There's been some recent confusion about a post I wrote last fall. In What Men Don't Understand When They Complain, "It's Only Creepy If The Guy Isn't Hot," I made the very accurate and straightforward statement that flirting is only fun when it's reciprocated. Yes, I acknowledged, attractiveness does affect the likelihood of your flirting being reciprocated, and that sucks for people who are not attractive.
But continuing to hit on someone who isn't interested is a good way to be labeled creepy, and there are better ways to actually find love.
Also worth noting:
Yes, some women are superficial and shallow and cruel.
AND. Some guys are creeps and perverts. They shout sexual comments at 12-year-olds who are just trying to walk to school. They make women feel unsafe in professional and social situations.
But obviously not all men are perverts, and not all women are superficial, and I can't even imagine how sad it would be to live feeling so weirdly victimized all the time. It's not a healthy mindset, and there are steps you can take to change it. (Maybe start with Byron Katie or Michael Bennett... or even just a good therapist.)
Here's another thought: if it's so easy for you to believe that ALL women are a certain way... maybe that's the reason you're struggling in the relationship department. Women are individuals, and treating them as such is kind of important if you want them to like you.
Another consideration, which didn't even occur to me before because this behavior/lifestyle is just so foreign to me, but...
In my original article, I assumed that people were looking for dating and relationships, not random hookups. But then someone commented with a link to this bizarre story about a dude who made a fake, hot Tinder profile, then sent gross, sexual messages to a bunch of women...
And some responded positively. (Though, of course, we have NO idea how many messages he had to send to get enough screenshots for his article. We also have no indication that the women who responded positively were, themselves, attractive, intelligent, or in any way desirable... though I have my hypotheses.)
As I told the commenter, "Girls who respond positively to disgusting messages like that are so far beyond relatable to me that their responses literally made me gag." (They're allowed to do what they want; I'm allowed to think it's gross.) I can't really comment on that, except to say:
1. If all someone wants is to hook up with a hot guy, of course they're going to reject unattractive guys. Sure, that sucks for unattractive guys, but no one has any right to tell anyone else who to have sex with.
2. I think part of the reason men who are looking for love run into trouble is that they turn to books and websites that basically teach them how to use creepy tactics ("violating" the girl's personal space; backing her into a corner so she can't pull away when you try to kiss her; forcing yourself into her apartment after you walk her home, even though she already said goodnight) that may increase your chances of coercing kisses or sex out of a girl...
But after that, she will never want to see you again because you were creepy and disrespectful to her.
If you're only looking for a hookup, these "tactics" might work for you... but they might also land you in jail or looking for new employment. (See also:If You Had to Hold Her Head in Place and Force Your Faces Together, It Wasn't a Kiss.)
If you're looking for a meaningful or lasting relationship, this is not the way to get it.
But that's a whole other thing.
The thing that I want to reiterate now, a year later, is:
In order to be fun and not creepy, FLIRTING HAS TO BE MUTUAL.
Flirting is fun. But only when advances are thrilling, meaningful, or desired. Flirting, like kissing, sex, and... I dunno, tandem skydiving?... is only fun when both people are into it.
Unwanted sexual advances are gross.
Unfairly, if you're attractive, advances are more likely to be mutual. If you're unattractive, your advances are less likely to be mutual if all the girl knows about you is how attractive you are.
Which is why, rather than diving into some creepy, one-size-fits-all pickup line... probably you should skip the pickup line and... establish common ground that isn't "you are sexually attractive to me."
For example: man sees woman reading book. Man interrupts woman's reading. Should he say:
A. "Hi! Hi! Excuse me! I just have to say, I see a whole, amazing world of intelligence and wonder in your eyes!" (Real thing someone actually said to me last week)
B. "Excuse me -- you're reading The Miracle? I read that before my trip to Singapore last year and it just... It almost made some of the authoritarian choices made by Asian governments seem justified. Super fascinating!
The first guy is creepy. He felt entitled to interrupt me when I'm clearly in the middle of something, and he doesn't even have anything to say except, "Yo, you're hot." The fact that he would interrupt what I was doing to tell me of his sexual urges makes me wonder how much my agency, goals, interests, and boundaries matter to him.
