Things that creep out women
Saturday 23 October 2010, 9.38am HKT
Nine stupid stunts guys do that creep out chicks they want to hit on, and what they can do to fix them.
Those who know me personally consider me to be a well-rounded sort of guy and have a way with flirting that doesn’t end in getting the police called in, or the gentlemen in white lab coats having to strap me down.
My mum was mostly to thank for that. Mum gave me tips now and then about what makes women tick. Mum reckoned, not without reason, that sooner or later I’d have to know these things and produce her grandchildren. And also the fact that I spent some time growing up in countries where flirting is a traditional life skill of the people.
But that’s another story.
I got thinking for this story because of a certain conversation between Guy (who started it), Girl, Bloke, Chick, Other Guy and me:
Guy: “Okay … chicks think I’m creepy. Now it would be pointless to describe myself, because the answer will always be ‘yes, you are,’ so I’m going to approach this from another angle – what do chicks feel are creepy? No, I don’t stalk or leer or anything obvious like that.”
Right, because just throwing out random guesses about what you’re doing wrong will be much more productive. Derp.
After piles and piles of chicks dangling off my esteemed and veritable member for years, the facts are these:
FACT: No universal creepy things
Well, there are, but most of the time it’s based on context.
Off the top of my head, I can already think of a few things that are creepy to women anywhere in the world (in no particular order):
- Poorly kept facial hair.
- Inability to keep eye contact during conversation.
- General appearance, including general hygiene.
- If the stuff you keep on you are worn out or torn up, like broken mobile phones, ratty necklaces, ripped-up backpacks and so on.
- Talking about inappropriate things at inappropriate moments.
- The Must Touch Flesh Syndrome, a.k.a. manhandling people.
- Trying too hard (and failing) or, the reverse, not trying hard enough. That universally creeps out women, I find.
Some people take the attitude of doing their darnedest to not do anything offensive to anyone, even to the most conservative grandmother.
Others take the attitude of ‘Screw it, I’m spending my own money and time. They do what they want, and I’ll do what I want.’
Most are somewhere in between, striking a balance between their individuality and the cultural norms they are living in.
Differences are in comfort level. If what you do, say or act makes you look eccentric, how other people react to your eccentricity would vary.
Simply asking people cannot be relied on, since individuals have different ideas of what’s appropriate. Often, people will be reluctant to tell someone that they have committed a faux pas.
1. FACIAL HAIR
My main issue is with guys who want to grow ‘a cool beard’ but don’t have the ability to do it and just keep weird, creepy moustaches or thin beards. Facial hair is a no-no if you can’t grow it well.
Bloke (to me): “I hate you so much — don’t take that personally. It’s just a few of those things I do. Poorly kept facial hair — sometimes. It’s still growing and I just can’t be bothered to shave every day because it’s not even.”
Other Guy: “Your hair. Most of the creepiest people I’ve known have had long hair. Hair that covers most of your face might seem cool if you’re in high school or listen to grindcore, or whatever it’s called, but it’s really not. If your hair is this long, may I suggest getting it cut? Or at least get rid of the stuff that covers your face. People are more inviting if you can see them.”
Girl: “… and people who try to grow facial hair but just don’t have the ability really need to watch that. It really looks greasy, dirty and could definitely contribute to you looking creepy.”
2. UNABLE TO KEEP EYE CONTACT
Inability to keep eye contact during a conversation with your other people is very creepy, especially to Westerners. It gives the willies to men and women (maybe more for women). Your eyes looking down — even creepier, looking up — during a conversation is like the behavioural version of having no eyebrows. It’s very, very creepy in the same league as Jason Vorhees of Friday the Thirteenth fame.
The reverse is just as creepy. Staring or glaring at someone can be mistaken for leering, and you could get arrested for it (public indecency or menacing behaviour). Some girls I know personally happen to be boxers (but with totally unboxer-like cleavages!), so you could get punched in the face for that as well. So you could be hospitalised and be arrested at the same time.
Girl: “… making repeated eye contact from across the room can be sexy or flirtatious, or it can be ‘Oh my God, that creepy guy keeps staring at me!” Walking up to a random girl at the grocery store can either be fun, spontaneous interaction or ‘this creepy guy was bothering me while I was trying to shop,’ and so on.”
