I’m walking through the farmer’s market in Union Square Park with my student. It’s packed with people. He’s practicing initiating interactions by simply asking for an opinion. He spots a cute girl with her friend moving along the crowded walkway. He walks up next to her, leans in and, while walking, asks, “Excuse me, miss, do you know if there’s a good sushi restaurant around here?” She’s immediately creeped out. “No,” she says tersely and turns her back to him. Her and her friends give each other a ‘look’ as they scramble away. He comes back over to me, visibly shaken. He seems lost in thought. He’s creeped her out and, in turn, I can tell he feels terrible. I know the feeling. I’ve been there plenty of times myself. While both men and women experience all forms of social emotions–rejection, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.–to be “creeped out” is an experience almost solely reserved for women. It’s rare for a guy to get creeped out. Yet, it’s highly likely every guy reading this has had the unfortunate experience of creeping a girl out. Or maybe you experienced being with a woman friend and a guy creeps her out. When a woman gets creeped out, she’s reacting viscerally and emotionally. She is not making a logical decision to be creeped out any more than you make a logical decision to be attracted to a girl. It’s not about her being nice or not nice. To be creeped out implies that in some way, the girl felt not only disinterested in the guy, but experienced some level of invasiveness. Women tend to react harshly and strongly when they feel their boundaries are overstepped. And they tend to experience this far more than men because men tend to be more aggressive than women. In addition, women generally feel less physically equipped to deal with a possible threat because women on average are physically weaker than men. It’s not a good feeling when you inadvertently creep out a girl. So of course, as a guy, it seems important to know: how can I not be creepy? What can I do to avoid creeping girls out? We could talk about the basics of not being creepy.
- Don’t crowd her when talking to her.
- Speak loudly and clearly instead of whispering.
- Give her some eye contact, but don’t stare her down.
The list goes on. However, there’s something deeper going on here. Often times, trying to not be creepy could be the worst thing for your game. How is that possible? When I was in college, I was best friends with an extremely attractive girl. She would inevitably get hit on by guys and talk to me about it afterward. One Saturday we were out at a club and she got hit on by a guy. He basically walked up to her and started talking to her. She liked him and later swooned about this guy. “Oh my god, that guy was so cool!” she said to me as we walked out of the bar. The next weekend, the same exact thing happened. A guy came up to her and talked to her. But this guy managed to creep her out. “Ewwww! That guy was totally creepy!” she said as we walked out of the bar. “Let’s get out of here!” I didn’t really understand the difference. It seemed to me that when a guy she liked hit on her, she was into it. But when a guy she didn’t like hit on her, it was ‘creepy.’ I pointed out to her the ill logic of her duality. But of course, it didn’t change a thing. Me, I was just glad I wasn’t the creepy guy. I didn’t want to be that guy, the one that women talk about amongst their friends as creepy, the one they socially outcast for having been too sexual. When I would hang out with my hot girlfriend, I would never make the move, not on her or on other women. Playing it safe didn’t get me anywhere, but it was somehow comforting to me that I wasn’t that guy. I’m not the asshole. I’m a nice guy. Every societal message around me encouraged me NOT to take action. Every message piled on the shame of being sexual around women. How not to be creepy. I was good at that. I was good at muting my sexuality. I could tell you exactly what you shouldn’t do around women. I could list ten things off the top of my head. But if asked, there would be no way I could tell you what you should do around women. In the end, the way to not be creepy is to never take action. Never risk the wrath of a woman, or risk the wrath of those who would group all male sexuality as predatory. When you take initiative with women, it is impossible to be successful 100% of the time. If you are putting yourself out there, you will inevitably face some rejection. And you will inevitably creep some women out. In fact, if you aren’t comfortable taking initiative with women, if you have approach anxiety, you unintentionally will creep women out a lot more in learning how to take initiative with women. You are learning, with your body, what the “rules” are. And when you do break the “rules,” you feel shame. Shame is that terrible feeling that you did something wrong. That you were inappropriate in some way. It’s a social emotion, often accompanied by other negative social emotions such as embarrassment or feeling rejected. Talk to any woman, and she will lay out the “rules” for you. She will tell you how not to be creepy. Don’t be too sexually aggressive. Don’t get sexual too soon. Don’t treat her like a sex object. Great rules. But for every rule, there is an instance where a guy who’s really good with women has broken those rules. He not only broke those rules, but the fact that those rules are there in the first place allows him to win the affections of a woman by breaking the rules. The fact that we have taboos and things we should or shouldn’t do actually makes it so much more sexual and