If there is one thing that the classic underdog romantic comedy teaches us, it’s that, with enough persistence and charm, even the nerdiest guy can get the prom queen to fall in love with him…eventually. It may involve some “chance” meetings and some overly-elaborate manner of testifying one’s love, but when the prize is the woman who you have been lusting after for months, no humiliation can outweigh the potential payoff.
What you don’t see in the movies is that sometimes, the fairy tale doesn’t work out. Sometimes, no matter how pure your love, how clever or outlandish your approach, the woman of your dreams just isn’t interested. Not only is she not interested, but instead of being charmed by your guerrilla love tactics, she feels put-off and vaguely threatened by the intensity of your attentions toward her. It can be tough to handle rejection, and sometimes, it is tough to know where to draw the line between fervent admirer and creepy stalker guy.
True stalking is threatening or harassing behavior often caused by a delusion on one party’s behalf that the object of their lust secretly returns their affections, or that a previous relationship isn’t truly over, no matter what the object of affection states. A completely different category of stalker is one who develops an amorous or sexual fixation on a virtual stranger (as in the example of celebrity stalkers) and delude themselves into thinking that there is a relationship where none exists. This type of fixation is often reinforced by delusions due to mental illness.
In the daily, non-delusional world of dating, however, you do not want to get stuck with the “stalker” moniker, as it will kill your reputation. All women have heard the stalker stories and no one will touch you with a ten-foot pole if you have some stalker tendencies on your rap sheet. So how can you tell when you’ve crossed the line?
What starts out as a charming game of persistence can eventually get stale, and then turn vaguely creepy if not managed properly. A couple of the touchstones of this line are: respecting a girl’s boundaries and keeping track of your own intentions. When you first approach a girl, if you can come up with an original, charming approach, chances are that she will give you a little time to play your hand out.
Granted, some women are shallow and closed to any guys who do not fit into their narrow “type”, but you will quickly lose interest yourself in this type of women because she’s usually boring and unoriginal.
If you are going to be charming and outlandish, the best bet is to start off by not letting her reject you. Don’t offer anything up. Be goofy, get her attention, and then move away for a bit. This may be a bit of work, but if you can manage to intrigue a girl without seeming too needy, then that is a great first step. The key to staying on the “charming persistence” side of the line from the outset is to keep things playful, and not invest too much of your self-esteem in her reaction. If you are truly just being playful, then you will come off mostly charming.
If a girl blows you off, then how can you tell if she’s serious, or if there is still a crack of light at the end of the tunnel? If she laughingly blows you off, you still have a chance. Back off for a bit and see if you can find another in later in the evening, even if that’s just a smile from across the room, or another prank.
Again, you don’t want to seem pushy or aggressive. You want to be playful. If she is serious about you backing off, she will likely not be laughing. Her reaction will range from a firm “no thanks” to a nervous/awkward laugh followed by a retreat into the safety of her friend circle. Chances are, if you read her signs improperly, and just back off, if she’s interested, she’ll come find you.
The best way to tell if you are crossing the line into creepy stalker territory is to look at your emotional status and her reactions. If you are approaching a situation feeling rejected or angry, then check in with a good friend to see if your reaction is unreasonable. If you are calling her and she is not returning your calls, then stop. If she changes her contact info or starts avoiding the places she knows she might see you, then take those as signs that you are being too aggressive and she is starting to find your behavior threatening.
If you have only gone out on a few dates, she shouldn’t have to tell you more than once, firmly, that she is not interested in pursuing a relationship with you. You should respect her choice, and also respect yourself enough to find someone else who appreciates you.
Finally, if she has a friend, family member, or police officer ask you to back off, you have officially gone too far. She feels that her safety is threatened, and no man has ever frightened a woman into wanting to date him. If it’s gone this far, cut your loses, seek out a therapist, and avoid her at all costs.
As you all know, men are not the only ones guilty of a little recreational stalking out there. While more complaints are made by females about male stalkers, this may be more likely due to the fact that women are a lot more cautious about their personal safety around men than vice versa. If you find that you are the object of unwanted attention, there a few steps to diffusing your stalker:
When you are telling a potential stalker that you are not interested, be firm. Don’t let her emotionally manipulate you into spending any time with her; don’t let her crying erode your resolve. If she really is a stalker, she will say or do almost anything to be around you.
Cut Off Contact
No matter how flattered you may be by the attention, your best bet is to cut off all contact (provided you don’t have kids together). Do not answer or return her phone calls, avoid places she might go to try to “meet” you, block her from your email and any online social networks you both belong to. If you have to change your contact info and drop off the online radar for a while.
If she has personal effects like a key to your place or your computer passwords, change them. You can’t be too safe. If she makes threats, or acts in a threatening way, toward you or your loved ones (even pets), call the police, and document incidents to back up your concerns.
As a man, you may feel foolish feeling threatened by a girl. When it comes to someone who cannot let go of you emotionally, however, the best thing you can do for both of you is to cut off contact. She needs to move on and you have a right to live a life free of harassment and unwanted attention.