The myth I’ll be covering in this post is a pervasive one that encompasses the entire spectrum of creepy behavior. It is an unfortunate and telling link between the mindsets of Nice Guys, accidental creepers, truly creepy creepers, and straight up rapists.
Obviously, when this thought process is summarized and stated in plain English the way it is in the title of this post, it points immediately to issues of consent and the mindset’s rapey extreme.
For example: Paul and Kayla are watching a movie on the couch. Paul would very much like to have sex with Kayla. Kayla has no intention on any kind of sexual contact with Paul. Paul is pretty certain that if he were to ask Kayla to have sex with him she’d refuse but he believes there is somehow still a chance it could happen. With both these things in mind Paul shoves his hand down Kayla’s pants.
Now from here, Kayla might move away and go “WTF dude?”. What’s also likely is that the ordeal will continue with what to Paul will probably look like consent as she does nothing. She may be frozen in shock or afraid to make a bad situation worse. We can already see why this is an extremely risky, dangerous and unwise strategy. Even if Kayla was still on the fence or had not yet formed an opinion as to whether or not such an advance from Paul was welcome, in this case, she was forced to make all of her decisions about this situation on the spot, in a vulnerable position, and with someone’s hand already in her underwear.
This is the fast-forward version of this myth in action. The underlying assumption is that asking will elicit a definite, concrete and irreversible ‘no’ and that this ‘no’ is either not justified or not fully genuine. The solution for guys who think this way, is thinking that if they simply go ahead with whatever they wanted to do, she’ll see how good it feels and conclude that this guy didn’t actually deserve a ‘no’ after all. For more hubristic types, this is also the underlying assumption in the belief that asking for consent will somehow “ruin the mood” or even make her say no as if sex were totally on the table and forthcoming until that guy decided to ask about it out loud.
The error in this thinking and the thing that makes this justifiable in the minds of guys who pull this sort of thing is the idea that until the moment a woman verbalizes the word ‘no’ or “fuck off”, her feelings on the question of whether or not she wants to sleep with this dude are in limbo and neither here nor there. It ignores the very real and practically one hundred percent certain possibility that she already has fully formed and decided thoughts on the matter. Non-consent in these guys’ minds isn’t real until they hear it or worse, until the point where they decide it’s real, like the point where you can form an accurate opinion from direct personal experience about Paul’s fingering skills.
So what does this have to do with bumbling creepers and Nice Guys? Everything. When your logic is based on the assumption that rejection is only real when you hear it, it follows that if you simply avoid hearing it indefinitely, you’ll never get rejected and will have infinite chances at getting the girl.
So how does one avoid hearing rejection? Well, the way Nice Guys and many creepers do it is by masking their intentions in the hopes that the person they’re creeping on won’t think too hard about whether or not they make a good partner before they’ve had time to sufficiently prove themselves. When a Nice Guy is making a move on you, you’re not supposed to even know he’s making said move until he’s bought you what he thinks is a sufficient number of lunches and listened to a sufficient number of your problems. Up until then, he believes you aren’t allowed to reject him because after all, he’s not making a move. He’s just being nice. Similarly, many Creepers believe that a rejection shouldn’t be official until he deems himself to have screwed up irreparably and a ‘no’ means nothing as long as he has further chances to try again and again at “getting it right”. In these two particular creeper groups, the behavior is rooted in a lack of self-confidence. Many believe that they can’t ask women out because they believe that they’re the type of guys women will immediately reject out of hand if they did. This is why Nice Guys opt to pretend to be a friend in order to gain the opportunity to conspicuously flex their boyfriend muscles in a lady’s general direction. This is also why creepers use their weird dance of plausibly deniable gestures and rationalize continuing in the face of disinterest under the veil of pretend cluelessnes. Both will deny their intentions if called on it in a way that suggests it might not be welcome. Rejection successfully evaded!
What makes this approach both creepy and largely unsuccessful is that while these guys believe they’re managing and controlling a woman’s impression of them and encouraging her to withhold her judgment of them til the time is right, in reality they’re just sticking their heads in the sand in terms of her current, already existing thoughts and feelings. They’re there. These guys just ignore them and/or think their idea of how their situation ought to progress is a better thing to pay attention to. In doing this they blind themselves to the things that are necessary for successful dating and social navigation in general.
Fortunately, it is possible to break this behavior pattern by making a couple of changes.