interesting for a girl when she meets a guy who knows how to break those rules. A guy who’s great with women is someone who does the wrong thing at the right time. When you escalate an interaction with women, you will inevitably overstep some boundaries. There’s no way around it. A guy who’s great with women has made enough mistakes to know the right time to do the wrong thing. I was in a conversation with an insightful and very beautiful girl and we were talking about guys who are afraid to make the move. “After it’s established that he’s respectful of me as a person,” she said, “then I want him to be totally disrespectful and hit on me.” Guys who are shy or have a lot of social anxiety too often ask the question “How do I not be creepy?” To even ask that question implies they are far too susceptible to the shame of being creepy. Their fear of being that guy, is, ironically, the main thing keeping them from showing confidence and learning how to be better with women. When your main aim is to do everything ‘appropriate’–kiss her at the end of the date when it’s appropriate, not tease her for fear of turning her off, only have a conversation with a girl at a speed dating event instead of at the supermarket–you want to ask yourself whether this inclination is serving you. —————— posted in Initiative and Inhibition As Creep Week comes to a close again and we all start to feel like it’s safe to get back into the dating pool, I want to talk about the fear of being labeled “creepy”. There are a lot of people – mostly the socially inexperienced – who worry about being called “creepy” by women and having it destroy their entire lives. Because, as we all know, all women everywhere are connected to a powerful underground information sharing network, thus ensuring that anyone saddled with the “creeper” label shall never have sex again… not even with himself. “Latest update ladies. Nick Twisp is on the No -Bone-List” OK, I kid. But I understand the fear; most people don’t want to come across as creepy and worry about accidentally ruining an interaction with someone they’re attracted to. It can feel like you’re walking on a tightrope over a pit of flaming, judgmental sharks who are dying to rip your nipples off. Also, you’re doing so without a net. And the tightrope has been greased with all of your unused sperm and is also on fire. But, like many of the emotional pitfalls and fuck-ups that come with dating, this is a matter that is entirely within your own control. Avoiding being a creeper is equal parts practical measures and self-awareness. Over the years, I’ve noticed some issues that correspond with people being unintentionally creepy, and working on those issues will help you avoid being a creeper. Obligatory disclaimer: this is baseline behavior. You don’t get – nor should you expect – brownie points for not being a creeper. So with that in mind, let’s talk about some of the ways to avoid being creepy.
Calm The Hell Down
First and foremost: you need to calm down and relax. One of the most common issues with people who are socially inexperienced or socially awkward is that they get incredibly nervous and anxious when they’re talking to somebody they’re attracted to. Of course, the more nervous you get, the more aware you are about the possibility of saying or doing something unfortunate, which makes you even more nervous… turning the whole thing into one giant self-perpetuating feedback loop that culminates with your making an awkward joke about her boobs. There’s nothing wrong with being nervous – in fact, there’s a pretty strong correlation between nervousness and physical arousal – but letting your nerves get out of control can make the people around you uncomfortable, too. A quirk of our brain’s development means that physical sensations are contagious. Ever wince in sympathy when you see someone stub their toe? Or watch a room full of guys flinch simultaneously when they see someone get hit in the nuts? This is a result of mirror-neurons in our brains triggering an empathetic response in us. As I’ve mentioned many times before, our body controls our brains, often leaving our moods dependent on our physical state. When we’re nervous, we make other people nervous – they’re starting to unconsciously mirror our physical state. It also doesn’t help that you’re unconsciously putting a lot of pressure on the other person to direct and control the interaction – and that makes them uncomfortable. As a result: they’re feeling awkward, uneasy, even a little nervous themselves – and thanks to misattribution of arousal, they’re associating their nervousness with you. Add in the short, twitchy movements that people tend to make when they’re nervous and you look like you’re possibly prepping to launch yourself at the person you’re talking to. You are just trying to think about not saying something about butts, she thinks you’re mentally measuring how many lampshades you can make out of her skin and now she’s getting ready “nope” the hell out of there all the way to FuckThatShitVille. So what do you do? You control your nerves by controlling your body. The quickest and easiest way to calm yourself down is to control your breathing. Breathe in slowly, hold it for the count of three, then breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat this several times – taking a deep breath, holding it, letting it out. This breathing exercise will help slow your heart rate down, making you feel less nervous. Next, stand up straighter. Simply adjusting your posture, straightening your spine, opening your chest and letting the tension drain out of your body provides