Nobody Wants to Be Creepy

Nobody wants to be creepy, but what do you do when you overhear someone's comment about a creep, and it turns out they are talking about you! How do you know if you are creeping people out? How do you stop?

What Makes a Person Creepy

There isn't a definitive list of dos and don'ts to avoid being labeled "creepy." Being perceived as creepy is partially contextual. The closeness of your relationship and details matter. However, I have noted that there are three general areas that check the creep factor box. Once you are aware of them, you can make adjustments.

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You've Crossed the Conformity Line

People display a range of behaviors that other find comfortable. When we stray too far outside that comfort zone, the outlier becomes foreign, suspicious, and unpredictable. It weirds us out.

Even non-conformists tend to be unconventional in a predictable way. For example, dressing in all black with dyed black hair and black fingernails is an acceptable sign of rebellion. Collecting hair samples, having an avid interest in taxonomy, or wearing vials of blood is not.

More typical signs of straying too far from conformity are things like standing too close to someone, asking inappropriate questions, staring, avoiding eye contact, having poor hygiene, and having an unusual appearance (ill-fitting clothes, clothes of the wrong era, greasy hair, etc.)

Poor Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions, read the emotional temperature of your surroundings, and respond in a socially acceptable way. 

When we don't display healthy emotional intelligence, others can read us as creepy. Here are some examples:

having a fake or oddly timed smile or laughter
showing too much or not enough emotion
focusing on a single topic of conversation - particularly if the other person is uncomfortable or not listening
making sexual advances or comments 
ignoring or not responding to cues that the other person wants to leave 
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Poor Boundaries

Lots of people have poor boundaries. This, by itself, generally doesn't make someone seem creepy. However, having poor boundaries is more likely to gain you a "creepy" label.

Here are some examples:

oversharing. Don't assume a level of intimacy you don't actually have. It wigs healthy people out.
stalking. Don't search out information on strangers, coworkers, or people you don't know well. Wait for them to volunteer it. If they don't, consider it none of your business.
persistently pursuing someone who isn't interested in you. It doesn't matter if you think you're being helpful. No means no. Stay away.

How to Stop

If you've been called creepy or are reading this list and think, "Oh, God! This is me!" change the things that are obvious to you. If you overshare, stop. If you talk about sex to strangers or casual acquaintances, stop. 

If any of this is not obvious to you, please get help. Emotional intelligence and boundaries can be learned. It is not your fault if you didn't learn them as a child, but now that you are an adult, your quality of life depends upon these things. The earlier you get started, the quicker you can turn your life around.


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