I’ve been thinking about what makes people creepy for the past few weeks. I’ve had several experiences with people that others find creepy, who I do not, and ones who I do, that others do not. I’m also in a position that I’d consider creepy sometimes, depending on subtle attitudes, and I think I’m finally seeing some patterns.

People who are obviously attracted to someone and won’t admit it are kinda creepy sometimes. It’s like they’re being manipulative — sending mixed signals, which are hard to read and unnerving.

On a similar vein, being attracted to someone and showing it and not saying why, I think, can be hard, too. It’s hard to know how to respond, and you wonder about ulterior motives. Most of the time, the motives are pure, but with the prevalence of sexual assault in our culture, and that’s where it would lurk if it existed, it makes it hard to discern. It’s guilt by association, but in a somewhat healthy fashion, I think.

And then there’s being attracted to someone for a physical feature that they can’t help, or for the reasons that people usually look that way, and not having that be the case in that individual’s life. It’s a particularly dehumanizing feeling, being fetishized, or related to only as a relationship or stereotype, not an individual.

Some people find being come on to creepy, especially when it’s by someone they don’t find attractive, but I wonder how much of it is reacting emotionally as if it were one of the above things, and not having the vocabulary to describe it, and filter through the feelings.

Some of these thoughts have been rolling around in my head for a long time. I’m friends with a couple people that a lot of others find creepy, and yet for some reason, my relationship with them is honest and direct and not at all uncomfortable. It’s been a puzzle for a long time to figure out why the reactions happen the way they do.

Ultimately, I think a lot of creepiness comes from not being able to see and not being able to trust someone’s motives.