You might not notice right away if your partner is being creepy, usually because creepiness can so easily be masked by kindness, or bathed in good intentions. But the moment they cross a boundary, give off “weird” vibes, or make you feel uncomfortable, that’s when you should bring it to your partner’s attention.
They may, for example, being going overboard when it comes to sharing your relationship on social media. Or maybe they constantly take your photo without asking, or call your parents without telling you. “Your partner may not realize they are being ‘creepy’ because we all have different ways of showing that we care,” licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. “They also may be OK with you doing these behaviors to and for them and therefore, don’t see these things as creepy or a big deal.”
Do speak up, however, the moment you feel weirded out. “Its important to point out these things that give you a bad vibe because you shouldn’t be uncomfortable in your relationship and you should be able to express your feelings to your partner without damaging the relationship,” Henry says. “Also, if they don’t know, they can’t change what they are doing.” By saying something like, “Hey, I love you, but that thing you did made me feel uncomfortable,” you’re giving them a chance to change.
Here are a few ways your partner might be acting creepy without realizing it, as well as what to do about it, according to experts.
They’re Always Crowding Your Personal Space
Some people are down to hold hands, or have an arm draped across their shoulder. But that’s not true for everyone. And, since touchy feely things like these can quickly become too much, you’ll want to let your partner know if and when you need more space.
“You might be so used to your partner invading your space that you rarely notice it,” Bennett says. But if you feel uncomfortable, talk with your partner about boundaries and what level of touching or PDA you’re comfortable with. It may just be that they’re excited about your relationship, or maybe they never realized they’re literally hanging on you. Once you point it out, though, a good partner will be able to back off a little.
They Take Over Your Social Media
The idea of a social media takeover might seem “cute” at first. And if you’re fine with sharing accounts and passwords, then have at it. But there may be a creepy factor to be found in your partner’s motivation, that you might not realize at first.
If they want access to your social media in order “to ‘check up on you’ or stalk your habits, then it crosses into creepy,” Bennett says. “If this occurs, you’ll have to set boundaries and explain that while you’re going to be transparent, it’s not right to get on your accounts without permission.” If they still want to have access to your online life, it could be that your partner is feeling insecure, and a quick conversation might be all they need to feel more assured.
They Refuse To Go Out Without You
It’s up to you and your partner to figure out how much time you’d like to spend together. If you’re happily sharing most activities and spending time by each others’ side, that’s fine. But, you may start to feel uncomfortable if your partner doesn’t want to leave the house, unless you go with them.
“If your partner does not hang out with friends or do activities solo and always wants you with them,” this can be a bit much, therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. This habit can easily slip into codependent territory, too, where boundaries aren’t being respected.
They Take Your Photo Without You Knowing
Again, if your partner is snapping pics of you without your consent, you have every right to feel weird about it. But even more so if you’re suddenly seeing your face popping up on social media, even though you didn’t say it was OK.
If you don’t like it, speak your mind and say your piece. “Sometimes people don’t know they are making others uncomfortable,” Hershenson says. “Once they find out they can take steps to change.”
They Go Overboard About Your Relationship On Social Media
Similarly, things can quickly turn creepy if your partner is oversharing on social media — especially if they didn’t ask you if it was cool, first. The thing is, since so many couples do it, your partner might not even realize it can be inappropriate or unwelcome. So, again, if it makes you uncomfortable, simply let them know. “Be open and focus on how these behaviors make you feel. If they are willing to take steps to change then it will be easier to move past,” Hershenson says.
They’re Super Secretive About Everything
If your partner lives a life that seems super secretive and shifty, it can certainly be off-putting. And, if they keep it up, even downright nerve-racking. “If they have nothing really to hide but they act like they do, that can be creepy,” clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. “They might not share information, or get upset if you see their social media posts.”
And the reason it’s unnerving is because secretiveness like this is often one of the first signs someone is cheating. So, if it’s bothering you, tell your partner that their intense need for privacy is weirding you out. You should be able to get an explanation, and eventually reach an agreement about how much you’re going to share with each other, so that you can both feel comfortable.
They Make Themselves A Little Too At Home In Your Apartment
Does your partner make themselves at home in your apartment? If so, you might catch them “sneaking around or rummaging through your things,” Klapow says. Or maybe they eat all your food, or go through your medicine cabinet — all things people shouldn’t do without asking first. And this can also make you feel uncomfortable because it crosses boundaries.
Obviously, most couples get to a point in their relationship where nothing’s off limits, and they adopt a “what’s mine is yours” mentality regarding food, clothes, etc. But if you haven’t gotten to that point yet, it’s important to establish boundaries, so that your partner doesn’t walk all over you.
They’re *Too* Honest With You
While honesty is always a good thing in a relationship, there is such a thing as being too honest. And, if your partner has gotten into the habit of voicing all of their opinions, it can get old fast.
“They tell you don’t look good, they tell you the food is bad, they tell you you smell,” Klapow says. “They say it in a loving and caring way, and you can’t figure out if they are being mean or just clueless or creepy.” If the latter is true — and they don’t change their ways, despite you bringing it to their attention — it’s possible you’re dealing with someone who’s insensitive, and that may be a dealbreaker.
Their Public Displays Of Affection Are Over-The-Top
While hand holding and a quick hug may be fine, things can become creepy if your partner makes a big, showy public display of affection. As Bennet says, your partner “might think a big, public gesture of love is cute because [they] saw it in the movies, but, in practice, it’s just embarrassing.”
It may not be a dealbreaker though. “Things like that can be forgiven,” Bennett says. “You can address it like you would any issue in the relationship, by explaining how it makes you feel and asking your partner not to do it again.”
They Make Super Dirty Jokes In Public
Every couple is different when it comes to which jokes fly, and which ones aren’t OK. And usually, sexual jokes fall into that latter group. “If your partner is constantly making sexual jokes that make others uncomfortable,” you may want to speak up, Hershenson says.
Sure, it’s possible your partner has always been that way, and you’re used to it. But is everyone else? Gently reminding your significant other that it’s cool to make dirty jokes at home, but not out in public, can save you both from creating uncomfortable situations.
And really, when it comes to being in a relationship, that’s what it’s all about — feeling comfortable enough to say what’s bothering you, but also being there to keep each other in check. If you realize that your partner is being creepy, or you feel uncomfortable, it’s important to speak up.