For men, creepy is the opposite of attractive. Socially confident men are attractive. Men who are not socially confident are unattractive. Men who are not socially confident, but who pretend to be, are creepy.

When a woman puts on a fake smile, she is sparing someone’s feelings, or she is behaving professionally, or something else innocuous. You may be able to tell her smile is fake, but there’s nothing wrong with it. When a man puts on a fake smile to talk to a woman, it’s creepy.

[This is not a lesson for men on being attractive. For that, read the PUA literature.]

The difference between attractive and creepy can be razor thin, and it’s completely subjective. That’s probably the reason it’s such a problem for women. It’s also the reason I have so much anxiety about whether I’m creepy or not.

My father was creepy sometimes, and I am much like him. During the few years he was divorced, he used to hit on girls, mostly cashiers half his age at the grocery store, and he was so bad at it. It was obvious to me at the time. Was it obvious to him? Did he know his dry humor was going over like a lead balloon? He didn’t seem to. If he was blind to his own creepiness, then it stands to reason that I am too. Did my mom know he was creepy when they dated and got married? She certainly knew after they divorced. I’m fairly certain part of my mom’s self-esteem issues result from having been married to such a small man.

I’ve basically asked women, though not in so many words, if I’m creepy, but who’s going to give you an honest answer to a question like that? Anyway, I’ve only asked this of women who were into me one way or another. I can’t rationally put any value in their responses. It’s no different than all the women who told me they liked my mullet.

I’ve certainly done some things that, in retrospect, were definitely creepy. Sending flowers to a girl, or kissing a girl, who I mistakenly thought was interested in me; that kind of thing. [Actually, I can’t think of any examples of creepiness on my part outside of that. Interesting.] Worse, they didn’t just happen; they were reputational. They occurred in the presence of people who were central to my social circle.

The more time that passes, the creepier I get. This isn’t because I’m getting old (although if I didn’t act my age, it would contribute to my real creepiness). It’s because I have been intentionally embracing antisociality, and I am shedding social habits. I guess that’s not creepy by itself, but it seems creepy when I imagine myself then trying to meet a woman.