can be SO uplifting and freeing.
            I wish you the best and hope that you learn to love yourself, in order to allow someone else to love YOU!

          • Maximilian says:

            Appreciate it but "the prize" at the end of it all just isn't worth carting myself to a therapy/support group with their one size fits all approach to everything.

            I offer nothing to anybody and I consider the time it took until I realised that as my therapy and the prize of complete indifference to the concept of adding someone else to my everyday existence is a much more practical reward

          • enail0_o says:

            Why do you think you offer nothing? What kind of things do you think a person needs to offer to be worth loving?

          • Maximilian says:

            Nobody has found anything in 25 years and even the people forced to love me didn't think I was capable of it from others in the first place.

            There is more eyewitness evidence for the existence of ghosts – it isn't rocket science.

          • Your family sounds like a bunch of jerks.

            But you said you're socially awkward, right? Don't you think it's possible that no one's seen that you have something to offer not because you don't, but because you don't have the social skills to be able to show the things you have to offer so that they can see them? Lots of people with good traits and things to offer struggle with expressing them and connecting with people. That could be the case for you.

          • Maximilian says:

            I don't see it that way, no. The few friends I did have all now have far better things to do than hang around with me – some of them I've not seen in over a year.

            There wasn't a falling out between us, they just realised I'm not worth wasting their time on.

          • Most people lose touch with friends sometimes. There are lots of reasons it could be other than that they didn't think you were worth it – having bad stuff going on in their lives that they have to deal with, feeling like you don't really want to see them (especially if you also haven't reached out to them either), having let it go a little too long and then feeling like it would be too awkward and being too embarrassed to get in touch, and so forth. Also, sometimes people grow apart without it saying anything bad about either of them, and they just need to move on to different people.

          • Maximilian says:

            Whatever the reason, they don't want anything to do with me anymore.

          • enail0_o says:

            I'm sorry to hear that, it sucks to lose friends.

            But, although I can imagine how hard it must be to have a sense of self-worth when you've been treated so badly by your family and when you feel abandoned by your friends, I think it unlikely that it's because you have nothing worthwhile about you and no one could ever like you. Can you truly think of no good points about yourself?

            Sometimes, you've got to be the first one to believe you're worthwhile so you can show other people that you are. It's awful that anyone has to do it that way, but it does happen, to perfectly good people who deserve affection just as much as anyone else.

          • Maximilian says:

            "Can you truly think of no good points about yourself?"

            I'm not dead, I'm not a murderer, I'm not a rapist, I'm not racist, I'm not homophobic and I have the capacity to grow a beard.

          • enail0_o says:

            Well, your last bit there made me LOL, so you can add a sense of humour to that.

            I suspect you could think of some more positives (as opposed to lack of negatives) if you worked on it. Very few people (if any) have no active good traits whatsoever.

          • Maximilian says:

            Lets call it gallows humour.

          • enail0_o says:

            Gallows or not, funny is funny.

          • Maximilian says:

            It has certainly done me well so far in life.

          • JennyBubonic says:

            Excellent. Thank you Enail. This made me happy compared to the other far more judgmental conversation above. And Max, there is always someone for everybody, whether you believe that or not.

          • Maximilian says:

            "And Max, there is always someone for everybody, whether you believe that or not."

            And wooden puppet can become a real boy.

          • Maximilian says:

            This place makes no sense whatsoever.

          • enail0_o says:

            There are lots of different people here – it may not always be the same folks upvoting everyone, so I wouldn't try to read too much into this stuff. Also, not everyone who is generally on the positive, rah rah believe-in-yourself side believes that everyone has a soulmate waiting for them out there (I don't). Or maybe people just found it funny.

          • Maximilian says:

            I get that but far less sarcastic and negative comments than that have absolutely bombed in the up/downvote game.

          • celette482 says:

            I gave you a perfectly reasonable response based on a desire to be come more socially capable all the way around. Instead, you chose to focus solely on getting sex. Here's the thing. If you aren't socially capable with people you don't want to sleep with, you'll never ever get anywhere with people you do.

          • Maximilian says:

            " Instead, you chose to focus solely on getting sex."


          • celette482 says:

            My original response to you was *specifically* gender neutral, because it's about interacting with anyone from guys to grandmas.

            You then said: "I'm socially awkward (or socially retarded as it has been phrased before) to the point where I just don't bother going after attractive women at all. I'm not worth their time, they know it, I know it, so why waste 30-40 seconds that could be better spent say…counting the tiles on the ceiling? "

            You're the one who jumped to attractive women. I was talking about human interaction, you're talking about people with whom you want to have sex, in potentia at the very least. And before you start some crap about this is a site for guys who want to get the girl, any guy who only speaks to women with whom he wants to have sex is going to be very unsuccessful. That shit looks bad.

          • Maximilian says:

            I'm not remotely interested about sex. Try again.

          • celette482 says:

            Then why say "attractive women"? You think that men and all other women are so desperate for attention they would want to put up with your nonsense?

          • Maximilian says:

            Again. I DON'T APPROACH ANYONE.

            I used the word attractive as that is the default reason for deciding to approach someone. Time for another correction! I thought I was straight but I once agreed that Bradley Cooper was an attractive man so it turns out I'm, at least, bisexual and want to have sex with Bradley Cooper.

          • celette482 says:

            And where in my comment did it make it sound like I was describing what you *did*? You asked for an example, I gave you one. If you wanna talk to people to be a jerk to them, be my guest, but I'm not a punching bag.

          • Maximilian says:

            "any guy who only speaks to women with whom he wants to have sex is going to be very unsuccessful"

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh and…

            "going after only people you want to sleep with is a bad social strategy and THAT is why I think you're wasting their time."

            From up there.

          • Delafina says:

            Wow, non-traditionally-beautiful women = men or animals. Jesus.

          • Maximilian says:

            I wouldn't approach Jesus either. I'm not a wine drinker so his magic powers are of no interest to me.

          • Even Jesus himself would laugh to that answer. Don't be sad Max!
            Have you tried playing online games? Game nerds are generally great folks with plenty of time also for "less entertaining" people. We may have our childish hobbies but we actually don't live this life for our fun, not expecting to be entertained by somebody else. Some people might dislike me for that advice, but in my opinion it's "whatever makes you happy" question.
            Been close friends with people I have never seen for several years and I wouldn't give them away for any price. I'm autistic and used to creep people away time to time but now when I have people who I know love me anyway, it's easier to get over it also IRL (and amazingly I now often end up being liked in the end, which definitely wouldn't have happened if I let their insecurities scare me away from trying). That wins hiding scared and alone in corner 100 – 0.
            Your dry sense of humor would probably fit in perfectly at least in European communities. Some countries have a culture where joking often involves harshness to oneself, so maybe in international context your "self pity" would also be in less risk to be immediately spotted and backed away from. We need friends to feel safe because we are human, and this is a method that worked for me (therapy just made me feel awkward but we often jokingly call it "online therapy" among gamers and make fun out of it).

    • erycduhart009 says:

      A that point I guess giving reasonable amounts of detail is your best course of action:

      "I guess I'm not the best at socializing. I get a little nervous and put my foot in my mouth from time to time, but I try to be as nice and courteous I can"

      • Maximilian says:

        But that would be a lie, I don't get nervous – I'm just utterly terrible at it. To be perfect honest, I've never gotten past "Hi" and them looking down to see me in my chair so we can pretty much make anything up that I could say, it won't be happening any time soon.

        • I have put off telling you this because I felt like you would then come up with some reason that this guy is not the same as you but here we go . . .

          First of all I have several friends in chairs for a variety of reasons. But the first friend I ever made who was in a chair remains to this day one of the most charming men I've ever met. He always has a girlfriend, he makes his chair cool (he's quite athletic with it), he is nice and warm, asks how people are doing. He goes to events, he is in general awesome. I'm not saying his life is perfect, it's still going to be harder for him to be in a chair than not. But he does very well both friends wise and relationship wise. And it comes down to him just being a good guy. A fun guy. A kind guy.

          I cannot even begin to comprehend how hard life must be for you. Just by virtue of being friends with this gentleman I've become so aware of how inaccessible so much of the world is. But your self consciousness with your chair is overwhelming you. It is becoming something more than it is. Yes, people will be startled to see you in a chair, sitting below eyeline, but that look they give you is just that, a gut response, an "Oh, wow, someone in a wheelchair, I wasn't expecting that." I'm not saying that there aren't idiots who will be so uncomfortable in this unusual situation for them that they will project disgust or fear or just walk away. Oh you will meet those fools. I'm just saying not every look of surprise is a mean or judgemental one. A joke about the chair will ease the situation, or just launching into friendly small talk will immediately demonstrate "Hey look, totally cool person here who just happens to be in a chair."

          Again, I'm not saying it's easy. I'm just saying it isn't this impossible situation you've made it into. Dudes in chairs get laid. In fact dudes in chairs get fetishized, and while that's kind of ick, it's a way in to getting laid. I doubt you want to hear any more about self love and personality mattering, but when something's the truth it's the truth. No matter how much you wish to deny it. Denying it makes it easier for you, it means you don't have to put in the work and can blame everything and everyone else for your lack of success. But it ain't the truth.

          The truth is, you can overcome the chair. But you have to work at it. And that's not fair that you have this extra challenge and extra work, I'm not saying it is, but it can be done.

          • Maximilian says:

            Again, I'm not denying that people in wheelchairs find people are interested in them. Nerds find people who are interested in them. Blind people, deaf people etc.
            I'm not even saying I have it worse than any of those people, I certainly wouldn't swap my non-functioning legs for those of a guy living in abject poverty.

            I certainly don't blame anyone else for my lack of success, nor do I blame the lack of working legs and being confined to a chair for 90% of the time while out (soon to be 100%). I offer nothing to anybody, friend or otherwise. Denying that makes it easier for people on here to reply so not to "hurt my feelings"

          • Why do you choose to offer nothing to people?

          • Maximilian says:

            There was no choice involved it just came naturally. The friends I've had since day 1 of school had far more important things to do than spend 5 minutes with me more than once every 18 months and nobody else has seen anything worth sticking around for in the 25 years I've been on this planet.

            Even the people who brought me up found the idea of me finding a girl something 10000000% funnier than any joke I could ever dream of coming up with.

          • enail0_o says:

            Would you want to change this? I'm sure folks here could come up with suggestions of things that could help you show what you have to offer and find strategies for making friends, but I'm not clear on if you're posting because you might want that or if you just want to express your feelings about your situation. I don't want to push if that's not of interest, but it's hard to read your posts as not obliquely looking for hope of some sort.

          • Maximilian says:

            " I'm sure folks here could come up with suggestions of things that could help you show what you have to offer"

            Sure. Let me know when you're ready.

          • enail0_o says:

            Any time – though I think we'd do better to move the discussion somewhere other less out of the way where other people are more likley to contribute, b/c I'm certainly not an expert at this kind of stuff. Maybe start a thread on the forum?

          • These sound like bad people not like you have nothing to offer. I assumed when you said you had nothing to offer you meant that you didn't offer a shoulder for people to cry on, or help when they asked, or a fun night out that you organised etc etc. But if you are generous and kind with people and they reject you . . .they are likely not worth your time.

            You need to meet a new group of people. How large a community do you live in?

          • Maximilian says:

            " I assumed when you said you had nothing to offer you meant that you didn't offer a shoulder for people to cry on, or help when they asked, or a fun night out that you organised"
            I might do – been so long since I had anyone to offer those things to, who knows?

            Large-ish village inhabited by mostly elderly people and young families.

          • Hmm, yes, location can be a problem, especially if it's a smaller area. That makes it much trickier. I assume you've investigated the usual clubs/groups who share your interests?

          • Maximilian says:

            There isn't any here, they're all in the biggest town – 15-20 miles away and I don't drive so they may as well be a plane ride away.

          • Have you considered then focusing on learning how to drive, and giving yourself some independence? I know that can initially sound thoughtless, as you are in a chair, but again my friend in a chair drives. It's a different method without pedals, but rather with something attached to the steering wheel. Again I'm not sure how easy it is to get all that done, and to learn it, but it might make sense to focus on that so that you can escape and be more in charge of your life. Or is this sounding just way too overwhelming 😛 (apologies if it is).

          • Maximilian says:

            To be honest it isn't particularly more overwhelming than the seemingly endless list of things I read about in every article that I need to fix about myself before people will stick around for more than 5 minutes.

          • enail0_o says:

            The articles here aren't really meant as a "you must master everything here before you're fit for society." I think it's more of a grab-bag of stuff aimed at people with different goals or different areas causing them differently. You've got to figure out what's relevant to you.

          • Maximilian says:

            Who knows? I'm starting from absolute zero and considering that fact I don't think I'm the right person to judge what I need to do and what I don't.

          • enail0_o says:

            Fair enough. I think people here might be able to give some ideas for good starting points or for resources that can help you figure them out.

          • Maximilian says:

            By all means. Knock yourselves out.

          • enail0_o says:

            I'm thinking there are two main avenues you might want to look at: social skills and ways to meet people.

            For social skills, I'd think it could be helpful to consider how past relationships and social encounters have played out to see where you might tend to run into trouble, and that might give you a starting point to focus on. Since you've had friends before, I suspect you're not really starting from absolute zero. Another thing that might be useful would be seeing a therapist – a trained, neutral person who can actually see how you come across in person is better placed to give advice than us random internetters.

            In terms of meeting people, we might want to brainstorm situations that would take the chair out of the equation as a barrier, as well as just figuring out situations that are geared towards low-stress friendly interaction and where you're likely to meet people you're compatible with.

            As a third avenue, it might be good to look at the possibility of learning to drive or anything else that could increase your independence and available range of social situations.

          • But I don't add this to the long list. I understand the feeling of reading these blogs and trying to become the perfect dude to get the girl and it's just too much and you don't know what works for you and what doesn't so it's all this tidal wave of information . . .

            But learning how to drive (and also how to get in and out of the chair, get it in the car etc) isn't just about dating. It isn't just about finding friends. It isn't just about "be happy". It's a very pragmatic step that could give you a hell of a lot pretty much instantly. It isn't like someone saying, "Well maybe this pick up technique will work with some kind of women", it's learning how to drive. It's not knowing how to do something and then learning it. A very tangible accomplishment that results in a predictable outcome. It opens up your world, it gives you other life opportunities (what if you want a job that is driving distance away?).

            I'm not saying you need to, at all, it's just some internet stranger's suggestion. But having independence, being able to get out of your town, being able to take on some tasks that otherwise weren't available to you, that's a big big big step in your life. It's life changing, quite frankly.

            But again, I know NOTHING about how a person in a chair goes about learning how to drive, how to do it in a small community, how to get the proper vehicle. It's a lot, I know. And maybe you aren't in a position to do all that right now. But I just don't see it as just another thing to work on.

    • I don't know if this helps, but I'd met this guy who was making me feel really uncomfortable. I said to him, "would you please stop?" and he said, "ok. Does it make a difference that I am slightly autistic?"

      Here's the thing. He stopped when I told him to, and so I consider him a nice guy. And yes, knowing he was autistic helped explain his behavior.

      But the fact remained that I felt really uncomfortable around him, and no diagnosis makes a difference.

      I think that if you have a disability that makes reading social cues difficult, then it means that you should probably work extra hard to learn how to read social cues. AND, be upfront from the beginning.

      • Maximilian says:

        It does help actually, it cements my belief that me approaching anyone isn't worth the hassle. That way, if they come to me, the disability isn't an issue.

        Unfortunately they never have and probably never will. Oh well!

  2. celette482 says:

    Yeah. The guy who stroked my hair and jerked off on the school trip was "socially awkward." Also a sexual predator. I'm less than forgiving of people who don't own their behavior.

    • raindancing says:

      Yup, the last time I ignored a creepy vibe (because he was socially awkward!! and from Sri Lanka!! so cultural differences!! yes he made me profoundly uncomfortable, but that's not really his fault, because socially awkward!!) I ended up getting groped in my sleep.

      • HermitTheToad says:


        Why, why do these men insist on behaving in a shitty manner while hiding behind the excuse of "Hey, cultural differences" to justify said behaviour? As if the action is completely acceptable back in Sri Lanka or any other South-East Asian country. As if we didn't have enough negative stereotypes and generalisations to deal with in countries where we are the minority.

      • That reminds me of the episode of Boondocks where Huey's grandpa opened a Soul Food restaurant that really put a number on their neighborhood.

        Huey called out his Grandpa for screwing things up and the grandpa replies, "But it's your culture."

        Huey's response? "The this culture is poisonous!"

        Even if whatever he did is culturally acceptable (I doubt it, I think he was just trying to excuse the fact he was a creep), that doesn't mean that there aren't parts of a culture that isn't idiotic or toxic.

    • At the same time? That was horrible, people shouldn’t do shit like that. I’m not Mr. Socially Graceful or even Mr. Feminist Ally but there seems to be a lot of evil assholes out there that can’t even get “this is obviously something that no decent person would do” it’s a line of thought that I can’t understand. You just don’t harm others like that.

      • celette482 says:

        It's not that the evil assholes you're talking about don't get it. It's that they don't care. In this person's case, his right to satisfy himself sexually trumped my right to… not have that happen to me.

        That's why people (especially women) get so upset at other examples of boundary testing, *particularly* once the "You shouldn't do that" is established. There *are* people in the world for whom personal space is something that happens to other people, whose own impulses and desires are the only ones that matter, and who are just looking for the chance to enjoy themselves at someone else's expense. Those people don't wear signs (though… idea!), so the best we can do is look for patterns of behavior to avoid. Hence: creepy.

        In other words, he didn't start out doing things that were obviously beyond the pale (and he sure as hell stopped because I and the guy who witnessed the whole thing made sure he was never left alone with another girl again). He started off like what anyone would have expected a socially awkward teenage boy to be.

        • Don’t they have anything better to do with their time?

          • I think you underestimate the extent to which this *is* what these guys want to do with their time. The work of David Lisak and others has shown that predators prey on people, using the boundary-testing grooming Doc referenced above, because they *like* to. It's not that they can't "get" sex any other way, it's that they don't prefer to.

    • And that’s the real root of the problem. “Socially awkward” is essentially being used as an excuse by rape apologists.

      There are people who have more trouble reading social and nonverbal cues than others. That fact is manipulated by rapists and potential rapists who are fully aware of what they’re doing. Society just happens to agree that they should reap the benefits because it views sexual dominance as a legitimate form of power.

      Even people who are legitimately socially awkward should accept the consequences of violating boundaries. The only way to learn that something is bad is to be punished for it. A neutral or rewarding response will “train” them the wrong way.

      • Except there are degrees of punishment. In less serious case, why not take a moment to point out to Mr. Socially Awkward that he violated a boundary? Or at least explicitly state "I'm not interested." Someone whose intentions are good will respect an explicit no.

        • eselle28 says:

          Because I'm not Mr. Socially Awkward's teacher. If I'm feeling violated by his behavior or uncomfortable in his presence, I don't think it's fair for society to draft me as his etiquette instructor, especially if I'm not interested in interacting with him any further. In other cases, I might be favorably inclined toward Mr. Socially Awkward or feeling in a helpful mood that day, but I think it should be up to me.

          It's a very common expectation for women to be expected to take on this additional duty toward men who've harmed them in some way, and I don't think it's a fair one.

  3. The real insidious thing about the "well we're just socially awkward, girls should be more forward" excuse is that it doesn't allow room for the *girl* to be socially awkward. It literally expects that girls/women will always know exactly where their boundaries are, that they will always be able to articulate those boundaries, that they will be able to articulate them in a way that is both clear but also socially allowed (aka, not "chewing the guy out") AND that the girl will take the guy's accidental boundary violation with social aplomb.

    I am very socially awkward. I'm a bull in a china shop when it comes to social interaction. And nothing makes me trip up on my own boundaries better than feeling as if I'm not "allowed" to be creeped out. Because I am socially awkward, and thus frequently misread social signals, the times when I have been creped out have been hand-waved away by others as me not reading the situation correctly. Now I not only feel skeeved out, but ashamed and rushing to correct my "too harsh" behavior towards the creeper because I'm told I was the one over-reacting.

    Socially awkwardness only seems to be an excuse for the aggressor, never the target. That alone should signal that the issue actually isn't about respecting social awkwardness, or why would these same defenders not be rushing to excuse the target's behavior? ("Well she's socially awkward, she didn't realize he wasn't REALLY hitting on her!")

    • celette482 says:

      Yes. This.

      Oh, you didn't yell loud enough or say stop enough? It can't possibly be because you're shy and quiet and afraid! But don't expect that guy to take your freezing as a sign that you're not into it, no. He's socially awkward! It's just a misunderstanding!

    • You have perfectly expressed nearly every feel I have about the Social Awkwardness Exemptions only going one way, thank you <3

    • Amen Marty!
      I always hear: "Why are you so mean to HIM? Cut HIM some slack!"
      I never hear the same excuse-making with a female pronoun.

      • PintsizeBro says:

        I heard that with the pronouns reversed a grand total of once – but the aggressor was female. So even though the other people were defending the woman in this situation rather than the man, they were still siding with the aggressor over the target.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I've been in one of those before as the target. She wasn't seriously unhinged, genuinely just a bit awkward but she was also very much not my type and there was a huge public outcry of "give her a chance".

    • SarahGryph says:

      Marty, you have no idea how much I want to thank you for this post. You know when something has been vaguely bothering you for years but you haven't quite been able to explain it? You just did for me, and I had no idea how much I needed to see this part of things spelled out like that.

      'K…it's also nearly 11am and I've been up all night so not going to let myself ramble when I'm barely coherent; but really thank you.

    • Yep.

    • This. THIS THIS THIS.

      So much this.

    • eselle28 says:

      Thank you so much for mentioning this. I find it infuriating that all of the discussion of social awkwardness and disability when it comes to creeping focuses on problems the creep may have. I've found that the very worst of the creeps tend to target vulnerable people who aren't confident in their ability to judge inappropriate actions, don't have the social toolset to shut down those inappropriate actions, or who are less likely to be believed by others if they protest.

      • celette482 says:

        Just like people who target children and intoxicated people.


        So… basically… predators are like *actual predators* going after the injured and old and sick and young? Wut.

        • eselle28 says:

          A bit of a tangent, but did other women here experience their Maximum Creep Problems point around the age of puberty? I sometimes have problems these days too, but I swear it was worse when I was 10 or 12. I wasn't a cute tween by any means, so I'm pretty sure it was the easy prey factor.

          • celette482 says:

            I… remember some times at ages 12-15 that were scary. But… I grew up and so it stood out less (because i was no longer OBVIOUSLY A CHILD and the idea that grown men were focusing on me at 12 was terrifying, even at 12). It became background noise of my life so it stopped standing out so much. After the incident above (which was when I was 16) I developed a "Zero Tolerance" policy for people within my actual realm of influence.

            Any of these things could factor in. But yeah, I get less creeping now by people I know, but possibly the same amount of what I call "Drive-bys" (getting shouted at on the street). I am in my mid-twenties and reasonably good-looking.

          • Oh yeah, I had some seriously upsetting experiences between 10 and 12, compounded by the fact that I didn't really understand what was going on. There were a few men who were genuinely horrified when they asked me out and I responded, "I'm 11," but a disturbing number weren't bothered at all. There was also a whole lot of following and cornering associated with these "attempts at wooing", and to this day I get panicky when either of those actions happen. None of those guys were being socially awkward; they were targeting me.

          • vintagelydia says:

            Yes absolutely. It slowed down a LOT around the time I started driving (16) but I thought it was because I wasn't walking anymore and just not being in a position to be approached by creeps. But then I got pregnant and suddenly every single time I was running errands I got the attention again (not sure what the connection is, but I got less attention after I gave birth.)

            Nothing is crazier than riding your bright pink and purple OBVIOUSLY children's bicycle and having men come up and propositioning me. When these are your first experiences to men doing a cold approach, is it really any wonder a large number of women get the hackles up when they are approached in public? These guys are actual PREDATORS so yeah, that's gonna inform our future experiences with the whole thing.

          • Yep, 10-13 for me and the only time men (and these were definitely men) talked to me by choice and it was some wildly inappropriate talk. It was awful because you knew something was not right but they were adults and you were just a kid so you felt so trapped.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            To everyone replying to this particular tanget:
            Holy shit? Seriously? 10-12? I just. . .I can't even. . .what the fuck is wrong with people!

          • eselle28 says:

            Yes, 10-12, and the earliest problems were even a bit sooner than that. Like the other women, I would also say that the bulk of it was from men who were well into adulthood, not from teenage boys.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I mean, don't get me wrong, I got some attention from creepy older guys, too. Not many but more than one. But that was when I was like 16-21. I just. . .my brain goes into vapor lock trying to figure out why anyone. . .ARGH!


            First link is specifically about street harassment. Second covers a wide variety of situations. One does not have to read too many before finding accounts of people who were barely into double digits in terms of their age when they were first harassed.

          • Delafina says:

            Well, for guys who get off on making women uncomfortable and feeling like they have power over them, young girls are an ideal target — likely to be confused and scared rather than just angry, don't necessarily have the language to articulate how they feel about it, likely not to report it, etc.

          • Welcome to our world….

          • Absolutely. It happens to every girl child. It happened to me back in the '60s (yes, I am aged) and it happened to my daughter in the '00s. As another poster pointed out, when this is your first introduction to male-female relations it's amazing that women ever want to have anything to do with men.

          • Um… I was a girl-child and it never happened to me. I have no doubt it happens to a lot of people, but it's clearly not universal.

          • Wanna be really horrified? Look at rape statistics. I mean, it's bad enough that 1 in 5 women deal with that, but most of the risk happens before age 17 (I think–it's some absurdly young age). If I ever have a daughter, she will be in martial arts by age 10.

          • Delafina says:

            Martial arts training is great for a variety of reasons, but if your concern specifically is rape/sexual assault, teaching her about consent is far more effective. Most sexual assault is at the hands of someone the victim knows and doesn't involve weapons — and in many cases, it doesn't even involve physical violence or overt force; pressure, inducing guilt, or threats are enough to allow the perpetrator to succeed.

            You can have black belts in every martial arts discipline, but if the perpetrator isn't someone you want to hurt, or makes you feel like you're obligated to have sex with them, or you're confused about whether it's actually rape because you didn't consent, but you gave a "soft no" or other indications that you didn't want to do it but the perpetrator overrode them, you're likely not going to use any of that martial arts training.

            So, martial arts = great when paired with open talk about how anything less than "yes" means "no," how you're not obligated to have sex with anyone regardless of what they've done for you, how even if you've started sexual activity you can stop at any time, etc.

          • Abi Brown says:

            Yes, this.

            Not to mention the way that it gets turned into victim blaming. I hate all that crap that goes around about how all women should learn basic self-defence techniques; it all too often gives way to "why didn't you fight back more?".

          • It also shows a misunderstanding of martial arts. Most martial arts, being rooted in Eastern tradition, have very strong philosophies about only using violence as a last resort. Even the most basic of techniques can really injure someone. In a single belt, my techniques taught me how to: -correctly gouge an eye -break a sternum -slam someone into the ground -break one or more of their joints

            Even in situations where physical force is called for, I have to be very careful about what technique I use, or I could be liable by law for assault. A guy putting his hand on my ass in a bar, for example, wouldn't deserve an eye gouge. In addition to potentially getting charged in a court of law, if my instructor found out, I'd be doing pushups for weeks as punishment.

            Don't get me wrong, martial arts is fantastic, but the idea that knowing some means you can avoid every potential rape-y situation ignores the nuances of what martial arts teaches.

          • Jenmeister says:

            And if you have a boy, please teach him about consent–for his sake as much as the sake of his future partners. No, silence, discomfort, uncertainty: they’re all ways of giving a soft no. Anyone’s allowed to say no at any point, even if they previously said yes. Trying to cajole, persuade, or pressure someone into changing their mind and having sex after an implied or clear no is not okay.

          • celette482 says:

            This is actually way more important than anything you say to your hypothetical daughters.

          • Teach your girls this, too. Boys can be pressured into sex, and it's no more fun for them than for girls.

          • Want to be even more horrified. Girls with intellectual disabilities under the age of 18 have a target on their back where 80% of that target is a big red bulls-eye. 80% of disabled girls are sexually abused, harassed, or assaulted before the age of 18.

            It makes me want to throw up.

          • eselle28 says:

            Holy shit that's depressing.

          • I was one of them, from age 4, mostly by other kids. A mix of boys and girls. With added early puberty on my part, periods at 7, so I was a permanent object of curiosity, bullying and a target for coercive behaviour. I didn't get raped by an adult man until I was actually in my early teens, but by then I though it was completely normal. My no's never ever got listened to.

            Having several undiagnosed disabilities, Epilepsy, Bipolar, SAD, severe Anxiety, Bulimia and other eating disordered behaviour, self harm, suicidal ideation, rapidly worsen PTSD as I got older and some type of Aspergers (waiting to be diagnosed) made me the poster child for being sexually abused by any and all that wanted a go.

            And no, I'm really not over it at all. You never get to be over it when it is so severe and long lasting.

          • Tricksterbelle says:

            I always lumped the harassment I got from age 10-14 in with the middle school bullying. Mainly because it was the same boys in my class who were picking on me for every other reason under the sun, so why not make it gendered? I actually think I was easier prey for the regular bullying, being so sheltered I just felt oblivious & bewildered rather than threatened.

            I can still feign doe-eyed innocence pretty well, & it's shut down several conversations that have made me uncomfortable. I guess it's pretty difficult to prey on something that doesn't understand it's in the jungle.

          • For me it was probably around 11-15; still happens from time to time, but tapered off sharply after high school. Granted, I was tall for my age and an early developer, but *at best* I maybe looked a couple of years older.

          • chinchilla says:

            Ugh the dude who grabbed my hand and asked me to marry him then pulled me onto his lap and laughed as I struggled, got my feet on the floor again and ran away and cried.

            I was following my mum and younger brother through a 'family friendly' pub to get my dad while the rugby was on. I was 13.

          • Yep! I actually remember the first time I was harassed by a man on the street was when I was 12. He got pissed when I didn’t respond right away and then when I did turn around to apologize (because CLEARLY I was in the wrong there), he asked for my number. All while he was holding a baby in his arms. Weird to say the least.

          • When I was like 11 or 12 there was this one guy who kept calling me at home he claimed he was 15 but he was most likely over 18… long after we got him to stop calling by telling him we had called the police I went to the mall to look for my sister, I’m not even sure if I remember why anymore. A man at a lotion cart kept trying to convince me to take an expensive bottle of lotion and keep coming back for more and he sounded exactly like the guy who had been calling me on the phone. I was place.and didn’t.know what to do and I kept looking at the woman who worked at the lotion stand too and she didn’t do anything about it… That was one of the creepiest moments of my middle school years.

          • Yes. I think the first instance was around 9 or 10. I went shopping at Walmart with some friends I was staying with and I hadn't even realized the skirt I was wearing had completely split down the back, so my backside was completely exposed. These two men were sitting in the car next to us. I'm not really sure what they were doing cause my friend's mom blocked me and just told me to get in the car. When I look back on it I just assume they were checking out my ass and really should have known better since I was a child… I guess I wasn't really approached but it was disturbing. When I was around 11 or 12 there was a guy who called me on the phone, and started asking me obviously sexual questions like 'what I was wearing.' He freaked me out and we called the police and we just got him to stop calling by telling him we called the police. After he had stopped calling I walked to the mall to look for my sister, I don't even remember why, and this adult man working at a lotion stand tried to buy me with free lotion and telling me that I should keep coming back and he would keep giving me lotion. I probably would have just thought it was strange if he hadn't sounded like the guy on the phone. I didn't really know how to respond to him besides telling him I didn't want the lotion. I froze because I didn't know what to do and I kept looking at the woman who was also working at the lotion stand, but she didn't do anything about it. It was one of the creepier moments of my middle school years. I remember being really upset that the woman didn't do anything. I sort of thought about it again and realized that if she didn't know what was going on then maybe a guy trying to give free lotion doesn't look that suspicious? … I don't know I would think that trying to lure a child with free lotion would be considered pretty suspicious in anyone's book but I guess everyone has to learn that people don't always care at some point… Maybe she just couldn't hear what was going on

          • lol … I couldn't find my first comment before and thought it was deleted… Sorry for the double post, but I guess you get more stories about creepy people now

          • Oh man, I worry about this so much since my little sister just turned 12. When I was 11-14 I literally could not leave the house without grown ass men cornering me, trying to ask me out, saying incredibly inappropriate things to me, or just straight up groping me. Looking back now, I can point to some situations that were straight up dangerous–and disturbingly enough those involved men approaching me as I walked home from school. It was only four blocks. I'm in my early twenties now and thankfully it's all but stopped, but I still panic when men stand to close to me in stores or walk behind me on the street. That feeling of being preyed upon never goes away.

        • enail0_o says:

          Yep. I've gotten more catcalls and creepiness in the last 9 months on crutches than I have in the 9 years prior.

