Hallmarks of creepiness.

11 May

One thing I’ve picked up from my time in the manosphere is that a lot of men think women are too liberal with the word “creepy.”  They think that women summarily apply it to every man they find sexually unattractive, as though “sexually unattractive” were a subset of “creepy.”  While I’m sure that some women label every unattractive man “creepy,” most of the time it is a knee-jerk assessment.  Creepiness is a woman’s gut telling her that something is Not Right.  Every woman has had at least one experience being in the presence of a truly creepy man who set off every red flag in her head and made her want to run away as fast as possible.

Most of the time, creepiness stems from some degree of social inability.  People expect others to relate to them in a culturally accepted way, and deviating from these socially acceptable cues will set off alarms in people’s heads.  Probably the biggest creep factor is a combination of staring and lurking.  Staring makes people uncomfortable because people aren’t accustomed to prolonged looks, and lurking makes people uncomfortable because people interpret prolonged eye contact as a reason to approach.  A woman who is getting looks from a man will usually expect him to approach her and begin conversation.  However, if he continues looking but never tries to talk to her, she will start to feel uncomfortable and possibly threatened.  If the man has other unfavorable social markers such as hygiene and grooming issues, he’ll easily fall into the creepy category.

Icky touching is another creepiness factor.  Most people touch in accordance with the level of intimacy they share, starting with hand-to-shoulder and progressing to fuller bodily contact.  Creepy touching is touching that is inappropriate to the level of intimacy that two people share, or goes on too long to be plausibly innocent, or seems gratuitous to the situation.  For example, if some guy you don’t know too well is always coming up behind you and putting his hands on your shoulders and rubbing them as a means of starting interaction with you, that’s creepy.

Invasive conversation is likely to set off the creepy alarms as well.  By invasive conversation I mean conversation that is overly focused and inappropriate to the level of familiarity with the other person.  One time I was in a group where a man was asking another woman in the group a lot of detailed, personal questions about herself – questions that a normal person would not ask of someone they had just met.  The woman tried to answer the questions as politely as possible, but when he left, she turned to me and asked, “Did that guy seem creepy to you?”  To which I answered, “YES.”

Off the top of my head, the three issues I’ve mentioned here are the main ones that trigger the creepy factor (at least outside of truly, unmistakably socially “off” behavior).  What creepiness is NOT is social awkwardness.  You are not creepy if you’re shy, or bumbly, or prone to stick your foot in your mouth.  As I said before, creepiness is really about that gut-level feeling that something is Not Right in the way another person is interacting with you and that it could possibly put you at risk.


18 Responses to “Hallmarks of creepiness.”

  1. Charles Martel May 11, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I agree with everything Haley has written here. However, while thinking over this advice/admonition there are several subtle distinctions going through my mind about a man’s social behavior that I’d like to ask:

    1) Would someone explain to me when light, playful or flirtatious touching becomes icky? Is it alright to lightly touch a girl’s shoulder during first contact, such as after a conversation during a party? Or is even that unacceptable?

    2) I know the inappropriateness of invasive questions is manifestly obvious most of the time, but sensitivity to certain subjects tends to vary from person to person. For instance, would a question where one lives and the quality of its area (i.e., is the traffic bad, are the parks good, do you like the house/apartment you live in) be considered invasive? Perhaps this may seem obvious to some, but I am generally curious.

    Thanks, in advance, for any replies I receive to my questions.

  2. Aunt Haley May 11, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Charles Martel–
    1. You need to be receiving some IOIs before you try any kind of touching.

    2. I don’t see any problem with the hypothetical questions you listed, in the context of a normal conversation. Part of having a healthy conversation is being able to read social cues from the other person as to their level of interest and willingness. Invasive conversation tends to ignore those cues.

