Last night my wife and I surfed Netflix enough until, like most of us, we gave up and watched the documentary on Lance Armstrong – something far outside my comfort zone. I am not ordinarily a fan of movie stars and supermodels, and to be honest probably wouldn’t get out of my chair if one came to the house. The documentary was, however, interesting to watch unfold. I could tell, relatively early, that he was lying his ass off. I do this for a living and my counseling hat was pinging like mad. He wasn’t even very good at it, and it suddenly struck me why so many people were so unsurprised when the poop finally hit the fan. I turned to my wife to pontificate about micro-expressions but it became abundantly clear that she was way ahead of me. She was pinging too, albeit perhaps on a somewhat more subconscious level. She described him as a creep.

That word comes up often in my line of work.

Time and again, perhaps because of my dual worlds of addiction and counselling, women describe men as “creepy”. We have all known a few females, as well, who kind of “freak me out”. We are prone to believe that this is something that has no foundation in evidence-based realities; but we may be wrong. Upon further probing, people who have been creeped out inevitably describe surprisingly similar feelings. There are facial ticks that are registering. Certain intonations strike them as “off”. There are fewer contractions and often more confrontation. People who have “their radar on” may not know why, but they definitely know who. I have invested some time endeavouring to calm any personal boundary issues, and I heavily monitor my space and posture for this exact reason. I rarely hug, and never very close. If you visit me in my micro-office we will take opposite corners. I have spent too much time learning from women to not find myself hyper-vigilant in this regard.

I believe creeps are real. Many are described using terms like “narcissist” and “psychopath”, though usually by wives who are not qualified to diagnose and are deemed too emotionally involved. They are, therefore, often misregarded (I made that up). In my experience, more women than men have this sensitivity to the creep factor, perhaps many more.

I continue to be resurprised when I am in the presence of a “creep”. They seem to lack basic self-awareness. They often describe themselves as “smooth” and popular with the ladies. Often they actually are, and sometimes for very nefarious reasons. By way of example, there are those who are strongly attracted to narcissists. Something in the seeker’s psyche is broken and seeks fulfillment in controlling, and often very physical, relationships. Part of counselling often includes addressing a client’s choosing mechanism, and many people have had to address their attraction to dysfunction in an office very much like mine. Many of us, myself included, are prone to make the same relational mistakes over and over, for very psychological reasons.

Many clients and friends have included a crap detector in their emotional toolbox. There are people out there, for reasons that escape most of us, who glean satisfaction through manipulating and controlling the people closest to them. Such individuals are often highly charming, though indubitably self-serving and emotionally unhealthy. To use the internet word of the month, people like this always obfuscate our lives (I know you’ll Google that) and inevitably leave a wake of hurt and unresolved trauma.

I advise clients that if someone is too charming, too slick, or too nice, it’s probably too good to be true. Dating is an exercise in lying to each other and we all know that on one level. Your charmer’s ex probably wasn’t as bat-shit crazy as you have been told. We have a tendency to want to believe in the fairy tale ending, often at the expense of real world objectivity. I don’t care who he/she is, they have significant issues. You can disagree with me all you wish, but chances are I’ll be proven right. I do not enjoy winning that argument, perhaps I’m just a bit tainted from sitting in an office talking about pain everyday. That is highly possible.

6 thoughts on “Creeps

  1. I just went through this exact same thing with my son. I won’t go into detail, suffice to say he was involved with a woman who sent off all kinds of alarm bells for me. So badly I stuck my nose in his business and voiced my concerns which went over like a lead balloon. I felt panicked to get the message through to him that he was in danger with this person. I actually could not believe my own strong reaction. I know better than to approach my son in that way, it does not sit well with him. I had to withdraw and regroup. He and I didn’t talk for a week or two, not purposely “not talking” but I just stood back and left him to think about what I had said without any more justifying why I felt the way I did. As it turned out I was right, and like you I didn’t like being right but I was relieved when he realized the truth. I had not said anything to any of my family and since Christmas they have all come to me one by one to voice their concerns about this woman. Everyone of them could not put their finger on it but they could sense she was not a good person, she had an evil aura about her. Like you said, something in the way she said things, ever so subtle, a lack of sincerity, words that don’t match her actions. A smiling face with a knife at your back. Slight put downs of others while she tries to make herself appear the giving sacrificing saint.

    These people rely on the fact that most people do want to believe in the goodness in people and don’t want to falsely accuse other people. Most of us don’t go looking for people’s faults, we naturally believe there is good in everyone. But I know now that there are people who don’t have a good side and my radar works overtime when i am in the company of a creep.

    Good post again Scott

  2. Oh my ex’s ex really was batshit crazy… idiotic… generally stupid… and totally unable to own her shit. I witnessed it first hand.

    On the other hand.. he wasn’t nearly as capapble of having a healthy relationship as he led me to believe.

    Not that he was a creep… he was just… not capable and we had basic incompatibilities.

  3. Fascinating that both you and your wife felt the alarm bells going off with old Lance – certainly thousands of people were duped. There is this thing about how we almost want to be lied to, because we want to believe in the fairy tale, so we are in some way participants in these stories of impossibility, of the too good to be true.
    Are you by chance in Canada? The Ghomeshi story… OMG the wake of pain behind that boat.
    Having been involved with a creep or two myself, I know the feeling of being able to see that the basic elements for the Cluster-B personality disorder are present – lack of empathy, grandiosity, pathological lying, proneness to boredom – and then saying to a girlfriend, or even a professional, “um, I think I was involved with like, a sociopath”, and they poo-poo the terminology, as though these people only exist in movies, even if they are documentaries.
    “Creeps”, on the other hand, is a word we can all agree upon… 🙂

    1. I am a Canadian boy although I lived in Colorado for a time. I actually ran into an old college of Ghomeshi’s recently and there were definite warning bells going off. There is an article in there somewhere about the use of authority to violate those who depend on them for their livelihood, prestige or relational harmony.

  4. There’s this guy I know that I thought of after reading. Thing is I seem to be the only one who is repelled in the circle of people I know him from. Maybe my own radar is off. (?) I could certainly be wrong since I only know him superficially. But since I’m creeped out by him I have no desire to take it any further.

    Also, I took note of when you said you never hug and you and client sit opposite corners. Hm, sounds normal to me. Thinking about it, I guess there are therapists who do what you don’t but I’d say that would be a major boundary crosser. I’ve hugged ONE therapist in my life one time. I had been seeing him for quite some time already and the session I’d had made it appropriate. It was obvious that it was just that…a hug, going no further.

    I suppose even though I’ve been to quite a few therapists because I can’t seem to find a good match, there’s only been one I now suspect to have wanted to cross boundaries. I felt his anger was inappropriate. I hate to dis someone’s emotions, but at times his response was more appropriate for a husband or significant other…not a therapist.

  5. Can’t say I have ever pondered over the true personification of a ‘creep’ all too deeply so this was eye opening in all its (in my view) medical terms. Though I can’t deny that perhaps like those women in your office with all the psychological mishaps, it is sometimes nice to defy the odds and say it is good enough to be true. But of course, for the most part, we just endure and write about it.. (:

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