Women hate mumblers. No exceptions. Your mum probably must have told you at some point in your life to stop mumbling and speak up. If that’s your mum, imagine what chicks think. Which is why there are so many more female teachers in primary school, because they are there to ensure that kids don’t grow up mumblers.
Bloke: “I don’t exactly do this but I sometimes have to repeat myself for one reason or another — speaking too quickly or something.”
If you’re trying to approach a woman and make conversation and not scare her off initially, why the f**k would you mumble? Mumbling implies you have no confidence. It makes you out like, ‘I don’t care to take you seriously,’ so the chick wonders why you’re talking to her if you’re so nervous that you can’t even speak up. This applies to fidgeting (below) as well.
Guy: “Fair enough. Nah, I’m plenty confident. I just talk fast, probably mumble a bit. Nothing to do with nerves.”
Stop it. Stop wiggling and wobbling. You’re not a bloody earthworm.
Chick: “If you’re too nervous to talk to me without constantly itching, rubbing, pulling, wobbling or picking, why are you even bothering?”
Guy: “I’m not sure if it’s out of lack of confidence. I do it unconsciously, more habit than anything. I’ve been shaking my foot [and] leg for years.”
Oi! Be still! Breathe manually. Read on.
5. BIZARRE LOOKS
Appearance is more than just clothes, although clothes make up a big part of your appearance. We’re not talking about the wearing of strange or evil-looking semi-cosplay vampire garb. We’re talking about regular clothes worn in such a way that creepify your general appearance and demeanour.
These are bizarre to most people and will weirdise and creepify your looks:
- Dressing ‘gross’: worn-out shirts with holes, trousers with torn-up/worn-off hems from stepping on too much.
- Overdressing, especially overdressing in clothes that resemble period costumes or wedding wear, such as mock-Edwardian/Victorian garb. You don’t want to look like you’re living out some Lawrence of Arabia sexual scenario.
- General fading of colour in clothes.
- Baggy or droopy clothes made of roughish fabric and in muddy colours. Conversely, skin-tight or undersized clothes made of normal material rather than funky fabric.
- Effeminate jewellery. There’s a fine line between ‘tasteful and refined’ and looking like a pooftah.
Ethnic or tribal stuff (like the keffiyeh, neck chokers, etc) unless you clearly belong to some ethnic group.
- Urban tribal crap like Teddy Boy gear, rocker gear, punk spikes, skinhead gear, gangsta blings, Hell’s Angels chains (especially if lacking in a motorbike) unless you’re clearly one of them.
Not knowing basic clothing care, obviously. Keep in mind I don’t do a lot of fancy laundry either. It isn’t that hard to take care of your clothes.
Then there is the matter of general hygiene. General lack of hygiene is always creepy. It automatically makes you look like a hilly-billy serial killer. Eating loudly or making a big mess, picking at your nose, face or body in public, smelling of BO, etc, embarrasses others around you. Being slovenly and having no manners is awful.
Bloke: “If your things are torn up — my explanation: I’m poor. I’ve had my phone for 3½ years, most of my jeans are worn and my Converses are in bad condition because I walk a lot.”
Chick: “I walk a lot too and don’t have much money either — yay, going to university on my own! — I have clothes from 5th grade that are still in passable condition simply because I’m not retarded. The majority of my clothing is three, four years old, if not older. Anything that has holes, I save for workclothes or pyjamas.
“Seriously … you can find good, used clothes for pretty low prices provided you don’t waste all your money on creepy stuff. Nerdy as I am, it’s really unappealing when a guy spends all his money on computers, video games, books — whatever — and looks like shit.”
Girl: “Have some professionalism and maturity, please? Maybe some of that is okay for high school, but once you’re an adult, you should have some responsibility for your appearance. I don’t think being ‘poor’ [fingers mimicking quotation marks] is a legitimate excuse — unless you’re absolutely homeless without a job. And in that case, you shouldn’t be prowling for women. Get nice, sturdy clothes and take care of them. It doesn’t have to be designer. It just needs to be clean. Only thing I don’t really have a problem with is ripped jeans. I think they’re okay, in moderation.”
6. PERSONAL EFFECTS
Why would you carry around or wear stuff that’s broken, fagged out or otherwise past their prime on your body? Saying your accessories have a ‘vintage effect’ just doesn’t cut it.