  3. Charles Martel May 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Haley, thanks for your response.

    My motivation for #1 was to gain insight into a recent experience of mine: I met a woman in a coffee shop, offered to buy her another cup of the drink she had finished (she accepted) and ended up having about a twenty minute conversation with her. At the end of our conversation I asked if she would like to meet me at a truffle shop elsewhere in the city (she accepted) and if I could have her number. She gave me her number (the correct one), I thanked her for the conversation, said I enjoyed meeting her, would call her and lightly touched her shoulder before departing.

    I never received an answer after I called and left her a message.

    So, was the touch the death-knell in this case? If there was something else I sure don’t know what it could have been (beyond simply not being interested and being unable or willing to turn me down when I asked).

    Critiques are welcome.

  4. Langobard May 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    …Invasive conversation is likely to set off the creepy alarms as well. By invasive conversation I mean conversation that is overly focused and inappropriate to the level of familiarity with the other person. One time I was in a group where a man was asking another woman in the group a lot of detailed, personal questions about herself – questions that a normal person would not ask of someone they had just met. …

    Exactly, couldn’t say it any better myself.

    For a man to engage in this this type of an interrogative, early approach with a woman, advocated by some dating ‘experts’ and even some ‘pua’s’ alike does not make him stand out as ‘interesting’ – or even interested in her – but instead makes him stand out as a needy, insecure super-beta who is trying waaaay too hard to make an impression.

    As well, it is downright nosy and shows an incredible lack of boundaries and disrespect of another person’s space – especially bad qualities for a Christian to have, or tolerate.

  5. Aunt Haley May 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Charles Martel–
    Your acquaintance’s acceptance and then non-response were probably her attempt at being “nice.” If the questions you wrote above made up the bulk of your coffee conversation with her, well…….zzzzzzzzzzzz. Those are the questions you ask when you’re working very hard to make conversation. Also, your invitation to meet at the truffle shop was too vague.

    Next time ask fewer questions and make more statements that she can respond to. For example, if you’re trying to chat someone up in a very long line at the grocery store, you might say, “Man, I’m glad I don’t have anything frozen in my basket.” Not, “Do you come to this Ralph’s a lot?” The former statement will probably get at least a chuckle and therefore more openness to whatever you say next. The latter statement will just get a perfunctory, detached answer.

  6. Langobard May 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Interesting article on this same subject from Sophia –

    Dissecting creepiness | Sofiastry

    But, women make the mistake of including men who are inexpert at picking up women, who are low-status, or otherwise socially awkward as also creepy. This is because, again I theorize, that the levels of dominance they exude are too low. Thus, women turned off by their subsequent non-sexual qualities just include them in the category of genuine creeps as a way of branding them Untouchables also.

    I am proud to say, as an example from my personal life: a guy from high school I was friends with was quite introverted and branded as creepy for a period in time. I turned him on to Roissy, and he’s found reasonable amounts of success for a formerly socially stunted wallflower. The line between creep and being a desirable man usually just consists in a change of attitude for the better.


  7. Ceer May 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    The rules I’ve been exposed to:

    1) If a woman touches you in a particular way (pay attention to both place and duration of touch), it’s usually ok to reciprocate.

    2) At the start, touching a woman’s hand or lower arm is usually acceptable to start off.

  8. Ceer May 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    @Charles Martel

    I doubt the touch hurt you. What happened to you is called a flake. This is common. Women are flakey creatures. Don’t feel bad.

    About the best game experts that I have heard of using the best methods have a call back rate of about +
    65%. This means that no matter how good you are, 35% of women will pretty much always flake.

    Here are some rules to help minimize flakes:

    1) Go for an instant date/venue change/hang out at the same time. Get the phone number after the bounce.

    2) Create a time bridge. This idea is about creating a logical reason (or a hamster excuse) to see you again.

    3) Do not pump her state up too much. Helps keep her in the same frame of mind when you contact again.

    4) Use text message instead of calling. Roosh tested this and says it makes the difference between 50% response and 65% response.

    5) Do not make plans too far in advance. 1 day maximum between contact and day2/date/hanging out. This minimizes her state change between contact and date.