an immense and immediate boost to your sense of confidence and keeps you from sending the “I’m nervous” vibe via your body language. Finally, slow yourself down, physically and mentally. Let your gestures be longer and looser instead of tight and twitchy. Don’t be in a rush to respond; give yourself a moment or two to let your mouth catch up with your brain. You’ll appear more thoughtful, conveying that you’re paying attention to what she’s saying rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. In reality, you’re giving yourself more breathing room so you don’t accidentally blurt out something about how much you’ve been staring at her lips… but she doesn’t have to know that. People will take their cues from you. The more you relax, the more they’ll be relaxed. And not only will you avoid seeming creepy, but you’ll feel more confident and at ease.
Recognize Creepy Behavior (And Signs That You’re Being Creepy)
If you want to avoid being creepy by accident, then you have to work on your social calibration. Behavior that may be welcome in the right context – touching, for example – can be incredibly creepy under different circumstances. Making a risqué or even potentially offensive joke can likewise be either something welcome or threatening depending on circumstance and context. The people who are able to, say, make jokes about having raunchy sex without being creepy are people who are socially well-calibrated and can read their intended audience. Same with touching or moving in from “social” space (approximately 4 to 8 feet) to personal or intimate space ( 1.5 feet and 1 foot, respectively): you have to understand when it is appropriate to do so, otherwise you risk looking aggressive or even predatory. Social calibration is the difference between turning into a hug and “touch me again and you pull back a bloody stump.” The thing is: you can’t expect other people to tell you when you’re being creepy. As I’ve said many a time before: women are socialized to be indirect and to avoid being too “forward” with men; part of that socialization means that they’re going to be hesitant to raise a fuss over somebody else’s behavior… even when yelling at the asshole is damned well deserved and appropriate. All too often, women have learned the hard way that making a scene can only make things worse; part of what many predators and creepers get off on is the person’s discomfort and will actually escalate if somebody protests. Making things more complicated, women often get blamed for inciting their own harassment while people are all-too-eager to make excuses for the creeper. It’s on you to look for the signs of discomfort and recognize when you’re standing too close or saying something that makes her skin crawl. I’ve written extensively about creepy behavior and how to read the signs, as have many others. The resources for learning what is and isn’t creepy behavior are out there. Use them.
Part of the learning process is being willing to take ownership of your actions. Remember what I just said about learning social calibration? That’s on you to do. Other people aren’t obligated to tell you that you’re being creepy or to teach you how not to be a creeper. If someone offers to help, then great; take ’em up on it. But people, especially the women you’re attracted to, are not there to teach you how to not freak them out. If you’re having problems with finding boundaries or reading emotions, then it’s on you to learn how to correct the problem. This is something I see come up over and over again on message boards and subreddits – demanding that women teach “awkward” guys how not to creep on them, similar to the people who insist on the Socially Awkward Exception. As with the SAE, the underlying message of this demand is that women’s desire to feel safe and their right to set their own boundaries – or to be approached in the manner they prefer – is not as important as the right for men to get what they want. This attitude is inherently creepy; it posits that women are there for your use.1 The other side of taking responsibility is understanding that you don’t get to decide other people’s comfort levels. There are almost always people who will complain that someone thought that they were unfairly labeled as “creepy” and they couldn’t possibly have been because reasons. And while I do sympathize with feeling that you’re being misunderstood, but just because you didn’t think you weren’t being creepy doesn’t mean that they didn’t feel creeped out by you. People get to set their own comfort to whatever arbitrary levels they decide are appropriate, and this isn’t up for discussion. Hard and fast rule: you can’t argue your way out of being creepy. “As you can see, according to section 5, sub-paragraph 9a, clause iv, my behavior is by definition, charming.” There is no appeals process, you don’t get to plead your case before a jury of her peers and, quite frankly, sticking around to argue the point makes you look like you’re an alien in a human suit trying to conduct breeding experiments with the locals. Now, to forestall the obvious: yes, occasionally you will run into people who will call you “creepy” just because they like to insult people, not because you actually did anything wrong. These people are assholes. They have self-selected themselves into the “avoid” pile and you should be grateful because why the fuck would you want to talk to someone who treats people like that? But if you’re running into more assholes than Seymour Butts at Analpalooza, then sometimes you have to acknowledge that you’re the common denominator and address your behavior.