We spend our hard-earned cash on accessories to look good, not to look like weirdies or losers just to make a ‘statement.’
Guy: “I don’t spend my money on any of that shit. Maybe books, but the last book I bought was £3 and was for my uni application […] Also, I don’t prowl for women — doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t like a relationship more often than I do. All I’m saying is, maybe these things might be contributing factors.”
7. INAPPROPRIATE REMARKS
This is harder to explain. How can we be more sociable when we don’t socialise much? How do we get to socialise more if we’re not sociable enough or even unsociable?
Guy: “Talking about inappropriate things at inappropriate times, oh God, that’s me.”
Fact is, if I were a woman, I don’t want to know you’re into gore films the first time I meet you, even though it’s something I might really be passionate about. Naturally, the level of uncomfortableness depends on the topic (pets, porn or fetishes).
8. TOUCHY-FEELY AT GET-GO
Chaps want to touch girls because they know touching can be a prelude to something more (geddit?). But some guys suffer from The Must Touch Flesh Syndrome: touching too soon into the relationship.
Girl: “If I’ve only known you three weeks, even if you’re interested and interesting, if you touch me wrong, you can basically count yourself out.”
Bloke: “Shit! If by three weeks you haven’t already spread your legs for a guy, then you might as well just never at all. What the hell kind of Mormon freak are you?!”
Chick: “She probably meant you putting your hands all over her the first couple of times you ever hang out versus in a relationship. Quit trying to be an edgy nignog.”
It isn’t just physical. Try thinking non-physical and time.
Chick: “I find it creepy when guys try to touch or hug me right away after meeting them, or address me by pet names like ‘love’ or ‘babe’.”
Bloke: “I think invasions of personal space and forcing conversations or following me around are the two most likely things that weird me out. I don’t think that’s exclusive to girls, though.”
Girl: “Yeah, a violation of the personal bubble by a stranger will make anybody uncomfortable.”
9. COMING ON STRONG, RAPING MY SPACE
Most women are social psych nerds. They don’t express their opinions openly, but whatever the hell you’re doing, you get the vibes that it would not be a wise thing to do.
Girl: “The worst though […] is coming on hard when you know I’m in a relationship or when I’ve explained I’m not interested in a relationship. That can change my opinion on a guy from ‘This is someone I’m just not interested in right now’ into ‘Jesus, this guy is a total creep’.”
My advice, as a social psych nerd myself, is to learn from cats.
Whenever you want to pet a cat, it acts like it isn’t really all that interested in you, but when you stop chasing it around trying to pet it, it will come to you and want your affection. People in general are very much like this. If you come on too strong, you’ll be like an owner chasing the annoyed cat. If you back off a little, it’s more likely the cat will come to you. I mean, it’s the basic ‘playing hard to get’ idea.
Girl: “Coming on too strong is one of the creepiest things. Personally, I don’t really like getting compliments at all, but, specifically, out-of-place compliments can be unsettling. The other day this guy I’d never met before joined in a conversation I was having with some friends — which in and of itself was perfectly cool — and just started calling me ‘lovely’ and ‘ravishing.’ That’s creepy and coming on way too strong. I appreciate the sentiment, but, try to be more subtle.”
Chick: “Being super focused on me is also creepy. I get weirded out when guys try really hard to show me stuff and have my constant attention, though this applies mostly when others are around. Staring really intently into someone’s eyes can be really odd.”
Remedy? You see, the problem with the world is that most of the rules of socialising are not formal or written down. You’re expected to behave ‘normally’ and protesting that there is no rule against something is no defence.
Girl: “A way you can make yourself less creepy is to have some friends around. Also, if you are talking to a girl in a group setting, make sure to be sociable with people other than her.”
The un-brain-damaged will notice that having friends around needs you to be uncreepy so that they’d be willing to be around you. If you’re creepy, you won’t have any. Vicious circle, isn’t it?
10. BODY LANGUAGE
Girl: “This is maybe just me, but awkward body language […] can be a big turnoff. Not knowing how to stand or where to put your hands is weird. This could be because I’m a social psych nerd and I read a lot into body language, though.”
Chick: “Also, [Guy], watch your posture. By all means, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’ve always found people with terrible posture to be a little on the creepy side.”