    • I notice that in the comments for the Kotaku posts, the responses defending the creepers divide neatly in half:

      Response #1: "She didn't say no clearly enough, so she deserved to get harassed! She rejected him politely or tried to ignore him! How is some poor socially awkward guy supposed to read such subtle cues? What a cock-tease! It's the woman's responsibility to be clear and firm and aggressively let the man know if his behavior is wrong!"

      Response #2: "OMG she was so mean to him! She told him off and used shaming language! She deliberately made him feel bad, when he's probably just a poor socially awkward guy who didn't mean any harm! What a bitch! It's the woman's responsibility to be polite and nurturing and gently teach the man proper behavior without hurting his feelings!"


    • Yes, yes, yes! This, exactly this.

    • Extremely well said

    • This should be added to the main article! The last couple of paragraphs of the main article are me to a T. I am extremely socially inept. But I don't get better, because I'm scared to death of social situations. Half of my fear is doing or saying something insanely stupid and being branded "The Creeper", so I'll go out of my way not to put myself in those situations, so I don't learn. Because of this, I rarely get approached by "The Creeper", however when someone does talk to me, I never know how to react. I don't want to lead on "The Creeper", but I don't want to come off as the creepy party either. I can't tell the difference.

      • I get what you're saying. But creepy is so not the same as socially awkward. And if you have good intentions, other people will sense that. So don't worry about creeping other people out.

        If someone is making you uncomfortable, then get out of the situation. How you feel matters too. If you read the situation wrong then that person will apologize and/or try to make you feel comfortable.

        • “And if you have good intentions, other people will sense that.”

          That, to put it gently, has most emphatically not been my experience.

          I wouldn’t advise apologizing, either. If, by some miracle, you manage to discover that a person such as this has been offended by your choice to speak to them (or, for that matter, be in the same room with them) before con security arrives to throw you out of the hotel (or the police arrive to lock you in prison), the correct response _does not_ include _any_ further interaction with them whatsoever. If you find yourself in that situation, LEAVE. IMMEDIATELY. Every second you stay makes your troubles worse, and every word you say increases the odds that the complaint will escalate from what could still be limited to banning you from a social event, to what will certainly include being stripped naked, handcuffed, and locked in a tiny room with a group of violent criminals for a long weekend.

          • So, you've been at a con and been involved in something that led to an arrest? Please elaborate, because this sounds like quite the story.

    • Female & Awkward says:

      You make an EXCELLENT point that I hadn't thought of, but hits the nail on the head so hard it splits open.

      You're right. The same common "socially awkwardness" excuse for male aggressors almost never gets used to defend female victims/receivers, which is just another way of showing that it's not really about respecting social awkwardness so much as about preserving male privilege, cover, etc.

    • The really insidious thing is that even women who have zero problems interpreting social cues get told they're wrong in these situations. It drives me crazy, the number of times a guy has hit on me and when I turned them down (usually with the classic "I've got a boyfriend" even if I don't, just because that softens the blow – it's not you, it's my boyfriend) suddenly they claim they weren't hitting on me! Oh yeah, I bet you just walk up to random guys in the grocery store and ask them to go get coffee all the time, right? When you said "go out sometime" you totally meant as buddies, right? And half the time it's with this "you crazy bitch" look on their face, as though the idea that I just interpreted them asking me out on a date as them asking me out on a date is akin to telling them I would, but the government has been listening to my thoughts lately.

      When a relatively non-awkward woman, faced with a guy who just literally ASKED FOR A DATE, gets told she's reading the situation wrong – and this has happened to me over and over again – what hope is there for women who are unsure of themselves, who worry they may actually be reading things wrong? At what point are women allowed to be confident that yes, that guy who just asked me out actually asked me out?

      (And where the fuck did we go wrong in this society when the default response for being turned down for a date became denial that you ever asked?? Honestly, I feel like I dodged a bullet with every single one of these guys. I'm sure somewhere down the line they would have tried to manipulate me in some more dangerous way.)

      • OMG. THIS SO MUCH. I was texting this guy, and he'd said that he'd be up for going to the museum with me. So I texted him to see if he wanted to go that weekend. He said he had too much work to do, as he'd been playing. I asked, "what" and he said, "I was horny." So I told HIM that there was no way I'd sleep with him the first time we'd meet. And he told ME to slow down, that we hadn't met yet.

        And I was so utterly confused by this, because I'm not great with guys, that I had to ask my best male friend about what had happened.

    • mynewdawn19 says:

      Exactly what I'd been thinking all the while I was reading. Why don't we say of girls who are trying to stand by their boundaries "Oh, she's just socially awkward! She doesn't understand when guys are trying to be nice to her, she just tends to overreact. Don't take it personally!!"

    • Thank you for this post. While I haven’t ever been actively vocal against “creep shaming”, I admit I’ve actually always been somewhat sympathetic to the guys in those situations as someone who was once a socially awkward boy trying unsuccessfully to talk to the opposite sex. I never did anything to the degree that most of these stories involve (I was too shy), but I know the sting of messing up and feeling shame for it, even if it was never something bad enough to be called out. But I honestly had never considered the other side, and just thought “why not call them out there?”. I truly hadn’t considered awkwardness on the other side. This post may seem somewhat naive, but I’m being sincere here, and I wanted you to know your post actually directly changed someone’s mind on this subject. Hopefully this wasn’t creepy. :)

    • violetyoshi says:

      This is exactly why I'm so screwed up now, after years of being told in special ed my attempts to protect my boundaries were misunderstanding social cues because I have Asperger's Syndrome. It was about not holding the harassers to any consequences, and in special ed it's always about how the poor harasser has a condition and he couldn't understand. I have C-PTSD, the c stands for capture. It's a unique type of PTSD that results from pervasive feelings of helplessness to escape dangerous situations, making someone feel captured.

      The help I got for this from psychiatrists were crap except for the meds, the meds help alot. I keep being told to join Autism support groups which I do not feel safe in because many parents harassed me to be their son's friend, if I said no they went through my mom who said yes, although she's learned to be less of a people pleaser and would say no now. The thing is most of the parents of Autistic young men who did this were gifted at emotional abuse and manipulation. That's the first reason I don't feel safe at Autism support groups. The second is there are no consequences, everything is explained away as "They have Autism!" If you complain now you're one of those high functioning people ableist against low functioning people. You're villified for saying no, and especially as a woman to a man because, "Now you rejected him and hurt his ffffeeelllinnngs, you don't know how hhhaaarrddd having Autism is!"

      It seems no one makes the connection and it's gotten so bad, I've heard of legit horror stories where sexual harassment is waved away with, "AAAAUUUTTIISSM!" I think there should be a gendered diagnosis, since many parents of Autistic men would cry discrimination for there being female only support groups. Like Autism for men and Autistite for women, I know it would seem sexist to some people but having the female name being a bit more flowery appeals to me. Since it's just too much to ask of parents of Autistic sons to learn women are not entitled to them, or rewards. To teach their sons to control their sex drives than just answer "Autism!" when their son touches women. That women should know they can be believed when reporting being sexually harassed by an Autistic man instead of shamed for getting a poor disabled man in trouble.

      No it's not just Autistic men who behave this way, but they are more likely to and get away with it. And when a woman seeks help and gets told they're prejudices, or not all Autistic men do that. When every case of an Autistic man being violent or sexually harrasing is swept under the rug with, "Well they must have another issue, not Autism!" That's a community that fosters a unsafe environment for women.

      I'm bringing Autism up because the common excuse for their misbehavior is they are socially awkward. Meanwhile I want support for becoming independent without being told I must join an Autism support group with people who may have violent meltdowns, or can't help touching me or harrassing me to be their girlfriend. I have no idea why this is so hard to get through psychiatrists and therapists thick heads. I am not safe in a room of cognitively impaired men who can't manage their libidos.

    • Cachinscythe says:

      I'm not gonna say you don't have a point. You absolutely do. However, I take issue with the implication that it's somehow just an excuse for the aggressor, who is stereo-typically the guy. I had someone I was with for three years that figuratively speaking wouldn't leave me alone. She HAD to talk to me every damn day and essentially dominated my life for the duration of our relationship.

      Maybe I'm making myself out to be too much of a victim, but why don't you reverse the sexes? What if it's the girl who's being the aggressor? Is the situation somehow different? Does the guy need to accept the pressures of the girl as just social awkwardness? The argument about not being able to properly articulate your boundaries is a legitimate point, but it's hardly something that's relegated to socially awkward people. We have a HISTORY of not articulating our boundaries as people. Furthermore, expecting us to somehow intuit where those boundaries are when you don't even know where they are yourself is like a teacher asking his/her class to solve an algebra problem without the teacher understanding algebra in the first place.

      Here's what it is that I think is getting lost here: people like me are NOT advocating for you to just excuse behavior that creeps you out. Here's what I'm advocating for: 1) if you typically give someone one chance to mess up before breaking off the connection, give someone who is socially awkward just a couple more chances, like THREE; we're not saying just allow the bothersome behavior to continue unabated indefinitely. And 2) stop expecting us to magically intuit where your boundaries are without making it crystal clear that you feel uncomfortable. Even if you DON'T know where precisely your boundaries are, you should be able to say, "Listen, I'm feeling uncomfortable right now; I don't know why, but please stop whatever you're doing." I have a friend that I lost a few months ago that I was accidentally creeping out without even realizing it. Then one day she just tells me that I'm making her uncomfortable and blocks me without any chance for me to explain. If this is supposed to be a fair reaction, why did another friend of mine–one that is less socially awkward than I am–tell me that such behavior makes him lose respect for people and that we're better off not dealing with bitches like her? (Paraphrased)

      We absolutely SHOULD be excusing the behavior of targets if we know for sure that they are socially awkward. People such as myself have never advocated otherwise. The only reason it appears differently is because the targets RARELY SPEAK UP. I know it's not fair, but if we're supposed to accommodate for that, you're essentially saying we should assume social awkwardness all the time with everyone. If that's the case then fine, but when an entire population of people is assumed to be socially awkward, you can't really call it "socially awkward" anymore cause that's the whole of society behaving in the same way. By definition, awkwardness is atypical, not typical.

      Not trying to be rude. Just trying to explain how I see it.

    • Yes, yes, and yes! I actually grew out of being socially awkward because of a number of guys who knowingly tresspassed my boundaries because "I didn't know how to say no". Because not showing interest, telling them I am fine on my own and don't need them to accompany me home, trying to get my bag back when they insisted on "being a gentleman", laughing nervously and freezing up are NOT signs of me rejecting your advances. Sure.

      There was an incident where a guy cornered me and started biting my neck in front of my crush because "He wanted to teach me how to say no" and I was about done with being socially awkward and having people step over me. So when, nowadays, creeps come up with these excuses for their behaviour I have zero tolerance for them, because I know what it's like to be socially awkward and it does NOT include forcing your so-called "chivalry" on others even though you know you are making them uncomfortable.

  4. Just got back from a holiday weekend. During the weekend, I learned from another female friend that a guy in our group was "a bit too touchy feely" with her. This is the second woman who has told me that. For those who followed one of my threads on the forum a while back, this is Guy 2: the older guy with an extrovert personality and a lot of social status in some parts of the group. I have a complicated relationship with him as he's a friend and he nearly killed me by accident last year.

    One woman excused away this guy's behaviour as him being "desperate for human contact" whilst the other woman just noted that, whilst on a trip away with him as part of a much larger group, he touched her more than she felt comfortable with (though no evidence of overly sexual touching as far as I'm aware). There's no evidence this guy protests his innocence or justifies his behaviour so we could be looking at him being socially awkward. I don't know.

    I've managed to sort out situations involving "creepy" behaviour and other guys in the group. One guy who used to put his hands all over my female friend and give her massages without her consent knows I will punch him in the face if he tries that shit again. I gave constructive feedback to another guy and managed to get another guy to back off and alter his behaviour.

    I've also ironed out aspects of my own behaviour. Wasn't behaving in a creepy way. Just took feedback from women to make sure I didn't end up behaving in a creepy way. One of the best things about having so many female friends is I can ask about this stuff. Though it's hard to convince them that I want to know, learn and grow from their feedback and I won't act like a jerk if they tell me stuff.

    I just don't know what to do about the guy who touches when he shouldn't. It's not on at all. I feel I've entered a world I previously thought could not exist: a world where I am actually socially popular for being… I have so much experience of being the social outcast that sometimes I defend men's behaviour when I really shouldn't. Not aggressively but it's still there…that sympathy with the outcast guy. It's something I'm working on.

    • celette482 says:

      One of the reasons you don't know what to do about the guy who touches when he shouldn't: you can't explain to him that what he's doing is wrong. He's one of those predator-types. He *knows* what he's doing wrong. He just doesn't care. He likes touching women more than he likes having them comfortable around him.

      But otherwise, good for you! Listening and wanting to change: very god signs.

      • I honestly don't know if the guy realizes his behaviour is wrong/making people feel uncomfortable or not. I do remember being at a party recently where this guy was present. He was interacting with a female friend of mine and it seemed light and fun so I thought nothing of it. Next thing I know my female friend is grabbing my arm/holding onto me like she's just sprung up from being made uncomfortable and wants to make sure someone is there to make sure she's safe. Now, of course, she can handle herself. I was just surprising and puzzled by her holding onto me like that. Wasn't sure if she wanted me to do something to stop the guys behaviour or what.

        I don't want that guy doing that kind of thing in the group. But I've learned I have to go carefully in trying to sort it out. He probably has more social status in the group than I do and unlike myself he is very much an extrovert. Less shy, less passive than I am.

        We're seeing less and less of the guy these days so who knows.

        • celette482 says:

          That is a huge red flag (and also a green flag for you, meaning your friend sees you as someone she can trust). I mean, huge huge huge.

          Better to trust her reaction than what you see from outside simply because she was there for the whole thing.

          • vintagelydia says:

            Exactly. For all you know he waited until no one was paying attention to pull a crap move on her.

        • Who's making him high status? Certainly not the women in the group from the sounds of it. So is he high status among the dudes? If he is, you might want to question why you guys give him that status in the first place (because status isn't something you just have, others have to give it to you).

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "Who's making him high status? Certainly not the women in the group from the sounds of it."

            This is trixnix's social circle, not mine, but I wouldn't assume that. I've known guys who were able to pull some really skeezy stuff around (though not necessarily to — big difference) women who really, really ought to have known better. Guys who are well-liked (or, in a case I saw way too up-close, pitied) and who target women who aren't popular with other women in the group can sometimes get away with some really shameful shit.

            Though you could be right, and the bulk of the women in trixnix's bunch could already see this guy as a sleaze.

          • @GH,

            It's really hard to get a consensus on what the women in my social group feel about this. I have two reports from two different women about behaviour that has made them feel uncomfortable. One dismisses it as the guy wanting/needing human contact whilst the other doesn't excuse it away. The more extroverted the personality, the more stuff you can get away with socially. Not always but it tends to work that way.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Huh. Makes me wonder how many women in your group really do have an issue with him, but don't want to say anything because "clearly" nobody else has a problem and they don't want to be the bitch.

          • @GH,

            Yeah, I fear that to be the case. To be honest, there's a part of me that would love a chance to challenge this guy. I like him as a friend and I have some evidence he's upset about what happened last year. I just got to suffer a heck of a lot because of his carelessness. It's a small part of me but there nonetheless.

            Hence why I'm not sure I'm the one to do anything about this. I so far have 2 women complaining about him. Not sure beyond that.

          • FLIGHTLINE says:

            You could try pulling the other women aside and asking them privately if they've ever had problems with him. Say you've gotten complaints from a couple other women in the group but don't name names. Make it clear that you intend to address him about any inappropriate behaviour but do not intend to make it a witch hunt or put anyone on the spot. Essentially, let them complain to you anonymously.

            And if he's got status with the men in the group, talk to them about his behaviour too and let them know he's making people uncomfortable and that his behaviour needs to be addressed. Frame it like you want what's best for everyone, not like you want to punish him because that can make people defensive.

          • @Guest.

            He's got one of those extroverted personalities that tends to give people high status in a social group. It's only recently that I've heard anything bad about his behaviour and one of the women who did complain dismisses away his behaviour as him wanting human contact. So far two women have pointed out that he's more touchy feely than he ought to be/than they're comfortable with. Not sure what his status is with the guys.

            I like the guy as a friend. It's complicated cause he did nearly kill me by accident but holding grudges like that gives way to a darkness I've moved well beyond. More extroverted people tend to be seen as more social, more popular in the group. It's a great group and you're never pressured to be something you're not. Everyone gets accepted for who they are unless they make others uncomfortable.

            To be fair to him, he hasn't had the chance to correct his behaviour as it's not, as far as I know, been pointed out to him.

        • physicsnerd says:

          Food for thought:

          Your social status sounds higher than you think. As a woman, when I'm being creeped out, I tend to avoid all physical contact, because something like grabbing the arm of another would be wilfully mistaken by a creeper as permission for the creeper to touch, grab, fondle, or grope me. So I would only take the risk when two things were true: I trusted the person I was grabbing onto completely to respect me, and I viewed the person I grabbed on to as having a higher status than the creep, so that the sight of me hanging on such a higher status group member would discourage any further interest.

          • CornedBee says:

            I've had one personal case where I was at a dance club and a girl in our group latched on to me (i.e. asked me to dance body-to-body) in order to discourage the creeper hanging around our group (not someone we knew). I've seen similar situations with other guys. I don't know how complete the trust in that case was – the girl wasn't that close a friend. It might have been more a case of anything being better than the obviously creepy guy.

    • SarahGryph says:

      Just as a thought – I forget if it's already been mentioned on the discussion about the situation. If this guy has the rep of being "extroverted" and having a high social standing…it can sometimes make women much less likely to feel comfortable saying something. Because "everyone likes him" and if you complain then you're "that whiny chick who can't take a joke." That sort of thinking. And especially if it seems like all the guys are ok with the behavior and none of the other women are saying anything…

      I'm getting at the thought pattern is all. I've seen guys who were "extroverted with high social status" get away with an awful lot of creepish behavior because no one said anything…not because the behavior was actually ok, but because the women themselves were also afraid of becoming a social pariah out of it. :/

      • @SarahGryph, yes, I think it's a case of the women in the group not feeling comfortable saying anything.It's worth saying that not all the guys in the group are okay with the behaviour. We're certainly against it and want it stopped. It might seem like we're okay with it though since on this occasion, we've not managed to deal with it yet.

        • SarahGryph says:

          Ok, got it. And it really is great that you and the others care and want to do something, by the way. I also know how frustrating it can be in a situation like that when you want to do something and aren't quite sure what's best to do.

          The advice further down about asking the women "well, what would make you feel comfortable?" is a great one. And it sounds like you're a good person to ask them – if the women are already coming to you with their thoughts, they trust you not to tell them to shut up or anything like that. That can be scary in a social group and it's really saying something that they feel they can come to you, I'd say.

          I'm just trying to remember what happened in a group I used to hang out with, because I knew we had a guy like that. It was a pretty touchy group anyway, but he always seemed to push that one step further that made some women uncomfortable. I know it was muddy waters for a while – especially since yes, some women legitimately did not mind what he was doing. On the other hand, enough did mind that there were "not-really-jokes" about "Oh and ladies, don't sit to close to [name] at the parties, now!" (Note: these were men making the not-really-jokes; they knew there was an issue.)

          The problem is it's been so long that I don't remember what we did about it. It also differs in that I'm looking at it in hindsight – I know this particular guy was boundaries-pushing but honestly did not want to upset anyone because he DID stop after it had been made clear he was making people uncomfortable. He noticeably started asking "Hey, is this ok with you?" and only getting clingy with the people who had explicitly said "Yeah, with me this is fine." It's also different because it was a base touchy-feely group; so there was a certain amount of talking that needed to happen because we were already outside of the "just don't touch" area.

          TL;DR – I agree to ask the people upset what they'd like to see to start with. And someone who honestly gives a crap how their actions are affecting other people WILL accept a conversation and WILL change.

    • Is there any way that he could be simply kicked out of the group?

      • @Blurgle,

        Possibly. I doubt I'd have enough power by myself to kick him out of the group. With enough backing from the rest of the group, yes, he could be kicked out the group.

        • You say you have some guys behind you and, I suspect, most of the women. That should be enough. A reminder of the Geek Social Fallacies might help if anyone is on the fence.

          I assume you're a guy? Then it's possible you're more likely to be believed than the perpetrator's victims. :-/ Use that privilege for good to marshal the troops around the victims and cut this creeper out.

    • eselle28 says:

      My suggestion would be to directly ask the woman who most recently talked to you, "What can I do to help?" It sounds like this man may need to be talked to in the same way that your other friend was.

      I'm really glad to hear that the other situation has been resolved, and that your intervention was successful.

      • @eselle28. Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated. With this guy, it's complicated for me because he accidentally nearly killed me. Not his fault really and he has felt bad about it since I'm told. And I don't believe in holding grudges. I don't mind talking to this guy about his behaviour. Just I may be less than impartial about the whole thing.

        • eselle28 says:

          That's why I think it would be a good first step to ask the woman in question how she wants this handled. And, even if she says that her preferred solution is for someone to talk to the guy about his behavior, that doesn't necessarily mean you're the best person to do so. Another possible solution is for you to recruit a third party to discuss the situation with him. But I think you should first see how the victim wants this handled. There have been two of them, now, so I think it's a pattern and something that will likely continue if it's not addressed.

    • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

      Here's what really depresses me about these situations: How the hell does a straight guy get platonic physical affection? Touch a woman? Creepy. Touch a guy? Gay. Ditto for asking to touch a woman or asking to touch a man, you get the same reaction.

      As someone who wants and needs a lot of physical touch, but is deprived of it, I resent that I can only get it from my mother and from a hypothetical sexual partner (which I don't have, and wont' have for a long time).

      • eselle28 says:

        If you don't have family members who are the touchy sort, one option might be to talk about the issue with a couple of close friends – people who know you well enough that they can say "no" without it being a "no and you're a creep for asking." I suspect these requests would come across best if they were directed to people you have no interest in dating or having sex with.

        If there's no one in your life who fits in that role, I've found (as a straight woman) that while the kind of touch you receive from animals doesn't completely satisfy the need for human touch, it does fill the need partially.

        • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

          Oh yeah, I have a dog, and it helps, but it really isn't the same, especially after half a life time of isolation…

        • Most of my friends are not particularly physically affectionate, and my family is so much so that I actually do not even remember when the last time someone hugged me was (lest I sound too whiny, I hasten to add that my family and friends are awesome in other ways). I have pets not just because I've always loved animals but because a snuggly purring cat is particularly nice if that's basically the only physical contact you have.

      • celette482 says:

        Okay, let me see if I can answer you without pulling out my roasting spear.

        Being touched by a man isn't creepy in and of itself. TAKING or DEMANDING touch is threatening behavior.

        If you have platonic friends who are female and you observe and respect the hell out of her boundaries (yes, including the boundary to never be touched at all by you), you might find that you have a lot more physical affection than you fear.

        • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

          Well, that's the thing, I don't take or demand touch from anybody, ever, and I recognize the importance of boundaries.

          It's just frustrating that casual physical touch has to be negotiated and only with really really close friends. This is different with women. For instance, I have literally seen women snuggle up to each other during college classes of mine in the middle of the semester with people they didn't even know before the class (these are a minority, but it is not even possible for a straight man). I don't have close friends, never have, though I want them.

          • celette482 says:

            First: Good job not demanding touch.

            Second: How the hell do you know that these women aren't now the best of friends? They could be spending every free hour outside of class together….

            Third: So?

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Re third: Because if I were a woman I wouldn't need super close friends to get at least some physical touch.

          • celette482 says:

            See point the second.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            How do you know they haven't?

            Besides, that is but one example and your point doesn't change the fact that I never see men be physically affectionate while I see plenty of women be physically affectionate.

          • celette482 says:

            Because I am a woman and I don't have a lot of snuggles with my non-super close friends and even then not a lot with those people?

            Gender-essentialism is out of fashion these days, dude.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I'm talking about social norms not gender essentialism.

          • celette482 says:

            "If I were a woman, I wouldn't need super close friends to get at least some physical touch"

            Sounds like gender essentialism to me. Women can and do cross the line on touching and men get hugs. I ALSO have guy friends who I hug.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I'm saying it is much easier for women to get physical affection because social norms make people suspicious of men who want physical touch.

            But, whatever, just deny my experience, that's cool.

          • celette482 says:

            Or, you know, don't make your experiences the only basis for reality because A. Women (like myself) have trouble getting physical touch too and B. Not all men who want physical touch are actually treated with suspicion. Like I said in my comments.

          • "Because if I were a woman I wouldn't need super close friends to get at least some physical touch."

            That's…actually kind of denying *my* experience. If you'd said something more like, "women are often more comfortable engaging in physical touch with their friends than men are," I'd actually be inclined to agree as a (very) broad generalization. But lots of men, gay and straight, are comfortable with expressing physical affection with their friends. And lots of women don't have casual friends (or even close friends) that are the huggy sort.

            Also, in my experience the college environment tends to lead to more physical affection than post-college life. Generalizing about what it's like to be a woman based on what you've observed in a college environment is probably not going to give you anything close to the whole picture.

            I also think some of this might be regional, too. I've been to other countries (and to a lesser extent, even other areas of this country) where people seem to engage in more physical contact than they do here. So, lots of variables other than just gender in this equation.

          • "I'm saying it is much easier for women to get physical affection because social norms make people suspicious of men who want physical touch. "

            I don't know why people are arguing with you (my guess is that they see you as Guy Who Doesn't Agree With The Article, which doesn't seem to be the truth), but this is true. I'm not really sure what you can do about it, though. From what you've said, I'd say the first step is to make an effort to meet more people, so you can start to build your friend group. Even if they aren't physical, just having friends at all will help a lot.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I would say I'm arguing the "because" part, as in social norms make people suspicious of men who want physical touch. That's not my experience. There's a distinct difference between a hug or walking arm in arm with someone and physical touch with a sexual motive. There's also the fact that its easier for women as long as they're not picky about who's doing the touching or what their motive is. . .which kind of goes against the whole point of physical touch that makes you feel better.

          • Anthea Brainhooke says:

            Social norms also make it harder for women to _refuse_ physical affection. That's what this whole darn discussion is ABOUT.

          • Delafina says:

            She's not denying your experience, she's refuting your attempt to pretend your individual experience is some sort of universal truth.

          • enail0_o says:

            I think it's easy to overestimate the strength of these kind of social norms – it's a tendency that women can more easily get physical affection from friends, but it's not such a strong tendency that it means that if you were a woman you could easily get it (just like it's a tendency that men are less able to do that, but it doesn't mean that there aren't many who do).

            As an example, in my social group, standard physical affection norms don't go any further than fairly distant hello/goodbye hugs (the sort of 'manly one-arm no body toucing' kind), or very very rarely a closer hug or pat on the arm to comfort someone sad. I'm not a very touchy person so that suits me fine, but if I was single and did want physical affection, I wouldn't have a clue to get it even from my very close friends.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And just to provide the counterpoint, in my social circle, I'm the least touchy one. It varies with the individual, of course but but wrapping our arms around each other, draping legs over several people on the couch, the occasional random slap on the butt and the like are pretty standard and inoffensive.

          • eselle28 says:

            I agree with you that men are discouraged from being physically affectionate with each other. It seems like that's something that hurts men, and I have a lot of sympathy for that position.

            That being said, not all women make friends quickly or are physically affectionate with their friends, let alone with people they know casually. There's variation. I can understand frustration at not being able to have this wider range of outcomes, but I think you can feel that while also not lumping all women together.

          • enail0_o says:

            This is a good point. There's more of a norm for women to be physically affectionate with friends, but a lot of socially awkward or reserved women don't have that kind of interaction with their friends.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I acknowledge your point. I was just trying to point out that it is easier for women, not that all women get physical affection. Just as it is easier for men to make more money at a given job, but not all men make more money than their female colleagues.

          • Delafina says:

            I see men be physically affectionate all the time while doing team activities like sports.

          • eselle28 says:

            You don't actually know that. There are lots of women who touch their female friends, but there are also lots of women who don't. Since you have stated that you often don't hit it off with touchy, snuggly people, the female version of you isn't necessarily going to be snuggling up with her best friend or her girlfriend after a couple months of knowing each other.

          • Please be careful with these kind of qualifications. I am a woman, and while I grant you I'm not touchy-feely, getting "casual" platonic touch is still kind of a hurdle for me. I don't have touchy-feely friends, by and large…. certainly none I could cuddle with. Sometimes it's not about gender, but about the dynamics of the social group you're involved with.

          • velveeta says:

            That isn't true. I grew up in a not-so touchy-feely home, so while I may be female, I was always reticent about offering and receiving physical affection

          • Delafina says:

            "Taking" or "demanding" physical touch aren't the only two ways to get it, though. And while I believe that human beings absolutely need touch, it doesn't necessarily have to be genuinely affectionate to give your lizard brain what it needs to feel like you are part of the pack.

            Join a dance class. Get a massage. Work out with a trainer. There are a ton of opportunities for platonic physical contact out there.

      • enail0_o says:

        Many women are perfectly happy to be physically affectionate with their male friends. It's only creepy when you touch without permission, push for touching or touch in ways that are not standard in that social circle – your desire for physical affection cannot take precedence over the social appropriateness and comfort of the people you're seeking it from. Make friends with huggy people, show you're safe to hug by respecting boundaries, you'll probably get hugged.

        • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

          Yeah, I know that, I never touch without permission, that would be the only way I wouldn't be touch deprived and I am at the moment.

          Here's my problem, there's a disconnect between my needs and who I have personal chemistry with, I find. Most of my friends throughout my life (including that one woman who I'm hanging out with this week) tend to be more reserved and decidedly not affectionate or expressive. And, the people who are very huggy tend to be all woo-woo and hippie or far left activist types who I find irritating in other ways.

          • enail0_o says:

            Hmmm, I guess you've either got to go for closer friends or look for the rare people who are your type but more physically affectionate. There must be some out there.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Yeah, but close friends are much like romantic relationships, even if you try to get them they don't happen very often…

          • Doctor_Tinycat says:

            I know this sounds odd, but on Meetup, for the Seattle area, I saw a "hugging" group. It was for just this sort of thing. People got together and did hugging. There might be something like that in your area?

            Also, wanted to add that I'm a woman and NONE of my friends are into touching. We're also all introverts. Animals have always fulfilled a lot of my "touch" needs.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I'm the biggest introvert I know, yet I crave physical touch. I don't think there is correlation between the two.

          • Doctor_Tinycat says:

            I didn't say anything about introverts not craving physical touch. I was simply responding to your idea that most women hug their friends and it is easier for them to get platonic affection, with an example of how that was not true in my friend group. If we all started hugging each other it would be hella awkward, very quickly.

            The fact that some men don't physically touch each other in a platonic way in the U.S. sucks. It's another way the patriarchy hurts men. Touch is a basic human need.

            At any rate, I was attempting to be kind and give you a suggestion for getting your touch needs met with my previous post. I was hoping for a thanks or even no comment instead of a flippantly dismissive comment.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I didn't mean to be flippant, it just that you included "we all also happen to be introverts". Why bring that up.

            I am aware of cuddle parties and the like, but what I really want is physical touch from friends.

          • celette482 says:

            In the sense that cuddles from strangers isn't the same thing as cuddles from people who are emotionally supportive, right?

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Yeah, that. Plus, I warm to people very slowly, so touching from strangers would actually make me feel worse.

          • celette482 says:

            Okay, so assuming that cuddles are like the pinnacle of friendship (I'd rank it up there with holding your hair while you vomit and being in your wedding party), is it possible that your current friends are also slow to warm up and haven't reached there with you?

          • eselle28 says:

            I can understand that cuddles from friends is different than cuddles from people you've just met, but if you do have groups of that type in your area, it might be an interesting way to meet some people who have exactly the same set of problems that you do. Friends have bonded over less, and you could leave the touching until later.

            If your problem is more that you'd like to get physical touch from specific friends, then I don't think anyone here can help you.

          • Delafina says:

            Hmm, I feel like there's a certain element of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, here, too.

            The human need for touch operates on a number of different layers.

            There's the very conscious sense of knowing that someone you care about is hugging or holding you, and that that indicates trust and intimacy and affection between you because this is an accepted social signal for these things.

            There's also something very primitive about the sense of reassurance and safety from nonthreatening physical contact (to the point where it doesn't actually have to be a person — it's one of the reasons so many cultures swaddle babies, and there are special coats/garments or weighted blankets that they sometimes use with trauma victims that approximate the feeling of being hugged). This isn't a conscious reaction, it's an instinctive one that I think operates on the same level as sugar improving people's moods because it signals to a part of their brain that food is abundant.

            And, I suspect, there are a lot of layers in between.

            TheWisp isn't going to be able to satisfy that conscious level right away — you can't magically conjure physically affectionate people that you know out of nothing.

