“The only guys who talk to me are the creepy ones,” she told me. “I try to end it pretty quick, but it’s getting frustrating. What am I, a creep magnet?”
“What’s a creep, exactly?” I asked her.
She gave me a look. “You know. A weirdo. Someone who approaches me somewhere completely inappropriate, like a convenience store, and then won’t leave me alone even when I brush him off.”
“The first thing you need to know is that it’s not you. You’re not sending any subliminal signals that only creeps can decode.”
“Seriously?” Mia sighed in relief.
I’m often struck by how easy it is to take other people’s behavior personally. You might think that you did something to make someone act a certain way, when really it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
Here’s an example. A man sees a woman sitting alone at a café table, reading. She’s pretty, she’s not wearing a ring, and she seems sad. He gathers up his courage and walks past her table. “Looks like an interesting book there,” he remarks.
She snaps the book shut. “Not interested,” she says curtly as she gathers up her things. She’s out the door before he’s had the chance to blink.
In his mind, he just failed. There must be something so wrong with him that a normal, otherwise friendly woman would reject him out of hand.
But maybe how she responded had more to do with her than him. Maybe she’d just lost her job. Maybe she’d already been approached by two other guys that morning and she’d had enough. Maybe she was in no mood for company. Who knows?
What we do know is that men and women don’t always know what’s going through each other’s minds. They make assumptions. And sometimes, those assumptions are wrong.
“The next thing you need to know,” I told Mia, “is something about what it’s like to be a man.”
Although men and women are equals in most areas of life, gender roles are alive and kicking in dating. Men are still supposed to make the first move. That’s their job.
It’s tough. Guys who put themselves out there must get used to rejection. It comes with the territory. Some men do better than others. They can read a woman’s signals and sense whether she’s open to being approached.
But not all men can.
Some men can’t read women at all. Because they’re not sure why some women say yes and other women say no, they approach every woman they can. They treat it as a numbers game.
Think of these guys as spammers. They strike up conversations anywhere, anytime, in the hope they’ll get a bite. They don’t just target women like Mia. As long as a woman is female, she’s fair game.
So what do you do when you get targeted by a spammer?
And how do you distinguish between him and a genuinely good guy hoping to make a connection?