Men try a variety of different methods to connect with women they find attractive. Many are harmless, some are even effective. Others, however, give off the wrong vibe.

Sometimes, what men think of as flirtatious comes across as downright creepy. Often, they are left wondering what they did wrong when an interaction goes south.

Usually, women are protecting themselves based on limited information. They have to consider their safety in ways men do not.

Men are afraid of rejection, while women fear physical harm. Most men are harmless, but women have no way to know if the man talking to them is safe. Often women will shy away to protect themselves.

While there are many examples of men’s creepy behavior, the ones mentioned below are among the most common.

Five Subtle Things Men Do That Women Find Creepy as Hell.

1. Unwanted Touching.

Many women find it creepy when a man touches them, especially if they’ve only just met. Placing a hand on a woman’s thigh or back during a conversation is a big no-no. This goes for any type of touching.

Many men would view this as harmless and flirtatious. However, women often see it very differently. The uninvited touch is an assertion of male dominance. It speaks to the belief that men have access to a woman’s body and are free to touch it without permission.

This happens to women all the time: bars and the workplace are only two examples. Widespread normalization of this behavior has taught women to “grin and bear it.”

Men should refrain from touching women without invitation. Touching is not necessary to have a conversation.

2. Telling Women to “Smile.”

Ladies, have you ever stepped onto an elevator with about 15 different things on your mind? (Of course you have). You have to pick up a prescription for your sick child, send your boss that report he’s been asking for, and check up on your sick parent.

As you’re mentally organizing your to-do list, some random man you’re sharing the elevator with explains that “you would be so much prettier if you smiled.” It’s creepy as hell, and it happens far too often.

Men telling women they’ve never met before to “smile” is a common occurrence. Even if the intent is innocent, this is something men should stop doing immediately.

This command is an invasion of autonomy – that is, the freedom to make one’s own decisions. It tells women that their only purpose is to be attractive to men. It also forces a woman into a conversation she may not want. Some men disagree. After all, they’re just trying to be friendly. But how often do they tell other men to “smile” as a way of being friendly?

This is a subtle expression of a social belief that those men have control over women’s bodies. So don’t look at the act itself: look deeper, because it’s a reflection of societal norms overall.

3. “Do You Live Alone?”

You would think this one was obvious, but many men still ask this question to women they’ve only just met.

An AskReddit thread is overflowing with comments from women relating their creepy “do you live alone” experiences: men attempting to invite themselves over, nosy cab drivers, and unsettling text messages.

There are also comments from people who have asked this question, concerned they overstepped their bounds. Spoiler alert: they did. It might be an innocent question, but that’s not how it comes across. It will ring alarm bells for women. They will worry about being stalked or attacked.

Men should never ask women if they live alone. It’s not information they need.

4. Refusing to Take “No” for an Answer.

This can move from creepy to scary for women pretty fast. Repeatedly trying to engage a woman in conversation when she is not interested will set her on edge.

It sends the message that the man doesn’t care if the woman is interested in him or not. He wants to engage, so that’s what he’s going to do. He ignores her feelings in favor of his.

If men try once or twice to start a conversation with a woman and she doesn’t seem interested, it’s best to move on. If a woman wants to talk to a man, she will. It’s not wrong to engage, but it is wrong to continue when she’s clearly not interested.

Again, behavior like this speaks to the societal belief that a man’s wants and needs take precedence. The same goes when asking for a date. If a woman does not want to go out with a man, he should accept that and move on.

Don’t ask again. Romance novels depict persistence as endearing.

In real life, persistence is harassment.

5. Too Much, Too Soon.

There’s often a fine line between romantic and creepy that extends beyond the initial meeting phase. Even after the first date, men still do things that give women the heebie-jeebies.

It’s normal to be excited when dating someone new, but amping up the romance and gifts too early can be off-putting. The same goes for talking about marriage too early in the relationship. If it’s too early, women wonder if a man is a manipulator or just unstable.

The best way to approach a brand-new romance is to take things slowly. Read a woman’s signals to see if your actions are welcome. Then proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts.

Most men are neither manipulative nor controlling.

However, when a woman meets a man for the first time, she has no idea if he is safe.

Women have only their first impressions with which to make a judgment. Men need to keep this in mind.

The best way for a man to show interest is to be polite, respectful, and take behavioral cues from her.

By avoiding unwanted touching or interaction, respecting her autonomy, and paying attention to signals, men can avoid coming across as creepy to women.

Randy Withers, LCMHC is the managing editor of Blunt Therapy, a blog about mental health.