            But that doesn't mean he can't do stuff that speaks to that deeper, more instinctive level — it's a lot less picky. It doesn't care about whether the person who's touching you is a close friend or someone you barely know (or, for that matter, an animal or a trauma jacket). It just knows that you're relaxed and that someone's touching you.

          • Doctor_Tinycat says:

            Thank you for explaining you didn't mean to be flippant. I appreciate it.

            I mentioned the introvert thing because in my experience, extraverted women tend to be a lot more physically affectionate than introverted women (you had been focused on how women interact platonically).

            I think hugging and cuddle Meetups might be a great way to meet others who obviously crave that type of touch, but for whatever reason are in the same boat as you: without friends to give it to them. It's a lot tougher to make friends who want to hug and touch (I think especially so for a man). This might take quite awhile to find the people to meet your needs.

            It sounds like you are craving the touch NOW, and that's why I suggested a hug Meetup or pets (even visiting a dog park and petting all the animals has helped me in the past).

            If you go to a hug / cuddle Meetup, the attendees might become your new best friends, without all the hangups about physical touch.

          • Delafina says:

            Good point on animals, too. The points in my life where I haven't been in a relationship, haven't been around my family, and haven't had pets are the ones where I felt isolated. Animals aren't a replacement for human beings, but while the endorphin rush I get when my cats cuddle up next to me and purr isn't as *strong* as when I'm being held by another person, it's still there.

          • I have female friends. We hug. I tend to wait for the female friend to hug me first because I'm not the type of guy who goes around hugging people all the time and I'm also careful to make sure the other person is comfortable with physical contact. Occasionally, if someone is upset I'll do the hand on the shoulder thing which I've noticed goes down well with women but less so with men.

            It's not that any touch is bad. It's that you need to be mindful of what the other person finds comfortable and acceptable. There are women I know who I'm attracted to. I would love to touch them in a sexual way but here's the thing: only if it would turn them on too. If it were something they desired and were comfortable with. My desires don't count for more than her desires, wants and needs. There's something deeply insecure and aggressive about taking advantage of women by touching them in ways they don't want or feel comfortable with.

            If you show that you respect people's boundaries, people can end up being comfortable hugging and touching you because.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            The thing is, as I said above, the people I tend to have chemistry with aren't touchy feely, it's frustrating.

            Though, my difficulty in forming friendships could just mean I never get close enough to people.

          • celette482 says:

            So maybe it's you (and other non-touchy feely people out there, several other [female] commentors included) and not your gender?

          • celette482 says:

            And here's why it matters:

            Something about the people you talk to or the way you behave or how you deal with friendships- those are concrete things you can change! Things you can improve on so that you can get more platonic touch.

            Something because you're a man? You can't ever change that.

            If at all possible, try to avoid limiting things to "And that happens because I'm *gender*" if only because it leaves room for no response but agonized continuation of the status quo.

          • enail0_o says:

            That said, there may be gender-specific things that you can change that might help you get more platonic touch (eg. being respectful of boundaries is probably even more important to a man's likelihood of having platonic touch than to a woman's), so sometimes it is worth considering gender-based factors.

            But it sounds like the biggest step for you, regardless of gender, would be finding ways to connect with more socially touchy people.

          • celette482 says:

            This is true, but I think it is important to point out that when I go through my list of "Friends with whom I have been physically affectionate" it is 50/50 men and women and I have had female friends who crossed the line of "oh lord that was uncomfortable" in the hugging department as well.

            In other words, it's a case-by-case basis, not a All the Men in this category and All the Women in that category.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Oh I think most of it is me, but I'm saying gender norms make it harder than it would be otherwise. It's not an either-or situation.

          • eselle28 says:

            So, you can't do anything about your gender or much about society's general tilt toward women being able to be more physically affectionate.

            You can do something about the factors in this problem that are specific to you and your personality – you could work on your friendship-forming skills, attempt to be more tolerant of touchy people and cultivate a few as casual friends, put more energy into seeking out people with compatible personalities who are also touchy, etc. (This is sort of an odd suggestion, but if you're craving just some kind of touch and not necessarily cuddling or snuggling, you might want to think about getting a massage.)

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Keep in mind that "permission" doesn't have to mean "may I give you a good night hug", although if you are socially awkward, that's a good idea. Its much more about being calibrated to norms and comfort levels and knowing how to back off if you're getting close to the line.

      • Take tango classes. It’s moving in an embrace.

      • Not_a_Troll says:

        What’s gay about being affectionate with other dudes? I am a physically affectionate person, and I give and recieve platonic touch to and from both male and female friends on a regular basis.
        One of the easiest ways to gauge whether or not someone you already know is comfortable with you touching them is with a simple hand on the shoulder as a greeting. Still and steady, not too light but not a grip and CERTAINLY not an uninvited massage. Oh, and not prolonged. That’s important. Like 1-2 seconds max. I do this, and if they seem uncomfortable, I don’t do it again, because I don’t want to be THAT guy. Don’t push boundaries.

        My advice: take up social dancing. Most dancers that I have met are nerds and geeks, a bit awkward (actually awkward), and a lot of them are really affectionate once you get to know them. I’ve met some of my closest friends while dancing. Also, dancing is a lot of fun and is really good exercise.

        And remember: if you fuck up and make someone uncomfortable, apologize and work at not making them uncomfortable. If you’re not sorry- if you don’t feel even a twinge of guilt for trampling over someone’s boundaries- do the world a favor and tattoo “Creepy Fucking Sociopath” on your forehead.

    • DragonEmpress says:

      I commend you for attempting to fix your friends behavior and parts of your own. It takes guts to admit you have things that need to be changed. I recently got back from Megacon and there are quite a few socially awkward guys and gals there but they are indeed just that, and they don’t try to justify any of their fuck ups. But the ones that stare entirely too long and put their hands too close to your butt or other parts when taking a picture those guys are creepers. My friend and I went to a night 80s toons cosplay party and were dancing and having a blast as Jem and shera. Then these two very unattractive guys with no costumes on came over and offered my friend a drink, I refused mine at first but I figured I’d be nice, but I’m always concerned with the pressure and what’s expected of excepting a drink from a guy I’ve never met. I understand it’s a way to meet girls but that is a lot of pressure. I don’t want the guy to think that means anything when I except a drink. So maybe I just shouldn’t except at all but then I feel bad for rejecting someone.and by the way I’m not shallow I just have a type. Anyway so we got the drinks, and one of the guys left after talking to us for a time. But the other followed us around like he was really with us. And then afterwards he said wait we gotta exchange contact info. I didn’t give him mine but my friend did and right after that he found my fb through hers and started messaging us and liking old pictures. Do guys ever actually wait to see if you’re interested before they ram themselves down your throat? No pun intended lol.

      • velveeta says:

        Ugh, that sucks that this guy was so invasive! And in response to your comment "and by the way I'm not shallow I just have a type.", you don't have to apologize; you are entitled to your preferences!

    • Please let the women in your social circle have agency. Let the two involved know that they're not the only one who has complained, then ASK whether they need or want help dealing with this guy. If they say yes, help. If they say no, leave it alone. You say you like to be educated about your behavior, and someone going over my head to save me from a creep I'm perfectly capable of handling would really bother me.

      If this is about educating him, not playing savior to the women in your life, you could say, "Sometimes the women in our group look uncomfortable when you touch them," see how he answers, and tailor your response from there.

  5. *applause* Bang-up job, Nerdlove, you've done it again.

    Now I'm just gonna skip out of the comments and pretend this article has no comments in it before the inevitable MRA-splosion. No internet heartburn today for meeee!

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Given how many women are responding to this article with "OhfuckinghellTHIS!!!", I would expect said MRA-splosion to end with freshly-carved MRA-giblets littering the rhetorical floor.

      Maalox, hell; I'm grabbing popcorn.

      • celette482 says:

        Don't worry, GH. I've got my armor and a sword.

        ….Okay, maybe I could go for some popcorn too. Can I go forth into battle like a righteous rage-filled Valkyrie and also have a snack?

        • Gentleman Horndog says:

          Try replacing the wings on you Valkyrie helmet with a couple of cans of Red Bull and some long tube-straws.

          Also, have some plus-size marshmallows on hand. When no immediate threats are visible, stick them your spear for roasting over the burning embers of your foes' arguments.

        • StarlightArcher says:

          It's always important to have juice and a small nibble handy. Staying hydrated is of utmost importance for getting through the day, no matter what or who you're battling.

          Now I'm imagining a "righteous rage-filled Valkyrie" daycare, complete with snacks, nap time, weapon/armor training and art projects that use macaroni & the tears of your enemies!

        • ShieldGirl says:

          I have to say that I have never related to anything more than I do to the sentence "Can I go forth into battle like a righteous rage-filled Valkyrie and also have a snack?"

          • celette482 says:

            Have a Feminist Cookie! Here's your sword and your armor! And here's your macaroni art and your marshmallow roasting spear.

          • ShieldGirl says:

            Yesssss. Fabulous. This sword is awesome and works great with my appropriate protective armor!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sounds like I'll have to put up pictures from the post-apocalyptic bake sale over in the forums. :)

        • OtherRoooToo says:

          I'm thinking you would want to have your snack beforehand.

          Righteous rage takes energy.


      • This reply just made my freakin' month AND made me snort coffee. Well played sir, well played.

      • Mmm, giblets! Simmered gently in Tears-of-Men and followed with Feminist Cookies for dessert.

      • Meyer N Gaines says:

        Tbh, this is more of a woman's website anyways, so I don't think any MRAs will be showing up.

        • I don't think this is more a woman's website but even if it were, that's never stopped the tin foil hat wearing brigade of MRA's turning up. The guys who will tell you it's wrong for it to be suggested that they be assertive whilst they ironically spend their time asserting their nastiness and ridiculous thinking onto anyone forced to listen.

          • Meyer N Gaines says:

            Oh, I haven't been here in a while, I didn't notice all the MRAs. But I do think that most of the people here are women.

          • How do you figure?

            It seems like about half the regular commenters are women, but that hardly means that the majority of the readers are women.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            Not to speak of whom the advice is predominantly *for* … and to whose concerns the vast predominance of attention is *paid*.


          • Paul Rivers says:

            Yeah, from the overwhelming majority of commenters being women, to the female-perspective styles the articles are written in, the articles are targetting a female audience.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm currently counting 13 men, 14 women, and 1 person whose gender I can't tell on this thread. That's not overwhelming to me.

          • celette482 says:

            Maybe it *feels* overwhelming because there are very few places in the world, on-line or off, that have actual gender parity in the voices that get airtime.

          • eselle28 says:

            That's an interesting possibility. I have read that in movie crowd scenes, a crowd is seen as being predominantly female if an equal number of men and women are present, and that it's seen as being equal if something like 30% of the crowd is women. Maybe that's what's happening here?

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, if it goes above ~1/3, men in the audience say that women outnumber men.

          • chinchilla says:

            Same with speech, if women talk more than 30% percent of the time, they are perceived as dominating the conversation.

            I can't find the study that states that (I thought it was a Dale Spender study, but not having much luck tracking it down) but I did find this which is a pretty good summary of a couple of studies:

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I was bored so I counted all the usernames in the comment section. Like I said, there's far more women than men. I count 7 Men, 19 Women, and 5 usernames that I'm fairly certain most are women but it's not entirely clear.

            Men (7)
            – Maximilian
            – LeeEsq
            – LTP_aka_TheWisp
            – Jay
            – Gentleman Horndog
            – Meyer N Gaines
            – Hirundo Bos
            – OldBrownSquirrel

            Women (19)
            – celette482
            – raindancing
            – Marty Farley
            – Cadi
            – BiSian
            – eselle
            – enail0_o
            – SarahGryph
            – Rachel
            – trixnix
            – vintagelydia
            – StarlightArcher
            – Beth
            – ShieldGirl
            – LadyLuck
            – Delafina
            – Cactus
            – Doctor_Tinycat
            – Kovi

            Unclear (5)
            – Blurgle
            – reboot
            – Kylroy
            – Bas Kleijweg
            – Jes

            I've no doubt if there's responses there will be attempts to derail and change the subject, to try to find one single username that's wrong and claim that invalidates the list, etc etc etc. But there's far, far more women than men on the comment list.

          • eselle28 says:

            Kylroy and Bas are dudes. Reboot is a woman, and I'm pretty sure Jes is too.

            You left yourself off the list. Trixnix is a guy, not a woman.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Fair enough, I changed the list assuming that what you wrote is accurate –

            Men (12)
            – Maximilian
            – LeeEsq
            – LTP_aka_TheWisp
            – Jay
            – Gentleman Horndog
            – Meyer N Gaines
            – Hirundo Bos
            – OldBrownSquirrel
            – PaulRivers
            – trixnix
            – Kylroy
            – Bas Kleijweg

            Women (20)
            – celette482
            – raindancing
            – Marty Farley
            – Cadi
            – BiSian
            – eselle
            – enail0_o
            – SarahGryph
            – Rachel
            – vintagelydia
            – StarlightArcher
            – Beth
            – ShieldGirl
            – LadyLuck
            – Delafina
            – Cactus
            – Doctor_Tinycat
            – Kovi
            – Reboot
            – Jes

            Unclear (1)
            – Blurgle

            20 women to 12 men. Admittedly – a few more men than I had thought, but still almost a 2-1 ratio of women to men.

          • eselle28 says:

            I guess that doesn't seem outside of the normal range of variation to me, especially not on an article about creeps (a subject that tends to interest women as much as men).

            I'll keep an eye on other threads in the future, but I haven't noticed that there are vastly more women here than men.

          • sheisonthemove says:

            I don't quite understand what your point is. The ratio of commenters doesn't mean the site is targeting that demo, it just means that this happens to be an issue that affects men and women and a lot of women have thoughts on the issue, enough that they want to log in and share. In fact this is yet another topic where I would think a lot of guys could benefit from hearing the perspective of women who have been on the receiving end of the behavior.

          • To any guy wanting to get better at dating, the number of female commenters should be an endorsement of the advice here.

            Why would a guy trying to get better at dating want to follow advice that had women going "Ew no, please don't do that."? The number of women saying "Yes, this!" should tell you how good the advice is.

          • sheisonthemove says:

            Seriously! I keep thinking that what is frequently being missed here (though mostly elsewhere) is that we ladies WANT to help you! We want to date awesome guys. We want our friends to date awesome guys. If we can help you be a little more awesome, everyone wins!

            On the flip side: None of us is sitting at home thinking "Ooooh yes I would love for some super creepster to start hitting on me and touching me inappropriately tonight!"

          • Could it be because women have no idea what they actually want and most women find the kind of "feminist friendly" dating advice peddled by Harris to be wildly unappealing in practice?

            I think that "New Girl" scene about covers it.

          • Drungarious says:

            I dunno, it's worked well enough for me. All my partners seem to have a pretty clear idea of what they want, and I fit the bill.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Or maybe men don't know what they want, which is why they keep taking dating advice from guys in fuzzy hats.

          • Nope! I know what I want and after several collosal fuckups I have a nice long list of red flags that make me go "No way in hell am I even giving this dude a chance!"
            Top of that list is insisting that "I don't know what I want" and therefore they don't need to listen to me when I say what I want.
            That does make me the worst thing that a woman can be: MEAN!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I won't argue the numbers but who replies in the comments and who the article is targeted at are not necessarily the same thing. I'll even grant you that Doc's weekly "issues" articles probably have a higher female:male ratio. The advice articles are, almost without exception, for guys and are useful for improving your social life. I think its pretty cool that women (you know, the people you're learning how to get better with) come around to offer their first hand perspective.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            But you don't know who the READERS are, Paul.

            And you're disregarding the INTENDED TARGET RECIPIENTS of the majority of the advice. Are you doing that deliberately?

            And you left me off your list.
            (Ignoring women again. :-) )

          • Yes. The rule of thumb I learned when I was doing online community architecture was for every person who posts on a forum or other online community, there are on average 500 people who read the forum but never comment or even register. Obviously there's a wide range there — some sites may be closer to 50 invisible readers for every 1 active poster, while others are closer to 1000, but regardless of the site's popularity and the exact ratios, the majority of readers are invisible.

            (And you can see this in a small way in Marty's comment that got 107 upvotes. There aren't 100 people active in that conversation. And even that's only a fraction of the people likely reading it, because clicking the thumbs-up button is still active engagement and therefore not representative of behavior of the majority of the readers.)

          • celette482 says:

            Trixnix is definitely a man.

          • Yep, I'm male. Yes, there's a lot of women here which is pretty darn good because the point here for many men is to get better with women. Of course guys can offer insight into this. It's just great to get feedback from women. I see this place as a site about dating and relationships which is relevant to men and women. It's not a place where the tin foil hat wearing lunatics from the MRA get too much chance to troll. Which is also good.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I'm 33 – all of my friends when I was in high school also bought into this line. It seems so logical, right? You just listen to women! They'll help you!

            Do you know why you hear about Game nowadays? Do you know why people have even heard of MRA's, Red Pill, etc? No one was interested in it 15 years ago. Nobody.

            It's because an entire generation of men all realized around the same time – they had thought that listening to "women" as a group said they wanted would work. And for years, or even into their mid 20's they found – it didn't. They were still single as heck. What women as a group claim they want and like, real actual women did't actually seem to find very attractive at all.

            I know 2 different guys who were still virgins in the mid 20's. They had spent their wholes lives listening to advice like the above advice, and internalizing it, and really believing it. And that was the result. So they tried to learn more about Game. They didn't like it – and honestly, they had to sort through a whole bunch of crappy advice from it as well. But, they figured it out – they both went from being virgins to sleeping with girl after girl. It's funny, the first one frankly had sex but it didn't sound that great – until he met his girlfriend, who's been dating for like…9 months. The second the sex sound much better, but he's gotten laid a lot and it's been very enjoyable for him, but he hasn't gotten the girlfriend yet. Still…a huge step up from being in his mid 20's and a virgin like he was before.

            About a month ago I went on a date with a girl who had already said she liked me. She was *really* cute – every time we went anywhere there were a bunch of other people there was another guy trying to get her number. Anyways, we go out, the restaurant kept being kind of weird they wouldn't bring me my bill, even after 2 hours. We go back to my place, she's happy to come in, but I can tell – this is that point where her interest level is waning. I feel like making a physical move on her is to much, so – although it's pretty lame to ask a girl if you can kiss her – that's what I do because I can't think of anything better. She says no, then starts talking about reasons she shouldn't date me – I'm supposedly "to young" for her or something. I'm dismissive of her reasons – I wouldn't be there if I thought we shouldn't date. What's interesting is – feeling-wise, I feel her attraction and interest in me perk back up, despite her words saying otherwise. We sit on my bed and I'm going through pics of a trip I took on my laptop. She's sitting close to me. When I touch her, it's a weird mix of attraction but reservation.

          • PaulRivers says:

            Anyways, it gets late, I feel like I'm supposed to walk her out to her car so I do. We're chatting for a bit, then I lean in to kiss her – yes, despite her turning me down earlier. She gives me the side of her face, not her lips. I do this like 3 or 4 more times – she's physically keeping me from getting close enough to kiss her on the lips, but every time I get a little closer. Finally if I went in for it 1 more time I could tell I could have actually kissed her – and then my stupid brain goes "you don't live near her, you're going to hurt her if you really get emotionally and romantically involved with her then go back home". So I say good night and leave.

            Honestly – I wondered if I had been an ass and pushed things to far. "Game" said that this is what I should be doing, but I still felt…weird about it.

            Next day she texts me – saying she had had a good time, and was really, really excited about hanging out that night. Problem is, I was so emotionally shot from pushing the line **way** further than I would normally do, I didn't have the energy to keep anything going the next night, so it didn't go anywhere. She later told me she *would* have kissed me that night, if things had gone better.

            It's not at all my fault that reality is this messed up. My friend who's been dating the same girl for 9 months? His story is way crazier than this.

            The problem with articles written for women – is that women's dating advice is comprised of looking attractive, then throwing up endless obstacles to keep her from actually dating or sleeping with anyone. It's how they're socialized, everywhere, to be in the follow/gatekeeper role – to attract you, but then come up with reasons to hold off with it actually going anywhere for a long time. Make female friends (which I have a big list of in real life), you'll see a non-stop series of so called "dating advice" – which is all veiled "don't date anyone" advice.

            Last guy I know to get a girlfriend? He was kind of obnoxious and just told girls what to do. Of course he mixed this with being interesting – now dating a cute girl.

            Before that, probably my friend who picked up game and has been dating a girl for 9 months now, and she talks about how great he is, etc etc. He actually went to a party where the host asked him to distract the girl because the host was trying to date her and also another girl. He kept trying to kiss her and she kept turning him down. I mean they probably talked 10 or 12 hours before it actually went anywhere.

            Before that, a guy who took his time, was really nice to the girl, got to know here, etc etc…problem is, she turned out to be completely and totally untrustworthy, cheating on him, constantly lieing to him, etc. Problem is – really mean girls like overly nice guys, because they can walk all over them.

            Let's see, before that, a guy who hit on a girl half his age (ohs nos! so innapropriate!). A nice guy who got a girl drunk at a beach party and they made out all night (ohs noes! drinking!). A guy who met a girl through a personals site, she didn't show up to their meeting, he ran into her at dancing, then followed her to her car and kissed her (ohs noes! this could have been scary!). My 3rd or so girlfriend was a girl who was the ex-roomate of my first girlfriend (ohs noes, ex-roomate!), my second girlfriend who I met through a mutual friend, she started going to my college, and she didn't know anyone so she kept calling me and we kept hanging out (ohs noes! she's lonely at college! must be taking advantage somehow!). My first girlfriend who I talked to for an hour on a dark street a block off campus (oh noes! scary situation!).

            For women, the overwhelming majority of the advice they receive is about perceiving all romantic or sexual situations as "scary", "creepy", etc. This is why they give such TERRIBLE advice to men – because by filtering out anything romantic or sexual – you don't have anything useful left.

            Advice from women online is exactly like getting dating advice from your mother. It sounds nice, it's told you in a very "this is how you care about women" way, and it is more than 50% useless and the exact opposite of what women who are actually interested in you like.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And again, I can describe something in text and it won't tell you a thing. The same action can be both sexy-agressive and creepy-agressive depending on a lot of context that doesn't translate well. There's a world of difference between "I like a guy who takes charge" and "I like any guy to take charge any time", for example. This all goes back to the soft no. There's nothing that's ever been said in these forums by the consensus of women that would interfere with my ability to meet, date and/or hook up with women. A lot of it is probably rephrased from "game". Be charming, be non-threatening, listen to non-verbal cues. None of that gets in the way of meeting, building rapport, escalating etc. The main difference seems to be between "no means no' and "no may mean yes later if you work it" and I'm happy enough not pushing that line.

          • Drungarious says:

            Dude, if we're going strictly off of anecdotal evidence, then in my experience the key to success with women is to wear a chainmail hauberk in public. It's never failed me so far.

          • You can never go wrong with a chainmail hauberk.

            (Unless you're at the beach. Might be some issues with rust.)

          • Chainmail hauberk, you say?


          • "For women, the overwhelming majority of the advice they receive is about perceiving all romantic or sexual situations as "scary", "creepy", etc. This is why they give such TERRIBLE advice to men – because by filtering out anything romantic or sexual – you don't have anything useful left. "

            Not remotely true. If I go into a shop now and take down several UK women's magazines I'd be hard pushed to see page after page of "romance is creepy" articles. With respect, you seem to live in the PUA bubble.

            "Advice from women online is exactly like getting dating advice from your mother. It sounds nice, it's told you in a very "this is how you care about women" way, and it is more than 50% useless and the exact opposite of what women who are actually interested in you like. "

            Not remotely true. For starters, not all women give the same advice. Secondly, I'd rather get advice from a woman than a bunch of messed up individuals who wear daft hats and do magic tricks to try and impress random girls.

            So much of PUA drivel focuses on teaching men to be false or be "like the instructor". It messes with guys self esteem and faith in themselves in ways no advice from women does. And women aren't preying on the insecure and vulnerable men in society like a lot of male PUAs are.

            I've put much of the male dating advice out there to the test and the most success I ever had was when I just did what I wanted to and was myself. Add to that a few pointers from my female friends and my success improved further.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Hey now! I wear daft hats and do magic tricks! 😉

          • Delafina says:

            Cool story, bro.

          • Okay, Paul, so if what women really want is PUA douchery, then why are you still here?

          • "It's because an entire generation of men all realized around the same time – they had thought that listening to "women" as a group said they wanted would work. And for years, or even into their mid 20's they found – it didn't. They were still single as heck. What women as a group claim they want and like, real actual women did't actually seem to find very attractive at all. "

            The MRA/Redpill lot are insane. Women and their wants did not cause the formation of those crackpots.

            " I wouldn't be there if I thought we shouldn't date. What's interesting is – feeling-wise, I feel her attraction and interest in me perk back up, despite her words saying otherwise. We sit on my bed and I'm going through pics of a trip I took on my laptop. She's sitting close to me. When I touch her, it's a weird mix of attraction but reservation. "

            Interest story but, with respect, a largely biased and pointless piece of guesswork about someone's attraction levels which reads like it's straight out of the over analytical naval gazing nonsense that is most of PUA.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yeah, from the overwhelming majority of commenters being women, to the female-perspective styles the articles are written in, the articles are targetting a female audience.

            Sort of like how Cosmo, which has pictures of scantily clad women and articles for women on what men want is targeted at men?

          • It's mostly men, I'm a male also. More importantly they are adding a perspective that can be very helpful to the normally reserved men trying to get better. And…they…are…wearing..armor. I've neglected to bring the Conan sword, I think it's in the shed, but it's spider season and to hell with that. They are making some good points and as the two gentlemen put it I'm watching the the bake sale of DOOM!

        • It is a website geared towards helping men get better at dating.

          I guess if that involves being pleasant to women, it is a "woman's website." The guys who think that way and proceed to the assortment to MRA/red-pill websites are the ones who end up fueling the fedora-neckbeard stereotype.

        • Gentleman Horndog says:

          "[T]his is more of a woman's website anyways"

          Not really. It just has a community with a very low threshold for the amount of misogyny (accidental or otherwise) that it's prepared to tolerate, particularly for a site that helps guys get laid.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Tbh, this is more of a woman's website anyways, so I don't think any MRAs will be showing up.

          I'll grant you that its definitely a site for women and those who want to interact with them.

    • I have to say, I have been "disappointed" with the MRA/creep/troll response as of late. It really seems that most of those types of guys have figured out they'll get no traction here, and don't bother any more (cause, ya know, all us Evil Feminists are bullies who won't let them have their tantrum on why women should accommodate absolutely all of their desires.)

      • I did appreciate the one who got on the forum and whined that society needs to mandate that all hot young women f**k him.
        Or rather, I appreciated your GIF response to his inanities.

      • Bas Kleijweg says:

        People are almost too eager for this shit. Much as I love laughing at fringe cranks, I just hope the thirst for cathartic rage doesn't let this place slip into a circlejerk too much.

        • I am with you. Internet poo flinging has to be the most pointless thing ever (albeit occasionally amusing). No one changes anyone’s mind and no one walks away with a greater appreciation of the other side’s viewpoint even if the disagree. Certainly no one “wins”. It is just tiring (although the gifts help).

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I'll be the first to admit that a rousing round of "taunt the troll" is childish and immature but I like to think I reserve it strictly for the real McCoy, not people willing to engage in a discussion as equals. When there's no conversation to be had, a little childish fun is good for morale.

  6. In the main, I've found that people who have some debility (physical or mental) that keeps them from being able to do things they want to do tries their damndest to function as highly as possible within the limits of their handicap.

    The person waving their problem around like a license? Frequently more interested in being special than being functional.

    • THIS. I've worked with a lot of guys who were on the autism spectrum. I've also worked with a lot of guys who ignored or protested at my requests for them to stop behavior that was making me uncomfortable.

      You know how much overlap there was between those two groups?


    • Maximilian says:

      So, how should I be living as a disabled person?

  7. wysewomon says:

    Wonderful article. If people get mad, they should be listening.

    BTW, you haven't experienced creepy until a creepy guy decides to become a professional "body-worker." Because then he can violate your boundaries, claim it's for your health, and you have to pay him for it.

    But really, this reminded me of a recent conversation I was having with a male friend about women's experience in publishing, esp. SF/F. I shared a photo essay of women writers holding white boards showing all the questions they wished people would stop asking them. My friend–who is actually smart, open-minded, and a University professor–said, "Well, if they're hearing these things enough to find them annoying, they need to look at their work instead of getting pissed off. Because readers don't understand the point, the writers aren't doing their jobs." I pointed out that he was making an assumption about the quality of these women's work based on nothing more than a picture of a pissed of woman with a sign expressing her feelings. He said, "It's best in these kinds of situations to assume good will." *headdesk* I had to explain to him that women CAN'T AFFORD to assume goodwill, because doing so can put us in actual, physical danger, and if something bad happens then it's our own fault for not being vigilant enough.

    Anyway,. I guess I mean to say that even a lot of smart, truly well-meaning guys have a long way to go when it comes to recognizing privilege.

    • Yeah, my husband just last night argued with me about how the only appropriate response to internet harassment is to go to the police with it, and leave it there.

      He was absolutely clueless to the common issue of having the police turn around and say to you, "Just ignore it and it will go away."

      Yeah right.

      • There’s a great book coming out soon (I got the advanced reader copy through my job and couldn’t put it down) called “The Book of You”. It’s about a woman who was stalked, harassed, and put in fear for her life and well-being by a possessive guy. Getting into her head was fascinating; seeing how little the police could do was terrifying.

    • chewrocka says:

      How would giving their readers the benefit of the doubt lead to physical danger? It doesn't mean they have to assume no one is going to attack them in a parking garage.

  8. Bas Kleijweg says:

    They're not separate categories. Whenever there's a cluster of nerds, you sometimes get a wonderful combination of the two-the socially awkward folks imitate the creeps who have found the equilibrium of what they can get away with because the former think that's how it's supposed to go.

    Likewise, apologetic overtures can and will be used by the creepers to make the victim feel bad for overreacting. If you make a gaffe, keep the apology curt and brief. Don't shovel your anxiety onto the person(I've seen this more with dudes than dudettes-this goes both ways).

    On the side of those on the receiving end(especially in a social setting with others) stonewalling the sucker works well("X behaviour makes me uncomfortable. Could you not do this around me?" <excuse> "That's all very well, but could you simply not do it around me?"). By specifically making it about a behaviour and your own boundaries, you skip the traps of putting his personality on trial or regulating the boundaries for the rest of the group(which everybody can decide for themselves).

    • celette482 says:

      Good point re: apologizing.

      Apologies can sometimes turn into "I demand that you make me feel better about myself!" even if we don't mean them to. The best way to avoid that (which gives off even further creeper vibes because you managed to turn "That thing I did to hurt you" into "The thing you did to hurt me (by telling me to stop hurting you)") is to keep the apology short and sincere. Try treating it like you just tread on someone's toe. "Oh! I'm sorry" and back the hell up. Easy.

    • forgedimagination says:

      That's a good point– that those of use who are who aren't necessarily good at identifying and following cultural patterns might try to imitate those who seem to be successful.

      I've tried to imitate people who seem to be successful in different social settings, but would later realize that what I was imitating wasn't going to be helpful for me in the long run to learn how to interact with people in a healthy, responsible way.

    • Konnect Life says:

      LOL you simply don't get it. You have no idea how the mind of "creeps" work. I do, because for a long time I used to be that way until I figured out how to change and be the way I was "supposed" to be according to the rules of society. No wonder there are so many suicides… just look at all the ignorant comments here, and some of the article itself was incorrect. It's obvious the writer has never had any form of autism or personality disorder or anything of that nature. Anyone without good social skills would not assume that a woman not responding means she isn't interested, especially when we have countless amount of material these days teaching guys to be persistent and not to give up.

      As far as apologizing, there is a reason why it happens, and your example is 100% incorrect. Actually, I can't speak for everyone since everybody is different, but, most people who are apologetic aren't that way for the reasons you described.

      Anyway, creepiness and awkwardness are no longer my problem, but this does not mean I don't feel bad for all the rest who haven't figured out how to change themselves or "fix" their behavior yet, based on personal experience, and having a bunch of people who never had to deal with it verbally beat up on those who have and act like they come from a place of authority is pretty silly to me. People always wanting to talk about what they don't know much about for whatever agendas they have.

      Enjoy your day.

      • Bas Kleijweg says:

        Lel, PDD-NOS person here who did some pretty creepy shit back in his day("so sorry, just tell me how I can make it up to you"). I talked the poor gal into the chance to make it right because that meant I could still prepare the next silly grand romantic gesture. I mirrored the emotionally manipulative douchebags, but because my feelings were so powerful and earnest, it was excused in my eyes.

        I didn't say that all apologies are moot, or that all the awkward folks operate the same way I did-but I've spotted the pattern in myself and folks in my surroundings plenty of times.