Straight talk time: fuck-ups happen. You can do everything right and still end up tripping over somebody’s emotional land-mine that you had no way of knowing existed. Even the most skilled seducers and socially calibrated diplomats will screw up. I’ve lost track at how many times I’ve ended up tripping over my metaphorical dick and misreading a situation or moving faster than I should have. Want to know the easiest way to avoid being a creeper by accident? When you realize you’ve done something wrong, you take a (literal) step back and apologize. Seriously. The act of giving some space and delivering a simple and sincere apology can diffuse the tension and turn you from being a “creeper” back into “the good guy I was enjoying talking to.” But you have to do it right. You make that apology short, simple and sincere. You don’t dwell on the mistake, you don’t put on a production begging her forgiveness, you don’t beat yourself up over it. You don’t freak out or try to bowl her over with how abjectly horrified you are. Despite the words, this is literally the opposite of apologizing; you’re not saying you’re sorry, you’re making it all about your discomfort and asking her to reassure you. “I’m sorry I couldn’t resist the siren call of your incredible, supple breasts! PLEASE! YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME!” Similarly, you don’t try to deflect responsibility; the “sorry you misunderstood me” or “sorry you were offended (but you shouldn’t have been)” non-apologies just confirm that you’re being a dick. Now here’s the critical part: after having apologized, don’t do it again. The whole point is to acknowledge that yes, you made a mistake but now you know better. Making the same mistake again – or other boundary-testing behavior for that matter – carries the message that you’re not sorry that you made a mistake, you’re sorry you got caught and you’re going to try again as soon as you think you’ve got an opening. Finally: after your apology has been accepted, then drop it. Seriously. Just like making a production makes your apology all about you, refusing to let the subject go is just going to reinforce that it happened and make it impossible to forgive and forget. Handling a mistake with grace will leave people feeling comfortable in your presence. Getting stuck on it is just going to indicate that you have low emotional intelligence and leave them feeling uncomfortable. So again, the process of handling a screw-up is: give some space, apologize, don’t do it again and then move on.
Women Are Not Your Adversaries
A lot of people who worry about being called creepy have a tendency to see women as opponents. Whether it’s because of low self-esteem or having bought into the commodity model of sex and see sex as something that has to be “negotiated” for, they come into interactions with women with a sense of antagonism. Take the idea of “creep-shaming”, for example: the idea that women use calling men “creepy” as a way of wielding power over them and gleefully ostracizing men because… well, nobody’s exactly explained why. Evidently because all women are basically Maleficent, throwing out curses and condemning men to a sexless existence because FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHY. In fairness, you’d be in a pissy mood too after the 100th “it’s not easy being green” joke. The “you’re only creepy if you’re ugly” crowd is another example. In both cases, this mix of frustrated entitlement and antagonism is going to creep into everything you do; it’s going to leak into your body language, and your “ha ha, just kidding” attempts at humor. Even if it’s not overt, the incongruity between the face you’re trying to present and the body language you’re actually presenting is going to leave women unsettled and uncomfortable. At the other end of the extreme are the people who are deathly afraid of being creepy and worry that any little thing they do is going to be seen in the worst possible light. This ends up sabotaging their attempts to interact with women because they’re half-convinced that women are assuming they’re a creeper in advance and are just waiting for the excuse to reject them. Straight talk time: women want you to be that cool guy they’ve always dreamed of meeting. They’re hoping you’re awesome. Yes, they have to worry about their safety; the world’s a shitty place and women are vulnerable in ways that men just aren’t. But acknowledging the reality doesn’t mean that they view all men as the enemy; it just means they have to be careful. And by paying attention to their concerns and being conscious of how you’re coming across, you can avoid being creepy by accident and show that you’re that amazing guy they’ve been looking for.