1. Work on your self presentation
If you have decent self-esteem but still believe that for you, being found worthy of dating requires several rounds of proving yourself, you might benefit from working on how you present yourself. People with issues in this area will generally agree with the statement “People don’t think much of me at first but they tend to like me more once they get to know me”. They’re aware of the fact that they are good and fun people but they are also aware that this doesn’t always come across to people right away. So instead of trying to force a prolonged first impression window or trying to evade the first impression process altogether, why not deal with the problem at its source and work on making that first impression the best it can be?
Many will balk at the idea of selling oneself thinking it to be sleazy and manipulative but advertising doesn’t have to be false to be effective. Think of it as honestly and effectively communicating what kind of person you actually are.
Imagine that someone is trying to sell you a product. The product comes in an unmarked cardboard box with no indication of its contents except for maybe the product name. Neither the package nor the person trying to sell you the product give you any information about what the product does or how it performs in comparison to other products that perform the same task or function. The person might use the product once or twice in front of you but for the most part their promotion of the product consists of holding the product in your face and yelling “JUST BUY IT! There’s nothing WRONG with it! JUST BUY IT!”. This is what you look like when you put no effort into your self presentation and expect people to want to date you anyway.
You don’t need to be a loud flashy extrovert in order to do this well either. Just put some effort into your personal style and find ways to show what makes you fun to be around and what you have to offer. This might require a bit of thinking and self-examination if you’re used to falling back on compensating with the bland positives of being nice and being handy whenever a favor is needed. Try starting with the things that your friends and your general social group like about you. If you’re still coming up empty in terms of things you have to offer besides not being a jerk, there’s nothing a little work couldn’t help in terms of strengthening your positive points.
For some excellent, detailed and in-depth guides to finding your personal style and recognizing signs of interest, Doctor Nerdlove is a great resource.
2. Look for yes instead of avoiding no
Let’s go back to Paul and Kayla for a moment. Because we can see everything that’s going on in this story we know that Kayla at best did not appreciate what Paul did. Some might try to defend Paul by saying that he didn’t know. Even if that were true in this story which it wasn’t, there were ways for Paul to know and to avoid a rape situation. Obviously, asking is one way but that would have brought about an answer that Paul did not want to hear. Another way would be for Paul to have looked for signs of interest. If he had done that he would not have found any that would give him any sort of clue that offering sex would be a good idea. Instead he presumed already that she would not have said yes and proceeded anyway thinking that he might have had a chance of changing that. What would not have changed is Kayla’s lack of genuine interest in Paul and certainly it would not have been changed by some kind of magical timing of her decision. Unfortunately turning no into yes is exactly what creepers of all varieties try to do.
This is perhaps the more difficult of the habits to break here. A lot of this comes from culture and media which is chock-full of stories of underdogs who end up winning over women who initially had no interest in them in the least. It’s no wonder then that many guys don’t respond to signals indicating interest or disinterest. They had no reason to deem it necessary to look for them. They’ve come to keep expecting to see disinterest repeatedly and for an extended period right up until the point that the woman of their dreams jumps directly into their arms and changes her mind. It’s also no wonder that many guys see disinterest as a hurdle to be overcome and not a signal that they should simply move on to somebody who might like them a little better.
If seeing and noticing signs of disinterest isn’t enough to stop you from pursuing somebody then chances are very strong that you’re going to come across as creepy. When someone is still intent on steamrolling you with affection that you gave no indication of wanting, this is uncomfortable at best and terrifying at worst. This doesn’t say “I’m trying to get you to like me”. It says “I know you’re not attracted to me but I’m going to keep trying to get you to be whether you like it or not and we’re definitely going to be together at some point so help me God”.
Looking at disinterest this way also discourages you from letting go when you probably should. This is how innocent romantic pursuit crosses the line into stalking and harassing. This is also how many guys come to the conclusion that a woman just blew up at them out of nowhere when in fact they had several chances to stop pursuing in ways that would have allowed them to save face. They simply chose to ignore them. When soft no’s and lack of interest mean “Keep trying” anything short of a vicious verbal or physical attack will not be seen as a proper rejection or request to stop.
When dealt with in a proper fashion, finding out whether or not a woman is interested in you or could be shouldn’t take that long. Under most circumstances it certainly shouldn’t take long enough for you establish an elaborate pretend friendship or to have sufficient time to indignantly ask “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” when she says you’re making her uncomfortable.
If you’re like many guys will have resorted to this kind of behavior and trying to find a girlfriend, then you’ll probably think that looking for signs of actual interest without using the kind of compensations I described above is like waiting for a pegasus to pull up at the bus stop. However, once you improve your self presentation, develop more and learn to show others what makes you a fun person to be around, you’ll probably find that signs of interest are actually more forthcoming. Once you see them, dating will have a much different and much better feel for both you and the other person involved.