      • violetyoshi says:

        So if you don't say no you're responsible for some poor socially awkward guy's suicide. If you do say no you're also responsible. Guess if there's no way of winning, it's best not to play the game.

        • Avila12321 says:

          "You're always supposed to hate the girl"

        • matthewcliff57 says:

          If you say no you're responsible for what? Your feelings? Why would you care about being responsible for your feelings? They are yours.

  9. Hirundo Bos says:

    Okay, this thing about creepiness and boundaries is something I have been trying to relate to my own experience since I first came across it on this site, about a year ago. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in my early thirties, before that I had just felt somewhat unexplicably out of sync with the world. I have cultivated something of an exaggerated eccentric exterior, because it makes it easier to relate to people, probably because it drowns out all those small things that make something appear a bit off. In most situations, I don’t come off as socially awkward, but I do have some problems with boundaries. I’m not that good at setting my own, and I’m not that good at sensing them in others. I have improved a lot over the last years, though, on both accounts.

    One of the most important things I have been told, as my meview and worldview have change and developed in light of my new diagnosis, is that autism certainly doesn’t excuse me of responsibility. I don’t think I fully grasp what that really means, but I have got at least two things out of it. One, I should work to improve myself as much as I can, especially in situations where people can get hurt. Two, when I do mess up, I should be prepared to pay the price for that, if only because no one else can be expected to.

    With this in mind, the articles I have read on creepiness have been very useful. They have made me more conscious about how I approach people, whether or not I corner them either physically or socially, whether or not I feel cornered myself and how to act when I do. However, the thing about some of these articles, including this one, that I can’t quite relate to my own experience, is the claims they make about what goes on in the outwardly creepy person’s mind. About how you can tell the difference between people who intend to push boundaries, and those who just stumble across them by accident. Because really you can’t. Behavior is observable, intent is not, and when someone lack the ability to bring their intent across, the only thing you know is how they behave.

    Now, there are ways in which this matters, and ways in which it doesn’t. To be clear, it doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t matter, to the person being made uncomfortable or unsafe. Those feelings, and actions taken because of them, are valid no matter what the offending person intended. It also doesn’t matter if you are the one behaving badly: You should work to improve yourself, and be prepared to pay the price when you mess up.

    The thing about intent that does matter, is what socially awkward and/or disabled people end up thinking about themselves. If you mess up frequently in some way, and think that if you really wanted to do better, you could, this must mean you just don’t want it enough. If this goes on to become your general experience with the world, you end up feeling more or less powerless, you become unlikely to try to fix even the things you could.

    So my small objection to an otherwise important series of article, flavored with vague hints of ableism and social justice, is that I don’t understand why claims about intent are made at all. They are not always true, and rarely well founded, they are possibly hurtful to a certain sunset of the audience, and they are not necessary to bring the main point across: That creepy behavior is unacceptable, whether it comes from a place of social awkwardness or not.

    • celette482 says:

      The only reason it matters is because there are people out there who *absolutely* intend to push boundaries, and it's important to remember that because it explains why inadvertent creepiness gets people's hackles up.

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      "To be clear, it doesn't matter, or shouldn't matter, to the person being made uncomfortable or unsafe. Those feelings, and actions taken because of them, are valid no matter what the offending person intended."

      This reads like a defense of Stand Your Ground laws.

      • Hirundo Bos says:

        I am Norwegian and not quite sure about what those laws are. Mostly I try to say: “Everything that has been said about creepy behavior is true, except for the things about intent.” Apart from that, I still try to figure out exactly what it means totale responsibility for my mistakes, how I should act and think to bring across my intent to treat people with respect.

      • eselle28 says:

        People don't bleed to death when other people consider them creeps. The problem with Stand Your Ground Laws is mainly with the severity of the consequences.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          George Zimmerman was successfully able to argue that his fear of Trayvon Martin gave him license to kill. Look again at the part that I quoted:

          "To be clear, it doesn't matter, or shouldn't matter, to the person being made uncomfortable or unsafe. Those feelings, and actions taken because of them, are valid no matter what the offending person intended."

          To George Zimmerman, the actions that he took were valid because his fear made them so.

          One of the problems that I have with "made me feel" rhetoric is that it absolves the person with negative feelings of *any* sense of ownership or responsibility for those feelings or *any* need to engage in introspection; it's all on the person who "made them feel." Those two guys holding hands "make you feel" uncomfortable? They're an abomination. The veteran with the visible scars and the amputated limbs "made you feel" uncomfortable? He shouldn't impose his presence on the public. The tall, black man walking down the street (heavily trafficked, in the middle of the day) "made you feel" unsafe? Something should be done about people like him; they should be put in their place. The woman in a hijab "made you feel" unsafe? There ought to be a law. The transwoman in the ladies' room "made you feel" unsafe? Won't somebody think of the children?

          There's something deeply and profoundly illiberal about the demonization of the feared.

          There are times when intent to make someone feel something is clear. The guy in the pinstripe suit talking about what a nice business you have, and what a shame it would be if something were to happen to it, and how you could pay him to protect your business? He honestly and sincerely *made* you feel afraid, because his intent was clear, and in such a case, that rhetoric is amply justified. Intent is seldom so clear.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            You're taking this to an extreme that's simply ludicrous.

            Trying to end a social interaction with somebody who's making you feel unsafe is not the same as gunning that person down. At all.

            Yes, it would suck to be unfairly called a creep. I'll take that over getting gut-shot any day.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "Trying to end a social interaction with somebody who's making you feel unsafe is not the same as gunning that person down."

            Agreed. I was specifically responding to the blanket validation of actions, without any qualifications, in response to fear. Part of our society goes down that path, and the results aren't pretty.

          • Ending an interaction with a person is always a valid choice so I am not understanding what the problem is with a blanket statement here? Is it really equivalent to “stand your ground” if someone chooses to stop an interaction at any time for any reason?

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            Sure, ending an interaction *by walking away* is always a valid choice. That said, one can easily recall less defensible ways in which people (George Zimmerman, Berhard Goetz) have sought to end interactions. People can, and do, use "he made me feel unsafe" as an excuse for shooting people. All I'm saying is that *not all* possible actions are valid, despite rhetoric that seems to suggest otherwise.

          • enail0_o says:

            This is a fair point, but rather a large leap in context.

          • I agree. Valid point, slightly melodramatic and histrionic parallel.

          • Delafina says:

            You're throwing up some pretty massive false equivalence here.

            No one has suggested shooting anyone. As far as I can tell, the only things people have advocated are telling the person to stop whatever they're doing, and ceasing to interact with them.

            So I'm unclear as to how shooting people is at all relevant to the discussion, as opposed to a derailment.

          • Delafina says:

            Ending an interaction that makes you uncomfortable does not require validation, qualifications, justification, or explanation. If someone makes you uncomfortable or afraid, you get to stop interacting with them. Full stop.

          • Hirundo Bos says:

            Maybe I should have said “and actions taken because of them, except when those actions result in injury or death,” but on the other hand, maybe such a qualification would just be confusing. Language is a tricky thing. The act of denying somethings mean you have to bring it into the conversation, and when it doesn’t seem obviously relevant, people will start to wonder why it’s there.

          • SpiltCoffee5 says:

            This is why laws are so convoluted.

          • smallswingshoes says:

            I agree with you here. This comparison is so much like false equivalence or reductio ad absurdum.

          • eselle28 says:

            But the reaction to a creep is simply, "Hey, I don't want to continue to have these social, non-commercial interactions with you. They make me uncomfortable. Leave me alone." I think that's a valid request, regardless of its motive. If the motive is prejudice, then I'll judge the person for their prejudice, but I think people should still leave each other alone (again, strictly talking about non-business transactions here) when requested.

          • celette482 says:

            At most that's the reaction. The more common reaction to a creep is to feel small and scared and profoundly uncomfortable and hope to flee.

            Heyyyyy I'm hitting on another major major difference between Zimmerman and women being creeped on! The desire to flee, not to prolong the encounter.

          • The person pushing boundaries is more “standing their ground” than the boundary enforcer. It is the equivalent to a trespasser being told to get out and refusing to leave or someone being 86ed from a business and refusing to depart. People have as much right to control of their person as an owner has to their property or a business to its premises.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            The important difference is the response to "made you feel". Someone makes you feel uncomfortable because they're creepy/gay/missing limbs/big and scary/wearing a turban, you absolutely have the right to end the interaction. You may be an asshole for doing so but you're not required to subject yourself to it.

            I get the comparison here. An innocent person died because someone else felt uncomfortable about them for no good reason. There's a huge world of difference between not wanting to engage with someone and shooting them dead.

            I suppose the question is, given that some guy walks into your house unannounced and corners you in the kitchen in the middle of the night, is it on you to give him a chance or on him to prove he's not a threat? I feel better going with the latter and calibrating less severe interactions accordingly.

        • I’m not so sure about that. would anyone really be surprised by a correlation between constantly being creeped out and suicide?

      • I wish Americans weren't so prone to turning everything into a discussion of something exclusively American.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Its not even exclusively American. Its a law that's exclusive to 2% of the country but because it was big news recently, its a common cultural reference.

        • Delafina says:

          It's not "Americans" — it's one dude who, as far as I can tell, is bringing in an irrelevant and unrelated type of circumstance to suggest that people being creeped on shouldn't just walk away, or tell the person to stop, because doing so is equivalent to shooting the guy (in the FEELINGS).

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            To be fair, we've had commenters who have made that kind of argument (remember the guy who literally equated rejection with being stabbed? Like, literally claimed there was SCIENCE!!! backing him up and everything on how getting shot down is JUST like getting stabbed with a knife?), and I don't think that's what OBS is doing here. I don't think his point is prescriptive, necessarily; I don't think he's saying that women shouldn't act on their feelings when they feel their safety is compromised. I think he's saying that the feeling isn't always rational, and if taken to its extreme can go bad places.

            To which I would say, so the hell what? Of course feelings aren't always rational; that's why we call them "feelings" and not "dispassionate and meticulously investigated analysis". And of course most reactions become bad when taken to an irrational and violent extreme. I can feel dissatisfied with my job without storming into my boss's office and launching a chair-throwing tantrum. I can curse at the dipshit who cut me off in traffic without going all Road Warrior on him. And a woman can try to disengage from a guy who's twigging her creep-dar without pulling out a nine and blowing him away. (Hopefully.)

            I think his point is "This person made me feel uncomfortable" shouldn't be used as a blanket validation for any and all responses, which is true, save that nobody is arguing that it actually should be. I think reboot nailed it when she said "Valid point, slightly melodramatic and histrionic parallel", save that she was being very, very kind by tossing in the word "slightly."

            (And honestly? There's evidence that "I resorted to violence because this person made me uncomfortable" only actually works as a legal defense for guys. Around the time of the Zimmerman trial, there was a woman in Florida who was arrested for firing warning shots to keep her abusive husband at bay. Last I heard she was doing hard time — on the order of 20 years, if I recall correctly. As guys, I don't think we're fully cognizant of all the ways women are discouraged from maintaining their own boundaries, which is why articles like this are so important.)

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            You're understanding me correctly. The rhetoric of the creeper discussion, especially the central role of fear, honestly does remind me of Stand Your Ground.

            When I'm uncomfortable around someone, I tend to engage in a bit of introspection, and I sometimes conclude that the problem lies with me, not with the other person, and I grow a bit as a result. Some people are unwilling to engage in such efforts, even going so far as to discourage others from engaging in such introspection, because introspection might lead people to believe that reality is more complicated than rhetoric suggests. There's a great deal of willingness on this blog to ignore both history and logical consistency in the interest of a narrow agenda and an artificially simplistic narrative.

          • Delafina says:


            Check your privilege, dude. That's great that you have the luxury of doing that. It is very easy to "engage in introspection" when you're not talking to someone who, statistically speaking, has a high chance of being physically dangerous to you. That, however, isn't the case for women. (And for many people here, when you HAVE been stalked or assaulted.)

            If someone's potentially a threat to you, AND IS ENGAGING IN BEHAVIOR THAT SUGGESTS THAT THEY DON'T RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES (a point that you keep conveniently eliding), you SHOULDN'T give them a chance. It is dangerous to give them a chance. You should listen to your instincts, and their behavior, WHICH IS TELEGRAPHING THAT THEY ARE NOT SAFE.

            Introspection — best case scenario: you continue to talk to someone who doesn't respect your autonomy.

            Worst case scenario: he gets you alone and does something to you.

            Leaving — best case scenario: you stop interacting with a dude who is dangerous to you.

            Worst case scenario: you stop interacting with a dude who doesn't respect your boundaries.

            Choosing Option #1 is absurd.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "Check your privilege, dude."

            And your privilege lies in never needing to engage in introspection.

          • No, I have privilege in many senses — I'm white, I'm able-bodied, I had a fairly affluent upbringing, I read as heterosexual.

            But having to worry about the threat of assault from men, and structure my behavior around that threat, is in no way a privilege.

          • SpiltCoffee5 says:

            Cuz introspection totally can't occur after leaving, right?

          • raindancing says:

            As I said elsewhere, the last time I gave the benefit of the doubt to someone who was gave me the creepy vibe, I was rewarded by waking up with that man's hand in my crotch.

            If I had listened to my instincts, and asked the hostel to put me in a different room, what would the worst outcome for him have been? Hurt feelings? And here I've just been plagued by chronic insomnia for a decade.

            When I'm uncomfortable with someone now, I do whatever I need to do to ensure safety, and *then* I reflect. Because there is *no* amount of personal growth that could make up for subjecting myself to another molesting.

          • enail0_o says:

            OBS, women are constantly told to question their own judgment about their comfort and safety, to give boundary-pushers a chance, to overlook harmful behaviors, to blame themselves, and to empathize with the other person no matter what they have done.

            Given that context, can you see why your suggestion about introspection would come across as insulting, privileged and harmful?

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "women are constantly told to question their own judgment about their comfort and safety"

            What I hear, on this blog among others, is that men should question their blind fear and hatred, but women get a free pass, because a woman's fear is unerringly accurate. If Anita Bryant or Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann says that someone should be feared, we should all take that at face value, because they have magical powers that allow them to recognize when people are truly dangerous.

            Now, if people want to act on their fears, and those actions *aren't an imposition on anyone else*, I don't so much have a problem with that. Cower under your bed if that's the only place you feel safe. The problem comes when those who are feared are held accountable for the fear they induce in others; that's when we as a society need to examine those fears calmly and rationally and determine whether any broader action, as a society, is warranted. If, for example, someone who "made someone uncomfortable" is to be kicked out of a Con, there needs to be an examination of that person's actions and apparent motives; by comparison, the fears nurtured by a third party's imagination aren't deserving of much weight in such discussions.

            I think there's a tendency of healthy people to casually dismiss many quotidian fears: spiders, heights, etc. Objectively, driving down a highway at 65 mph is dangerous, but many people do it every day without giving it a second thought, and that's as it should be. When something bad actually happens, people can forget that they ever dismissed any such fear and become convinced that their earlier fear was prescient. PTSD distorts reality. People kick themselves for having ignored their fears, and in extreme cases they become evangelical, trying to convince others to embrace their fears. It's pathological, and it's potentially contagious.

          • enail0_o says:

            But my point was that women are constantly questioning this stuff, constantly second-guessing, constantly downplaying harassment even to ourselves. Your saying that women should react to people pushing their boundaries by introspecting rather than by halting the interaction is kind of like saying that women who get called "fat cow" by a stranger should consider feeling bad about their weight – not only are they almost certainly already doing it (with the entire weight of culture over them reinforcing it), but it also gives a pass to the bad behavior.

            Your suggestion that anyone is going to be kicked out of a Con without examining their behavior (if they are engaging in harassing behavior, I can't see how their motives are relevant) is pretty ridiculous scare-mongering. No one is suggesting that people be kicked out of anywhere for 'fears nurtured by a third party's imagination,' just for actual bad behavior .

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Actions, yes. Motives, no. You need to get off my foot.

          • Mystere says:

            "The problem comes when those who are feared are held accountable for the fear they induce in others"

            The problem with this argument is that you're ignoring the fact that – particularly in the case of women's constant evaluation of fear cause by men – the impetus to prevent rape or any other sort of violation is on the (potential) victim. Don't wear provocative clothing, don't walk alone, be constantly aware of what's around you, carry your keys out to defend yourself, don't wear hairstyles that are easy to grab, don't talk on your phone while you're walking, check your back seat before getting in the car. And if we're approached and feel uncomfortable and react in any way – socially acceptable or not, violent or not – we're being unreasonable, irrational, emotional, not considering the other person, or, as you put it, "refusing to introspect."

            Let me spell it out for you: my right to remove myself from an uncomfortable situation trumps ANYONE'S desire to interact with me. My reason for being uncomfortable is completely irrelevant to whether it's appropriate for me to leave.

            The thing you're ignoring is the fact that, whether it's a conscious examination or not, we ARE examining that person's behavior! In every second of interaction, anyone with the ability to pick up on social cues is reading other people's behavior to gauge appropriate behavior and response. That's part of what triggers discomfort and fear. That's how we know someone's behavior is "off." Intellectualism is actually what allows for this sort of behavior and boundary-pushing to be excused.

            As Nerdlove says, you can generally tell the motives of the "off" person by the way they react to crossing a social or personal boundary. Those people who are genuinely awkward and who screw up accidentally tend to realize it pretty quickly, or they behave as though genuinely embarrassed and will either apologize all over themselves or otherwise be very uncomfortable. Someone who's pushing your boundaries makes excuses, accuses you of being too sensitive, and tries to turn you into the bad guy to allow them to continue getting away with bad behavior.

            You're making extreme generalizations into situations that don't even apply to the conversation. Interpersonal interaction is a completely different dynamic than some politician condemning another politician's actions on the news. I may not know whether someone across the ocean is dangerous, but I know that the guy who can invade my personal space bubble from across the table by looking at me, doesn't ever break eye contact, and makes the constant excuse that "this is how my parents raised me" and then makes about a 3-day effort to change his behavior before going back to his pushy, creepy, compulsively lying, and manipulative behavior that he avoids doing around or toward the people he knows will retaliate is a CREEP and should be called out and avoided. (I actually knew this person. It took my slapping him in front of the other girls he bullied into putting up with his behavior, and then being called out as a flat-out liar by the entire social group collectively for him to back off of us. And even then, just a few months later, he tried to resume contact. Some people may cross the boundary, but people like this KNOW what they're doing is wrong and can't be bothered to learn another way.)

            Essentially, your argument boils down to the same base as rape apology. Those who are threatened or who feel threatened are to blame on both sides, while the person posing the potential threat is innocent on all counts. While legally, people are innocent until proven guilty, that's not necessarily true in social situations. You're saying that it's more dangerous and inherently wrong to potentially misinterpret a person's behavior than it is to allow the completely unacceptable behavior and risk further abuse.

            For clarification: I am not a rape victim, I have never been sexually assaulted, I have never been attacked. I have, however, dealt with people who have put me off, who have made me uncomfortable, who have touched me without my consent and repeatedly pushed my boundaries – including some who have actually committed rapes against others of my friends who did not react as strongly or as forcefully than I did to initial infractions.

            I call complete and utter bullshit on your argument.

    • "Because really you can't. Behavior is observable, intent is not, and when someone lack the ability to bring their intent across, the only thing you know is how they behave."

      I would argue that in cases where you are physically observing the behaviour, a person with sufficient skill in reading body language can, at the very least, make a good guess as to intention. Facetious as this example is, there's a reason "sense motive" is a skill in DnD, as well as a magic spell.

      To get real, I've been raped. And when I looked in my rapist's eyes, as I was trying to fight him off, as well as after, I could *see* that he *did not care* that he was committing/had just committed rape. There was a *complete absence* of any caring indicators.

      Can a third-party observer, or a "heard it through a friend" 'observers' judge intent? No, I would agree not. But I think that a person who is skilled in reading body language is perfectly capable of judging when another person's body language fails to show any indication of caring when confronted with the idea that they have made another person uncomfortable. (Rephrasing, since that sentence was so wordy) People (even predators) give off body language that indicates their intent.
      We may not be able to read their minds, but you can read their body language, and a lot of the time, that's the most trustworthy information you're going to get, because a truly predatory person will use the same words (but not necessarily the same body language) as a person who is truly "just socially awkward" to explain (or excuse) their behaviour.

      I appreciate that you don't mean it this way, and that your overall point is not to try to give anyone leave to make others uncomfortable, but claiming "you can never know!" cuts too close to the kind of rhetoric that tells women that our instincts cannot be trusted, for my comfort. If I can't trust my body-language reading abilities, I'm kind of screwed, because my ability to recognize when someone doesn't care about my boundaries *has* prompted me to be wary enough of someone to be able to fight off their attack before.

      • Hirundo Bos says:

        I am sorry to hear about you being raped, and I thank you for reminding me that the danger of rape is a part of this discussion. I certainly don’t mean that women shouldn’t trust their instincts. If person A senses person B to be a threat, person B should be treated as such. It doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter, whether there is a theoretical chance that person A might be wrong, that person’s safety comes first.

        It is also true that body language do convey a lot of important information. I may tend to underestimate that, because my own body-reading skills are a little impaired.

        When I try to say something from the side of the socially awkward person, I am mostly concerned about how those people come to see themselves. What they take away with them after learning that they have made a mistake. For those people it can be useful to believe that their ability doesn’t reflect on their intent; that with the right kind of effort, their ability can, in fact, be improved. And that it is their responsibility to clean up after themselves if they happen to make a mess.

        But to be clear, how socially awkward people feel is less important in some situations than in others. It may be important in general discussions about awkward vs. creepy behavior. It doesn’t matter in an actual encounter, when someone is presented with that behavior. The safety of person A is far more important than the feelings of person B.

        • enail0_o says:

          Just wanted to say, I really like how you're able to discuss this with so much nuance and considering both sides of the situation! It's rare to see!

      • "I would argue that in cases where you are physically observing the behaviour, a person with sufficient skill in reading body language can, at the very least, make a good guess as to intention. Facetious as this example is, there's a reason "sense motive" is a skill in DnD, as well as a magic spell. "

        Except autistic people have atypical body language, and the author of this comment is autistic. He may not appear concerned when he actually is, and thus you are declaring he does not care if he doesn't clearly show concern. Inversely, sociopaths are often good at faking body language to get what they want. Yes, it works as a good guess, but absolutely you cannot be sure from a philosophical standpoint.

        "I appreciate that you don't mean it this way, and that your overall point is not to try to give anyone leave to make others uncomfortable, but claiming "you can never know!" cuts too close to the kind of rhetoric that tells women that our instincts cannot be trusted, for my comfort. If I can't trust my body-language reading abilities, I'm kind of screwed, because my ability to recognize when someone doesn't care about my boundaries *has* prompted me to be wary enough of someone to be able to fight off their attack before."

        It's worth noting that autistic woman and mentally ill woman are significantly more susceptible to being victimized because of this.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      I was diagnosed with Asperger's as well at a young age. And while I've been fortunate enough to not have problems with things like physical boundaries, I have tended to just ramble on and kind of stampede people with my opinions in my childhood. And I agree: the intent doesn't really matter all that much when it compares to making someone else feel unsafe or severely uncomfortable.

      I've always done my best to admit to my screw-ups and work to improve constantly not only because I want to be able to interact with people in a way that makes them comfortable, but also in a way that makes me happy. I was fortunate enough to find understanding friends who would also not take any bullshit I had. Owning up to your mistakes is wonderful.

      And it's also why being socially awkward is not an excuse to harass someone. I agree with you so much. Thank you for posting this!

    • loveandcoffeeshops says:

      I'm very happy to see you working so hard to overcome your disability :)

      As a member of social dance communities (like Salsa), I frequently end up in contact with people who have disorders on the Autism spectrum, and people who have difficultly communicating appropriately in a verbal way. Dance, for those people, gives them a way to express themselves and connect without the verbal aspect.

      In working with those people, there's a *huge* difference in the way these people interact with me and people who are "creepers" interact…. and usually the intention is obvious.

      For example, one friend of mine with a disability said (in a conversation about my age) "I know you're young." I asked why, and his answer was "Well, you have acne on your face, and it's usually young people who have acne."

      To me, that is socially awkward; aka not something you normally say to someone.

      Contrasted with a creep:
      "Yeah. You're going to partner with me for a routine, but you have to go to the gym and work out if you want that privilege. You're also going to come take a train into the city so I can pick you up. " I declined, and was very creeped out by the way he was intensely pursuing this without asking my consent. The first one was not creepy, just…. blunt, and out of line. The second one had an attitude of "me-as-property" which was problematic.

      Another example: the socially-awkward Massage Guy.
      Initially, it was the WTF. But it took about 30 minutes to realize that offering massages to people was just "his thing". There was literally ZERO discrimination on giving those massages to men/women, older people, younger people. He was really just proud of his good massages. But, the second you said "No, thank you" or "ok, I think that's good" he would back off with a smile.

      Contrast with the (same) Creep:
      Followed me up to my hotel room, pushed his way into my room when I specifically asked him to remain outside, and then commanded me to remove my top. I told him no, and he left. That was a creep. Not socially awkward.

      People can usually tell where your intentions are, especially if they see the same behaviour applying to ALL interactions… rather than creeps, who seem to specifically target their behaviour at women they are interested in.

    • As I read this, I think to myself that your disability, however you want to label it, is actually making you more thoughtful about the situation than most people. I'm pretty neurotic, I have my own interactions to work on, but I must say it does make you very aware of what you need to work on. Cheers!

    • themike86 says:

      I think I'm going to steal the word "cornering" whenever I explain this to other people – so thanks. I've known people in the past who are exactly like this – a bit creepy, really, but honestly probably not out of malice.

      To those who are genuinely working on their social cues, there's an apparent contradiction. Unsolicited physical contact (for example) is "creepy", and yet "testing out" physical contact is a normal, perhaps necessary part of gauging interest and flirting. Neither of these statements are untrue, as this website can attest. The key distinction is whether the other person is likely to feel cornered by your interaction or not. This has its own subtle cues (setting, company, etc.), but is fairly easy to tell, I suppose.


  10. Doctor_Tinycat says:

    Great post Dr. NL.

    My husband of 20 years was / is that slightly socially awkward guy. Why did I choose him over all the other guys? He was polite, didn't make misogynistic jokes / comments, didn't invade my space, listened to me, etc. Those basic skills made up for everything else.

    My son, now a teen, was diagnosed with Asperger's at age 3. He's definitely socially awkward but guess what? Girls his age and women at his job like him. Why? He's polite, not misogynistic, doesn't invade their space, and listens. I suspect dating may be a little difficult but not nearly as difficult as some of the creeps screaming "but I'm just socially awkward!!!!"


    It made a huge difference in my life when I realized (full epiphany moment) that the obnoxious creepy guys who never let up were predators. And they were damned good at being predators. They were NOT GOING TO STOP BEING PREDATORS, or change their behaviour in any way, because what they were already doing was already working for them. It worked really well, for them, because they got plenty of slap and tickle and a good deal of bulldozer sex, and never had to worry about consequences, since the men in this particular community (paganism, to be precise) could be counted on to cover for them, forever.

    Recognizing them as predators meant I could reclassify myself as Not Prey, Damn It Already. It cut my personal target level of getting creeped on down by a good 90% (yes, I'm a numbers nerd).

    I promptly got a reputation as an unreliable mouthy bitch (especially when I dared to say "no" to a community leader who had successfully bulldozed a "yes" out of me on a prior occasion). It was worth it. I figured that if I had pissed off the predator, I must have done something right.

    • celette482 says:

      Yes. Yes. exactly.

      They don't stop because they like it.

      You want to know how to tell a "socially awkward guy" from a "predator"? The first will stop.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        Fellow gentlemen, please note the corollary:

        If you don't stop after being asked (directly or indirectly, nicely or otherwise) to stop, you're acting like a fucking predator.

        Doesn't matter if you're awkward. Doesn't matter if you've seen this "work" for other guys (who are apparently either better than you are at reading the cues saying the women they're approaching are actually cool with their advances, or are themselves acting like fucking predators). Insert whatever reason you like for not stopping when asked; it is irrelevant.

        When she asks you to stop and you don't, you're acting like a fucking predator. Knock it off. Now.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Corollary 2: if you accidentally overstep, say "I'm sorry", have a mutual laugh at the awkward moment, jump right back to whatever was going on before and don't do it again, chances are good that everything will be just fine.

          • eselle28 says:

            That is a very, very important corollary. The more socially skilled and dangerous type of creep has a nasty habit of offending, apologizing profusely, and then doing the exact same goddamn thing again when he thinks everyone else has forgotten about the first misstep.

    • StarlightArcher says:

      So very very much this! I think that's why there's so much hysteria over trying to mitigate creepy/predatory behaviors with other words and names. To know the true name of a thing is to have monumental power in your hands, to speak the true name of a thing is to wield that power. And when you have and wield power, you are no longer prey, but a creature worthy of the fear you inspire.

      I once heard a piece of advice that struck me as odd the first I heard it. As a woman, if you believe someone is following you, the best thing you can do is turn and look the person in the eye. I always thought such action might provoke a physical confrontation, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. Looking them in the eye, shows that you see them, you know what they're doing and what they are. I make an effort now to turn and look if I feel someone following. I may one day be a victim, but I will never be prey.

      • chinchilla says:

        I got another piece of advice along with 'look them in the eyes' and that is, if you're afraid to look at them straight in eyes, look at their eyebrows, because you read someone looking into your eyes and looking at your eyebrows the same way (unless you're really, really close to their face of course).

    • OtherRoooToo says:

      "Recognizing them as predators meant I could reclassify myself as Not Prey …

      I promptly got a reputation as an unreliable mouthy bitch "

      Yes, that's how it usually goes.

      In that sequence, too.

    • rebeccaamytodd says:

      Exactly, Beth! When I give firm nos, then suddenly I'm a harsh bitch, no matter how polite I am.

  12. I remember an especially awkward guy in a few of my college courses. I honestly don't believe he's a creeper (or predator), but his actions come across as creepy. He pushed a lot for a date, until I did the ol', "let me check my work schedule and I'll totally get back to you," maneuver, because I honestly do have a very hard time saying no (something I've been working on). While at an out-of-state conference/convention with him and 8 other people (it was gaming related, so the only girls were me and one other close friend), he stuck a cold coffee drink against the side of my face, scaring the crap out of me. I asked him to stop, and he did. His biggest mistake was trying that on my friend a short time later (who has a much stiffer spine then I do). She read him the riot act, loud enough that everyone in our group knew exactly what was going on. He backed the hell off, and stayed that way the rest of the trip. Thankfully, all the other guys in our group were very cool, and at no other time did I feel nervous being one of only two women on the trip.

    I think the thing to remember is that maybe a guy is genuinely socially awkward. Maybe he's not a creeper or a predator. That doesn't mean you're not allowed to find him creepy, or reinforce your boundaries. Don't feel bad for a second that you might be 'misjudging' some guy.

    • I've never understood the idea that my pride as a man somehow is more important than a woman's safety. You misjudge me as a guy and yes, maybe in some cases I might be hurt or have hurt feelings. But if I'd been a different kind of guy and you hadn't misjudged me then I doubt things would heal so quickly. My pride is not more important than your safety.

      I take honest feedback from women and use it. It's hard to get even the women I know to give me feedback or any man they know feedback because they feel I or other men might get angry or cross about it etc. But I like to know.

    • Cpt_Justice says:

      No, he *was* a creeper.

  13. I feel like it's time for this link again:

    Men understand "soft no"s; the ones who don't heed them just aren't interested in respecting them.

    And related: stop blaming your self-diagnosed Asperger's for your creeping tendencies. Aspberger's may lead to behavior that neurotypical people find off-putting, but it doesn't cause people to ignore others' requests to stop behavior.

    • Hirundo Bos says:

      When those requests are made in a way that most people understand but we don’t, AS does cause us not to respond to them, much as if you had made that request in a foreign language. As I have said at length above, it is still my responsibility, and no-one else’s, when I mess up. When I do invade someone else’s boundaries, I definitely do something bad. What I don’t get is why people have to tell me that badness is in my nature.

    • Meyer N Gaines says:

      I was recently diagnosed with "Asperger's," but diagnoses of Asperger's are made only after a physician examines a full birth and developmental history, not because "I'm kinda awkward bro."

      • Doctor_Tinycat says:

        Amen to that. Asperger's isn't being "kinda awkward". It's a pervasive developmental disorder that can affect so many things: language use, voice modulation, acquisition of social knowledge, motor skills (fine and gross), executive functioning (organizing and planning, prioritizing), a sense of time, not to mention sensory issues with food, smells, tactile attraction or defensiveness, not the same understanding of pain / hunger, etc. as others.

        Have to add: Asperger's was taken out of the DSM last spring, and those who would have been diagnosed with Asperger's now have the clinical diagnosis of "Autism Spectrum Disorder". Asperger's is a name claimed by those with the condition, and it shows no sign of going away based on it's continuing use by self-advocacy organizations and individuals who like it.