- Yes, I recognize that there will be people think saying “Well, duh” is a clever response. Congratulations sir, you just proved that the fail state of “clever” is “asshole”. [ ]
By multiple authors
from wikihow «Creepiness» is hard to define, but people generally know it when they see it. For most people, creepiness is something that is vaguely threatening, but also uncertain. People get the creeps because they don’t know if something actually poses a threat. If you want to avoid being perceived as creepy by others, it’s very important to be aware of yourself and of social norms. If you deviate from the norm, you may risk being seen as creepy.
Not Looking Creepy
Practice good hygiene.
Although it isn’t always true that dangerous people look disheveled, it is an extremely common stereotype. For this reason, it’s very important that you always look neat and well-groomed.
- Wash your hair regularly and get it cut often so that it looks neat.
- Always wear clean clothes.
- Bathe every day to avoid smelling badly.
Look your best.
People generally find attractive people less creepy than unattractive people. While you should not go to great lengths to change your appearance just to satisfy other people, you may want to consider taking some small steps to make yourself more attractive.
- People tend to find pale skin creepy. If you are unusually pale, consider using bronzer or getting a spray tan to give yourself some more color.
- People also tend to find under-eye bags creepy. If you have these, there are a variety of ways to minimize their appearance, including reducing your alcohol and sodium intake, treating your seasonal allergies, sleeping on your back, removing your makeup before bed, using sunscreen, quitting smoking, and applying a cool compress to your eyes.
- Bulging eyes are also generally considered creepy. If you’re a woman, try applying dark eye shadow to your lids and curling your eyelashes to help them appear less bulging.
The way you dress is the aspect of your appearance that you have the most control over. Because people tend to associate anything out of the ordinary with creepiness, try to keep your clothing neutral and on-trend.
- Steer clear of clothing that doesn’t match or doesn’t fit you well. It’s also best to avoid anything that looks like it should be worn as part of a costume, like a cape.
- Don’t wear clothing with slogans that promote violence or dehumanize women, as this may make people think you are potentially violent, and thus creepy.
- There’s nothing wrong with wearing clothes that express your personality, but if you’re really concerned about other people thinking you’re creepy, be careful about wearing anything too unique. If you’re unsure whether an outfit will make you look creepy, try asking a trusted friend or relative what they think.
- You don’t need to be extremely fashion forward to not look creepy. A simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt is usually a safe choice.
Interacting With Others Without Being Creepy
Avoid talking about things that others find disturbing.
People typically find it creepy when others talk about morbid topics, especially for extended periods of time. It’s best to avoid these topics altogether, unless you are sure that the person you are talking about will be interested. Some topics to avoid include death, torture, and sexual fetishes.
- People tend to assume that individuals whose professions or hobbies involve death are creepy, so if you enjoy taxidermy or work as a mortician, you may want to avoid bringing these topics up with new acquaintances. If it comes up, you can laugh and acknowledge «It’s a little creepy!», and then talk about a more cheerful topic.
- There are also some less obvious topics that many people find weird. The best example is clowns, which give lots of people the creeps.
- While talking about sex is not always creepy, taking about it constantly or at inappropriate times definitely is. If you’re ever unsure whether it is appropriate, avoid bringing it up.
Don’t ask overly personal questions.
Getting too personal too fast will definitely make you seem creepy. It’s important to respect people’s privacy, especially if you don’t know them well. For example, asking someone how much money they make is typically considered rude. Asking a more obscure question, like what blood type the person is, is just plain creepy because you have no need to know that information.