    6) It is not necessary to wait for any specific amount of time before you call a girl after getting her number.

    If you have any questions about the ideas covered in this post, don’t be afraid to ask. If a question is particularly pertinent to the blog, our kind host may even create another thread based on it.

  9. The Man Who Was . . . May 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Women do not automatically put sexually unattractive men into the category of being creepy. Most of the time women feel positively towards (in a non-sexual way) or are merely indifferent towards such men.

    Creepiness usually means being sexually unattractive plus putting yourself forward as a potential mate/sexual partner.

  10. Charles Martel May 12, 2011 at 5:53 am #


    Thanks alot for your enumeration. Most of your items I was either intuitively aware and had tried to implement in the past, but a couple hadn’t crossed my mind. The points about making a venue bounce before attempting to close for the number does, after some thought, make good sense to me.


    The questions I had mentioned did not make up the bulk of my conversation. I had asked about them mainly to gauge their suitability and “creep” factor, as it were. I do agree with you that declarative statements are better effecters of interest than serial questioning.

  11. Langobard May 12, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Creepiness usually means being sexually unattractive plus putting yourself forward as a potential mate/sexual partner.

    This of course can apply to both men andwomen – i.e. “Desperate Housewives” and other garden-variety “cougars” (of course, being women, the stigma is certainly not the same as it is for men since so many overly eager men, brainwashed by our degenerate, promiscuous “culture” think they should never turn down “free sex” – although in reality there is no such thing – from virtually any willing woman).

  12. Hope May 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    When I was younger, an older woman told me that I have a malfunctioning creep-dar. I would go for the nerds and geeks that other women deemed extremely creepy.

    Once or twice those guys became creepy to me as well. One of them was hospitalized for a suicide attempt (which made me sympathetic toward him). Then some time after we became friends, he told me he had rape fantasies. That was the brisk end of that friendship/crush.

  13. Hope May 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    I should also mention that this guy was actually quite good looking. Tall, muscular and blond, glasses, nerdy, but wow, in retrospect, he was very creepy.

  14. Peter May 13, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    “Creepiness usually means being sexually unattractive plus putting yourself forward as a potential mate/sexual partner.”

    Exactly. At least at some level, not necessarily conscious, terms like ‘creepy’ are a way to deter unattractive men from flirting, doubly so if they do it ineptly.

    It does apply to women, as well: an attractive woman who, say, playfully grabs the butt of guys she knows will usually be seen as fun and flirty by men. A fat woman who did the very same thing would make men retch.

  15. Eumaios May 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Excellent post, Haley.

    Does your experience of “creepy” map at all well to Vox Day’s socio-sexual hierarchy? For instance, before reading this post, I would have assumed “creepy” mapped almost exactly to all Gammas and Omegas, but almost never to Deltas. Now I’m not so sure.

    Perhaps it is only the set of Gamma + Omega who also make clear their sexual interest, per the Man Who Was’s comment.

  16. Anthony May 19, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Man Who Was says:

    “Creepiness usually means being sexually unattractive plus putting yourself forward as a potential mate/sexual partner.”

    Half right.

    In my experience, what most women over 25ish consider creepy is men who have a very poor understanding of boundaries AND who seem to hit on every single woman who doesn’t immediately shut them down or flee.

    However, lots of younger women, and some of the old-enough-to-know-better set, will consider creepy any man who is sexually interested in her when she’s not sexually interested in him.

  17. Paige May 19, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    I have been creeped out by handsome men. It usually because of leering or because he is saying things that indicate he is perverted. For instance…if I see a handsome man leer and ogle a 13 year old (which has happened) I am going to be disgusted.

    I watch the show Millionaire Matchmaker and occasionally they have guys on the show who are creepy despite being both very wealthy and relatively handsome.

  18. Jennifer August 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Very good post, Haley! Some women are snobs, but very often we need to listen to our gut!

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