      • Delafina says:

        Yeah, as I've said elsewhere: the overlap between men I know with Asperger's and men who have continued to push my boundaries after I told them to stop is… *drum roll*


        And in most cases, the guys with AS not only stopped, they apologized for making me uncomfortable and thanked me for letting them know (a reaction that is pretty rare among neurotypical guys).

        • Hirundo Bos says:

          As I have said elsewhere, I don’t understand why it matters to you whether unacceptable behavior is because of AS or not: It is unacceptable either way. It does matter to me, when someone reach inside my mind and insist on what people like me are capable of or not.

          • Delafina says:

            I haven't said anything about what you're capable of. My point is that Asperger's does not, by itself, cause people to harass others.

          • Lemminkainen says:

            I think that what he's trying to say is that Asperger's might make it harder to recognize a soft no, not that it would make a person continue to harass people after they had received a direct no.

          • Delafina says:

            Yes, I know, that was what I was saying. See my comment right above yours.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      I'm slightly confused as to your side-note regarding Asperger's. I was diagnosed with Asperger's as a child. (Technically, according to the new DSM, there is no more separate diagnosis for Asperger's and it all falls under Autism. I usually identify as autistic.)

      Autism does tend to make it difficult to interact with people. But most autistics who are self-aware enough to work on their behavior don't ignore other people's requests to stop that behavior. Also, why did you specifically reference people who self-diagnose? It just seems like you're dragging an unrelated topic into this for very little reason.

      • It's not unrelated.

        "I'm socially awkward" is one excuse that people trying to justify creepy behavior use. But they also, frequently, bring up Asperger's as a reason people shouldn't be blamed for acting creepy. (I bring self-diagnosis into it because there are a lot of dudes on the internet claiming that they have it and using it as an excuse, who, if you press them, admit that they haven't actually been diagnosed.)

        My point is that Asperger's (at least, by itself) DOESN'T cause people to ignore people's requests to stop behaviors, and thus, like social awkwardness, isn't responsible for creepy behavior.

        • smallswingshoes says:

          Ah, I see. I wasn't sure what you had been getting at because I've been fortunate enough not to run into people who do that.

          Then I certainly agree with you, here. Appropriating a condition that doesn't actually apply to oneself in order to excuse harassment is disgusting. And it's especially offensive, to me personally, for someone with Autism to use that as an excuse to harass people. I suppose I've been lucky enough to avoid that.

    • Are you sure that the research shows that all man understand "soft no"s? Because most of them probably do, but most men are not creepers. They should do an experiment on males considered creepy and only then conclude whether or not such behaviours are indeed intended.

      There was a time in my life I found it hard to understand "soft no"s and I had to learn to do so. And I'm rather sure that it wasn't matter of respecting them.

    • matthewcliff57 says:

      Everyone has problems. Everyone is creepy. Men and women. Soft nos are condisending. Yes you are right everyone should think exactly like you. We don't live in a perfect world. I'm sorry to say it but people who have to always be right put themselves in a lot of danger. If you go around being condescending you are inviting problems to your doorstep. It doesn't matter if you're right or not. Example, guy at bar decides to push me for no reason. I am right I telling him he is a loser and he should go jump off a cliff. Then he takes a beer bottle smashes it and stabs me. Now I'm dead. All in the name of being right. How you communicate and deal with issues that come up in life is important. Some people attract stalkers. I know beautiful people that have never been stalked. And sometimes it's just bad luck you have to deal with a person that is off. Making them feel like they are the only one in the word with problems or they're so fucked up they're not even worth your time is riskey. The word creepy creates more problems than it solves. It's immature.

      • Dude, when a direct no can get you yelled at, abused physically or emotionally, or even killed? Yeah, I'm going with the soft no.

        • matthewcliff57 says:

          I think if you do the research more people are abused killed etc from ignoring and running away from problems than those that respectfully confront them. Not saying its your fault you're being hit on. Just saying it's your problem


            Cool story, bro. Maybe could just expect men to act like adults when they're rejected, rather than blaming women. Are you also saying people should stay in abusive relationships, because it's "safer"???

          • matthewcliff57 says:

            I also wish I could get women to act like adults when they're rejected. It seems to me when you have a bunch of people some will act like an adults and others won't. I'm saying don't make matters worse. I let people know when I'm uncomfortable and if they don't respect that then I reach out to others for help. I have no idea how you got the idea I said woman should stay in abusive relationships.

          • Yeah, in my experience, your "research" is wrong. I've tried both approaches. The definite no? Gets bullying, name calling, etc. The soft no? Usually gets them to go away, or at the very least, to not pressure me into a date. So I'm going to go on that, rather than your complete BS, since you don't actually know from experience what "makes matters worse", whereas I do, and so do many of my friends.

          • jcorozza, that tumblr….UGH!! I need to hang out with my friends and remind myself that there are some cishet men that are not horrible.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Every time someone links to that Tumblr, I read the front page worth. Every time it makes my soul curl up in a little ball and try to hide from the world.

          • Yes, sometimes after just existing as a lady on the internet, I have to remind myself that I have dudefriends who are kind, friendly, understanding people.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Men fear getting rejected. Women fear getting assaulted.

          • You don't like soft no's? Fine.
            Go away.
            You're annoying and your "research" is pulled out of your ass.
            Also, being annoyed that some woman somewhere is rejecting a man in a way that you don't like? Makes you creepy as fuck.

            Aww, did that piss you off? Did it make you wanna lash out and punish me, a woman on the Internet, for daring to be "mean" to you?
            That's why some women employ soft no's. Duh. Which you understand perfectly well. You just wanna whine that women aren't behaving the way that you want them to.
            Go away.

          • matthewcliff57 says:

            Oh wow, you don't make much sense. I didn't do any research. I never said I did. Where is your research? Your experience? That's not research. I was never annoyed. I said soft nos are dangerous because its condescending. You're response is strange. I could never get mad over someone like you though

          • Wow, you are an obvious little troll ain't ya? Soft no's are dangerous because when you say something to dickheads in bars and they get angry, they're going to hurt you….except being blatantly obvious in rejection REALLY pisses off dickheads.
            But you're just trolling so the obviously contradiction in your bullshit doesn't matter now does it.

          • matthewcliff57 says:

            I'm just offering my advice. Take it or leave it I have every right to be here creepy girl…

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            No, you only have the rights I choose to give you. Such as, say, allowing you to post here. Oh look, there it went! —Harris O'Malley

          • BWAHAHAHAHHAA!

            Wow, this is a new low in patheticness! I'm supposed to be insulted that a douchecanoe on the Internet has called me creepy, because???
            Oh wait, your "logic" is that ALL people are creepy, so you know, YOU couldn't possibly be doing anything wrong when women call you creepy.

            I'm curious Matty, how many women have called you creepy? Rejected you with soft no's? And how violently have you reacted? Cause, ya know, that's your thesis here.

          • matthewcliff57 says:

            You are actually telling other people's, Men and women how to behave. I'm offering an opinion and my advice.

  14. While some people received a better education in the social graces than others, very few people are socially awkward enough not to get what behavior is creepy. The basic assumption is that you do not touch and do not have permission to touch in most situations. It’s not that complicated.

    • That's exactly it. The "awkward" excuse is just that – an excuse.

      • Socially awkward is something like burping in the middle of a wedding. Making somebody deliberately uncomfortable is, at best, being a bit of a jerk.

    • wjmorris3 says:

      I've gone and taken it even further. Even if I have permission, I tend not to touch because I'm afraid permission will be revoked. Better not to get myself in trouble!

      • Maximilian says:

        If you don't even approach them in the first place you're guaranteed to be free of all the potential issues.

        It is a foolproof plan.

        • wjmorris3 says:

          I tend to not approach; although sometimes there are those who will approach me for some hairbrained reason. (Why, I'm not sure – I'm nothing special!)

        • violetyoshi says:

          Which is great if parents of Autistic children didn't react to overhearing someone has Asperger's and assume it's okay to send their Autistic child toddling over to ask to be fweinds.

      • Thats a bit much.

        • What’s so extreme about thinking that if someone can’t be sure they won’t hurt others they should avoid social situations? Are you fine with someone using a weed burner next to a gas station?

  15. eselle28 says:

    Funny how some of these articles wind up being well-timed. I just experienced something this weekend that was excused by a couple of people as being socially awkward behavior. My counter was that the person in question probably wouldn't have the job he has if he went around smacking women on the ass at work, and that if he can control his behavior in those circumstances, he should be able to control it outside the office as well.

    • celette482 says:

      Ah yes! the old "you know when you can't get away with it" gambit. So true, so true.

      Add that one to my "How do you tell the difference between well-meaning and predatory" list

    • Michael_S50 says:

      Excellent point! And excusing bad behavior is encouraging it.

  16. Sometimes the difference between socially awkward and not is just a few tricks in your bag. One I use in the face of this kind of 'soft no' is: 'I'm not in the habit of harassing unresponsive women, but if you ever feel like continuing our conversation, let me know.' Coz sometimes silence is a no and sometimes it's 'I'm busy.' And then move on and don't say anything unless she responds.

    Sometimes it's a measure of emotional intelligence. There are a loooot of women in the world, and getting all hung up on someone you barely know is not smart. There's predation, and there's also desperation, that thought in the background that 'she's the only one who will ever like me, I have to make this happen.' No, dude, you don't.

    When you think desperately, you think stupidly, and you act stupidly.

  17. wjmorris3 says:

    I want to say that when it comes to ladies, I qualify as socially awkward. But I have the solution that works for me – don't put myself in a situation where me potentially being socially awkward is going to creep somebody out.

  18. thebrovo says:

    I'm not liking how this makes a person who does something awkward should be met with a swift "fuck you" or a yelling of some sort. Also does that include drunk women? Cause they have done tons of socially awkward and creepy stuff, yet I find myself having to forgive and forget. Oh wait, this doesn't go after women at all. Just creepy men. I get it men can be creepy, but so can women.

    • eselle28 says:

      Forgiving and forgetting is a valid response. So is forgiving and not forgetting. So is some variation of "fuck you" and ending the interaction. If you wish to tolerate people who have violated your boundaries, that is your choice, but other people get to make different ones.

      And, yes, women can be creepy too.

    • On the topic of women violating boundaries you do not have to forgive or forget unless you want to. Unfortunately there is a strong cultural message that men want any touch by any woman any time and if an attractive woman touches him she “made his night”. Complete and utter bull like many cultural messages. You are absolutely allowed to call her a creep or tell her to ” fuck off” and any other strategy women use in a similar situation.

    • enail0_o says:

      Some people are willing to give a pass to behavior done while drunk, but there's no reason you should have to. Someone who violates your boundaries while drunk is, at the absolute best, someone who should stay the hell away from you when they're drunk, and that's just as true for a woman as a man.

      • thebrovo says:

        I believe in forgive and forget cause sadly thats the most you can do. I've sold beer at toronto sports stadiums and sometimes people have done the most malicious stuff you can think of. Regardless of sex, age or gender. However that comes with the territory and we either let it go or lose or jobs. I believe that is too be said of many jobs.

        • eselle28 says:

          Sometimes at work we have to tolerate unpleasant interactions, though there are other times when things can be done to stop mistreatment.

          In our personal lives, there are plenty of things we can do besides forgive and forget. We can tell the person to cut it out and leave us alone. We can choose not to interact with that person in the future. If something actionable or illegal has happened, we can involve the court system.

    • Delafina says:

      You are arguing against a straw man. I don't see anyone advocating that awkwardness be immediately met with a fuck you or shouting.

      But if you tell someone to stop and they continue — ESPECIALLY if it involves physical contact (at this point, at least in some areas, they're actually COMMITTING A CRIME) — then yeah, yelling is an appropriate response if that's what it takes to get them to stop.

      It's not "awkwardness" at that point: it is harassment.

    • Five Second Rule says:

      Did you read this article? You're doing exactly what it says – excusing creepy behavior because some people are socially awkward.

  19. thebrovo says:

    I'm also talking about the socially awkard and not the creepy or predators btw. The guy that hugs people not the guy caressing people.

    • eselle28 says:

      Hugging someone who doesn't want to be hugged sounds pretty creepy to me.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      And again, the guy who hugs someone, is asked not to and refrains from doing it again is not a creeper. The guy who continues to wrap his arms around someone after they've told him no is a creeper even if its not going to end in rape and murder. Yes, women do the same thing. I've dealt with unwanted physical attention, stalking, knocks on my door at 3 AM. This isn't an advice site for women, though, so the writing focuses on what a guy can do to be less creepy.

      • thebrovo says:

        But shouldn't be a little less against then men then? Also lets be honest, the word "creeper" gets thrown around a tad too easy.

        • If it is not a label that you feel accurately describes you then shrug it off. It is not like people are branding people with a scarlet C or or exiling them or anything. As for the people using the word, it is merely their opinion as accurate and fair as any opinion.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Its not against men. Its "hey guys who read this column for advice on how to get better with women – here's how to not be a creeper". I'm sure I can find "how not to be a crazy stalker" in some women's column somewhere.

        • If you don't want to be called a "creeper" … then the solution is very fucking simple: DON'T BEHAVE LIKE ONE. If a woman is acting like a "creeper" then she deserves that label. As someone who HAS BEEN STALKED, who has had to fight off creepy guys at cons, who has had a guy I went to High School with contact me on Facebook and continue to try to get sexual with me online – after being told to cut it the fuck out – I do NOT have ANY sympathy with a guy who says "the word 'creeper' gets thrown around a tad too easy." since it smacks very much of a guy who KNOWS what he is doing is WRONG but wants to get a pat on the head and be told that he's ok, after all. Nope. Not going to give ANYBODY a pass on creepy behavior. Maybe it's because I've been raped. Maybe it's because I grew up and realized that I don't HAVE to condone some asshole's wounded ego when I wouldn't jump in the sack with him or allow him to send me private messages where he asks me what I'm wearing, how big my breasts are, whether I shave "down there" or otherwise get VERY inappropriate AFTER I have told him that I am VERY happily married to leave me alone. If the label is being applied TO YOU by more than two people – especially if two or more people say it in a very close time proximity -, you need to look INWARD at what YOU, PERSONALLY, are doing to cause that impression. It is NOT anybody else's "fault", it is YOU.

          • Cachinscythe says:

            I'm genuinely sorry that you were stalked. That guy you're describing is not someone that people should associate with. He very much sounds like a predator.

            That said, what I feel like everyone keeps forgetting to describe is exactly WHAT "behaving like a creeper" actually means. If I try to talk to someone, s/he doesn't answer, and then I try to talk to them again, is that being a creeper? What if it's not in messages but in person? Isn't it actually rude on the part of someone else not to answer when spoken to? Should we just try to make contact once and then just sit back and assume the other person got the message that we're interested in being friends instead of just making brief small talk to pass the time? How many attempts is too many attempts? If people don't want us to behave like creepers, why can't they give us CLEAR, PRECISE guidelines to follow that will account for the various circumstances we might come across? Cause frankly, it's kinda hard not to pick our noses in public unless someone spells out clearly and repeatedly that it's not okay to do that. And even after that we have to stop and ask ourselves if what's being asked of us is a compromise of our personalities for the sake of not "stirring the pot" in a society that doesn't generally appreciate diversity.

            I'm sorry if I sound like a jerk. I'm just trying to help others see what it's like for people like me: aspies who have tried to find ways to fit in for years and have ultimately had to settle for just being who they are while the world judges them.

          • Avila12321 says:

            For myself, I'll contact someone I don't know well once, and, if I don't get a response, a second time after giving them time to respond, in case they forgot about the first one or change their mind about it. Obviously my heuristic isn't everyone's, but it works for me.

          • Cachinscythe says:

            I appreciate the reply a great deal. Most of the time when I make such technical requests of people, I get some excuse along the lines of, "You can't expect me to give you an exact number! The situations are too varied!" Of course, it's lost on them that if the situations are too varied, it's kinda hard for us not to make mistakes, which means we get in trouble for extremely unclear telepathic guidelines that we're just supposed to magically adhere to based on the situation. If we could do that, we wouldn't have to ask for help in the first place.

            Anyway, once to make contact, and once more if you don't get a response, and then let it go. That's a very clear guideline to follow, and I will consider it in the future. Thank you. :)

          • eselle28 says:

            If you're talking about online dating, contact them once. Either they saw it or they filtered it.

            Someone you met in person who gave you their contact information? I'd say you can wait awhile after the first message and then try a second time if there's no answer. No more than that.

            If you've been friends with someone for awhile and have no reason to believe they're mad at you, I'd say you can then wait even longer (a few weeks) and try a third time. If you're not very sure about social things, I wouldn't push it further than that.

            If who you are is someone who contacts people who are ignoring you repeatedly, then I suppose no one's going to talk you out of that, but yes, people will judge you for being a pest.

          • Cachinscythe says:

            Okay. Thanks a bunch for a fairly clear set of guidelines to follow. As I stated in the reply to Avila12321, that is more than I usually get from people. The usual response is that it's too complicated for them to make clear and that I'm being unreasonable in demanding something more precise. (Apparently there's nothing unreasonable about demanding I magically intuit all the nuances of social interaction without anything remotely resembling guidelines.)

            Again, I very much appreciate the reply. :)

          • Avila12321 says:

            Oh yeah, if we're talking specifically about online dating, one message is plenty. Mine was for more general initiations of contact, e.g. texting, facebook messages, email.

            And sure, situations are varied, but not so varied that there aren't *some* general principles that can be applied to them, especially something like this where the cost of following a rule strictly are very low. I'm curious, what other things have you asked about that people have found it unreasonable to define specifically?

          • Cachinscythe says:

            Well, to be fair, I think I might be conflating a bunch of things that are not directly related to social interaction because I tend to see a lot of connections in places where most people don't see any. For example, the concept of "do your best" is one that I find infuriating because if its vagueness. We tell people to do their best, but then turn around and decide WE are qualified to determine what that "best" actually equates to and then hound people for not meeting it. Not only is this completely contrary to the idea–which is supposed to be, "Don't worry so much, just do the best you can"–but it's mostly useless because a person's "best" is intangible and changes from minute to minute. If I'm exhausted, my best effort is not going to be the same as it is if I'm wide awake. And this is assuming an individual is him/herself capable of determining what his/her "best" is in the first place, which is kind of hard to prove given the presence of the subconscious. So where exactly is the tangible line that allows us to see whether we're doing our best or selling ourselves short? How do we determine what it is? How do we know when we've already DONE our best and are overexerting ourselves in a dangerous fashion? If you haven't left yourself completely drained of energy and the ability to function, how can you KNOW for sure you did your best? It's not exactly a matter of social interaction, but it IS one of a million instances of imprecise language and concepts that get used by society as though they're more tangible than they actually are. I also see no line being drawn to tell the difference between confidence and overconfidence–I often state that confidence and arrogance are actually the same thing, and that underconfidence and healthy self-doubt are the same thing as well.

            However, here is an example that is more socially oriented: manipulation.
            We define emotional manipulation as the process of making someone feel bad for not doing things you want them to, or perhaps just making others feel like shit cause YOU feel like shit. I can say from personal experience that it is an awful thing to engage in–my mother is a borderline and my first girlfriend was a very manipulative person. But here's the thing: it looks VERY similar to a lot of other things that probably SHOULD be defined as manipulation but are instead characterized as positive. For instance, if my parents tell me that I'll be grounded if I don't pass my classes, or they hound me for not passing my classes trying to make me feel bad, that's ALSO a form of emotional manipulation. Yet society at large just defines it as "proper parenting." For an even more egregious example, consider what people term "unhealthy relationships." One of the biggest indicators people use to determine if a relationship is unhealthy is whether one person seems beholden to the wishes of the other. If one person does something for the other even though they don't want to because they want to maintain peace in a relationship or just be nice, that is seen as emotional manipulation. But how precisely do you tell the difference between people doing things to be nice and doing things because they're getting manipulated? Are significant others NEVER allowed to ask for or demand anything that the other doesn't want to do? How is that participating in a relationship where things are supposed to be give and take? In short, where is the line between emotional manipulation and reasonable request? How many times can you expect things from someone before it BECOMES manipulation? What are your obligations versus your options? These are questions that I haven't heard people give hard answers for. All I've heard them say is, "Dude, you're getting manipulated. That's not a healthy relationship." Then what DOES a healthy relationship look like?! Aren't relationships too varied and subject to bias to be able to DISTINGUISH between them? This is ESPECIALLY significant when it comes to the matter of sex. Because if you're someone who has high libido and ends up in a relationship with someone who has low libido, your needs–because I don't care what people say, sexual needs ARE needs–go by the wayside unless you end the relationship, and given that virtually EVERYTHING ELSE about the relationship could be healthy, it is absurd to think that the individual with high libido is either not allowed to ask for some kind of sexual favor from the significant other or not allowed to go obtain that sexual favor from elsewhere outside the relationship. So again, where exactly is the line? (TBC)

          • Cachinscythe says:

            (continued) Considering that I just saw myself get kicked out of the house where my girlfriend lives because of an "inappropriate joke" that was somehow "taking sexual agency away from her" and amounted to something "rape-y," even though I did it AS a joke in a fashion that made it OBVIOUS it was a joke, I find it aggravating and unfair that no line can be provided to ensure I don't screw up. Instead, I get to fly blind and "take responsibility for my actions" every time someone has a bad day and acts like I'm a rapist for daring to speak out loud. And yes, I know it depends on what I said, and I'll be happy to provide it, but I've already run the exact scenario by a dozen people and found that they find my girlfriend's reaction ridiculous and manipulative. Also, yes, I'm a bit cranky and pissed off about this happening and that might be influencing the tone of this response. I apologize if it is, and I also apologize that I didn't answer you sooner; I had a bunch of schoolwork that took up all my time. :)

    • Delafina says:

      If you hug someone that you don't know well enough to know whether they like being hugged, without asking, you ARE being creepy.

      • fakely_mctest says:

        Jebus, THIS.

        My first official job was in a bakery when I was 14 and there was this guy who used to come around basically every day. It was pretty clear that he was non-neurotypical. He'd just loom in this tiny space (dude was huge: well over 6 feet and burly) and refuse to leave until all of the female employees had given him a hug. Like, a really uncomfortable hug where your face was sort of jammed into his chest until he let you go.

        Sometimes this would happen twice in a shift or more. Managers and owners never did anything about it and I understand that it would have been a difficult conversation on account of the guy's mental health. It was a shit job for a lot of reasons but, looking back, that was pretty much the cherry on top.

        • Anthea Brainhooke says:

          For the record, non-neurotypical is not the same thing as mentally ill.

          • fakely_mctest says:

            Honestly, I have no idea what the guy's deal was truly. It could have been any one of a number of things, I suppose. All I'm sure of is that he was a discomfort-inducing add-on to my $7/hr.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        This is one of those places where text fails. I could show someone in person how to hold your arm out such that you're offering a hug but not pressuring the other person to accept. It'd take me a page to describe it and people would still get it wrong. Communication is 10% text and 90% subtext. If you want to avoid being a creeper, have non-threatening subtext.

        • Yuri Nator says:

          But what pray tell, makes somebody's subtext "threatening". I'm a muscular brown skinned minority. To some people, I look threatening just by stepping into a room.

          • Delafina says:

            Threatening subtext:

            I back away from you because you're standing too close. You immediately move closer.

            We're talking and you maneuver your own position in such a way that I can't exit gracefully and without making too big a deal of it.

            You hug a mutual friend who then introduces me to you, and you grab me and hug me too.

            We've known each other for a few minutes and you start telling me what you'd like to do to me in bed.

            You ask me out, I say I'm not interested, and you keep pressuring me.


            None of those have anything to do with skin color, and everything to do with either not ascertaining a stranger's comfort level before touching them or asking intrusive language, or ignoring someone's discomfort or direct refusal.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            For this specific example, you put your right arm out low, take half a step forward to hug someone and they back off (see how insanely incomplete that is?) When that person backs off you step in and hug them anyway instead of swinging your right hand up to shake.

            Not creepy:
            Make an offer to talk, touch, hug kiss etc, either verbally or through body language
            Get an acceptance or a refusal
            Proceed according to feedback, NOT by insisting on following through with your offer. If you misread apologize and do not repeat.

            Make an offer
            Get anything less than clear acceptance
            Follow through on it anyway

          • Avila12321 says:

            A muscular guy who's bigger than me is going to be noticeably more threatening if I'm between him and a wall (even if he's not invading my personal space), or if he's between me and the exit, or if he's sort of looming over me, e.g. in my personal space.

        • Delafina says:

          Holding an arm out and offering a hug is very different from just hugging someone. It's asking, nonverbally, and the person has the option to offer you a hand to shake instead.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      Speaking about socially awkward people, surprise hugging is actually borderline creepy and sometimes it's harassment. For some people, probably more than you'd expect, a hug from someone you don't know very well can easily give you a panic attack, especially if it somehow reminds them of a traumatic assault or if they're, for example, an autistic who finds hugs terrifying. So yes, hugging someone without permission is actually very creepy.

  20. thebrovo says:

    To you sure. I have been hugged by many who I don't want to hug back. I don't drink, and I'm a hand shaker kind of guy but I wouldn't fault someone for hugging. Why? We live in this world just once and to just have this awkward stance for everyone makes no sense.

    For example, my roommates bf likes to not even say excuse me while passing by. He will not say a peep unless you engage him and even then. Mind you he'll use the rice cooker, toilet paper and other stuff that isn't is. Not even a thank you for when I fixed the toilet. That is more awkward than someone who just wants a hug. Yeah, I said it.

    • eselle28 says:

      I think this is an area where it's useful to distinguish between having done something creepy and being a creeper. People do creepy things occasionally, sometimes without meaning to. The ones who aren't creepers apologize when they hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged, and then don't hug that person again. The ones who are creepers will deflect blame, make excuses, and wait for another opportunity to touch the person again.

      Your roommate's boyfriend sounds like he's kind of a jerk, but this isn't an article about jerks.

      • thebrovo says:

        Actually a tad creepy. the space between the fridge and cutting table isn't big. I weigh close to 200lbs, and somehow he squeezed in that space between the fridge, table and my large frame, got something without saying an easy "Excuse me.".

        • eselle28 says:

          That's violating boundaries then, yes.

          • thebrovo says:

            Which is why I'd prefer a hug. I'm not saying that action made me the most creeped out, but its a horrible lack of manners and actually makes me dislike him a lot.

          • eselle28 says:

            The fact that you would prefer a hug does not mean that other people aren't allowed to be creeped out by unwanted hugs.

          • Delafina says:

            You get to set your own boundaries.

            You don't get to set anyone else's. If they don't want hugs, butt out of their business.

        • Yeah, I’ve dealt with dudes like that (who wouldn’t say excuse me and just squeezed their whole body next to my chair so their was quite a bit of physical contact), and it actually WAS a little creepy, when he kept doing it, and then said creepy things, and always seemed to be brushing past MY chair. Shudder.

          • fakely_mctest says:

            It's also a classic "bar creeper" move: oh, I just have to squeeeeze by and also brush my hand along your shoulder topline/just above your waist.

            Bar's not that crowded, bro.

          • The Crowded Bar of Plausible Deniability, ugh.

    • Delafina says:

      Yeah, we live in this world just once.

      Which means that every moment I spend feeling uncomfortable because I let some dude hug me and it ruined my mood is a moment I could be enjoying if I told the guy, HEY, I SAID I DON'T WANT A HUG.

    • milomurray says:

      I can understand the desire for hugs, certainly, though I don't share it. I suppose that's the point. It's very well to have a specific worldview and that's wonderful! Celebrate it! However, at the same time it pays to be aware that other people may not share it or may have a different worldview altogether.

      For instance, hugs don't make my day better. They creep me out and make my skin crawl. If someone hugs me, I spend the rest of the day feeling desperately like I need a wash or that I need to scratch. It's not even that I don't want to hug back, it's that getting hugged in the first place literally makes me want to slither all the way out of my own skin before lighting it on fire. That's just me.

      So even hugging, you see, can be pushing boundaries. The difference between a Predator and the SAP (Socially Awkward Person) is that the Predator will hug anyway even with the knowledge that unsolicited physical contact isn't everyone's cuppa and make justifications for why it's okay while the SAP may accidentally blunder over that boundary, but allow themselves to be corrected even if its embarrassing.

      • First of all, applause for the gorgeous phrasing of "slither all the way out of my own skin before lighting it on fire." Imagery, you did it well.

        Second, I'm a hugger. When I like someone and I see them, I want to hug them! But if I say "Hi!" warmly and move toward them as if to hug and there is a step back or a less than "Hi CC! Let's hug!" facial expression, I am fully capable of slowing my damn roll. It's not like I decided at the beginning of the game I was going to be a hugger rather than a handshaker or a rogue, and now all handshaker moves are locked out.

        • milomurray says:

          No, kudos to YOU for the Class-System Reference. What happens if you fumble your Physical Affection Roll? Do all Crits become bear-hugs?

          • Man, it was rough at the beginning when I didn't understanding the leveling tree and kept giving high fives. I couldn't have any rogues in my party, since as everyone knows rogues HATE high fives.

        • ::nods:: I'm a huger and yet I have friends I've hugged exactly twice (their wedding, and mine). It's possible!

    • vibrissimo says:

      Here's a thought: as a guy, you're way less likely to be the target of unwanted hugs by potential rapists. It's that simple. Women are overwhelmingly the majority of sexual assault victims, and the numbers of women who've been raped or otherwise assaulted by men are astronomical.

      There's a damn good chance a woman on the receiving end of unwanted physical contact – hugs or anything else – has already been assaulted.

      Just think about that before saying you don't fault anyone for wanting to hug, with its implicit suggestion that other people shouldn't be so fussed about it.

  21. JP McBride says:

    "A socially awkward person frequently realize that they fucked up almost as soon as the words are out of their mouth and will often freeze up or try to verbally backpedal; "

    That's not how it works with all of us.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Its a skill you can work on. I know of a clinically psychotic child who is learning to play well with others through sheer intellectual understanding of the rules of behavior.

      • Agreed. Most socially awkward people can figure out how to behave if they have an attractive boss, client, customer, professor or TA, manager in another department, etc. when messing up has negative consequences for the awkward person. It is just learning how to translate it into scenarios where the consequences of overstepping are lower and the interactions less defined.

        • Yuri Nator says:

          Based on what empirical evidence?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            An estimated 26.2% of Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness, something like 10% are somewhere on the autism spectrum yet the vast majority of those people can function in work and school environments without violating boundaries by a sufficient amount to be fired/disciplined.

          • Hirundo Bos says:

            I repeat, to be clear about it, that boundary-pushing behavior is a problem, and that reactions towards it are justified, regardless of any underlying pathology. My comments should be read as a parenthesis, as thoughts about autism that would have been important if the matter of boundaries didn’t take precedence. So:

            1) 10% prevalence of autism seems a bit high… The number I usually come across is somewhere between 1 and 2%.

            2) Initiating contact with relative strangers, whether you have friendly, romantic, or sexual intentions, is a particuarly demanding social activity. Navigating boundaries is exactly what these situations are about. Compared to this, schools, worksplaces, are high-structured, relatively easily navigated environments. (And they are still not all that easy to handle for all autistic people.)

            The conclusion for the autistic should probably be to get to know their own limitations, stay away from those situations they know they can’t handle, maybe, if possible, learn how to encourage people they interact with to criticize them if necessary.

            The conclusion for everybody else should be to treat creepy and boundary-pushing people like before, but maybe, in parenthesis, (assume a bit less about how the minds of people like me work, and what capabilities we do or do not have when navigating social situations).

          • raindancing says:

            The point that you are missing is that there exist predators out there that claim to be like you, but aren't.

            These predators know exactly what they are doing. They enjoy preying on people, and they are good at picking people who do not enforce boundaries well. They are extremely good at reading social cues, because they get away a lot of abusive behavior, and they are good at manipulating people to take their side over their victims. Again, these people are not anywhere on the autism spectrum, but they will claim to be if it suits their purposes.

            These predators exist.

            The claims about intent are all about these predators, not about people like you.

            The predators who, might I add, are using people like you as cover for their creepy behavior. That's what I would feel insulted by, if I were you.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Let me be clear – if you fuck up once, apologize and don't do it again, that's an honest mistake. If you can not prevent yourself from violating boundaries even after you know that you're doing it, you should maybe not be approaching people in the first place, regardless of whether its deliberate or not. If you want to not do this, it is on you to figure out a way to interact with people that compensates for the issues you have. See the post elsewhere about "you need to get off my foot".

            Yes, it sucks that some people are wired in such a way that they come across as predators when they don't want to. Its not fair. Its also not fair that better looking people have an easier time of things. However, given that these things are true you can either bemoan being mistaken for a predator or learn to adjust your behavior to compensate. Asking people to ignore their impression that someone might be a danger to their safety is not a reasonable response. If you're approaching people, its on you to not creep them out, not on them to not be creeped out.

