Saturday, July 25, 2020

What Makes Me "Creepy"? Advice for Autistic guys on approaching women

This is for all you awesome autistic guys (and AMAB folks) out there who are attracted to women (and/or AFAB folks).

I know many (but not all) of you struggle to approach these lovely people for multiple reasons, and being perceived as "creepy" is a common obstacle--even if you are a genuinely nice person with the best of intentions.

For those who love and need in-depth explanations of social dynamics, I found a great video that thoroughly explains what traits and behaviors are often perceived as "creepy" and why. (TW for descriptions of sexual harassment)


Note: This video seems to mainly be aimed at guys (& AMAB people) but could be useful for other people as well.
--> Also, keep reading for a useful article on reading body language, it's definitely related.


HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO AUTISTIC PEOPLE?

Since many of these points can be attributed to social ambiguity and awkwardness (plus some relating to appearance management like hygiene... a struggle for some autistics), it's not surprising that autistic people sometimes "creep" out other people, especially neurotypicals.

Part of this may be due to differences in communication and social norms (autistics basically have their own culture), but I think it's multiplied when an autistic person was not taught how to properly navigate other people's boundaries. In these cases, it's likely that they could creep out other autistics, too.

If someone is more vulnerable than you (like a cis woman or AFAB person), violating their boundaries (even unintentionally), could set off their fight or flight. Even bordering on boundary violation could have the same effect and contribute to you being perceived as "creepy."


BODY LANGUAGE IS A FACTOR
Unfortunately... but learning is possible!

I hope that the insight in this video helps, so next time you approach a woman or AFAB person, you have a better idea of what kind of things could make them feel unsafe. But now that we know what to avoid... what do we do? How do we respond? And more importantly...

How do you even know if someone is uncomfortable?

A major answer is... Reading body language. (Unfortunately for autistics...)

Some people will outright tell you, but even in those cases, it's often preceded by some sort of non-verbal cue (even autistics do this!) that communicates their discomfort. Catching the discomfort early makes a huge difference.

Read this awesome article for specific examples of body language and possible meanings.


Social stuff is freakin' hard. I have mad respect for genuinely kind straight cis autistic guys who are trying their best to navigate social situations. It's frustrating when you want to connect but it's like a complicated game without instructions.

I hope my blog post, the video, and the article link provided you with some ideas of what to do and what to avoid, so the other person feels comfortable with you and you can connect more easily.

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