Are You One of Those "Creeps"?
To answer this rhetorical question, the likelihood is low. But the impression that this is very likely is now prevalent in our social awareness. I hear many men express this fear that they are, because it has become a stigma that can be fastened to a man's reputation very quickly, often without true justification. The difference between a man acting socially awkward and a man who is a perpetrator is large. It is much larger than what current social discourse has made it out to be. The stereotype of men as "creeps" has cemented into our consciousness. Because of this women tend to be on the lookout for those "creeps." I understand that this began to help women be more conscientious about their safety and I am totally on board with women being cautious about their interactions by all means. The problems is that this has come to create the impression that there is a high likelihood that men in general are dangerous. There are a statistically low number of men out there who do not understand boundaries and cannot control themselves that should lead women to be conscious of their surroundings and who they are getting involved with for sure. Yet, there are many kind, gentle men out there who are uncomfortable with their sexual feelings and act very timid in romantic situations. Because these men express their sexual feelings awkwardly sometimes they are then are labeled the "creeps." They are labeled this way because of their own feelings of shame about sex which lead them to communicate their interest in awkward ways. Are these the dangerous "creeps" women are taught to be on the lookout for? Very rarely, yet these men may get called this name in social settings. In addition to their behavior, some of these men are more empathic and in touch with their emotions, and internalize this judgement. They believe they are these "creeps" everybody is on the lookout for based on natural sexual feelings and this reinforces even less assertiveness when it comes to attraction and pursuing attraction in normal, appropriate ways. Then, the "jerks" who do not care about others' opinions continue asserting themselves sexually, and because they are comfortable with their sexual feelings, even when they express them inappropriately, tend to get the girl.
A lot of how behavior is perceived comes down to how comfortable you are when you engage in the behavior. If it feels normal to you, other people are likely going to take it as normal. If you feel awkward or uncomfortable, even if it is a totally normal behavior, the people around you are going to experience it as awkward and uncomfortable and perceive it as wrong, even if it is not.
As you are trying new behaviors out in your quest to get comfortable with yourself and sexual feelings, for example (I am choosing sexual feelings because these are the most rife with shame and perceived wrongness for a majority of people. The way most people are raised inherently creates a sense of shame and wrongness around sexuality), know that if something does not go right it is ok to back off and apologize. I want to emphasize this because
(1) sex is a sensitive subject, and some people react strongly to when sexual attraction is alluded to in an interaction, so it is important to be aware of this and adjust your approach or back off accordingly, and
(2) many men think that apologizing means that you are showing weakness and that if a woman thinks you are not "strong," in whatever way we have come to define that, that they will lose attraction for us.
The latter presents a very common misunderstanding men have. It takes strength to apologize and admit when you are wrong. The difference is that often when men apologize they do so as if there is something wrong with them, rather than something wrong with what they did. Men's perception of apologizing as meaning they are weak boils down to this distinction. If you act as if there is something wrong with you, people will follow your lead, and feel that something is wrong as well and associate that sense of wrongness with you. If you act as though you made a mistake, are cool about it, and adjust your behavior people are generally going to be ok with this. Everybody makes mistakes, and most people are pretty forgiving (depending on what you did!). Making a mistake does not mean that there is something wrong with you, and a mistake should not challenge your confidence and regard for yourself. If it does, and this knowledge I am giving here does not rectify that alone, then I recommend finding somebody to talk to and work this through. Many of us have been through challenging life experiences or traumas that have affected us on an emotional level and also affect how we view ourselves.
Part of getting comfortable communicating your attraction to a woman is practice. Practicing something new to you means there is a learning curve involved. You are going to make mistakes, and that is ok. The best thing you can do is be willing to learn and listen. Do not take rejection personally. If this happens listen to her and what she is communicating to you. This is all part of the process of learning what works for you and what does not work for you.
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