Here’s the thing: If you’re a guy, chances are you’ve done at least a few things in your life that, unbeknownst to you, and perhaps with the purest of intentions, still creeped a girl out.
And that’s OK! No one is born knowing everything, and like children on a playground, we often have to test some boundaries and make mistakes to learn what others like and don’t like.
Growth as a person, true growth, comes from admitting your shortcomings and failures and striving to find a better way to live.
Recently, inspired to learn how men had grown over time and changed their behavior’s towards women, a Reddit user asked men this question:
For men who used to be “creepy” towards women and have since stopped, what was it that made you realize you were creepy that prompted you to change?
The thread has since gotten nearly 8,000 responses, the most enlightening of which we’re delighted to share with you.
Will the answers from this thread fix sexism in society? No, but like the #MeToo movement, and other highly visible nods to women’s rights, it’s a move in the right direction.
1. Sometimes getting sober is the key to treating yourself and everyone else better.
2. Social distance, bro.
In middle school, I was a mid-puberty, horniness-stricken little perv. I didn’t do a good job concealing it, either. I would always get really close to my one friend (physically) because I liked her at the time, and looking back, it was so wrong to do
3. Semper fi, but not Semper jerk, thankfully.
I went out drinking with a bunch of my fellow Marines. We were all in our early to mid-twenties and some of us were Very good-looking (not me). At the end of the night only one of us had gotten any numbers and that one guy had gotten several. He was like 5’6″ (167cm) and more or less looked like a 12 year old. Took me a while to figure out why this was the case.
When I realized that he was the only one of us that didn’t look dangerous A Lot of things started making sense.
My creepiness came from not knowing how to talk to girls, not anything predatory. I think a lot of guys are like that. I wasn’t particularly creepy but I look back on some stuff I did or said that I thought was smooth or flirty but looking back at it now I’m like wow I was actually being creepy lmao.
5. Being gay isn’t an excuse.
I figured out that my being gay doesn’t change things. I never made a point to be careful about not making women uncomfortable because I always knew that I had no sexual intentions toward them and that they didn’t need to worry about any advances or anything.
Of course, that didn’t mean they knew that; or if they did, it didn’t change the fact that I’m a man and there are appropriate ways to behave around people.
6. Pickup artists are gross.
Learning that pickup artistry is a massive grift meant to gamify social interactions with women for men who are socially isolated. Every pickup-artist tactic is just weird, toxic emotional abuse. Not only does it not work, but if it DID work, it would be morally abhorrent to do it
7. “Not be but my friend”
I’m not the creeper. My friend was. We were out at a bar and he walked up to a girl and brushed her hair with his hand. How he explains it, he started to say, ‘You have beautiful hair,’ then got punched in the face by the girl and kicked out of the bar.
We met him at the car after about 10 minutes of realizing he was gone — blood all over his face and just ashamed. I was with my wife and we were both confused as to why he would touch a stranger. He is now married and not a creeper. That was the night that opened his eyes to realizing that women are equals and not toys
8. If they want a compliment, they’ll ask for one.
I wasn’t being actively creepy, but:
I used to think cat-calling was just flirtatious compliments, and who doesn’t like those, right? I never cat-called anybody, largely because that’s not my personality type.
But now I live by the motto: “Never say something to a stranger that you wouldn’t want a big guy saying to you in prison.”
Reading many many posts about how pervasive of a problem it is for women to have men leer or subject them to microaggressions. Hearing it all named, and hearing how unsettling it is for people, made me reexamine some of my behavior toward women. Please do keep taking about it — it works!
I had what I can only call a grand moment of realization. There was a girl who I was acquainted with, and she was obviously, obsessively, and weirdly into me. Being at the state of peak neckbeard that I was, I was desperate for a girlfriend. But for whatever reason I was not into the idea. I knew her too well, and although she was interested in me, I was NOT interested in her.
I spent a long time thinking about wether I should start seeing this girl I wasn’t attracted to… then it clicked for me: Sometimes people just aren’t into you. That’s okay, and it’s actually a good thing not to have to say yes to a relationship just because someone thinks they’re qualified to date you.
That moment back in 2009 changed my perspective so much, and I was able to realize that other people have and deserve their own autonomy.
12. It’s simple: just listen to women.
Hearing women complain about something and thinking, Oh s**t, I’ve done that. It seriously has helped me improve on a lot of things.
A girl told me she wasn’t interested because I did something creepy and she felt uncomfortable about it. I had no idea it was a creep move at the time. I’d never had that feedback, and I’m very happy she provided it, when she could have just ghosted and moved on. For those wondering, it was Facebook stalking. My young, ignorant self thought it would be cool to surprise her with my knowledge, because that showed I cared enough to learn about her. The real boundary crossing was me asking about other guys she’s friends with who made flirty comments on her pics
They aren’t laughing because I’m funny, they’re laughing because they’re scared.
