Continuing The Discussion: How Not To Be Creepy

There has been some recent discussion on how to talk to a woman without being a creep. I think this is something that we really need to be talking about, and it’s something that dudes often ask me when I talk to them about street harassment. They say things like, “But if I think a girl is really hot, how can I approach her without her thinking I’m an asshole?” I figured I’d throw my hat into the ring and share the advice I often offer my friends.

Most men aren’t going to like my thoughts on this. Maybe I’m a little jaded from years of being approached by strange men in public places, but I generally feel it’s almost never appropriate to walk up to a woman that you don’t know on the street (or in a coffee shop or on the train or in line for a concert) and start hitting on her. So that’s really my advice: just don’t do it. I know, I know. You’re thinking “but what if…?” And to that I say, JUST DON’T. Seriously, don’t. Most women do not appreciate being interrupted or hassled or harassed when they’re just trying to go about their day.

I know that some men out there will think that this advice doesn’t apply to them. They are different. They are owed the attention of any women that they find attractive and are not going to take my advice to JUST DON’T DO IT. So I’ll try to give some advice to the dude who is going to continue approaching women that they don’t know, despite the fact that I’ve told them it’s really not appreciated.

  • If a woman is not making eye contact with you, abort your mission. She’s just not interested, dude, and you are going to have to accept that.
  • It’s safe to approach if she makes eye contact and smiles at you.
  • If she turns her body away from you, puts her head down, walks faster, or tries to move away from you, give up. She doesn’t want to talk to you and if you continue to talk to her you’re just going to look creep(ier).
  • If you’re at a coffee shop or in line for the same concert or you notice a book she’s reading, use the band or the book as an opening line. If she smiles nervously and glances away or laughs awkwardly and desperately looks around for someone else to talk to, back off. She’s not interested. If she smiles, looks you in the eye, and happily continues the conversation, keep talking. You might have a shot.
  • If she tells you at any point to leave her alone or says that she has to leave or is running late, take her at her word and walk away. It doesn’t matter if you were chatting for a few minutes and she suddenly seems to lose interest. She has a right to change her mind and assert her wishes at any time.
  • Don’t take a woman’s disinterest in you as a personal affront. It says nothing about who you are as a man, dude, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not a nice guy. It just means that this is not the time or place, and maybe this isn’t the girl. And that’s okay. Women have a right to not find you irresistible. And it doesn’t make her a bitch if she’s not into you. You’re not into every woman you see on the street, either.
  • If she looks uncomfortable at all, ask her if you are bothering her. She’ll be grateful either way; for the out if you are bothering her and for your concern and respect for her wishes if you are not.
  • Above all, treat her the way that you would want to be treated. Do you enjoy when people that you don’t know trap you and try to talk to you when you’re out trying to go about your day? No? Chances are that she doesn’t either. Respect that.

There you have it. My advice on how to approach a woman in the public sphere: DON”T. But if you must, respect her boundaries and her wishes and back off if she’s not into it. It’s really that simple.



We actively denounce the notion that street harassment is culturally accepted and that victims somehow "deserve" it. Through raising awareness and sharing experiences, we hope to put an end to catcalling, groping, stalking, public masturbation, assaults, racial slurs, and other forms of street harassment. Because we believe we have the power to create a world where we can feel hot, confident, and badass, while still feeling safe!

3 Responses

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  1. Katia says:

    Great post, Britni!

  2. [...] street harassment and race which you can read about here. Also, check out Hollaback! Boston’s response and very necessary continuation of this week’s Jezebel article,”How to Talk to a Woman [...]

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