          • Hirundo Bos says:

            I agree with everything you are saying here. I said most of them myself in the post you are replying to. I… sort of understand why it can look like I don’t agree with these things, and maybe I am not clear enough even if I try to, but I also think that the point I am trying to make does matter, that accuracy about autism can be important at least to autistic people themselves.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well if that's your point then yeah, I agree.

  22. eselle28 says:

    I have a friend who's color blind. His clothes always match, because he knows he doesn't know how to match clothes and buys things online, where the colors are labeled, and asks sales associates to assist him with things like pairing shirts and ties.

    I haven't met many people who are completely incapable of controlling their behavior in public. Socially awkward guy might be oblivious to social cues, but he will eventually be aware that people constantly criticize him for standing too close or touching too much or talking in sexualized ways about people's bodies. He's also capable of deciding to err on the side of standing far away, not touching people at all, and not commenting on people's appearance. It's not as fun for him as deciding to take some risks and potentially offending people, and he'll probably miss out on some interactions that wouldn't offend others, but he is able to make that choice. Another choice would be to ask someone who is close to him to monitor his behavior and tell him when he's bumping up against people's boundaries, rather than leaving that responsibility to people whose personal space he's invading.

    Because of that, I don't feel any obligation to tolerate someone's constant inappropriate behavior and communicate clearly, politely, and unambiguously every time I'm violated and want that violation to stop. If someone's not willing to take the steps to behave appropriately around me, he doesn't get to be around me anymore. Whether I'm polite or not when I tell him that depends on how violated I feel and what kind of mood I'm in.

    • Also, as you mentioned in an earlier comment, most of the socially awkward people in the world manage to get through school, daily living and work and never act inappropriately with teachers, bosses, landlords, cops, customers, etc. which would indicate that they can calibrate their behavior to some degree when they choose to. It tends to be when interacting in situations that have consequences. They also tend to calibrate it well with their non-preferred gender which indicates ability to tailor behavior.

      The truly uncalibrated can not tailor in any situation and tend to not be out and about socializing because they live in group homes or with parents or guardians and are only allowed supervised interaction.

    • JP McBride says:

      "Socially awkward guy might be oblivious to social cues, but he will eventually be aware that people constantly criticize him for standing too close or touching too much or talking in sexualized ways about people's bodies. He's also capable of deciding to err on the side of standing far away, not touching people at all, and not commenting on people's appearance."

      And when he's in his 30's, he listens to Paper Bag by Fiona Apple and breaks down because he realizes that he's built his life around control and self denial and that he doesn't know how to live any other way.

  23. Gentleman Johnny says:

    There's an example above. Something to the effect of "does he do that at work"? If the answer is no, then they have sufficient understanding of proper behavior to adjust for their lack of ability to read cues by being extra slow and cautious. Again, the appropriate response is "I'm sorry" then not repeating behavior. Its not fair in some existential sense that people who aren't good at reading cues have to be extra certain they're not violating boundaries but it is reasonable.

  24. I've had someone at a convention–a science fiction convention, mind you, not a medical fetish convention, or an event like Frolicon–come up to me and whip a speculum out of his pocket, start waving it at me, and telling me all about how it's an antique and don't I feel fortunate that he didn't bring his other one with him, the *three*-pronged one…

    At a different convention a few months later, this same fellow cornered a female acquaintance of mine and was on the verge of doing the same thing to her until I and several of my friends got between the two of them and I was able to quietly invite her to my room to get away from him.

    I would buy the "he's just socially awkward" excuse except for the fact that he doesn't wave his speculum at men, only women. Women he perceives as being vulnerable.

    That's not socially awkward. That's not harmless. That's creepy, and it's deliberate and the phrase is "sexual harassment." Period.

    • That us creepy as fuck. Ewwww!

    • Oh no this is definitely completely unacceptable behavior, I wouldn't even try and justify it in the slightest just end of story. He should have been immediately reported to convention security in both instances and escorted out of the convention.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      That's incredibly fucking creepy.

    • violetyoshi says:

      David Cronenberg wrote a horror film about twin doctors who acted like that called Dead Ringers.

  25. I'm just going to leave this here:

    ‘If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.
    If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.
    If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.
    If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.
    If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot.
    If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.
    If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.’”

  26. OopsTooLate says:

    I used to know someone that's EXACTLY like this. He's always been socially awkward so all of our friends would just kinda let it go cause that's "just the way he is." Like he'd hug girls he just met as a greeting or just casually touch them (like their hair or arm) or give compliments that are on the creepy side ("Your hair smells nice.") but we all were just like "Oh he doesn't mean any harm. That's just the way he is." Then he started getting super friendly with my then girlfriend. He actually made it known that he had feelings for her and would actually just randomly buy her stuff or food and just show up at her house to deliver it, despite the fact that she had already said "No." And to cut a long story short, he ended up raping her. And none of our friends ever believed in "socially awkward" or "that's just the way he is anymore."

    TL;DR: Socially awkward/just a little too friendly, "That's just how he is" guy ended up being a rapist. Don't like socially awkward guys become rapists.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      That's awful. I once met a guy in high school who was the first guy I ever went on a date with. He asked me out and I said yes. I didn't really know him that well, but I was like 15 and I was excited. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't interested in him and, within a couple days after the date (which went fine, except he was shushed three times for talking during the movie) I told him I wasn't interested in dating him anymore.

      Then he kept calling my house. (Back when we had a home phone.) He called several times a day and I didn't know what to do. My parents urged to me to pick up the phone and tell him to leave me alone. After a day or two of this, I did. I said, "You have to stop calling me. We're not friends. We're not dating. You can't keep calling my house." That got him to stop for the time being.

      At first, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I pitied him and thought that maybe he was just lonely. My friends told me about how he basically followed girls around and asked every single girl out. That alone made me uncomfortable.

      Then, I found out about a year later, he had found my younger sister and ASKED HER FOR MY PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER. Fortunately, my sister knew better than to give it to him. After that, I knew he was a creep. Fortunately, my situation didn't end as badly as yours, but it was still a lesson in not letting creeps get away with their behavior.

      And again, I'm so sorry that happened.

  27. thatwordgrrl says:

    Why do I suspect you have been accused of being a creep?

  28. Anthea Brainhooke says:

    Can I just say I'm also sick of people excusing creeping as "Oh, he probably has Aspergers/is on the autism spectrum."

    Not ONE of the Aspergers/autism spectrum people I know is creepy the way the post describes. Not. One.

    In fact, if you say to any of them "Hey, what you did back there was making the person you were talking to uncomfortable" they'll trip over their own feet trying to apologise. Aspergers/AS disorders make it harder to learn social cues, but it is possible to learn them.

    As has been pointed out in the article itself, creepers know what the social cues are. They just don't care.

    • theOtherDude says:

      You give me the creepy vibe.

    • I finally lost it and commented on an Ask Polly column where the writer's boyfriend made lots of denigrating comments about her looks: saying her breasts were too small, telling her how to cut her hair and to wear more makeup, comparing her unfavorably to other women, etc. (To his credit, he knocked it off when she finally told him how much it hurt her feelings.) Inevitably, there was one person in comments going, "But what if he has Asperger's? What if he can't help it?"

      What? No. Asperger's makes you insult your girlfriend's tits now? And that means the girlfriend should just let it happen? Shut up.

      • Even if he DID have Asperger's (which is an odd thing to assume, but okay), it's not an excuse. I know a man with Asperger's who's a huge asshole–but that's not BECAUSE he has Asperger's. He's just a jerk who also has Asperger's. There are terrible people in all shapes and sizes, regardless of gender, skin color, religion, or whether they're on the autism spectrum.

      • The way to spot the (under-educated) Aspergers is to say 'hey, not cool, that really hurt my feels' exactly once – if he appologies and never does it again then maybe it was a genuine mistake. Even so, you're not required to put up with it, even once. Even if somebody has a mental disorder that makes them an asshole, it isn't your job to put up with it unless you choose to.

    • If you are who I think you are, then actually you do/did know a guy with pronounced AS who was creepy as all fuck. And then when he got in trouble for groping that girl and locking her in a room with him, he used it as an excuse.

      Still not an excuse. Also, fuck that guy.

    • This does raise interesting questions for us disabled persons vs. criminals or a disabled person doing criminal things such as a anger management, OCD , schizo's ,sociopaths,bipolar,PTSD, Aspies lashing out or doing illegal drugs. In general most Aspies are good persons and want the same things you do- me as an example. Dont drink, smoke, no stupid illegal crap, just working and bellydancing.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      Oh my god I agree completely. I'm autistic and was diagnosed with Asperger's and comparisons like that make me furious. It's like, "oh yeah that guy totally invaded your personal space maybe he's just autistic." And I just want to implode because I AM autistic and just ARGH

      And it certainly is possible to learn, especially with support and dedication. I've gotten to the point where I can pass as neurotypical and I did that through hard work and studying social interactions and being aware of myself.

      And if I ever, EVER made someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe because I did something like violate their personal space, I would apologize profusely and probably carry that guilt with me to my grave.

      The men who have creeped on me under the guise of being socially awkward? I'm 99% sure they didn't give a shit.

    • adamhunter1223 says:

      I can't agree with you enough. I have Asperger's myself, and I went to a transition school for people on the spectrum. Of the ASD students I knew I never knew any one of them to exhibit creeper behavior. It was exactly what DNL described, we tripped over social boundaries and fell on our faces. A lot. Then we regretted it. A lot. I still cringe when I look back on some of the conversations I had years ago and I'd give my eye teeth to go back and change a few of them.

      In my experience, an Autistic/Asperger's person's worst fear is tripping over someone's boundaries. I don't know anyone on the spectrum who would deliberately abuse them.

    • your_honor says:

      Although I consider myself a fairly open-minded person and socially aware person, I also consider myself to be someone who is a vocal advocate of the underdog. In this case, I would think the guy is the underdog and I have trying to think of alternative explanation of the person's behaviour. At the cost of sounding insensitive, I wonder if this is a particularly fantastic example of creepy behaviour and could it just be someone who is not aware or has a different definition of 'social boundaries' ? However, I must admit it is something that should be learnt or calibrated by the person eventually but overall excusable if he hasn't already done this a few times. My rationale is as below:
      First and foremost, I think the limited response of the girl in this conversation can be attributed to a) she is busy b) she is playing hard to get and guy is probably merely trying make sure that he is giving the impression that he means business.
      Secondly, all the guy has done is reach out to the girl through a harmless medium where it might be easy and convenient to break or stop the creation of a social bond
      So would it justify people labelling him as a perennial 'creep' who should be ostracised and excluded from the pursuit of the fairer sex. In any case, even if the guy is an aspie and inexperienced in social constructs, I hope he has learnt and learnt to attribute lack of response as indication for lack of romantic interest and moved on to find a suitable partner.
      Inappropriate touching, stalking, etc. are probably behaviors that belong to a whole different 'creep' level. So can we draw parallels here? Please note here that I have not made this about a male or female sex as they are both correct here, but just an objective view that labelling someone is not a particularly socially sophisticated or elegant way of dealing with the hard task of being direct or being considered rude.

    • TinyTeacup says:

      Unfortunately, there are creepy people who happen to be autistic/have Asperger’s. And they don’t shy away from using that as an excuse, and other people will offer it as an excuse in their stead.

      I was sexually harassed for several months by a guy who has Asperger’s (for the sake of anonymity, let’s pretend his name is “Wesley”). It started out with him cyber stalking me. He did a search for my name, then managed to figure out my usual username (which I no longer use) and went from there. He started asking questions about the information his found. He would also leave little private messages on my profiles, like a dog pissing to mark its territory.

      “Wesley” then started making sexual jokes and comments. At first that didn’t bother me. I enjoy sexual innuendo and humor. Besides, I’m a fencer. Sword=penis jokes are pretty par for the course. But it evolved, until every interaction with him had to involve some sexual joke or reference to his penis, as if he wished to reassure me he had one. Even that didn’t bother me, at least not too bad.

      Then the tone began to change. He started making more and more sexual comments, especially if we were alone. There were several times where I was literally backed into a corner or otherwise physically unable to escape him and he would close in and make these comments. He didn’t try to touch me in any way, thankfully. He would also ask me invasive questions about what I was doing, sexually, with a friend I “dated” for a very short while. (I put that in quotes because it was very short and we barely even held hands. Second graders have had more fulfilling relationships.) I told Wesley to stop, explicitly and exactly explaining what it was that he had done that bothered me.

      Except it didn’t stop. I told a friend what he was doing, and that friend advised me to talk to another friend, “Adam.” I told Adam what Wesley was doing, and Adam told me he would talk to him. Adam told Wesley that I was starting to feel really uncomfortable, and asked him to lay off on the sexual comments.

      That’s when Wesley started getting aggressive with me. I fence in the SCA, and our kingdom’s calibration rules are that only the lightest possible blows that can still be felt are to be used. Wesley began over-hitting me (hitting too hard) in practice a LOT. He also “accidentally” almost tackled me. Twice, in the course of ten minutes. Both times involving physical contact. Corps-à-corps is forbidden. He would also badger me constantly, then demand to know if I had a problem with him. I had started having panic attacks around him which would cause me to freeze up, so I avoided him when I could. I’m non-confrontational as is, and the panic attacks exacerbated that.

      Finally, I snapped. He was badgering me yet again, asking if I had a problem with him. I had yelled at him earlier for always leaning over my shoulder to see what I was doing on my laptop/tablet, and I yelled at him again and told him, “Why yes, I do have a problem with you.” I reminded him of our previous conversations about the sexual comments he was making, and told him that his behavior made me feel threatened.

      He backed off!.. for about five months. I didn’t even see or interact with him for three of them due to summer vacation. When we came back for the new school year, he came back with a vengeance.

      I was out walking with him and two friends one night (thank you, Geek Social Fallacies). Over the course of our walk he informed me that he thought girls giving blowjobs to get better grades were “hawt,” told me in various ways how much he’d like to penetrate me, told me he knew I wanted him, and then offered to “cure my hysteria the old-fashioned way.” When I told him to back off, he accused me of engaging in school-yard flirting tactics. His behavior was so egregiously awful that he basically stunned my friends into silence.

      Over the course of the summer, I had started dating Adam. When I told Adam that Wesley had started harassing me again he told me that he didn’t want me to ever be alone with Wesley. My parents and several of my friends had already said the same thing, including my former roommate, who has Asperger’s and is a good friend of mine. Adam advised me to go to our coach and tell her what Wesley was doing, but I didn’t because I was afraid of what she would say. I got so stressed out over things that I began crying whenever the subject came up.

      I did not know until months later that Adam had gone behind my back to talk to our coach. He later confessed it to me. He told me she had said he was wrong, he was misreading the situation, that he was slandering the name of a longtime member of the club, and that he was basically bullying Wesley for having Asperger’s. She forbade him from ever mentioning the problem to other members in the club. He told me that he was wrong to have tried to pressure me into going to her, and that I had been right all along. He apologized. Luckily, by then Wesley had dropped out.

      His Asperger’s didn’t make him a creep. He was just a creep who used his Asperger’s as a shield.

      • I am so, so sorry that happened to you. :( I have AS too and there is NO excuse for behaving like Wesley did – my jaw dropped in horror reading your story.

        This is really one of the other reasons I get volcanic anytime someone pulls the "but what if they have AS and can't heeeeelp it?" regarding sexual harassment. If you're effectively giving men on the spectrum a get-out-of-jail-free card for harassment, guess what – there are assholes, jerks and creeps on the spectrum too, and they *will* take advantage. Thanks for making the problem worse, apologists. 😐

        (So help me if any of them come out to go "but waaaah how could he have known" I will explode into a rain of fiery internet death on your behalf. He absolutely knew what he was doing! Asperger's does not actually make you unable to comprehend the entirety of human language or body language to the point of not being understand the meaning of "no, leave me alone!" If you don't understand something is inappropriate due to Asperger's, it's highly unlikely you'll choose specifically the times when no one else is watching to behave like that!)

  29. Just an Average guy says:

    It's only creepy if the guy is unattractive. 90% of the romantic stories that women read or watch involve some great looking guy pushing the boundaries of social norms, sometimes with nothing more than a glace or a look before she beds him. Girls are only creeped out if he's not good-looking or rich.

    • READ. Not live. Porn also isn't a good indicator for exactly how someone would like to conduct a relationship.

    • I totally agree! Suddenly if the dude is hot oh now it’s not creepy. Riiiiight….

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Yeah, because women love it when attractive guys they've never met grope them without so much as a hello in public. Why did I never realize this is how things work?

        While we're on the subject, though, if being good looking and wealthy is important to you, its achievable. Shouldn't take more than twelve hours a day, seven days a week for five years to get in shape, get a crash education in a higher paying field, new wardrobe, professional manicure and hairstyle, new car, nice condo and still be able to sock away enough to invest. It'll be hard, it'll suck, you won't see the improvement day to day but its doable. The question is, does it matter enough to you to do the work?

        • Maximilian says:

          "The question is, does it matter enough to you to do the work?"

          All of that to slightly increase my chances of getting a relationship that could end in a week or still never happen by which time I'll be 30? I'll get started once I've finished working on perfecting flight using just my arms.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That wasn't aimed at you, Max, so much as people who blame on their life failures on not being sufficiently "high status" as if money and looks and sex are the only things in life worth having.

    • blahdeblah says:

      And I see women complaining about the implications of those movies all the time. Not all women, obviously, but some really dislike that such behavior is romanticized by movies and books.

      (Also, how is "a glance or a look" pushing boundaries? Staring intensely, maybe – but I don't see any movies where a guy gets a girl by ogling her constantly.)

      And "attractive" is subjective. Not everyone is attracted to the same thing. I don't find most of the Hollywood-star type guys attractive myself.

      • smallswingshoes says:

        Exactly! Most books and movies where the way to win a love interest's heart is to essentially harass them is hugely creepy and makes me cringe.

        And these stories also play into the script of "just give him a chance" that was discussed in this article. It's part of a very similar and related problem of men being allowed to push women's boundaries in order to score either romatically and/or sexually. (And I say men and women in this context because that's how the movies/books almost always portray it, but this situation can easily be portrayed with other genders and be creepy too.)

    • Or, y'know, most people can differentiate between romantic *fantasy* and reality. A lot of mainstream heterosexual porn, which is generally aimed at men, involves the female lead aggressively coming on to the male lead in a way that would be boundary-pushing in real life, because what people like in fiction is not necessarily what they want their lives to be like. Think about the number of porn films that involve a sexy female boss/teacher/doctor or nurse abusing her authority to sleep with an employee/student/patient – and yet that doesn't mean that if a man is harassed or assaulted in real life by a woman in a position of authority over him, he wanted it or would have wanted it if she'd been more attractive. Yeesh.

    • …And the reason women don't like you is because you aren't good-looking and rich! Yup, that's why women tell you you're creepy. It has nothing to do with your shitty behavior. And there's absolutely nothing you can do–it's totally out of your control.

    • Many dudes enjoy stories where the hero does incredibly dangerous, destructive things. Because these stories are fantasies, you can enjoy the thrill and excitement because there is no actual danger to you.

    • Delafina says:

      No. It's creepy if the target of the attention has indicated that they're not interested, and the person who's giving the attention doesn't stop.

      Where creepiness comes in is in the refusal to respect another person's boundaries. Attractiveness is irrelevant. If I ask you to leave me alone, and you don't, you are being creepy.

      The end.

    • shanonish says:

      Attractive isn't required. Attracted does make a difference though. If someone I'm already at least a little interested in pushes boundaries, I'm a lot more okay with it than if someone I already know I'm not into tries the same thing.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      This old straw man? Its only creepy if your boundaries are broken by someone who's unattractive? So does that apply to rape, too?

      Sorry, dude, attractive guys may well be able to loosen those boundaries up but:
      A. Everyone gets to decide their boundaries individual by individual, moment by moment. What's ok for me to do to my girlfriend in private is most likely across the line for a stranger to do in public.
      B. The fact that someone's boundaries are stricter for you than for someone else is not proof that all women let hot guys get away with anything.
      C. Breaking those boundaries is still breaking those boundaries. Attractive guys can do creepy, stalkerish thing, too.

      • Anthea Brainhooke says:

        Yes. This.

        Some attractive people of whatever gender use their desireability as a weapon to get what they want, knowing that if the person they are hitting on says no they'll get a lot of "OMG whaaaat, how could you say no to them, I'd LOVE them for pay attention to me like that!" from people who have not been on the receiving end of the creepy behaviour.

        • This, so many times over.

          I once sat next to a creepy dude on an airplane. A moderately attractive, military service member dude. Ignored the soft no's (including, like, responding to him with "hmm" and "oh" and other one-word-or-less replies while intently staring at my book.)

          When we were getting off the plane, he tried to follow me, but I managed to get ahead of him in line and then BOOKED IT to the bathroom. In the bathroom, I was admonished by another woman on the plane for not "noticing" that he was trying to catch up to me.

      • SarahGryph says:

        "A. Everyone gets to decide their boundaries individual by individual, moment by moment. What's ok for me to do to my girlfriend in private is most likely across the line for a stranger to do in public."

        THIS. When I was in my early 20s, I let myself feel far too guilty about situations of "But you're fine when he does it, you're just being mean if you don't let me, too!" or "But you were fine with this last time, why are you being like this?"

        Generally speaking, the first one might be because I am attracted to HIM and not to you, more likely that I feel safe with whatever behavior from him, and not from you…and more importantly, I think I can choose who gets to put their hands on me and who doesn't. In the second, dude, did you ever think that maybe a week ago I felt comfortable with you in my bubble and now that you're acting like this I no longer am?

        It's never been about conventional attractiveness for me. It's been about who I can and can't trust to respect my boundaries. You can be as cute and charming as you like, but if you act in a way that tells me "no" is going to be a battle, I am going to keep it easy and not get touchy with you at all. (This also goes for certain conversations and other actions, touch was just the example that came to mind.)

    • If this is true than we do we sometimes see news stories about hot and/or rich men getting in legal trouble for doing these sort of things in real life?

    • etherealclarity says:

      Actually… I personally find it exactly as creepy if the guy is attractive, and possibly more dangerous. If a guy is gorgeous and ignoring my boundaries, I'm going to assume that this is a person who is used to getting exactly what they want and is deliberately crossing lines because they are not interested in what I want.

      • celette482 says:

        Exactly. Absolutely no "Well they couldn't get it any other way" excuse there. They are deliberately choosing to take what they could have had given to them.

    • Nope. Pushing past people boundaries is creepy no matter what you look like.

      Sure, people are going to have different boundaries for people they're attracted to/interested in romantically and people they're not, but that's hardly unfair.

    • Amazing999 says:

      I posted the same thing – I guess I will be downvoted, too. Some people don't want to hear the truth.

  30. What is this “soft no” stuff? Males and Female don’t always pick up on that. Just be honest and say something like, “hey thank you but I’m just not interested.” Communicate. You may have to be stern but that doesn’t mean you have to be rude.

    • Anthea Brainhooke says:

      "She should have been clearer" until she actually says "No thanks, not interested" and then the demands for an explanation, insults and sometimes even threats start.

      • theOtherDude says:

        You don’t know that would happen in this case. You just want to avoid taking responsibility.

        • Anthea Brainhooke says:

          Nope. I want to be able to say "No thank you, I'm not interested" and know that the man I'm saying no to will take no for an answer and not up the ante with demands, insults or threats.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          You don't know that would happen in this case. You just want to avoid taking responsibility.

          If you have reason to expect trouble, say from past experience, you're going to opt for the safest way of dealing with it. Its easy to be an armchair woman and say what you would have done but somehow that always seems to boil down to:
          "say no unambiguously" until someone does, then its "you should have accepted it and given him a chance".
          Protip: if you can't spot a soft no, err on the side of looking for an obvious "soft yes".

      • You asked ME the same thing when I said I disagreed with a Soft No as well, Anthea. My advice to you is Don't assume that your own personal experience in life is the same everywhere.
        Also, if you allow another person's reactions to dictate whether or not you treat someone with the respect that is an unalienable right to all humans, you are the one losing out, not them. To allow another to create our actions for us is to be no better than them.

        So, if someone asks you for an explanation, say "Sorry, I don't really feel I have to." If they insult you, say "You're being rude" and block them. Its a very simple process.

        • Anthea Brainhooke says:

          I'm not assuming anything. I have heard and read time and time again how women who have been assertive and said a clear, hard "no" have had to deal with everything from insults to being screamed at to being pushed around, punched, followed, and even stalked for daring to refuse a man's advances.

          Note I'm not saying it WILL happen, just that it can and DOES happen.

          Note that I am also not saying YOU will behave like that, either.

          • Well, tell you what, NOW you have heard of a woman who's given hard no's her entire life, and hasn't been punched, stalked, raped, pushed around, or screamed at. Know why? Because I wouldn't accept that behavior. Because I'm not afraid of that behavior. I have rights, and I am strong. There is no man who ever started to get into an altercation with me for me saying no, that didn't end with him walking away, ashamed at his behavior.

            … Oh, and also, I would probably shoot any dude who stalked me or tried to rape me, instead of being fearful and running. That part of my persona probably comes out … and I do understand that not all women are this strong. But, too many women allow themselve to be victims because they think that's their only option. And its just not. At all.

          • Anthea Brainhooke says:

            Ah, if only it were that simple.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And in an advice column for women on dealing with creepers, that might be a valid strategy. This is an advice column for guys who aren't predators and want to learn how not to be mistaken for them.

          • five second rule says:

            And now you know of a woman who has given hard no's and had problems. I have been screamed at, insulted, belittled and physically threatened. I have had the people who I gave hard no's to try to get vengeance at my work and in my personal life. Sometimes they did damage and sometimes they didn't. But I always have to gauge just how hard my no can be when I give it. Need an example? I had a neighbor who was overly friendly. It very quickly became clear polite avoidance was not going to be enough. I told him that I wasn't interested in him. He became defensive, said he just wanted to be friends. I told him I wasn't interested in a friendship with him either and to please give me space. He then proceeded to make my life very unpleasant. He would sit on his porch and stare me down whenever I was outdoors. He would make comments – not directly threatening, but extremely gross or insulting. He did what he could to intimidate me to the point where I felt uncomfortable being outside. But because the insults/gestures weren't threats and he stayed on his own property the police wouldn't help. I didn't feel safe. Fortunately he was renting and he moved away a few months later. Otherwise I'm not sure what I would have done. With no legal recourse, would I have had to sell my house?

            I agree that we need to give more hard no's, but that's not always as easy as you make it sound here.

          • Wow. I'm glad for you, that you've been so lucky in who's advances you've had to deal with (which is to say, I'm glad that you live, surrounded by genuinely decent people who mean you no harm), but please don't confuse luck with strength. Those consequences? Being punched and kicked, etc, have nothing to do with what you're willing to accept. They have to do with what the other person is willing to do to you *regardless* of what you're willing to accept.
            Also, if you really believe shooting someone is a viable option for *any* given woman, including you, then it just goes to show how lucky you've been. The experiences of women who have been harassed and stalked and raped show that the consequences of violent self-defence are actually worse than the consequences for their harassers would be, assuming that they were prosecuted in the first place.
            We live in a world that supports the harassers, not the victims. I'm glad that you've never had to actually face that reality, but please don't try to suggest that women who have, are somehow at fault for not having had the luck you have.

          • smallswingshoes says:

            That's actually great that you haven't been harassed and that you're willing to stand up for yourself like that.

            But it's not fair to say that all women need to behave the way you do and that, should they fail to do so, that it's their own fault. That' victim blaming.

        • "Don't assume that your own personal experience in life is the same everywhere. "

          This flies hilariously in the face of EVERYTHING we know about human psychology. Acting out responses to what's happened in the past is not only the entire basis of human behavior, it's also the entire definition of learning. To tell people to simply…not have human psychology would be hilarious if you weren't frighteningly serious.

          You're also couching this in terms of what to do online. Kindly tell me how to "block someone" in real life? I've literally never had "I don't feel I owe you an explanation" met with acceptance, but I don't know how to "block someone" who's standing in front of me.

        • smallswingshoes says:

          How is being polite somehow more of a human right than protecting oneself?
          Generally it would be great if people were polite.
          However, if someone is creeping on you by touching you, saying inappropriate things, or stalking you, why do they deserve more politeness than the person being harassed does?

          Also, "block them"?
          You do realize that this happens… offline? In person? And that the way a woman responds to a creep harassing her can, regardless of how polite or rude she's being, result in her being assaulted?

    • Delafina says:

      Actually, they understand just fine.

    • Yeah, exactly that! Thank god someone else feels the same way I do!

    • enail0_o says:

      I just love the way that basic forms of communication and social interaction that are normal, accepted and easily understood in all other aspects of human society suddenly become dishonest, rude or incomprehensible when the context is woman saying no to man.

      • If you use the soft no, you risk misunderstanding, “misunderstanding,” being accused of leading social on, and further harassment. Use the hard no and risk threats, fighting, stalking, insults, and further harassment. If you say yes to every dude who comes along you risk personal safety, rape, slut-shaming, being accused of “leading someone on,” wasting your time, and you’ll probably be cheating some of the time. There’s no way to definitely “win” in these situations, so it’s best to go with your instincts, because any way you go someone will be judging you and telling you you tucked up.

    • AHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, so I guess all those times guys have reacted to "hey thanks, but I'm not interested" as if I'd said "convince me" just… didn't happen? I suppose I imagined how they kept hanging around after that, asking me to come back to their places, or offering to 'make sure I get home safely'? Right.
      How about instead of telling women to be clearer, we tell men to accept no for an answer, whether it's a soft no or a hard no, and *then*, once "no" is respected nearly 100% of the time, we see how big a problem women being rude is? *

      *obviously, accepting no for an answer is something both women and men need to do, and being able to give no as an answer is something both worm band men are entitled to.

      **also, if no one's mentioned it yet, you're completely wrong about women and men not being able to recognize a soft no. All people are capable of recognizing soft nos, because soft nos are part and parcel of basically every language. See here:

      • "How about instead of telling women to be clearer, we tell men to accept no for an answer, whether it's a soft no or a hard no, and *then*, once "no" is respected nearly 100% of the time, we see how big a problem women being rude is? * "



      • That’s not a soft no. A better example would be the following case in which I was the creep:

        I was at a pub sitting next to a woman who I liked. The last time we meet, we had made physical contact (I’m hesitant to call it flirty because I don’t understand flirting, but that’s what it felt like to me). So at this point I repeatedly brushed her leg with my hand throughout the evening. She didn’t seem to change her behavior, she kept looking me in the eye when talking, cracking jokes with me (some of which were write suggestive), body wasn’t turned away from me st cetera. The only clue that she didn’t appreciate what I was doing was the fact that she didn’t reciprocate the physical contact and that she told me later that well that I was making her very uncomfortable. Obviously I should have concluded from the fact that she didn’t make physical contact with me that she was uncomfortable, but at the time I didn’t realize that this was a “soft” no

  31. Sorry, but if I'm a random victim of creepy behavior, I don't intuitively KNOW if the creeper is that way because he's a predator, or because he's honestly clueless about his actions. I'm not a mind reader. And I'm not going to potentially put myself in danger just so the feelings of someone else don't get hurt.

    The Dr. isn't the misguided one here, friend.

  32. Anthea Brainhooke says:

    "Shame! Shame on you!"

    LOLWUT? I have visions of you standing there wagging your finger at us.

  33. theOtherDude says:

    I do find it a bit funny how this guy shouldn’t get any slack but she gets a ton of slack for the soft no. Hell, people you should have the assertiveness to say no or fuck off if that is what you really want. You don’t get credit for being nice by avoiding a direct no.

    In other words, neither person should get any slack. Neither should the author of this article.

    • Delafina says:

      1) Most men understand "soft no"s just fine.

      2) Many women are leery of direct refusals because men get angry at receiving them.

      3) You're seriously equating a woman saying, "I have to go now" to indicate that she's not interested to a dude refusing to leave her alone and making her afraid that he may stalk or assault her? Seriously?

      • Bullshit. I'm a woman and I've given 'hard no's my entire life. Guess what … when a guy occasionally started to be a dick, I simply took care of the situation or blocked him (if online). Too many girls live in fear because of men's behavior, when it is their very own behavior that ALLOWS the viscous cycle of male assertiveness and aggressiveness to continue.

        If all woman's response to a question was truly a 'yes' or a 'no', ALL the time, men would not be conditioned to thinking they could be a dick about it.

        And if you want a way to handle it? Simple. Be strong. Be a strong woman. Not a bitch who screams at them. Sit there as they insult you and just look at them straight in the eyes when they start being a dick. Just sit silent and stare at them. Don't look away. After they shuttup, say "How dare you act towards me like that just because I told you no?" And then silently look at them accusingly? Don't get mad, that just makes it worse. Just calmly look at them, in shock and disproval. I swear to you, it has worked every single time I've employed it. The guy walks away ashamed.
        Ps. If the guy is drunk, this doesn't work. But, if a guy is drunk, nothing really works ever.