15. Sometimes speaking up, even though it’s hard, makes men reconsider.
I used to have this older man always flirt & be unprofessional towards me at work when I first started, I was around 24 years old. After i had enough of his weird comments & flirting, I told him that he has a daughter the same age as me (which was true because he’d talk about his family at times) and that how would he like it if some older man was talking to his daughter like that and making sexual comments to her. He became less weird and flirtatious and more “regular” holding normal conversations. He moved shifts so I don’t even see him anymore
I had to explain to my 50 year old husband that young women do NOT find his interest a compliment
17. Teenage hormones don’t come with an instruction book.
Being called out. Directly and specifically.
I had absolutely no idea that there was anything off about my behavior. I thought nobody was picking up on how horny I was. I thought nobody knew. I thought I was smooth AF.
But some specific things I did were called out (touches on the arm, inappropriate topics of conversation, things like that) and I realized holy [cow], I have been a total disrespectful creep.
And everyone knows it.
I don’t miss my teen years. Don’t miss ’em at all.
On the plus side, it encouraged me to strive for a life where I’m 100% genuine and don’t want anything from anyone.
18. “I was evil and toxic”
When I broke up with my first serious girlfriend, I was totally heartbroken. I called her all the time and cried on the phone. I even threatened to kill myself and told her so. This went on for some time. Eventually I threatened again to kill myself and went to bed drunk. I woke up to a voicemail from her, crying her eyes out and begging me not to do it.
I was so ashamed about my behavior. I realized in that message what I had become. It was absolutely her right, as it was mine, to end a relationship at any time for any reason, without being hounded and traumatized by the ex. I was evil and toxic
I have five sisters, and hearing them talk about something creepy a guy did really made me check my own actions.
Also, I think a lot of us were just hormonal teenagers with a typical, insane libido. Getting called out normally works
I was 18 working at Six Flags. We got a new coworker at the ride I was mainly at and I took a liking to her instantly. I tried talking with her constantly and “cutely” blocked her path multiple times. This was all on her first day. The next she didn’t show back up.
Thats when I realized I had harassed her, all she wanted to do is just work and get some extra cash and I added stupid stress to that.
I don’t interact with coworkers like that anymore. Even if I think I could have a chance, I leave them alone on that level.
Looking back I was like most other males born in the 70’s and did not know better. I then became friends with women and learn what women want in a person. The coup de grace was when I was hanging out with some gay men who flipped the creepy vibe on me. The result was a bumble date voted me the most charming man she dated.
Talking to women, becoming friends with women, changing my circle of friends, growing up, learning empathy, and the final nail in the coffin was sobriety
24. She’s not looking for a knight in shining armor anway, bro.
I realized that I wasn’t a knight in shining armor, and they weren’t princesses to be adored and saved. Instead of trying to ingratiate myself with them, I stopped giving a f**k and just started casual conversations. If they gave curt responses and standoffish body language, I politely exited the conversation and moved on.
I had ruined 2 friendships in a week cause I was getting blackout drunk and trying to sleep with them. That’s also what made me realize alcohol is terrible.
I used to do that smirk thing when talking to women. I thought it projected confidence, but then someone I worked with told me I should watch the creeper vibe, so I had to take a hard look at my mannerisms. Man, that must have been scary and off-putting. I’m sorry I did that, everyone
Growing self-awareness that I wasn’t the centre of the goddamn universe. I went through a chasing-potential-girlfriends-too-hard phase in my young adult years — including mistaking simple offers of friendship and work colleague status for actual interest.
It wasn’t ‘stalking’ level and it never reached the point of discipline (or even commenting), but it was probably to the point of being a little unprofessional and uncomfortable for the girl involved.
28. Yikes, but it’s pretty relatable.
Saw this answer some time ago It was this dude that tried to confess to the girl he liked by going to her apartment and make her dinner with candles,flowers and all that s**t But then the girl came home and the first thing she said was ” are you going to kill me”
When I was younger, I would sometimes realize, someone was trying to get me fucked up or otherwise defenses down, so they could fuck me. I was always really devastated and felt dirty, like I was being preyed on. But I kind of did the same thing to other people, which was justifiable because I was crushing on them or whatever. It took me a while to realize, the behavior you don’t like is what you’re doing to others. After that, I became a lot more transparent and stopped doing the whole “creepy friend with ulterior motives” and just started doing the “I am interested in you and would enjoy a date” from the getgo, and it made things a lot better for everyone. If there was rejection I dealt with it and moved on, like a healthy person.
30. Hands off.
This post first appeared on WorldWideInterweb.