There’s an old Woody Allen movie called The Diary.
Set in a small American town in the 1940’s, Allen plays the lead role of an impoverished young man (Norm) who falls for a local heiress (Annie). He goes all out to try win her heart, being very bold and reckless, seemingly oblivious to her lofty social stature and any kind of courting etiquette.
Early in the movie Annie is out on a date with another guy at a carnival. Norm acts like this other guy doesn’t exist, walks up to within two inches of Annie’s face, and asks her to dance.
A little while later, Norm sees Annie and the guy riding a ferris wheel and deems it as good a time as any to make another move. He sprints up to the ferriss wheel and plants his ass between the couple in the small seat, much to the annoyance of both Annie and the other guy. Once they’re high up on the wheel and the ride has stopped, Norm asks Annie to go out on a date with him, and she refuses. Norm then steps out of the seat and starts hanging from a steel bar. Dangling by one arm, he threatens to let go and kill himself unless Annie agrees to go on a date with him.
So Annie agrees, reluctantly.
At this point in the movie you’d be forgiven for thinking that Norm is a grade-A creep and that things won’t end well for Annie. You might well envision upcoming scenes of uncontrolled rage and screams for mercy.
But you’d be wrong.
Norm turns out to be a very nice guy. He and Annie fall madly in love and live happily ever after. In fact, the movie is largely considered to be a classic in the romance genre and millions of women the world over get the warm-fuzzies just thinking about it.
You’re probably wondering why you’ve never heard of this movie before.
Well, you have.
But it’s not an old Woody Allen movie. I just made that bit up and changed a few other details to throw you.
The real movie I’m referring to is called The Notebook. It was released in 2004 and stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Their characters get together exactly as described above.
Somehow, despite the go-out-with-me-or-I’ll-kill-myself pickup line, most everybody considers Gosling’s character to be charming rather than creepy.
Permission To Be Creepy
Models by Mark Manson is the best book I’ve read on the topic of women and dating for men. There’s a great section in there all about creepiness. Mark describes his own experience out at a bar one night when he approached and was quickly rejected by one girl, then a little later approached and hit it off with another.
- First girl: “You are the creepiest guy in here. Give it up.”
- Second girl: “You are the hottest guy, you know you could have any girl in here, right?”
As Mark writes in the book:
There’s no such thing as a man who is good with women who isn’t also creepy some of the time.
The fact of life is that if you are a man who expresses his sexuality freely (and you should), some women, some of the time, are going to find you creepy. It’s simply unavoidable. No matter how cool, rich, good-looking and charming you are, at some point, somewhere a woman is going to be creeped out by you. Live with it.
So as a friend of mine says, “give yourself permission to be creepy.” There’s no other way. And look, it’s not the end of the world. There’s no Creepy Police who come and handcuff you and take you away for creeping on some girls every now and then.
What Mark is advocating here isn’t that men should go around being intentionally creepy. Of course not. If you’re a man and you’re trying to make moves on a girl and she seems creeped out, you stop making moves and you back off.
The point is that no matter how you express sexual interest as a man, some women are going to find you creepy, while others will find you charming.
If you look like Ryan Gosling, you’re going to come across charming more often than not, even if you act like a complete psycho. If you look like Woody Allen, well, you’re going to have to work that bit harder.
Either way, accept the fact that not all women are going to like you, no matter how well you present yourself.
Accept it and try anyway.
St. Patrick’s Day
The day after my thirtieth birthday I found myself standing at the edge of a dance floor in Dubai, having a moment of crisis.
I was keeping an eye on a girl some twenty-five feet away. She was dancing with friends and paying more attention than I was comfortable with to a smooth Spanish-looking dude alongside her.
Her name was Rena.
We’d met about an hour earlier and really hit it off. She’d laughed at my dumb jokes, introduced me to all her friends, and returned my flirty looks and comments.
Then Male Model Manuel had come along and knocked me off my game. Looks-wise, Rena was out of my league, but not his. They were the kind of match expected to emerge from a place like this, full of perfect smiles and roaming photographers.
I stood there and watched them dance, like a fat kid alone on the bleachers watching the football game he’d never been picked for.
And then I thought, “Fuck it, I’m not going to be the fat kid today, I’m going to make a move.”
I strode purposefully across the dance floor towards Rena. Only by luck did I reach her right as Triple-M had his back turned, guffawing for a minute with some of his male model buddies about male model things.
I didn’t say anything. Rena only realized I was there a split second before I picked her up and put her over my shoulder, caveman style. I couldn’t hear the music, just my pulse pounding in my ears as I carried her away to the side of the dance floor.
Before I put her down, I remember thinking, “Oh fuck. This could go horribly wrong.”
And then I put her down.