- Even if you know someone well, be careful about asking obtrusive or rude questions. If you ever want to ask something but you’re not sure if it’s appropriate, consider prefacing the question by saying something like, «I’m sorry if this is a weird question» or «Forgive me for asking.»
Avoid making abrupt sexual advances.
Most people do not appreciate uninvited sexual advances. To avoid being seen as a creep, it’s best to avoid advancing on someone you’ve just met. If you are really interested in the person, try getting to know them first instead of just trying to pick them up.
- Men are much more likely to be considered creepy when they make uninvited sexual advances on women than vice versa. In fact, women tend to think that «creepy» men pose some kind of sexual threat, and may be afraid of them.
- Compliments are okay, but try not to go overboard. If you have just met a person, try only offering one compliment instead of several. You can decrease your chances of the compliment being interpreted as creepy if you avoid staring at the person before offering it and if you try talking to the person and getting to know each other a bit first.
Recognize when it is inappropriate to flirt.
When people are at work, busy, or «trapped» (e.g. working a shift at a coffee shop), it is not the right time to flirt.
- Don’t catcall; this is creepy.
- Don’t assume that a friendly waiter or barista is flirting. Their job requires them to be polite, and they are «trapped» because they need to work and stay polite. If you absolutely want to date them, leave your phone number with the check, so there is no pressure.
- Do not flirt with people who are much younger than you. If you are an adult, don’t flirt with minors, no matter how «mature» they look or act.
Notice how the other person responds to flirting.
If they are interested (open body language, genuinely smiling or laughing, touching you, etc.), then you can continue flirting. If they show signs of discomfort (closed-off body language, looking away, plastered-on smile, fake laugh, avoiding eye contact, frowning), then they are not interested. Apologize for making them uncomfortable, and stop. Flirting with someone who clearly doesn’t like it is one of the fastest ways to be seen as creepy.
- Some people are shy. If they are smiling, then gently proceed. If they look upset, stop right away.
- Start small. Talk to them, flirt, and see how they respond. Then amp it up if you are getting a positive response. Sending an unsolicited photo of your genitals to a stranger is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
- Some dating guides tell people (usually men flirting with women) to push the other person’s boundaries. This is bad advice, and may scare them and get you pepper sprayed. Always respect someone else’s comfort level.
Listen to and respect boundaries.
If someone says something like «I need alone time,» «don’t touch me,» or «stop it,» stop right away. This is a mark of good manners and shows that you are non-threatening. Non-creepy people know how to take «no» for an answer.
- If someone looks like they want to leave a conversation, give them an opportunity to do so. Trying to make them stay can make you seem creepy.
- Some people, especially women, disabled people, and abuse survivors, may be afraid to express boundaries. Pay attention to their body language. If they’re uncomfortable, it might be good to give them some space.
Curb feelings of entitlement.
Dispel the notion that you deserve a girlfriend, or that you are owed sex. Recognize that potential partners are people, not rewards earned by being a «nice guy.» Work on becoming a better listener, accepting rejection, and respecting the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Responding with anger or disrespect when someone won’t date you is a hallmark of creeps.
- Potential dates are not your enemies. If you have to fight them in order to get to them, you’re doing it wrong, and it’s time to quit.
- If someone turns you down, it isn’t a black mark against you. Maybe you aren’t their type, they’re too busy for a relationship, or their sexual orientation is incompatible. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, or that the universe is out to get you.
Avoid startling others.
Unpredictability is a hallmark of creepiness, so do your best to act in a normal and expected way. People will not want to be around you if they are never sure how you will behave.
- Avoid jumping out at people or trying to surprise them.
- Avoid sudden outbursts, especially if they could be interpreted as violent. If you feel an outburst coming on, say «I need some air» and leave to cool off.
- Always try to gauge the appropriateness of your behavior by assessing the atmosphere and watching how others are behaving. For example, if you are giving a formal presentation, you would be expected to stand up straight and look at the crowd, so people might find it creepy if you were sitting down and looking at the floor.
Don’t hide your true intentions.
Masking your agenda can make you come off as creepy to others. Do your best to be open and honest about your intentions, and be assertive instead of passive-aggressive.
