Hundreds of poignant responses flowed in when one Reddit user asked men who were formerly creepy to women to share what made them change.
A universally experienced painful reality of being a woman is that at some point—in most cases, multiple times—in our lives, we have to deal with incredibly creepy individuals (who are more often than not, men) harassing us or making us feel uncomfortable. There is no escaping it and that's just the sad truth about our society. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind a creep's actions and if something, anything, could make them change their problematic behavior? Reddit user u/rocketbot99 had this very thought and took to the r/AskReddit community last year to ask men who were formerly creepy to women to share what made them realize they were in the wrong.
Here are 23 of the most poignant answers:
"When I broke up with my first serious girlfriend, I was totally heartbroken. I called her all the time and cried on the phone. I even threatened to kill myself and told her so. This went on for some time.
Eventually, I threatened again to kill myself and went to bed drunk. I woke up to a voicemail from her crying her eyes out begging me not to do it. I was so ashamed of my behavior. I realized in that message what I had become. It was absolutely her right, as it was mine, to end a relationship at any time for any reason, without being hounded and traumatized by the ex. I was evil and toxic.
I apologized and promised never to do it again. After that, I left her alone. I was still heartbroken, but I found comfort in my friends, and in activities and hobbies instead. I had several failed relationships after her, but I never again treated a woman this way. This was over fifteen years ago and now I am married. I have been tempted many times to contact her and apologize some more for my behavior, but the truth is, she is better off without me in her life. I hope she is well." — Fire_The_Torpedo2011
"Growing self-awareness that I wasn't the center of the goddamn universe.
Went through a chasing-potential-girlfriends-too-hard phase in my earlier adult years, including mistaking simple offers of friendship and work colleague status for actual interest. It wasn't 'stalking' level and it never reached the point of discipline (or even commenting), but it was probably to the point of being a little unprofessional and uncomfortable for the girl involved.
That was decades ago and I'm now with a company that doesn't tolerate that sort of thing." — the_original_Retro
"When I was in my late teens and early 20s I was constantly “chasing girls” as the expression goes. Nobody ever seemed to take offense to it, that kind of behavior seemed expected. Plus, I always seemed to be able to find someone who was interested in hooking up.
Then I got married so obviously I stopped. I found myself single again 10years later and quickly reverted to my old ways. It wasn’t long before I realized that things that I could get away with at 21 no longer worked at 32. In fact, based on the reactions of a couple of women, I realized I was being creepy. Of course, the women I was perusing were also older too.
I realized I had to take a more mature approach. Things went much better after that, but I still cringe to think of some of my early attempts to get back in the game." — Reddit
"I didn't have any sisters, and no female friends growing up. Girls were always this magic unknown entity, who were capable of sex. So I was always awkward around them because I didn't know what to do or say. I didn't want to accidentally offend anyone or say something stupid. So I pretty much said nothing.
In my last year of high school, I spent more time around girls and realized that they really aren't that different from my male friends. They make the same d**k jokes and stuff. They have the same goals in life. So slowly, I learned to relax a bit and treat women like normal human beings, just like everyone else." — svenson_26
"My brother used to catcall women ALL THE TIME until once when I was with him. He was driving, I was the passenger, and he yelled out to a woman in another car about how hot she looked. I turned to him and said very casually yet matter-of-factly, 'You know, women hate it when men talk to us like that. It’s not flattering, it’s objectifying and disrespectful.' He got quiet, his eyes glazed over, and I saw him taking in what I’d just said. It had simply never occurred to him that what he was doing could be seen as anything other than flattering. He never ever did it again, and I saw him grow into an extremely respectful person over the next couple of years.
Sometimes all it takes is someone to make them aware. This is why women call on men to call out their guy friends for this type of behavior. Some men look at women as objects, and they don’t take us seriously. But, the same thing coming from your sister or one of their guy friends? Completely different reaction." — Barfignugen
"[I don't know] if I was ever creepy. I'm sure I was but I was told I was too intense. Too forward. Which made girls uncomfortable. I figured that everyone was having sex so why not just start the conversation there and see where it goes. Yeah, no one wants to talk to relative strangers about your d**k going inside their bodies. When someone you think about constantly looks at you with disgust. It's pretty painful.
When I went to college I realized how many girls were actually sexually assaulted. It seemed like all of them. Seriously every single girl had a story about being accosted, groped, held down or raped. When I was saying sexual things I think they thought I was the kind of guy to do that. The disgust turned to fear in the post-MeToo era. Honestly, I think it's for the better. Talking about sex with a female stranger can be a can of worms of shit that I had no idea was even happening. Coming from a place of privilege to try and get some sex is cringey af. Sex isn't the answer to your problems. And women aren't objects to help make you happy.
Basically, just have a modicum of respect for the human being in front of you." — commoncents45
"I went out drinking with a bunch of my fellow Marines. We were all in our early to mid-twenties and some of us were Very good-looking (not me). At the end of the night, only one of us had gotten any numbers and that one guy had gotten several. He was like 5'6" (167cm) and more or less looked like a 12-year-old. Took me a while to figure out why this was the case.
When I realized that he was the only one of us that didn't look dangerous A Lot of things started making sense." — metabeliever