Understanding what’s really happening when a woman feels ‘creeped out’ will help you understand what you can — and can’t — do to remedy the situation.

Lots of articles talk about basic social skills intended to help guys avoid being ‘creepy’. Feel free to check them out, but be cautious: creepy isn’t a mechanical readout. It would be easy to avoid if ‘one lecherous sneer + two awkward silences = creepy’… but unfortunately, in real life, it’s not so simple. There is some great advice out there about how to respect others’ boundaries, and present yourself in a way that avoids many people’s triggers, to prevent people seeing you as creepy in the future. (My advice: don’t block a woman’s path, as she’s walking down the street, while smiling at her the way that you would smile at a chipmunk before dropping a rock on it. Yes, this really happened to me.)

But what do you do when someone thinks you’re creepy now?

Experiencing a situation or person as creepy is a subjective human experience of unease and even danger, on one side, and unease and even shame on the other. It can seem nebulous, irrational and very unfair. You’ve followed the advice, you’ve done your best, and still — this person somehow feels creeped out. What do you do?

Let’s get alchemical on this shit.

Alchemy: Turning Shit Into Gold

When alchemical texts were first rediscovered in the West, they were taken literally, and a lot of time was lost trying to turn base metals into gold. But as globalization brought knowledge of the spiritual and energetic components of the human body back into Western consciousness, it’s become obvious that alchemy isn’t literal. It’s actually metaphorical, just like so much ancient knowledge: it describes the transmutation of our base experience of life into the ‘gold’ of spiritual energy. It’s a way of understanding how everything in life is energy, and how to use that to create a better life.

How does this relate to creepiness?

Creepiness Isn’t An Identity. It’s Not an Objective Quality. It’s an Energetic Exchange.

Creepiness is about energy too! This is the key, the thing that’s missing from so much advice about how to avoid being creepy. No one is objectively creepy. Believing that creepy is just part of someone’s identity is why being labeled as ‘creepy’ is so profoundly hurtful; why so much of the advice about how to avoid being creepy contradicts itself; and why even if you were the single most non-threatening person in the world, someone may still find you creepy. Even someone you really like and were having a great social interaction with only moments before.

Creepy isn’t something that you are or aren’t. It’s an energetic exchange that leads to a fleeting impression. Creepy isn’t even something you do. Understanding this will give you the tools to identify, understand and disarm ‘creepy situations’; and empower you to avoid fearing The Creep(y situations).

It’s Not Fair—Cavalier Use of the Word ‘Creepy’

You may witness a person calling someone creepy without ‘any rational reason’. When pushed, the creeped-out may try to vaguely label the creepiness by attributing it to some little detail of the alleged-creeper’s appearance or behavior.

“It was his hat,” she might say, or “His moustache was just… creepy.”

How unfair is that?!

I can already hear many of you out there in reader land (“the land away from the computer”, a mythical place I have only heard of in fantastic tales), saying:

“A-HA! See?! That’s not a logical reason, that’s just an absurdly subjective judgement. Just because he’s wearing a hat or has a droopy moustache, or is carrying a machete! That’s no reason to arbitrarily label him as creepy!” (Just joking on that last one, about the machete.)

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