We've all had situations where something we do is completely misinterpreted and we unintentionally make someone feel uncomfortable. It even happens when we think we're expressing our love for our partner and then it totally backfires. It's nothing to be embarrassed about, but figuring out boundaries and things that make your significant other uncomfortable is worth discussing.
Talking about boundaries upfront in a relationship is extremely important: it maintains a sense of mutual trust and respect, and can avoid putting either person in an awkward situation. If you have a conversation with your partner when you first start dating them about what makes you both feel uncomfortable or claustrophobic, you are much less likely to run into these problems in the future. It's important to be direct, and ask them about likes, dislikes, and what really puts them out of their comfort zone.
The truth is, creepiness is completely subjective: everyone has different boundaries, especially when it comes to relationships and intimacy. What could make one person slightly uncomfortable, might make another feel loved. At the end of the day, off-putting actions all boil down to lack of communication or miscommunication.
Here are seven things that seem lovable but can actually be interpreted as creepy in relationships, according to a relationship expert.
1. Always Taking Pictures of Them, Even When They Aren't Aware
When people take pictures with their partner, it's usually a good thing: a photo is a permanent way of cementing a memory. But when that becomes taking photo of instead of with your partner, they might feel like their privacy is being violated.
"Sneaking around corners and hiding behind trees to get shots of your partner because you love them and want those candid moments, you’re not going to come across as a caring partner," relationship advice expert April Masini, tells Bustle. To avoid crossing boundaries, always just ask if they're comfortable first, before snapping away.
2. Hanging Out With Their Family Members Without Telling Them
Everyone has a different relationship with their family, some tenuous, others tender. When one assumes they know their partner's protocol when it comes to communicating with their family members, they can cross a line without even realizing it. Masini says that there is an unspoken boundary around family, that for some, is easily crossed. For example, hanging out privately with your partner's family members without mentioning ahead of time may cross that unspoken boundary — and impact your relationship.
When it comes to familial matters, it's always better to be safe, than sorry. Consult your partner first, before making plans.
3. Constantly Posting About Them On Social Media
There's no reason to hide, or feel shame around sharing how happy you are with your partner. But just because someone feels comfortable frequently posting the intimate details of their relationship online does not necessarily mean their partner feels the same way.
"Sharing personal images and news about your partner, or even just sharing your own feelings about your partner, publicly, is creepy when it’s in excess — or beyond your partner’s comfort zone," Masini says. Ask your partner about their social media etiquette before imposing yours — that way, they know their feelings are being taking into consideration.
4. Logging Into Their Phone Or Computer When They're Not Looking
Respecting your partner's privacy establishes trust, whether that means not reading their diary or not skimming their DMs. While you might not personally feel protective of your technological space, you shouldn't assume the same for your partner.
"When you’re snooping on your partner’s phone or computer, you’re crossing the line of normal and safe," Masini tells Bustle. "Instead, address the issue directly with your partner." Avoid attempting to guess passwords and awkward lock-out conversations by respecting their right to their own devices.
5. Showing Up Unannounced When They're Out With Friends
Not everyone loves surprises, even if you do. While it might seem spontaneous to drop by your partner's plans, it doesn't take into consideration your partner's space — maybe they needed a night alone with their friends.
"If you show up unannounced, you’re behaving as if your presence trumps their privacy and their relationships," Masini says. "If you feel left out, discuss this with your partner, privately." When other people's time is taken into account, perhaps it's always easier to ask ahead, rather than going with your gut.
6. Making Future Plans Without Consulting Them First
When it comes to daydreaming, everybody gets carried away sometimes. But there's a difference between fantasizing in your head, and making a major plan for the future for the two of you without talking it through with your partner.
"Try consulting with your partner first. It’s so easy now, with texting, emailing, phoning and in person communication," Masini says. "Have weekly 'calendar meetings' where you discuss upcoming dates and trips, so you can both be on the same page."
It may seem sweet to make special plans for the future, but for you're way better off talk to your partner to gage where their head is at first before making any big life decisions.
7. Going Over To Their Place Without Being Invited
Once again, while impulsive decisions are oftentimes encouraged in long-term relationships in order to keep the romance alive, there is a fine line between spontaneity and being disrespectful of one's space. One partner might love surprises, or maybe the reason they didn't invite their partner over one night is because they wanted to get to sleep super early.
"People sometimes want to be alone — and that doesn’t meant they don’t love you — it just means they need to decompress alone," Masini tells Bustle. "When people show up with an invitation, it’s a power play." Either way, it's important connect with your partner and ask them their stance on surprises, before ordering an Uber.
Creepiness isn't a character flaw — it's a mistake everyone makes from time to time, when boundaries are ill-defined, and the gates of communication appear to be closed. Consider your partner's feelings before acting in a way that might come across as disrespectful or overbearing, and trust that they will do the same for you.