The problem being, the stuff up top isn’t context. The main determining factor of whether or not you can get away with that stuff is if the girl finds you physically attractive. Romantic comedies are full to the brim with guys who would get the police called on them if they were fat. Context does matter.
Bloke: “… the main thing you have to understand is that if you’re a guy with an unpopular body type or a unique style of dress or somesuch, your approach to making connections has to be different from what’s usually considered effective.”
Girl: “Try showing some emotion — and don’t be monotone. Now this might seem like a weird suggestion, but for some people this is not easy. I used to have a problem with this. Try putting some emotion into your voice, and smiling sometimes. You might feel weird doing this at first but it will pay off.”
* * *
It’s more than a routine
Bloke: “This is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in quite some time. This is neither illogical nor a mindgame or exclusively female. You’re just a kneejerk reactionary looking for anything that you can grasp onto to set off on a misogynistic rant. Everyone does this. Have an example of this in practice from a male perspective —”
Bloke’s girlfriend had a f**ked-up childhood. They’ve been together for a year and half now. In that time, she has told him at length about how her dad was emotionally and verbally abusive, flying off the handle and screaming his lungs out if even the slightest thing went wrong. Her dad used to call her stupid and worthless and so on, and, how now, at 28, she is still dealing with issues that can be traced back to her treatment by her father. She apologises a lot. If something doesn’t turn out perfectly, she apologises, even just little things like slightly overcooking the scrambled eggs. It’s an ingrained habit, because those little things are exactly the types of things that would send her dad on an abusive rampage.
The night Bloke and his girlfriend met, she didn’t tell him about her dad. She didn’t mention that dad was unstable and she’s no longer in contact with him. She certainly didn’t mentioned that her f**ked-up and abusive treatment at his dad’s hands is still reverberating through her life today. Bloke didn’t find out about that until they’d been going out for about three weeks, at which point the subject of their childhoods came up, and she told him a little about her unpleasant one.
Bloke’s girlfriend is a confident, strong-willed person with a very well-defined sense of self. However, there is a good chance that, had she told Bloke about her abusive childhood the night they met, Bloke would have pulled away a bit and possibly not gone out with her, or at least been a little more cautious and taken the relationship slower. Bloke has had experiences in the past with girls with abusive childhood and daddy issues, so it’s something he generally steers clear of.
Had Bloke’s girlfriend told him all about her problematic childhood the night they met, not only would it have been classified as Too Much Information but also a warning sign This Girl Might Be Crazy. And Bloke would have been suspicious of her and her potentially crazy side.
Bloke said never did we mentioned “don’t tell her you love gore films.” We just said don’t just throw that kind of stuff out there when just getting to know someone. It can be Too Much Information and make them a little creeped out. However, he said “if you keep the more deeply personal and somewhat touchy subject matter in” until you know each other a little better and have shown that you are a happy, healthy person, “then you can start dishing out the slightly ‘darker’ stuff and it won’t be offputting. It’s called human interaction, grow up, we all do it, even you.”
* * *
Other Guy: “What kind of f**ked-up female mindgame bullshit is this? Just forget about trying to seem less creepy. Just find a girl who isn’t a stuck-up bitch. You’re trying to adapt — to fit — the illogical and inconsistent taste of someone who doesn’t even have respect enough to not immediately write you off into some arbitrary category based on a few even-more-arbitrary traits you may have.”
Chick: “It’s not a mindgame. Everyone does this to some degree. If you know something shocking about somebody before you know them well enough, you don’t see a person anymore. You just see that thing, in the worst light it can be seen.”
Guy: “Personally, I think I’m just getting bullshit from the local Christian women.”
Girl: “Maybe so, and in that case, stop hanging around Christian women.”
(19 Sept 2010)
Images pilfered and used without permission: Chinese beard via About Cantonese Opera ♦ Eye Contact comic via PelicanTalk.com ♦ Colin Farrell’s keffiyeh via (can’t remember, sorry) ♦ Patient’s Personal Belongings via Wilburn Medical USA ♦ “It’s been a while” screencap via TeenNick ♦ No Touching sign via Various and Sundry on Etsy ♦ Boss Hoss via Examiner.com.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2010.
Updated 19 Feb 2014 (CSS formatting and link fixes)
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