Not to mention: he literally has nothing to add to the conversation.
The second guy and I have the shared experience of both having read this book... and, since he went to Singapore after reading the book, he might even have something interesting to add or debate me on. ("I saw the factory he talked about -- remember, the one that they always fired up whenever there were foreign investors in town? -- and I was really surprised to see ___.") He hasn't interrupted me to comment on my body. He wants to talk about ideas and interests.
And, sure. There is a small chance that if Guy A is EXTREMELY attractive, or if we have a magical, instant connection, the "identical behavior" of complimenting a strange woman's appearance might not be seen as quite so creepy...
But in the comments, the recurring complaint is that "identical behaviors" are seen as creepy only when the guy isn't hot.
The problem with thinking about it this way is...
An interaction is bidirectional.
Thinking of "identical behaviors" of an attractive and unattractive man kind of removes the woman entirely from the story...
May be a reason you have trouble with women? Remember:
In order to be fun and not creepy, FLIRTING HAS TO BE MUTUAL.
Flirting shouldn't be a thing one of you does. It should be a thing both of you are doing. Otherwise, it is creepy.
Perhaps Guy A sees an amazing world of wonder and intelligence in my eyes. I look up at him, and there is an instant, inexplicable connection. I reply, "Thanks, and that is an incredible ocean in your chin." Three hours later, we're still talking.
Perhaps Guy B announces he has read the same book as me, and I say, "Oh, cool," look back to my book, and turn the page -- and he pulls up a chair and keeps talking. Creeeeeeeepy. (Fun fact: That we've read the same book does NOT mean that I "owe" you a conversation.)
"Identical behavior" doesn't mean shit in different interactions with different people who are responding in different ways.
The determining factor is always going to be reciprocity.
Appearance can affect whether women reciprocate. So can your social skills. Which is why, if people think you're creepy, you should order a copy of The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism. Immediately.
A few other questions that came up in the comments:
Yeah, but some girls are MEAN!
All else equal, I believe it's better to be polite, kind, and compassionate than it is to be rude. I actually read a really amazing book, F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness - and What We Can Do About It, which made me literally laugh out loud several times...
And it also highlighted some of the consequences of rudeness -- rudeness can literally cost lives.
However, again, I don't owe you a conversation just because you interrupted me. In fact, women's fear of "being rude" can also get them killed.
Not to mention the whole fundamental attribution error, or the tendency to attribute our own behavior to our situation, and other people's behavior to their disposition. If I have time and energy, I might talk to you. If I'm in a hurry, tired, or having a bad day, I have every right to brush you off.
The attitude that I owe you something... is creepy.
"Uncomfortable" and "creepy" are different things.
I agree! Talking to someone with bad breath is uncomfortable. It's not fair to call him "creepy" just because of his bad breath...
If I took a step back from you because your breath was disgusting, then you took a step toward me, so I took another step back, so you took another step forward, THAT would be creepy.
My boundaries were ignored. My space was violated. Whether you did it on purpose or you just didn't notice you were making me uncomfortable, it was still creepy.
For me, holding hands is really intimate. I feel very uncomfortable when someone I don't deeply care for tries to hold my hand.
Even so, if you try to hold my hand once and I take it away, I won't call you creepy.
If I pull my hand away from you and you try to hold it again a few seconds later, THAT is creepy. I will think you are gross, and I will never talk to you again.
So don't go home all joyful, thinking you made some romantic progress because you got me to hold hands with you. In reality, you're going to text me that you had a wonderful evening. I'm going to completely ghost on you and never explain why.
(Then, probably, you're going to mistakenly believe that I ghosted because you were "too available" or "desperate." WRONG! See also: It's Not That Girls Don't Like Guys Who Are "Desperate" or "Too Available." It's That You Ignored Her Boundaries.)
Another complaint that comes up in the comments is:
Oh, but women aren't oppressed anymore. MEN are the oppressed ones, and they have it SO MUCH WORSE than women!!!!!