        • Ah so be a strong woman by completely changing your behavior and allowing yourself to completely acquiesce to them. As a strong woman, you're not allowed to have feelings ("don't get mad'), you're not allowed to respond in a way you wish ("don't look away"), you're not allowed to NOT get insulted ("sit there and take it"), and if you don't follow absolutely all of these pre-subscribed behaviors, then you, the one being harassed, are somehow to blame when they continue to harass/insult/assault you.

          Oh and it doesn't work if the guy is drunk. In fact, nothing works, so tough cookies, honey, you just lay back and enjoy it.

          Do you say that women in short skirts should have dressed differently to avoid men raping them, because "strong women" know not to flaunt it? Cause what you've written is *textbook* victim blaming.


          From a conflict resolution standpoint, being accusatory and judgmental is the worst thing you can do. A person yelling at you is a threatening situation for a reason. They are showing signs of aggression and are thus likely to escalate. Your best option is to leave if at all possible. Don't wait. Just leave. If they block your path, placating them while you try to look around for help is perfectly okay. It is not manipulative. It does not make them pursuing you your fault. It is how you diffuse an escalating person. Tell them you understand where they're coming from. Explain your feelings in non-accusatory terms; use I-feel statements. Do whatever you can to extricate yourself from the situation.

          If nothing else is working, respond with anger. Not accusations. Not judgment. Anger. Be a bitch. Yell. Scream. Get other people's attention. Puff yourself up as big as you can. Get in their face. Be the bitchiest bitch you can possibly be. And if trying to calm them down didn't work and they're nonplussed by you being angry, go to fight and flight. Hit first (stomach or groin are good picks) and then run like hell until you find a group/help.

          It's okay to do these steps out of order. It is okay to jump straight to hitting someone who is verbally abusing you and running like hell. That's a great option for dealing with drunks. Just whatever you do, do not be calm yet accusatory.

        • I don't believe you're discussing in good faith, so I'm not going to have this argument. You're fortunate that your verbatim "no"s have not been met with threats or violence, but others of us have different experiences. I'm going to continue to err on the safe side by excusing myself from the conversation and walking away when receiving unwanted attention, because in my experience, that is the safest route. I hope that your strategy continues to work for you personally, but it is not universally effective.

        • PaulRivers says:

          "If all woman's response to a question was truly a 'yes' or a 'no', ALL the time, men would not be conditioned to thinking they could be a dick about it. "

          This is it exactly, but it's far worse than that. Lots of guys who got into pickup started off being very respectful guys. They found they were perpetually single, while other people seemed to be having sex, especially other guys who were kind of dicks. Then they watched stuff like this happen again and again (it's from The Notebook) –

          The men who are truly asses, this gives them cover to act like asses. The majority of men who don't want to act this way at all start to feel an obligation to do so, or remain single losers forever. She said no – but so did the last 3 girls who dated him, or his friend, and then talked about how amazing their relationship was.

          • @PaulRivers,

            Pick Up is a problem because it's so often really messed up individuals trying to teach other guys to be like them. "I felt I had an obligation to be an asshole" is really weak justification. There's being bold and forward and there's being an asshole. PUA guys lie a heck of a lot. They lie about what their techniques get them. They lie about their "lay reports" and they lie that being massively messed up individuals gets them huge amounts of sex.

            For sure, men can be lulled into the idea that being like the PUA dicks is the best way to get women and that can cause problems. But eventually, a lot of guys start seeing PUA for the messed up den of nonsense most of it is.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Lol, good luck with that. Like I said, I've known several guys now to go from women finding them boring or "asexual" to getting laid, and one of them has been dating a girl for around 9 months. He was over 25 and had never even kissed a girl before. He (and the other guy I know fairly well) were both abhorred to find that girl liked things they had always been told girls wouldn't like, and just like you wrote, and been convinced it was a "messed up den of nonsense". And while know another PUA who girls have a love/hate relationship with, with these two guys I've never seem girls say anything but positive things about them. Girls are always talking positively about them when they're not around – I know both these guys well enough to know they have no interest in exagerrating their stories.

            What's true is that it's difficult to sort out the good advice from the bad, but that's true of all groups. It's the same at my job. But if you want to see PUA done right, like I said, just watch The Notebook. Or anything by Nicholas Sparks. These are romantic books and movies who's audience is women. And all his male characters do is an endless series of properly implemented PUA techniques.

            Like I said –

            "The men who are truly asses, this gives them cover to act like asses. The majority of men who don't want to act this way at all start to feel an obligation to do so, or remain single losers forever. She said no – but so did the last 3 girls who dated him, or his friend, and then talked about how amazing their relationship was."

          • Seriously? In Nicolaas Sparks movies the guys are good looking.I can hear many PUAs clenching their teeth that you've compare what they do to the Nicholas Sparks movies.

            Most PUA techniques are darn right crackers drivel. They come from seriously messed up individuals. Many of whom used women to validate themselves whilst also telling their students not to validate themselves through women.

            PUA is, for the most part, absolutely pointless because it focuses on pretending to be something you actually could be. And PUAs are famous for the backwards rationalizing of "oh, it must have been my technique that made her like me" when it could have been countless other things some of which may not even be in the guy's control.

            For the most part, PUA focuses on trying to make guys into copies of PUA instructors are often very messed up and in need of therapy themselves. And boy oh boy do PUAs and PUA students lie and or push the truth. It is the art of self absorption as everything revolves around you and some daft technique you read out of a book. The woman might as well not be there. If an insecure guy turns to pick up, it's not going to help him. It's going to hide him because it asks him to accept the notion that the only way to be socially popular is to not be himself.

            Some of the creepiest nonsense behaviour I've ever seen has come from PUAs and PUA students who think that they have to follow the advice of the guru and not common sense. It's fairly easy to spot the bad advice from the good. Work on the notion that most of it is utter drivel unless you have actual evidence that something helps you in a non toxic way to improve your life.

          • Delafina says:

            "PUA is, for the most part, absolutely pointless because it focuses on pretending to be something you actually could be."

            You just hit the nail on the head as to why I find PUAs so pathetic. They put all this time and energy into honing techniques to make themselves *look* interesting when they could just as easily put it into actually *being* interesting. They're intentionally rejecting something authentic that's with in reach in favor of a shallow facade of the same thing.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Does anyone else mentally pronounce PUA like a Polynesian word? I wonder if the native Hawaiians had a fedora equivalent.
            Amusing side note – pua means flower in Hawaiian. Pua'a means pig.

    • Anthea Brainhooke says:

      It's really really risky for a woman to give a straight "no" or "fuck off" to a guy who approaches her. Far too often it results in insults, threats, or even violence.

    • Sphinxfeather says:

      If someone breaks into a store with reasonable security (locks, grill gate, etc), should the store owner "not get any slack" because s/he didn't weld the doors shut and board up the windows? Is the owner somehow at fault for the theft for not installing the maximum amount of "fuck you burglars" equipment?
      Of course not. The burglar knows breaking and entering isn't okay but does it anyways. Likewise, most creepers know what they're doing is not okay, but don't care and do it anyways.

    • shanonish says:

      Soft no's are a lot more common online, especially on dating sites or social media where a direct and blunt no can often be taken as excuse to continue communication. I've lost count of how many times some random stranger on facebook or a dating site has become violently aggressive and verbally abusive when I politely stated I wasn't interested or didn't think we'd be compatible.

      No, they're not all going to flip out if I give the blunt "no" but I've had several ugly experiences where the guy went so far off the deep end I'm pretty sure he was communicating from an alternate dimension where his behavior might be considered acceptable. Men who threatened violence, up to and including threats to track me down in real life and rape me into submission or as a lesson. Men who made multiple profiles to continue harassing and threatening after I blocked and/or reported them to the site. Even one who found me in real life, physically pulled me away from my friends at a movie theater and insisted that I had agreed to have sex with him if we ever met face-to-face.

      Sometimes the easiest way to avoid any possibility of insanity is to simply stop responding to their messages.

      While MOST guys aren't as psycho as some of the freaks I've had to deal with, those experiences were scary enough that I tend to be overly cautious in how I deal with most new people.

      • Wow, shanonish, that's awful. Lest we think that those experiences are severe outliers, I would like to say that I had experiences in the same line (but not as bad), and I would like to add: I am not obligated to have a full-on breakup conversation with a man just because he sent me a message on facebook or an OLD site. We have never met; I don't know you, and we are not dating. If you will only back off of a person you DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW when you receive an explicit no, you're a person I would vastly prefer not to meet.

        I genuinely do understand that's it's nicer to receive a firm no, but let's remember not to have high response expectations for people we've never met, please.

    • @theOtherDude,

      Some men (and I've seen this in action) get aggressive at "hard nos" and some even at soft nos. Average guy could overpower the average women give or take various variables so I'm gonna assume that a woman would feel pretty darn scared about offering up hard nos all the time to the various jerks and idiots who creepy her out. My pride being hurt at getting less than the response I wanted is not worth more than someone feeling safe and secure.

      In fact there's a picture on my Facebook from yesterday of what happened to a woman in a club who said no to a creep's advances. She's now sporting a black eye and facial bruises. Now, of course not all men are like that so let's not have any MRA style "that's shaming language I tell ya!" crap. It is simply the case that many women feel uncomfortable giving hard nos to creeps.

  34. Give it up, Sling Blade. Being called out for bad behavior, no matter how few friends you have or how long it's been (forever?) since you've seen a naked woman, is never going to be a social justice issue. Not in the sense you so desperately want it to be. Your right to feel included and good about yourself is a conditional right that is not owed to you by anyone simply on the merits that you are breathing. The right for someone to have personal space and not be harassed or made to feel endangered, on the other hand, is an inalienable, unconditional right. Apples and oranges.

    • enail0_o says:

      Hey, could we maybe skip the part where we're insulting people for not having friends or having had sex? People can be total creeps regardless of their social or romantic success. Right on to the rest of this, though.

    • Maximilian says:

      B-b-b-but we don't look down on those without friends or those not having sex ever.

      I-i-i-ignore the thumbs up signally approval of this. We want to help you.

  35. Hirundo Bos says:

    Hello. I am one of those people you say you defend: I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I am not always aware that my actions are inapropriate. In the past, particularly before I was diagnosed, I would tend not to care even if I knew that I did something inapropriate. I would see propriety as somewhat optional, and not always get that it was about other people’s boundaries and their safety.

    Speaking as such a person, I have two important things to say about articles like this:

    1) They have been a great help to me, pointing out a lot of stuff that I had very little awareness of before. They have made me a better person, and prepared me for a world of dating where I would otherwise have made som bad mistakes.

    2) If I should step out of line, invade someone’s space, I don’t expect people to communicate clearly and politely. I prefer them to act in whatever way they need to preserve their personal boundaries. If they hurt my feelings, maybe I deserve it, maybe I don’t, but either way that’s not really relevant. Feelings take second place to safety.

    Now, there are som less important things to say, about me not being a bad person even if I do bad things, but they also take second place, and I have said them already. Right now, I just want to point out that although other socially impaired people may have different feeling about this, I don’t want to be one of those people you say you defend.

    • If you are okay with being treated rudely for no reason, Hirundo, that's your prerogative. It is not a license for people who ought to know better to be rude to random strangers for no reason.

      It's *not* a matter of safety. No one is saying that unacceptable behaviour should be ignored. But one can respond to it like a decent human being, or one can respond to it like an obnoxious jerk.

      I wish people would just be decent human beings. It's really not that hard, and we really don't need articles like this encouraging people to be even less civil.

      • But there is a reason. You are breaking a social code and will not stop when asked in the generally accepted manner. Just because you do not realize you did it and do not understand the cues to stop does not mean you did something wrong.

        For example, I committed an etiquette breach in Uganda. I did not know the codes and definitely did not understand the language but I still did something wrong (that I never again repeated). Ignorance did not give me a pass.

      • celette482 says:

        How would a decent human being respond? *genuine curiosity*

      • @BrandonBlackmoor,

        This article encourages people to be more civil. What could be more civil than being mindful of the cares, concerns and feelings of others.

  36. shanonish says:

    When did 'socially awkward' become incapable of learning?

  37. I find this article annoying. Because I believe and find the 'soft no' INCREDIBLY rude. How dare someone ignore someone else instead of treating them like a human being?? HOW DARE SOMEONE USE IGNORING ANOTHER PERSON AS A WAY TO SAY 'NO' OR GIVE A NEGATIVE RESPONSE. I don't care WHAT society says, its wrong. Just because something is a societal norm does NOT mean that behavior should be tolerated.

    It is not MY or anyone elses responsibility to try to read someone elses mind, and to force another person to do so is more creepy and horrible than ANY behavior that you listed as 'creepy'. Talk about misguided!!!

    Frankly, I refuse to ever accept a 'soft no', because the use of it is deplorable and something that is only used by selfish morons have not matured enough to realize that everyone is worthy of respect, even if we don't like them.

    I will GLADLY call myself a creep if it means that when someone asks me a question, I answer no when the answer is no. To do otherwise is to tell the other person that they aren't worth the time it takes to explain anything too, and that is something I will NEVER ever do.

    So, I'm a creep.

    Oh, and by the way, douchebag, if someone isn't as good at talking as other people and say something awkward, you are a complete douche if you treat them the same way you would a Jerk who meant to do it.

    There is not ONE thing you wrote in this that makes me believe you're any older than a 21 year old kid who's only at the cusp of beginning to learn what social interactions are really about.
    Listen listen and learn a heck of a lot more, and then revisit this subject. Because nothing you said is correct. Unless one is trying to be a terrible human being that is.

    • Anthea Brainhooke says:

      So you won't accept a "soft no."

      Do you actually accept "No, not interested," with grace, or do you demand an explanation for the refusal?

      • A no is a no. There's no use trying after there is a no. While it would be nice to get an explanation about a refusal, its their prerogative whether they would give one or not. But, not a requirement. No is no.

        • Anthea Brainhooke says:

          Thank you. It's good to know you're not one of the douchebags who keeps pushing even after a clear "hard" no.

        • OtherRoooToo says:

          "There's no use trying after there is a no."

          Men still do it, though.

          Sometimes they even escalate to violence.

          Several of the comments will tell you that, if you took the time to read them … as will a Google through your average internet with some variation on the phrase "she + said + no + and + still".

          Sometimes it is even the "No" that triggers the harassment and/or violence.

          Plus, all of the above? It's pretty basic knowledge to anyone who's not deliberately denying that pattern of response & behavior exists.

          • Maximilian says:

            "Men still do it, though. Sometimes they even escalate to violence."

            Are you a female rapist denier or just an apologist?

          • Are you a troll or just an asshole?

          • Maximilian says:

            Wait, what happened to the DNL community where you can judge someone based on something they *don't* talk about?

          • celette482 says:

            Where's my clip from "The Social Network"?

            Rooney Mara, take it away….

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I'm pretty sure he's here mostly to post contrarian snark and wallow in self-pity. He's gotten one warning that I know of from the Doc already; I'll be surprised if he's still allowed to post tomorrow.

          • Maximilian says:

            I don't have any self-pity, never mind enough to wallow in. I get more than enough of it from other people when they're looking down at me in my chair to need to produce any for myself.

    • Ps. To clarify, I call myself a creeper because if someone employs a 'soft no' on me, about anything, business or personal, I will specifically request a yes or no.

      Soft No's are Very Rude to put on anyone, and I don't tolerate them. I don't creep, but I do not tolerate behavior that is in essence saying that another person isn't 'worth' the time it takes to say 'no'.

      Its not creepy to believe that humans are all equal and all equally deserving of the respect of an answer.

      • enail0_o says:

        You….know that rudeness is something that's determined collectively by society, right? You don't actually get to decide what's polite or rude totally unrelated to the social norms of the society you're in. Soft no's are in many cases considered the more polite option by our society; no matter how little you like them, your preferences don't override that.

      • Know what? People get to kill an interaction with a stranger or near stranger for any reason in as direct or indirect a manner as they choose. If you understand that it is a “No” what is the point of pushing for a more forceful answer? Unless you just want to try and make the person feel uncomfortable for saying “No” or push someone who is on the more timid side or someone from a culture where direct “No” is not done (e.g. Japan) into an interaction they do not want. This seems a little bullying to me.

      • etherealclarity says:

        I'm guessing that you would not get along very well in the US south.

      • The thing that is Very Rude is understanding someone's meaning but pressing them to make an unequivocal statement that they are not comfortable with. That is the definition intentionally pushing boundaries, and the definition of being a creep (and a dangerous one, at that).

        "I don't creep"? Bahahahahahahahahahaha no. What exactly do you think a creep is?

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Yeah, how dare someone not say "you're bothering me, please go away" to a person who goes on LONG RANTS using ALL CAPS about how rude it is when people do socially acceptable things instead of WHAT THEY WANT THAT PERSON TO DO! You are indeed an excellent example of why people employ the soft no. Because they DON'T KNOW if some guy is going to go on the real life equivalent of an ALL CAPS RANT if they try a straight up no, so they hedge against the FAIRLY LIKELY POSSIBILITY that shutting a guy down will turn SERIOUSLY UNPLEASANT.

      • Oh Poo. Lol. That's the most ridiculous logic ever. "They … m mm mmm MIGHT go on a rant if I say no … sob, this means I must just … treat them like they aren't even there."


        • @Jude, looks like you've finished trolling. We've seen countless evidence that some people go nuts if you tell them not to do behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable.

          My ego as a human being is not more important than someone feeling safe and secure. I know who I am and who I am becoming as a man. Other people who have just met me don't know those things yet. If I'm doing stuff that makes people feel uncomfortable, I'm happy to hear about that and get feedback. It's not disrespectful to me if it comes from people who genuinely want me to succeed and be the person I could be. So much chatter on this topic from the tin foil hat brigade revolves around the notion of ego and a lack of self awareness. The genuinely socially awkward want to improve. The creep wants to push boundaries at the expense of respecting other people.

      • By the way, I can see you are VERY satisfied with your comment. Its fairly oozing from in between your words how clever you believe yourself to be for being a troll and employing fallacy of thought.

        I'm not sure if you know this, but that's not entirely something to congratulate yourself on.

        Also, You will win this argument, because I'm leaving and will probably not find my way to this site again. 😉 So , to whatever vastly intelligent and 'totally awesome' comment you leave after this, I say "you're so right!!! you have obviously won the internet and I bow to your superior knowledge and Trollness!!!"

        Good night now, Sir Gentleman.

    • Georgia_D says:

      Wow. I'm not sure you're really up to being the etiquette police. I can understand that not getting a hard and fast yes or no is frustrating but if you lay off the yelling, name calling and the expectation that everyone should do as you want them to perhaps you'll get a few more yeses and a few less people ignoring you.

    • Bas Kleijweg says:

      I can understand your dislike of milquetoast folks who don't have the confidence to be curt and clear(or the social intelligence to distinguish between awkward and temper tantrum timebombs), but to treat it as anything else than a personal filtering mechanism is hilarious. It's the equivalent of the dudette who complains that guys need to be more forward when they're interested in her instead of bothering to have a conversation first-it is wholly dependent on personality type and preferred form of social interaction.

    • raindancing says:

      What do you think a "soft no" is?

      It's not ignoring someone who is right in front of you. Sometimes it might take the form of not replying to a message, but in in-person interactions, it looks more like this:

      M: Hey, would you like to dance?
      W: Sorry, I'm really tired tonight, I just want to talk to my friends. Thanks, though.

      How is that selfish, rude, or disrespectful?

      • For that matter, I'd say that a face-to-face refusal to acknowledge a person would be a HARDER no than an evasive excuse. One is abruptly shutting down the social interaction, the other is an attempt to gracefully and non-confrontationally remove oneself from the situation.

    • You aren't entitled to other people's attention just because you want to date them or have sex with them.

    • @Jude,

      So, do you accept restraining orders? Court summons? I'm sorry but when did another person give up their right to not give you or anyone else the response you wanted?

      If you're not respecting someone not being interested then why should they respect you?

    • Don't feed the troll, people.

    • Seriously? You've never said to someone "Ooh, sorry, can't do it, I've got a thing"? Because that's a soft no, even if the thing really exists. I'm not convinced you actually understand what a soft no is.

    • GalifreyToday says:

      Man… I agreed with your statement before reading the whole thing…. and now I cannot take it back. You have a point. It is difficult for people to learn if they are not given boundaries. So sometimes a situation calls for a hard response. These events have shaped me in the past and continue to do so in the future. This is one of the founding principles of ethical behavior (Virtue Ethics.. ). So, yes I agree that it is very rude for someone to assume a soft no should be a considered a good enough response.

      However, the descriptions she described above is far from just a soft no. If the person already violated so much personal space and THEN stills a hard response to find where he stands, that labels him as a creeper. Your post is just trolling…

    • Kathleen says:

      The thing is though, why would you continue to pursue someone if he/she never responds to you anyway? Doesn't not responding indicate that the person clearly isn't into you, and you should move on?

      I mean it is true that sometimes when someone doesn't reply it doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to talk to you because they could just be busy. Although if you give it some time and you never hear back, obviously the person isn't interested in talking to you.

      I know it's nice to get a direct "No" as closure to the situation but you can't expect that you're going to get that and after some time has gone by and you haven't heard back, you really should assume that the person is not interested and just move on.

      Some people are also afraid to say "No" to someone directly and there is a legit reason to be afraid of saying it to someone. I don't like to tell a guy "No" directly to his face. I will online but in person I'm afraid to do so, especially if no one else is around because I don't know if he's one of those guys who might react violently to being told "No." If the guy is a stranger and I don't know him at all I really have absolutely no idea what his personality is like and if he's one of those people who will totally flip out on me. We're not trying to be rude and disrespectful to the guy by not directly saying "No", we're just trying to protect ourselves.

      In the article, the example of the girl from Hot Topic not directly saying "No" to the guy….she was probably rather afraid to directly say no. He had already managed to look her up online and knows where she works. She might have also not wanted to upset a customer of the store.

  38. I think it's worth playing the Mad card here:

    -Actual predators are unlikely to read this. More importantly, they're not going to care.

    -Having the whole group ostracize someone for being called a "creep" is not a good answer. That just leads to the group siding with whoever is more popular, and ostracizing the actually socially awkward. Which when things shake out, means that socially awkward girls will feel like there's even more risk to airing their concerns about the more popular guys who know who to target.

    -Guys who are actually socially awkward will alternately hover for fear of taking action that could be seen as "creepy" (while their passive hovering places them quite firmly into that camp), or else running off of scripts that work okay in fiction but bomb horribad in reality. Admit it, fedorabeard's approach could easily be the meet-cute from a romantic comedy. Saying not to do something without giving alternate scripts probably won't take so well.

    So I guess the question is. Who do you realistically hope is listening, and what do you realistically hope they do?

    • Anthea Brainhooke says:

      Unfortunately, even serial creeps and sexual predators sometimes don't get ostracised from social groups.

      This column by Captain Awkward is a damn fine example of the "bros before ho's" mentality protecting creeps from the consequences of their behaviour.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      So I guess the question is. Who do you realistically hope is listening, and what do you realistically hope they do?

      Socially awkward people and I hope they (drum roll) read the archive so that they can practice getting better at dealing with people instead of complaining that they should be given a chance because they're really cool people once you get to know them or blaming women for their lack of success because attractive guys can get away with anything.

      • OtherRoooToo says:


        It amazes me how often the "Butbutbut – socially awkward!!!11!!" – for men, at least – is set up as the binary of "Take no action / continue to complain" OR "Take bad cues from fiction and continue to annoy, frighten, & upset people".

        Especially by those who pride themselves on their "logic" and "rationality".

        What happened to taking the third option of "Educate yourself / learn to do things differently / read the archives because that's what they're there for?"

        After all – that same third option is frequently the ONLY one socially awkward women are presented with.

        • Maximilian says:

          Why is "Stop approaching entirely" never seen as an option when it comes to these hypothetical decisions?

          • enail0_o says:

            Since this is a dating advice site, I think it reasonable to assume that the target audience is looking for options that would allow them to continue to try dating. It's not 100% correct – you're certainly not the only person here who has decided to stop approaching – but still a pretty reasonable assumption.

          • Maximilian says:

            A large percentage of people who regularly comment on here and the forums are in relationships.

            Some people just aren't meant to date, it took me long enough to realise I was one of them so I don't like the option being swept under the carpet.

          • I don't really believe that anyone is 'meant to' or 'not meant to' do anything, but fair enough. Not trying to date is an option.

            Yes, there are a fair number of commenters in relationships – but they are not the people to whom the advice is usually directed.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You know, I think there might be an article in the archives along the lines of "how to know when its time to not date for a while". For a dating advice column to have touched on that even once is pretty unusual.

          • Maximilian says:

            It should be mentioned more often (not exclusive to this site). Endless droning clichés of there being someone for everyone and the like probably got my hopes up for no reason for 18 months after I should have given up.

          • enail0_o says:

            You know, I can't recall the Doc ever saying that there's someone for everyone. But also, do you really expect that a dating advice site is going to be the right place to go when you're looking to be told not to date?

          • Maximilian says:

            It is good advice to some people.

          • Well, sure. For some people (such as myself) the only useful advice for doing crafts would be, "Never buy a hot glue gun, OMG you'll burn your house down," but Martha Stewart's job isn't to give advice to those people. Her job is to provide tips and ideas for the hot glue gun purchasers of the world.

          • enail0_o says:

            It is. I'd think a more generalized advice site would be a more likely place to get it though.

          • Maximilian says:

            I disagree, the concept of going through life never "finding someone" not being the cripplingly awful thing mainstream media portrays it to be would be exactly the sort of option I'd want to read about on here.

          • enail0_o says:

            I think there was an article that touched on that a while back, but yeah, I can see there could be room for something stronger. In the comments, I think you'll likely get better responses on that front if you frame it as wanting advice/support/models for a choice rather than as feeling like you have to give up b/c dating is hopeless (which is more likely to get encouraging or otherwise pro-dating responses). I think there are a lot of people here who agree that one can have a very happy life without a romantic partner, and that it would be good to see more messages to that effect.

          • Maximilian says:

            If it was a direct choice I'd frame it that way and I'm sure it is for other people. Yes I'm choosing not to the seemingly endless list of things that would possibly, maybe, mean I'm back to blindly believing my luck would change but being in a position where I have that decision to make certainly wasn't a choice.

            I'm not surprised it gets pro-dating responses because, for the majority of people on here and the forum, getting to the mid to late 20s having never been kissed, had someone interested or their interest reciprocated is an alien concept to them.

          • enail0_o says:

            I think you're really overestimating how unusual that is. I've certainly known people in that situation, and I suspect lots of the other posters here do too (and plenty are in that situation themselves).

            Okay, even if it's not your preferred or totally free choice, if you ask people here to focus on the 'being happy without dating' part rather than the 'no one will ever want to date me' part, I think they will.

          • Maximilian says:

            I won't argue the numbers because the only way of knowing for sure would be to poll them all but there certainly isn't many in that situation. Knowing someone in that situation doesn't mean much, all my old group of friends are either engaged or already married and having kids – it certainly didn't rub off on me.

            They're not the same thing though. If you follow the articles and recent forum posts "being happy without dating" is a set-up to finding someone. It always comes with that caveat whenever it used as a piece of advice.
            If I was sat here saying dating is a sham and it never works for anyone I'd see where you're coming from. I'm not, I just know it isn't supposed to happen for people like me.
            There are plenty of websites, message boards and chatrooms with people like me, we're not the stereotype that Hollywood and other mainstream outlets preach – the sex pests who are religiously reading "The Game" or other pseudo-science crap about picking up women, following them around on Facebook and Twitter barraging them until they give us 5 seconds of attention. We're not "Nice Guys" I certainly don't believe I'm remotely capable of being sexually attractive to anyone – nevermind entitled to being such.
            If the stigma regarding "kissless virgins" wasn't there or the idea of giving up on dating wasn't set up as some sort of coward's way out and that, regardless of results and how miserable it makes you, you need to carry on with nothing but blind faith keeping you going I'd have realised this 18 months to 2 years ago.

          • I agree with you that it would be good to have more acknowledgement that some people will not find relationships, and that those people aren't horrific stereotypes. But again, I think it's sort of unavoidable that a dating advice site will be pro continuing to try and date.

            More personally, my thoughts are that it's a big world and there's amazing variety in what people like and are attracted to, so it's pretty likely that any given person could find a relationship if they make the effort to present themselves well, are persistent and intelligent about how they go about it. I think deciding it's not what you want to do or that it's not worth it are totally reasonable options – but there are so many people who seem to jump to the conclusion that there's no way anyone could find them attractive when it's almost certain that someone out there who is like them in all the ways that make them think they're not attractive, IS in a relationship with someone who finds them attractive. So it seems like unnecessary beating yourself up to believe it's impossible.

          • Maximilian says:

            I'd say I've been beating myself up considerably less since realising it isn't possible than I was when I was sending 80 odd messages on a dating site to either no reply or something akin to "not interested in cripples, sorry"

          • I'm glad it is an improvement for you, though I'm sorry you had that horrible shit happen :(

          • Maximilian says:

            Why thank you.

    • As a woman reading this, I hope that men who enable and make excuses for creepers consider the argument. Not all creeping is friend-on-friend. Sometimes it happens between people who don't know each other very well, and it would be nice if men I know don't make excuses for strangers and if men the strangers know consider staging creeper interventions with their buddies.

      When it comes to creeping within social groups, I think I'd be happy to some extent if people stopped with the rationalization. If they'd rather hang out with a popular dude who's creeping than me, so be it. I'd rather have that choice made honestly, so I can assess the person making it accordingly and exit the group without being the bad guy, rather than being painted as a mean unfair judgmental woman who's holding an otherwise socially adept person's awkwardness against him.

      As for alternate scripts, this site is full of them.

      • roderick says:

        I agree, I would hope those who make excuses for creepy/awkward people who ignore or fail to perceive boundries would pay attention and change their behavior – so that when they see their acquaintance ignore a boundy and scare someone, that they take that acquaintance aside to explain what the boundry they missed was snd ehy it's important to look for and respect it, instead of taking the person whose boundry was ignored aside to try and convince them they didn't have a right to set boundries gor themselves in the first place.

        • celette482 says:

          Right. If you're really that worried about your awkward friends, tell them when they are crossing other people's boundaries instead of hand-waving it. It'd be like teaching someone to drive but not correcting them when they come too close to other cars or cross over the center line because "The other cars should know he's learning to drive and get out of the way."

          • It's frankly also a kindness to your friends. If I were doing something that made other people uncomfortable, do you think I'd rather 1) continue obliviously trampling people's boundaries, then wonder why nobody seems to want to hang out with me; 2) get told off a stranger or acquaintance who is angry about my boundary-trampling; or 3) be taken aside by a friend and have the situation tactfully explained to me by someone who presumably cares about me and doesn't want me to be a boundary-trampler? Option three would be an uncomfortable conversation, to be sure, but it's certainly the one I'd pick.

  39. Maximilian says:

    You misunderstand bblackmoor. It is all about the capitalization of these terms.

    I have no idea how you're supposed to work out whether the person calling you a "nice guy" is using the lower case or capitalized version when in the verbal form but, luckily, I don't need to know.

    • enail0_o says:

      Air quotes or a sarcastic facial expression, IME.

      • Maximilian says:

        Well, there we go folks.

        Go get 'em.

        • enail0_o says:

          Every time I've heard it used IRL, it's been very clear from context – if you're getting friends telling you you're a nice guy, I don't think you need to worry that they're really saying you're dishonest and entitled.

          • Maximilian says:

            Oh that comment was heaving in sarcasm – I know that when my friends tell me I'm "a nice guy" it's a substitute for "there's someone for everyone" or "it'll happen some day" because they have already worked out how those 2 clichés do more to put me off the concept of me dating than pretty much anything else they could say.

          • I know it was sarcastic. But you'd said something similar that sounded more earnest earlier, so I ignored the sarcasm and plowed ahead! I'm obnoxious that way.

  40. I agree with the points you make, and as a woman (I do feel being a woman gives me more leverage with my point), I feel this girl took it too far. She could have said all these things without posting it on the internet, thus earning her the attention she may have been seeking while writing this overly aggressive reply to this guy with the intentions of posting it on Tumblr where all can see. Posting it was a bitch move, childish, and completely unnecessary.

    The guy was completely wrong to keep going, but so was the girl for posting this shit. No wonder this hair-brain works at Hot Topic.

    • Maybe she posted it because when women talk about harassment online, guys are constantly like "prove it." Maybe she posted it because people need to SEE that this stuff is happening, that she isn't "making it up for attention" (wow, you're really gonna go for the 'she may have been seeking attention' line?), that this is a problem lots of women encounter over and over again.

      Go check out Kotaku or Reddit in threads about harassment. There are constant replies that the male poster has never had any female friends who experienced this problem, so it must not exist!

