2012-09-14 02:29 am (UTC)
Looking at the replies (and using my own intuition), I think that Rule 1 was simply the wrong abstraction to take from Elevator-gate. The following might be a better one:
It's usually creepy to jump to (or request, overtly or tacitly) a *much* higher level of intimacy than your current baseline with someone. Or, to put it the other way around, the social norm is to escalate in small stages with reciprocity (like the exchange between spies), maintaining plausible deniability so that either party can back out while saving face.
This encompasses the creepiness of the elevator proposal: going from "complete stranger" to "propositioning for sex" violates the rule. It also explains why you're supposed to try out (while being careful to look for reciprocity) intermediate nonverbal stages toward a romantic physical act (like the more intimate kinds of cuddling) rather than ask overtly for it when in a non-romantic analogue.
There are all sorts of nuance, of course; people's level-of-assumed-intimacy baseline for strangers will be significantly higher in some contexts (dance clubs, for instance) than in others (bus stops, for instance). And because of all the layers of signaling and countersignaling, it's possible for some people sometimes to break this rule without being seen as creepy (especially if they're known to be high-status). But it's a much more plausible heuristic for our social norms than "don't make romantic advances toward strangers, ever".
And here's a (flattering, sorry) personal example: Once, my flatmate was having a friend stay over on the apartment couch, and she and I immediately hit it off. I didn't spend my time consciously strategizing during our conversation, but every time she made a move to sit closer to me, I did the same (the next time I shifted posture). Eventually, my flatmate went to bed... and instead of directly making a move, I suggested taking a walk, she came along, and on the walk I kissed her. This was a Very Good way of going about it un-creepily, for two reasons: first, it allowed me to check my instincts by seeing if she'd say yes to an invitation that was semi-romantic, and secondly, if I'd made my first overtly romantic move right next to where she'd be sleeping, it would seem to be a tacit request for a lot more (thus violating the rule).
(Yeah, there *are* invisible rules like that one about sleeping area. But if you escalate in small steps, you're less likely to wreak too much havoc even if you break one of those.)
The "Nice Guy = Worse Than Hitler" is its own can of worms... but hey, at least you don't have two mutually incompatible rules anymore!
Or, to put it the other way around, the social norm is to escalate in small stages with reciprocity (like the exchange between spies), maintaining plausible deniability so that either party can back out while saving face.
I think this once again forces the question: How does this, which you recommend, differ from the thing Scott was actually analogizing to an exchange between spies, which is apparently super creepy?
Edited at 2012-09-14 03:03 am (UTC)
2012-09-14 05:17 am (UTC)
> I think this once again forces the question: How does this, which you recommend, differ from the thing Scott was actually analogizing to an exchange between spies, which is apparently super creepy?
Huh? The spy exchange was an analogy to the *actual* norms for flirting. The analogue of "being creepy" is the person who flat-out asks, "Are you a Soviet spy?"
Actually, I thought the spy thing was super creepy. In fact, it even fits our usage of the word "creep" - imagine me gradually creeping ever closer to this girl.
...I may be overestimating my own past creepiness, which may be part of the problem.
2012-09-14 05:47 am (UTC)
The idea is that uou alternate creeping towards each other. If at any point they don't creep closer after you do, you stop escalating and leave the ball in their court.
But once again, this describes both equally well.
Both the example of "this is super creepy, don't do this" and the general suggested idea of what people actually do.
(And I have definitely seen people on the internet object to things like the provided example as creepy; I believe one,, objecting to such things, used the phrase "You can't stealth check your way into my pants.")
I think everybody recognizes that gradual escalation is necessary, but not everyone realizes that just how gradual, and how overt, makes a big difference -- and that (as I understand it) less gradual and more overt is not *always* creepier, contrary to what many people would initially expect.
Creepy is when you shift toward someone, they shift away (without coy flirtatious overtones), and you shift toward them again, repeat.
If they shift toward you, it's all good.
No, I'm pretty sure that the spy thing is exactly how one is supposed to normally do it. Though with the caveat of anonymous below, that it's also supposed to be mutual and that you shouldn't suddenly jump straight from the borscht to the KGB head.