Last night, I woke up at 3am thinking about the horrors of WWI.
Have you ever had trench foot? Ever been woken up by hoards of rats who were literally obese from eating all your dead friends? Lost multiple brothers over some stupid diplomatic crisis? Had a limb blown off? Rotted both inside and outside after being exposed to mustard gas?
Then please don't fucking whine at me about how hard it is to be a man.
If the biggest thing you have to worry about is that a woman at a bar might reject you, you have it pretty good.
Similarly, have you ever had to worry about accidentally getting pregnant? Had debilitating cramps? Been harassed in the streets? Had to worry about being raped or sexually assaulted? Had to make major career sacrifices in order to grow a human inside of you, then have it rip you apart inside and put you at risk of peeing or pooping yourself every time you laugh for the rest of your life? Had to return to work basically in a huge diaper because of all the bleeding you're still experiencing because you just delivered a baby a few days ago? Been constantly interrupted and treated like a secretary at work? Had adverse side effects after taking a medication that was supposed to be safe, because the drug had only actually been tested on men?
It seriously blows my mind when men (manchildren?) think they have it tougher than women, and that women are some sort of "privileged class." But let me tell you: if this is truly how you feel about the world, it's highly likely that the reason women don't like you is your persecution complex and lack of empathy.
Whining and pity parties are not very sexy.
On a related note:
But women aren't expected to approach men or make the first move! What a wonderful privilege!
Boy. Let's get one thing straight:
Hot women have the "privilege" (which is just as likely to be an annoyance) of being approached by men and not having to make the first move.
Average and unattractive women...
Are often invisible.
As demonstrated by the fact that you, sir, seem blissfully unaware of their existence. If you really think that ALL women are CONSTANTLY approached by men...
I don't even know what to tell you.
Do you seriously think that average or unattractive men have it worse than average or unattractive women? I mean, I guess that because men are typically larger and stronger than women, men approached by average or unattractive women are unlikely to perceive them as threatening or creepy.
That doesn't mean they're any less likely to be mocked, led on, or cruelly rejected.
It's also true that women get hit on way more than men.
"Eva! A girl asked for my number!" an attractive guy friend of mine exclaimed the other day when we met up for lunch.
For him, this is such an unusual thing... that it's not annoying. It's not scary. It's not uncomfortable. Even if he's not interested in the girl, which he wasn't -- he doesn't have to worry she's going to assault or murder him for rejecting her.
The same friend sometimes retells the story of the older French woman who walked up to him in a bar in Paris and grabbed his dick.
Again -- he tells the story with a goofy grin, because being touched unwantedly has happened to him literally once. In public. Through the clothes. By someone he knew could never physically overpower him.
As I wrote in a comment on the previous post, I hate using the phrase "power dynamics," because SJWs have overused this word to the point that it's become meaningless jargon...
But you would have to be a real creep if, as a man, you couldn't comprehend why a woman might feel uncomfortable in a subway or walking down the street or even going on a date with someone she doesn't know, who is significantly stronger, bigger, and faster than she is.
(But I'll bet you don't think transwomen don't belong in women's sports -- which, scientifically, you're right, and I agree with you. But at least be consistent. If you don't think male-bodied people belong in women's sports, then why do you think women have no reason to fear men, even just a little?)
I'm sure some of you "object to my tone," but I respect you too much for euphemisms and sugarcoating. If you're looking for a circle jerk, you've come to the wrong place.
You're a big boy, and I know you can handle the truth.
And the truth is...
Life isn't fair.
Flirting is only fun when it's reciprocated.
It's more likely to be reciprocated if you're hot.
But "creepy" is about your behavior, not you appearance.
Hot guys can be creepy.
Some girls are superficial. Some girls are mean.
Life is hard for everyone.
If you're not hot, you probably need to get to know someone a little better before hitting on her. That way, she knows how smart and funny and talented you are, and not just what you look like.
If you pay attention to her boundaries and behaviors, you'll have a lot more luck in dating and will be way less likely to be seen as creepy.
Because flirting is only fun when it is reciprocated.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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