      Maybe women who are constantly getting harassed are just sick of being called liars, and sick of how prevalent a problem it is.

    • I have very little patience for this idea that "doxxing" is the worst sin that people can commit against each other.

      • And the man was no innocent. He tracked her down online rather than directly asking her for her contact information, a rather large breach in social protocol.

        • She also ignored him and let the conversation trail off several times before writing the "overly aggressive" refusal.

          • The aggressive refusal must have been a tough call for her because he knows where she works and that could have some very real repercussions from complaints to her manager to accosting her going to and from work. He had already waved a red flag with the stalking.

          • Her final reply was 8 days after the interactions started, and apparently a day after he made a second trip to her workplace. I'm actually wondering if she talked to her manager about the problem before responding. I worked retail for a few years when younger, and I found that managers were pretty evenly divided between people who were themselves creeps, people who put up with any kind of customer behavior, and people who were concerned with protecting their employees and who'd ban disruptive customers from stores. I'm hoping her manager was in the last category.

          • One of my good friends had something similar happened in the preinternet days. A customer followed her to her car and left notes on it and lingered around the store (but always bought something). When she ignored his overtures he complained to her manager that she was a rude salesperson. When she said “No” her car was mysteriously keyed and he complained again to her manager. She explained to the manager and showed him the notes. He fired her for being a disruptive influence on the workplace. Plus side was the customer could not find her again. Downside she was out a job she had worked through most of college that helped pay the bills and had no reference.

            This was a long time ago before stalking was considered anything except romantic so hopefully a similar scenario would not play out this way today. But with economic times as they are maybe firing the awkward situation would still be the first choice.

          • Oh. Yikes. That's absolutely awful. I sold shoes and lots of dudes are a little fetishy about that. The ones who kept it to the shoes themselves were fine, but every now and then there'd be a stalky customer who transferred his interest to the woman or girl selling them. I was lucky enough to have a manager who wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior, but it doesn't surprise me that some people would rather fire a victim than ban a harasser from the store.

          • chinchilla says:

            Holy hell that's awful! That manager is the worst!

            While I was working over christmas a couple of years ago there was a guy who would come into the shop pretty regularly, never buy anything and just stand there and stare at me while messing around with the merchandise. Sometimes he'd talk to me about how nice my smile was, or how great I was with customers, or that I looked like his daughter. In a small shop at a busy time there was no way I could get away from him, and he'd always, always scarper when my manager was on the shop floor (who was not so coincidentally the only man that worked there). But seriously, every time you look around the store (part of my job) after dealing with a customer to find someone staring at you waiting to catch your eye for an hour at a time, blerghhhh.

            He never did anything more than that, but when I eventually told my manager (going "I know this sounds silly but I'm very uncomfortable) he was immediately supportive, and suggested I get hold of security or himself next time the guy appeared). I only saw him once after that (when he followed me around the shopping complex on my break, all very "accidental").

            The thing was, once I knew my manager had my back and that there was something I could actually do regarding the guy's seemingly inoffensive behaviour it really didn't bother me as much. The fact that creepy dude who staring at me would be told to fuck off and that I didn't have to put up with it made the whole thing easier to bear (that and the fact that I was no longer working every day so dude had to try and guess my schedule which changed every day – hah!).

            I find dealing with creepasauruses so much easier outside of a work environment! Especially work environments where I have to deal with them face to face.

    • Imma just leave this here.

      (Add "attention whore!" to the first panel.)

  41. Sorry, let me better clarify:

    I agree with the points the writer makes to an extent, and as a woman (I do feel being a woman gives me more leverage with my point), I feel this girl took it too far. She could have said all these things without posting it on the internet, thus NOT earning her the attention she may have been seeking (planning) while writing this overly aggressive reply to this guy with the intentions of posting it on Tumblr where all can see. Anyway, posting it was a bitch move, childish and completely unnecessary.

    And the only reason why I'm focusing so much on the girl is because others have failed to call her out on her attention-whoring, or have at least failed to bring it to other people's attention (from what I've read).

    The guy was completely wrong to keep going (as everyone has spoken about again and again–we get it), but so was the girl for airing dirty laundry she should have kept between them. No wonder this hair-brain works at Hot Topic (sorry to people with common sense working at that store).

    • Why was it meant to be a private conversation? Why should it have been kept between them? This was a complete stranger who hunted her down and didn't respect her boundaries, and you think she should reward the behaviour because . . . why?

      Sure she got negative feedback by posting what she did. She also started a very important conversation that resulted in a blog post here by a very popular blogger. I think she was very smart to publicly call out this man's BS. It got a conversation started and she had no moral obligation to keep his advances private.

    • five second rule says:

      it's because it isn't attention whoring. Maybe she thought she might be able to inspire other people to employ a hard no when a soft no wasn't working, or perhaps she felt that if there was someone she knew who thought the man's behavior was ok, he needed to be educated on the appropriate way to respond to someone clearly ignoring him. But the truth is, even if she wanted attention, I'm still glad she posted it. Regardless of her intentions, the world can use more examples of how we should be able to stand up for ourselves.

    • I disagree. Fear of causing a scene is one of the tools harassers use to get away with harassment.

      • Exactly this. Plus, it puts women in a double bind. If you cause a scene like this woman did or like I recently did, the conversation turns to how it was equally bad to react loudly to harassment. If you don't cause a scene, then all the apologists talking about how people don't always understand soft nos come out of the woodwork.

        • He also tracked her down online AND knows where she works. Having everything public increases his exposure and reduces the risk of him doing anything else (e.g. following her home)

    • @Memi, attention whoring? Seriously?

      This guy basically stalks some random woman he's met on Facebook. He gets no response or encouragement to continue but keeps going anyway but how dare she post details of the conversation anywhere because god forbid we should not take into account the feelings of a guy who stalks someone online and doesn't stop pushing her boundaries even when it's clear that she doesn't want to talk to him.

      It's not airing dirty laundry to talk about harassment. Far too many people are expected to put up with this crap unless they commit the crime of "making a scene" in public. I've spent weeks now going round various guys basically spreading the message of "cut that shit out" because they're behaviour was making women feel uncomfortable. I'm happy to do that but it shows how reluctant women are to "make a scene" or challenge guys behaviour directly.

      Also,the guy is a dick. Sorry but she works in a shop. He could have gone back into the shop, talked to her, asked her out and respected her decision. But oh no, he had to opt for Facebook stalking because that is so the way to go these days. I'm not even going to assume the guy lacked confidence because to do so would be an insult to guys who do lack confidence but aren't dicks about it.

      Harassment and creepy shit is not okay. It's not some feminist attack on well meaning men. It's simply that behaviour that makes people feel uncomfortable needs to be stopped.

      • I find the accusations of "attention whoring" the weirdest of all, both here and on the Kotaku article. And they ALWAYS seem to pop up in cases of harassment. Like some weird, twisted version of "she was asking for it"….
        what, she *made* herself get harassed online? Why the hell would she want that attention? Why would she want the attention of the dozens (hundreds?) of Kotaku and Reddit assholes who could easily take the information she posted and harass her MORE for daring to speak out?

        Like on what level is posting this online beneficial for her, as an individual, when weighted out? It isn't. It probably took a lot of guts and courage to not only confront the guy, but to post the conversation to Tumblr in the first place, where she was bound to know how much scrutiny she'd be up against.

        • It was the posting it online and what forum she posted it in that brings accusations of "attention whoring".
          She didn't post it to rape prevention forums, she didn't post it to any site that tries to inform young girls about the behaviors of stalkers or creepy guys who victimize girls. She posted it on Tumblr. An image-sharing site that is heavily fueled by users trying to get "notes" by posting entertaining images. She did it solely to help grow her e-reputation, and it looks like it worked wonders.

          Don't believe the medium is the sole indicator? She also didn't frame it in any sort of "watch out for people like this" or "this is how to stand your ground against a creep", no. She posted it with the title "had to shut a bitch down today" and tagged it with things like "sometimes you just have to be a fucking cunt to people" and "he blocked me after this, laughed so hard I thought I was gonna have a fucking stroke". This was posted for hilarity and attention, let's try not to have any illusions about that.

          If you don't know how much people can care about their e-reputation, I suggest you do some looking around at sites like that and find out. People post lots of things on the internet just for attention.

          • eselle28 says:

            She's not just trying to educate women who are actively looking for tips about rape prevention. She's trying to educate the public at large, including men, about the kind of shit that women have to put up with. Frankly, most rape victims and young girls already know that this sort of behavior happens.

            Yes, she did it while she was angry. I'd say she has the right to be.

          • No, she's trying to get people to laugh and share the picture with others because the guy is an asshat and his douchebaggery is unbelievable to a hilarious degree for most. Go follow the comment threads:

            Tumblr has very large portions of its userbase that are very much anti-male, anti-fedorabeard, anti-exactly this type of thing. They're pretty aware of what kinds of stuff women put up with and very much against this type of behavior. Given that you choose what circles you connect with on that site, you can pretty much guarantee that this mostly spread around to people who are, like you said, already aware of this type of behavior.

            She posted it for humor.

          • eselle28 says:

            People should share this, and if they find some humor in someone standing up for herself for a change, I don't mind that either.

            It's not just a Tumblr thing. It went mainstream, and now more people are aware of this behavior. Sadly, I don't think that would have happened if she'd posted it quietly in some corner on a rape prevention forum.

          • That's a fair assessment, if not a little disheartening that people feel tumblr is a better outlet than a site about rape prevention or harassment.
            But I'm not talking about what the post has done now that it's out of her hands. Everyone knows these neckbeard fedora guys, this reads like the script that literally every single person would write if they were given the premise "Fedora/trenchcoat-wearing guy talks to normal, (mostly) well-adjusted Hot Topic employee that he finds attractive."

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm with you. Those creepers should definitely get a new script. I'd rather read it 1,000 times than one woman think she's alone and there's nothing she can do.

          • eselle28 says:

            Why's it disheartening? Tumblr and Facebook appear to be this woman's usual internet hangouts. Why wouldn't she feel more comfortable talking about her experience there, just as she would in her local bar, than to a group of strangers on an unfamiliar forum?

            The fact that it was on Tumblr gave it a chance to go viral. She may have intended that, and she may not have. I think it's a valid goal, however. Tumblr fans may be all too familiar with this type of story, but a Tumblr post is a lot more likely to make it to a mainstream audience than one in a specialized forum that very well may be locked down a bit to protect victims.

            Also, no one has contested the story's truth. If this fits into an all-too-common narrative, maybe it's a sign that it's an all-too-common problem.

          • I mean it's disheartening because some feel that a site that is mostly used for posting animated gifs of cartoons/anime/tv shows, funny jokes/conversations, and porn, has more of an impact on social justice and awareness than a site that is specifically tailored to fighting for such causes in a serious and honest manner. That's not to say that Tumblr can't be serious, but for the most part it's just a timesink website for teen through college kids that are procrastinating doing their homework.

            On your last point, that's exactly what I mean, I am not contesting the story's truth. Well, this is probably a more outrageous example to be honest, but for the most part, yeah.

          • eselle28 says:

            Again, this timesink website is probably a place where she had friends and confidantes. If she feels good about telling her story there, she should tell it there. If she also wants to tell it in more targeted, more supportive places, she should do that too. And it's always been the case that mainstream media is less serious and has more impact than issues-oriented niche media.

            The fact that you're tired of being told a particular true story doesn't mean that other people shouldn't tell it, or should skitter off to some quiet corner of the internet where you don't have to hear it. That's not empowering or heartening. That's marginalizing. My somewhat minimal understanding of Tumblr is that it's possible to unfollow people there. If that's correct, you should be able to make up your own feed so that it doesn't contain people who post stories you dislike.

          • Like I said, it didn't have anything to do with friends or confidantes. It had to do more with fans and followers. She didn't do it to feel good or safe, she did it for "the lulz". That's all well and good, but nobody needs to be holding this up as some paragon of social justice doing what she has to in order to fight the good fight.

            I'm not tired of anything, I don't know where you even got that from. I don't follow this person on tumblr. I would, judging by her LOTR/Hobbit-based blog, as she posts lots of things relevant to my interest, but that's another matter. Tumblr is not mainstream media. Unless by "mainstream media" you mean "gender-swapping, sexually explicit fanfictions of everything you never thought about in a sexually explicit way" media, in which case, sure.

            What I'm saying this story is not unusual and it surprises literally zero people on that website. It has nothing to do with being tired of it, or not caring about it, or thinking that it's fake. Granted, many people actually DID think it's fake because a professional comedy-writer couldn't have come up with a better parody of the situation, but that's beside the point. No one is saying that she was wrong or doesn't have the right to be scared/offended/feel uncomfortable whatever, I'm saying it isn't what it's being made out to be.

          • Creepers don't read sites about rape prevention.

          • eselle28 says:

            More importantly, the people who make excuses for creeps and enable them don't read sites about rape prevention. I'm pretty skeptical about the possibility of convincing creeps of the error of their ways. I think some of the people who enable them can be convinced.

          • Nor do they read articles like these, or if they do, they just toss them aside and say "that doesn't apply to me, I'm ACTUALLY socially awkward! Wahhhhh" and then they go and keep doing it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Except that we've seen people who make excuses in the comments and we've seen people who have been labeled creepy in the comment go "oh, that's what's going on!"

          • @Rob,

            She can post that where she wants. The idea that we should respect the feelings of a guy who showed no respect to her feelings or boundaries is ridiculous.

          • Right. No one is saying otherwise.

    • I haven't been paying attention to this thing. Maybe she posted unedited screenshots that listed the dude's full name (which I highly doubt), maybe someone else dropped it. Either of those would be remarkably bad form.

      Aside from that, all we know is that some guy did this stuff. It's not her trying to get attention. It's not trying to shame a specific person. It's just showing that this behavior exists. Please explain why this is bad.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Its a reasonable assumption that since she works at Hot Topic and had this guy creeping on her, she also gets positive attention at work. If she wanted attention for herself she's got plenty of ways to get it. When the (mostly female) group I'm with goes to local (non-geek) events in costume or puts on shows, no one complains that they just want attention. These are activities are genuinely about getting attention (or publicity if you prefer). So its reasonable to assume that posting this conversation to the Internet was about getting attention for the situation not for providing external validation to the person.

  42. wonderbink says:

    In my experience, socially awkward people blame themselves when the conversation doesn't go the way they hoped–they don't blame the other person for not being understanding of how gosh-darned socially awkward they are.

    • FreddieAppsHero says:

      That's why I've been trying to drink myself to death since I was 18.

      Doesn't work.

  43. LadyPeyton says:

    My daughter is on the spectrum and one of her symptoms is that she doesn't recognize personal space. It's something we've been teaching her, but it's not an innate thing to her like it is to most people and it never will be. We*are* teaching her. It's one of the things she goes to weekly social skills classes for, but it's never going to be an innate thing to her and she *will* slip up. I would *hope* that people would know to acknowledge that this is a very real issue amongst spectrum people and make some kind of allowance for them, considering that they are a population that makes up a very large percentage of nerd culture. Does this excuse all creepers? No, because when told they are invading someone's space they should back off, but that initial slip up is very much not their fault, if they are on the spectrum and have that particular symptom. A symptom, by the way, that is very common among spectrum people considering several other kids in her social skills class also have it.

  44. rebeccaamytodd says:

    Great post Doc. If I can add from my own experience, sometimes giving a "hard no" opens yourself up to a whole new level of harassment. I have, in the past, tried being honest, only to be insulted for my efforts. "You think you're too good/hot/smart/ for me" or "you think I am not rich/successful/ripped enough for you." Don't put words in my mouth, thoughts in my head. And these are the nice ones. "You're a stuck up bitch" has also been thrown at me. Or…they push back and, much like telemarketers, require me to repeatedly tell them no. And this is via places like Face and Twitter- I spent 3 days on a dating site and pulled my profile after all the abuse that was slung at me- I'd rather be single for life then endure cruelty like that. So next time a woman avoids giving a straight up no, consider that some other rude jerks may have been cruel to her for being honest in the past.

    Gents, is there some version of the same thing that women do when you turn them down?

  45. While I don't condone some of the listed behavior, when you see it in discussed in articles you almost always see it discussed for "socially awkward", "creepy", and "nerdy" guy and there are whole websites about this kind of behavior at sci-fi conventions and such but apparently it seems to be far more acceptable in most typical environment such as bars, frat parties, etc. I think that perhaps since this demographic has already been dehumanized for being "socially awkward" and "creepy" that it allows for a greater emphasis on stereotypes without regard for the fact that overwhelmingly majority of those who are labeled "creepy" aren't labeled it for behavior such as randomly giving people massages or what have you but the way they might walk into a room, awkwardly try and strike a conversation only to start uncontrollably stutter, or have questionable fashion sense. This and similar article also don't take into account that there are actual disabilities/disorders/etc that make it extremely difficult for an individual to have the typically expected level of sensitivity, ability to pick up on social cues, etc. However since people with various disabilities have already been dehumanized in society and dehumanized again for their social differences it is pretty easy to herd them together and has already made every woman in the room uncomfortable by their mere presence it isn't difficult for them to become an easy target. If he's already shaking like a leaf or can't say his name without stuttering he already has the deck stacked against him in terms of being labeled a "creeper" and I'm sure that the majority of "creeper" labels are because of this not because their actual behavior was as described.

    I have certainly seen some of the aforementioned behavior and find it unacceptable but faulting a person as a predator because they can't take a hint is incredibly unfair but it certainly doesn't justify someone walking around deciding that cosplay is consent for playing ass-grab. It obviously doesn't help if your reaction to a given behavior is to giggle, smile and act like its charming either. You have to firmly, in the moment, say it is wrong and make it clear to not only the person doing it but the people around them that you feel it unacceptable. There are too many women who hide behind not wanting to be labeled as a social pariah or fearing for a sudden drop in their moment's popularity and refuse to act in the moment only to turn around and have strength behind the great wall of the Internet.

    • Fraternities absolutely have their problems with creepy behavior, and to the extent I pay attention to them, it seems like there's at least some attempt at a dialogue about it. Those particular manifestations of rape culture tend to be talked about in different language, because different excuses are generally made for geeks than are made for frat boys.

      I do think that geek circles have a slightly worse problem with tolerating creeps than average. Behavior generally tends to be worse in closed groups (that would include fraternities, sports teams, religious organizations, and pretty much anywhere else with strong in-group affiliations) because people are unwilling to ostracize or criticize even fairly egregious behavior. Geekdom isn't as closed as some of those circles, but I think some of the Geek Social Fallacies lead to similar results. I think people have an obligation to try to clean up their own groups, and if geeks are ahead of some other groups when it comes to this, I'd say it's a good thing.

      The overwhelming majority of people I know who have been labeled as creepy have done something to earn that title. They're not just stutterers. They're followers and touchers and stalkers and people who won't take no for an answer. As for the rest, there's extensive discussion above that shows just what the consequences are for people who speak loudly (as someone who just finished speaking up loudly against someone who touched me without my permission, I have to say that my geeky circle hasn't exactly come out and applauded me for saying no clearly).

      • celette482 says:

        Yep. I should add that the guy who molested me on the bus? He was also very shy and quiet. and got made fun of.

        And. I. Stood. Up. For. Him. I stood up for him against the bullies and told them to knock it off.

        And then. And THEN he assaulted me. After that. He made that choice. He made that shitty shitty choice and it had precisely fuck all to do with his behavior before.

    • raindancing says:

      "You have to firmly, in the moment, say it is wrong and make it clear to not only the person doing it but the people around them that you feel it unacceptable."

      Fuck that. You have to, in the moment, do whatever is necessary to ensure your personal safety. Bonus if you can also ensure the safety of others. Nervous laughter (which commonly reads as giggling to people who aren't paying attention) is a fear response.

    • Catiline says:

      Wait, so – the socially awkward man should be given more slack than (you believe) he's currently given for not knowing how to behave in everyday social situations…

      … but the socially awkward woman who is being harassed or assaulted (a situation where there are no perfect responses, and where the victim's shock/shame/anger/fear frequently make it much more difficult for her to come up with a response than in a normal social situation) should be condemned for freezing up or for responding in a way you deem imperfect, even if she does it to try and protect herself?

      And, of course, I'm not saying *only* socially awkward women are harassed, or that women who aren't socially awkward wouldn't have the same reaction. I'm just making the point that, as discussed earlier, the whole "we need to give the socially awkward some slack" argument is never extended to socially awkward VICTIMS, who are criticised if they don't respond in a very specific way (and the idea of the "right" response differs from person to person).

      Worse, you seem to be saying that a victim who doesn't respond in this precise way is in some way responsible for perpetuating creepiness ("it obviously doesn't help…").

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      The reason you see the socially awkward/creeper thing more in fan circles is twofold:
      1. Conventions and the like are known to attract people who have social issues and predators.
      2. There's a movement in fan circles to discuss these things openly and deal with them. At a frat party you're more likely to get "oh yeah, Frank likes to suck on people's toes while they're asleep but he's harmless and a really great guy".

  46. Love the Article, but why is it so Gender Exclusive? As if Gender has anything to do with being Socially Awkward. Just a thought.

    • Why are Random words Capitalized in your comment?

      In any case, this isn't an article about being socially awkward. It's an article about how being creepy *isn't the same as being socially awkward.*

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Because this is a blog for men who want to get better at dealing with women. So the advice, both what to do and what not to do, is aimed primarily at men.

    • Shea D Laedi says:

      What I’m going to say is probably going to make some people upset but I’m going to say it anyway. I am not one to perpetuate gender as a use to status quo and I hope my comment won’t read as such. It is reality that in most cases a man is more capable of overpowering a woman than a woman overpowering a man. There are cases, I’m sure, especially considering an age gap where the latter is the case. However, on average if a typical sized female pushes the boundaries of a typically sized male there is a definant right of the man to assert his boundaries. I just think that *oh shit i might be in immediate danger of bodily harm* feeling is not as strong as with a man pushing the boundaries of a woman. I know there are cases where a woman could be a karate master or have a knife tucked away somewhere. But in a likely scenario where a man and a woman of average size are experiencing this kind of behavior from the opposite sex, the woman might have a more fight or flight response than just a *yuck I need a bleach bath* feeling. I am a woman and I have had the physical force of a man exerted on me so my opinion may be biased but there it is.

      • Shea D Laedi says:

        My comment is laden with errors, I wish I put more thought into it but I hope the general point I was trying to make came through some how.

      • Shea D Laedi says:

        My comment is laden with errors and i wish i spent more time on it but i hope the general idea of my point somehow comes through.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      I think it has less to do with being socially awkward and more to do with pointing out that creeps (who are usually men) are not socially awkward like they claim to be.

  47. So yeah, I had one of these "socially awkward" and "really nice guys" interested in me. And I completely agree with the author here. Social awkwardness is no excuse whatsoever for going into someones bedroom and "borrowing" clothing items. In this case though, it was my mother who said I needed to give him a chance.

    Thing is, he wasn't ugly or particularly dis-likable – I just genuinely was not interested in him romantically. Even before he appeared odd to be around. Under normal circumstances that would be fine, but here I NEEDED to give him a chance because I didn't know him as "he hasn't let you get to know him." Why is it that if I met a popular jock and had a two minute discussion with him (learning very little about his character) and turned him down for a date it would be fine, but for me to turn this guy down on more than a dozen occasions was unreasonable?

    He would send me messages proclaiming his love for me, and I would always reply with "thank you very much for being honest, but I am simply not interested in you" or "I am seeing someone at the moment who I love dearly, I won't even consider your proposal". Under any normal conventions this would be highly inappropriate – but here is was "cute" because he didn't know what he was doing.

    He knew what he was doing. He was purposefully making a girl who had clearly stated she was uninterested feel uncomfortable and making her feel guilty and very much like the bad person. There weren't any ambiguities as to my feelings. He knew I didn't like him, but he thought he could win me over.

    I could only finally justify my "leave me the f*** alone" when he stayed over with my brother one night (not to see my brother, obviously), and my brother informed me in the morning that this guy creeped even him out. He had showed my brother wedding rings half the night, and snuck out when he thought my brother was sleeping to – wait for it – watch me sleep.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that even the most awkward of people would take no for an answer by this point – or at the very least NOT be looking for engagement rings.

    The point of this story is, I had a super "nice" guy creep me out for the later part of my teen years because he'd constantly apologize for how "clumsy" and "random" and "awkward" he was, as if it somehow justified his inappropriate behavior. I had to invent a buff boyfriend who would beat him to a pulp (in reality, my younger brother's idiot friend) for him to leave me alone.

    There's socially awkward. Then there's creepy stalker bordering on psycho awkward. The latter is simply not acceptable.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      "Borrowing" clothing items?
      Oh dear lord that is insanely creepy.
      I'm shocked anyone would try to justify his behavior after he stole your CLOTHING. UGH. That's awful.

  48. on the reverse, why do women get a free pass for doing nothing to identify their boundaries? why is -that- form of social awkward behavior somehow acceptable? why is the pusher, the one that toes the line and finds it thru experimentation, the one that takes it on the chin? where is the argument about how women should, especially in this age of alleged female assertion progress, define the lines early on to avoid the entire situation? there isn't one. for all their bravado, women are just as terrible at this as anyone else, if not worse because they're too concerned about turning someone down. isn't sex sacred enough for the girl to devalue the possibility of hurting someone's feelings a bit and give him an actual negative response? when did "no" become so impossible ?

    why should i, according to this article, look the other way when a girl is clamoring around in her head and telling me nothing about her boundaries? why do we have to sit on our hands and wait months for it, or worse, guess by pushing against the line? out with it. save me the trouble. if you have some sort of problem with me, fine. i'll talk to someone else that isn't bothered by it. i don't have thousands of years to wait for someone that can't decide for themselves whether to engage me in conversation or run screaming into the nite.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      You and Jude should go out together. There'd be no confusion on either side.

      More seriously, they do let you know. They let you know by disengaging from the conversation, by turning away, by moving to the other side of the room. As for why they don't just say "hey, back off" see the entire rest of the comments section. Why should you deal with it? You don't have to. If you prefer not to because social calibration is too hard, then simply don't approach in the first place or find someone who engages in a clear an explicit manner.

    • eselle28 says:

      Women are telling you what their boundaries are all the time. That woman who took a step back when you were talking to her? She doesn't want you standing so close, and she definitely doesn't want you touching her. The woman who says she's busy every time you ask her to do something socially? She doesn't want to hang out with you. The woman who gave you a one-word answer to your question and excused herself from the conversation? She's not interested in talking to you. The woman who doesn't respond to your texts or your online messages? She's not interested in talking to you, either. You don't need to wait months. You just need to pay attention to the people around you.

      I also think it's a little troublesome that we're talking about soft nos and non-verbal communication as if they're things only women do. Men use these exact same social tools. In most of our dating experiences, men are more often the aggressors, but when women approach guys do the same things. Men also regularly use these tools in non-dating situations. Just today, I've had a guy not return my online message, a business acquaintance respond to my call with short answers and avoid small talk, and watched a male colleague make vague excuses about his travel schedule in response to a third party's generalized invitation to have lunch.

      All of these things are considered normal and acceptable in the US, and in my experience, some of them are even more commonly relied upon in other cultures (I've definitely run into people for whom "maybe" or "tomorrow" are understood to mean "no way"). These general social tools don't suddenly become problematic when they're used by a woman in response to a man's sexual or romantic advances.

  49. Ugh. Reminds me of a time when I was about 16 and strongly pressured into going on a date by my employers and my mum (who was a friend of theirs) with one of their other employees who apparently fancied me. This meant that he then took my very reluctant agreement to see a film with him as a real date and tried to hold my hand, kiss me, etc etc. I would have said no to him, but didn't feel I could say no to them all. I became the fall girl for their desire to be nice to someone who was a bit socially inept. So yeah, please avoid socially pressurising people to go on dates with people they don't like 'to be nice'.

    • This is absolutely bizarre and I can't even believe that people would actually do that to someone. I feel for you.

  50. I really like this article, in no small part because I used to be socially awkward as well (so *many* years ago). And my mom continues to be as well.

    Yes, the socially awkward truly do not want to fuck up in this way. However, it's worth noting that now that this sham is uncovered, the creepy will just find some other way to be weaselly. It's what they do. It's how they found this particular bit of social cover in the first place. But hey, at least we're catching on.

  51. My question about this is how can you tell if the person is not seeing your messages because they are busy or what not? If I never talked to anyone again that didn't respond to me I would never talk to anyone. Everyone forgets to respond sometimes

    • eselle28 says:

      If you have an ongoing relationship and someone misses a text now and then, I think it's fine to send a second one later. That's not always the case with a stranger, though, and if you're at the point of asking someone why they're not replying to you then I think you should assume that the answer is "because they don't want to."

      • Viliphied says:

        I'm pretty sure the doc has said something like "once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, three times is a signal." I think it's a good rule of thumb, if you send 3 messages (no more than one per day) with no response, they probably just don't want to talk to you, but not responding to one message generally doesn't mean anything. I know there have been plenty of times where I've seen a message, thought "oh I'm busy now I'll respond in a bit" and then completely forgotten about it.

        However there are some caveats: if you're messaging a stranger (say on OKC or something) and they don't respond, chances are they aren't interested/don't remember you/don't want to talk to you. Also, if you're REALLY into someone, and they don't respond, it's true that they may have simply forgotten/overlooked your message, but it's also a sign that they're not nearly as into you.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      Well, I think the key here, as eselle28 pointed out, is that there's a huge difference in texting/messaging someone when you're in a relationship with them and when they're a veritable stranger.

      If you're dating someone and they don't respond, it's probably okay to send an extra text like, "What's up? Haven't heard back from you yet. Everything okay?"

      If you don't know someone, sending them several texts or messages when they haven't replied is borderline harassment and it's better to just not do it in the first place. And if that person never replies and you don't know why, oh well, move on. The idea to keep in mind is that no one really owes you (not YOU you, but general you) an explanation, y'know what I mean?

  52. I have a classmate who definitely falls into this category…..I'm in veterinary school, we have about 115 students in our class, so while most of us know the names of all our classmates, we have our own little social groups, and often don't have much interaction with some of our other classmates. One of my male classmates and I were recently on a 2 week clinical rotation together with half a dozen other students. Prior to the start of this rotation, he and I had probably spoken all of about 2 sentences to each other in the course of 2 1/2 years–the only instance of which I recall was when I was perched on the edge of a table during an informal lecture and he asked if he could sit behind me–there was more than enough space on the table for him to sit without even coming close to invading my personal space bubble, so I told him sure. He proceeded to hop up on the table next to me, where for the next 15 minutes of the lecture he was sitting so close his shoulder was touching mine.

    When we started that 2 week rotation together, he walked in to where i was sitting at a computer, patted me on the shoulder several times and asked me how it was going. My skin crawled for minutes afterward (and I'm not a person who has much of a problem with physical contact) and I had an almost unclean feeling. The case I ended up taking that day had a somewhat challenging owner–at the end of the day, the aforementioned classmate came up to where i was sitting working on my paperwork, placed his hand on my shoulder, and told me how sorry he was I got landed with that client. He proceeded to enquire about what type of candy i like and told me he was going to hook me up with it the following day, and how in highschool he always kept chocolate in his locker for all the girls when they were having a bad day, because it got people on his good side.

    needless to say, at this point I was beyond creeped out. I asked one of my friends who had him as a lab partner in anatomy lab if it was just me, or if he was overly touchy and creepy. She's even more of an introvert than me, and also has a HUGE personal space bubble. She just brushed it off with a "he's like that with everyone, it's just who he is." Which really doesn't set well with me. Because that might be "just who he is", and he may do it with everyone–including males, but it makes my skin positively crawl.

    I have another rotation with him soon….Plan to set him straight about my personal space.

    • smallswingshoes says:

      Good for you! Definitely tell him to leave you alone.

      It is possible, if he does this with everyone, that it's unintentional or that he's genuinely trying to be friendly. I had that happen with a classmate in college who was just very huggy, so I pulled him to the side and said, 'Hey, I'm not actually all that comfortable with the touching and would appreciate it if you stopped. We can still chat, but I'm not a huggy person." And, fortunately, he understood and stopped.

      But, you said that he also made your skin crawl and that he creeped you out. So he could very well be a total creep. I hope it's more of an accident rather than him being a total creep, so good luck!

  53. Yuri Nator says:

    Creep shaming. Sometimes some people have different ways of communicating than others. If I were in a similar situation, I'd be gentle with a person and tell them "I'm flattered, but dude, you gotta slow your roll. Let me get to know you better first before I would let you communicate with me in such an intimate setting."

    But then again, I'm not paranoid and overly sensitive, nor do I depend on law enforcement to defend myself.

    • eselle28 says:

      So, wait, what? The fact that he's ignored her signaling "no" in several different ways means that her response should change to a form of a "yes"? What if she doesn't want to get to know him better?

    • Viliphied says:

      I'm noticing a common thread among the pe