As tired as I am of hearing people skinny shame and hot shame attractive women (Dear Social Justice Warriors: either it's okay to reduce a woman to her appearance, or it's not -- please make up your mind), I must admit that being pretty confers certain advantages.
You know this so well that you don't even know you know it.
Likewise, it makes many aspects of travel cheaper and easier. I've only been in Costa Rica for two weeks, and two different surf instructors have already dropped everything to go out surfing with me -- giving me plenty of their professional advice, for free. (More than that, I appreciated not having to surf new beaches in a foreign country by myself -- apparently, that can be a little dangerous.)
When I negotiate with local vendors for better prices, they initially seem annoyed. But then they decide I'm cute and adorable, and that I deserve the deal I asked for, and then some.
When I hitchhike, it doesn't take very long to get a ride. (I know you think hitchhiking is dangerous -- but never in a decade of hitchhiking have I ever had any problems.)
But, when my friend Joseph came down to visit for four days last week and observed that almost every single person I encountered the whole time he was here expressed interest in me, he asked a question I've heard many times before:
"Don't you ever get tired of everyone hitting on you all the time?"
As we all know from psychology (or at least my recent post about Trump supporters), hardly anything in life is dispositional, and almost everything is situational.
Meaning that 99% of the time... No. Getting hit on doesn't bother me.
As I wrote in The Stanford Kink Klub Has the Healthiest Sex on Campus, my position is not that no man should ever hit on me. My position is that it is fine for a man -- any man (you know, except a boss, teacher, or other inappropriate person) -- to hit on me. Once.
If I say no and he doesn't back off, that is a problem.
But I'm not going to get pissed off at a man for calling me beautiful, buying me a drink or asking me out for dinner.
So a few days after Joseph arrived, we decided to do an open ocean swim out to a pink sand island off the coast of Samara, Costa Rica.
Until he wasn't.
All of a sudden, his little orange snorkel was just... gone.
It turns out he'd gotten caught up in a strong current, and he was lost at sea for the next six hours. It was terrifying.
When I got back to Samara, I asked two cowboys and a security guard what they thought I should do. The one guy didn't speak much English, and the second guy told me that he was very worried about my friend for two reasons: one, because multiple people died trying to swim to that island last year, and two, he has lived in Samara his whole life, and he knows how powerful the currents get when the tide is rising.
He may have even used the word "muerto," which means dead. He may have used it three or four times. This did not help my anxiety.
So then! The third guy followed up by saying, in careful English, "What is your name? You are very gorgeous."
I told him I didn't care, because I wanted to help my friend. Then I started talking to the other guy again.
The third guy interrupted, "Is he your friend or your boyfriend?"
"Are you sharing a hotel room?"
"Are you sharing a bed?"
In this case, yes. I was very tired of being hit on. What was wrong with that guy? What on earth made him think I would want to be hit on while mi amigo might be muerto? And why did he think personal questions like "are you sharing a bed" were at all appropriate?
A few days later, I had just gotten out of the water in Manuel Antonio. (Hint: if you already know how to surf, don't try to surf Manuel Antonio. There's a beach in front of the Mariposa Hotel that might be firing, but you'd be better off in Jaco or Dominical.)
The guy I rented my board from had flirted a bit when I got my board. He ended out coming out in the water and surfing with me for a bit. It was nice enough... until he started looking at me in a way that made me uncomfortable. It wasn't a lecherous, I-like-looking-at-your-body look... it was more of a deeply committed, I-want-you-to-be-mine look.
And that scared me.
After I got out of the water, I was drying off in the breeze, facing the water, thinking about what a beautiful world we live in...
When the guy approached me from behind, wrapped his arms around my waist, and started rubbing my stomach. I think I felt him kiss my shoulder.
"NO MOLESTAR!" I screamed at him. I was pissed.
"No molestar," or don't touch, is a phrase I only know because I see it on signs in the national parks. Typically, is it used with respect to animals. No molestar monos. No molestar mapache. No molestar sello.
This fact made me even more pissed, because I am not a motherf@*$ing animal, and it disgusts me that he would treat me like one.
So, to answer Joseph's question, "Don't you ever get tired of people hitting on you all the time?"
No. In fact, it's probably a good thing, because I've learned that if I don't enforce my boundaries, people will take advantage of my time, and that is not okay.
No, because I understand the whole #NotAllMen thing. Most men are good. Most men would never treat me like a monkey. Most men would not just start touching me without my consent. Most men would not try to score a date with me while my friend was lost at sea.
And I understand that a lot of "hitting on" is just harmless flirting. Flirting is fun. It is silly, playful and sweet, and it beats the heck out of small talk! I don't mind appropriate (e.g., I'm not at work, you're not my boss, my friend isn't lost at sea, etc.) flirting one bit. As long as you don't touch me. Or ignore me when I say I'm not interested.
But. I also understand the #YesAllWomen thing. ALL women, whether they are slender and beautiful or fat and plain, have experienced some amount of unwanted touching, comments or come-ons. That is why so many women absolutely hate getting hit on.
So, men. Here's what I think. If you see a pretty girl, and the situation is appropriate, go for it. Once. But be extremely mindful of the situation. Be mindful of her body language. Approach her like a person, not an algorithm. Be warm. Be kind. And be fully prepared to back off the moment you get a chilly vibe.
Because if you aren't, you are no better than that creepy molester on the beach, and I hope someone screams at you so you get the message, loud and clear.
(Remember: if a woman raises her voice at you, it's not because she is "crazy." It's because you did something that made her mad or uncomfortable. Learn from it, and do better next time.)
Want to know more? Check out:
These Specific Behaviors Will Make You More Charismatic, Starting RIGHT Now.
Assertiveness: How to Stand Up For Yourself and Still Win the Respect of Others
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif All Women Need to See ASAP.
Guns Don't Kill Women. Male Entitlement Kills Women.
How to Know Exactly When (and When NOT) To Kiss a Girl
Women: Instantly Make Your Whole Life Better By Learning This ONE Phrase.