- For example, a guy who pretends he just wants to be friends with a girl, and suddenly tells her that he likes her, may startle her and make her uncertain how to act. This guy would be better off flirting with her, continuing the flirtation if she responded well, and then explaining his feelings. This way, she is not caught by surprise, and has had time to get used to the idea.
Treat women and minority groups with respect.
Racism, sexism, et cetera are often viewed as creepy. Making derogatory comments about groups of people will make them not trust you, and feel unsafe around you. Treating everyone with dignity, without making snap judgments, will help others view you positively.
- Don’t talk down to others (including women and disabled people), and don’t use nicknames like «sweetie» or shortened names (e.g. calling a woman «Jessie» when everyone calls her Jessica). Save them for people you are close with, if they like it.
- Avoid stereotypes such as «that’s women’s work,» «Muslims are violent,» or «bisexuals are cheaters.» Work on being open-minded and accepting of others, and challenge any negative stereotypes.
- Know basic manners around disabled people. Respect their personal space, offer help before jumping in, don’t ask about their abilities to feed/clean/toilet/have sex, and treat them like adults (unless they are literal children).
Take responsibility for your actions.
Honest mistakes do happen, and you may accidentally creep someone out. If this is the case, you can improve their opinion of you by acting like a mature, upstanding person. Take direct responsibility and apologize.
- Instead of saying «I’m sorry, but….» say «I’m sorry, and…» This makes it clearer that you aren’t trying to make an excuse, just offer an explanation, without diminishing any harm done.
- For example, «I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable by complimenting your dress. I thought it was a nice dress, and my intent was to make your day a little better, not to make you uncomfortable. But clearly, that’s not what happened, and I’m very sorry. Can we start over?»
Avoiding Creepy Body Language
Show your emotions.
Your facial expressions are just as important as the words you use when communicating with people. When these deviate from what is considered normal, they can cause people to feel uncomfortable. Do your best to express genuine emotions in your facial expressions.
- The reason that many people find masks creepy is because they obscure facial expressions. If your facial expressions don’t seem appropriate to other people, they will have the same reaction as they would to an expressionless mask.
- If you feel that you are not able to show emotions with your facial expressions, pay close attention to the way that others look in specific situations and try to mimic their facial expressions. Practice in front of a mirror if you need to.
Avoid violent gestures.
Creepy people tend to incite a vague fear of physical violence in other people, so you should do your best to make sure you do not give off this impression. Never make any gesture that could be interpreted as violent, even if you are just kidding.
- Examples of violent gestures include pointing your finger at someone (including yourself) as if it were a gun, cracking your knuckles while staring at someone, or pretending to slit your throat with your finger. There are many others as well, so always take a moment to think about how other people might perceive you before you make any gesture.
- Shouting at people may also make them worry that you will turn violent. Keep your volume moderate, even when you are upset.
Don’t stare at people.
People often get uncomfortable when others stare at them, and they may worry that the staring person has sinister intentions. To avoid being seen as a creep, don’t stare at people for extended periods of time, whether you know them or not.
- Taking unwanted photographs is just as creepy as staring, if not more so. Asking for permission does not reduce the creepiness at all.
- On the flip side, people may also find it creepy if you don’t make eye contact while talking to them, so it’s important to find a healthy balance. If you have a disability that makes eye contact hard (e.g. autism), look at their forehead, eyebrows, nose, or chin. This is close enough.
- If you tend to get lost in thought, stare in a direction where there aren’t people. This way, they won’t think that you’re staring at them.
Respect people’s personal space.
A lot of people will get creeped out if you touch them while having a conversation or stand unnecessarily close to them. Help people feel more comfortable around you by giving them a little space.
- You do not need to touch someone in an inappropriate way in order for it to be perceived as creepy. Even an innocent touch can seem strange, especially if you do not know the person well.
- When you’re talking to someone, avoid cornering them and making them feel claustrophobic.
- If you’re going to touch someone, let them see it coming, so they aren’t startled. This way, they can also decline if they don’t want to be touched.
Note: This article appears as part of a college assignment in ITP104 at the University of Southern California. \
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