Can you imagine keeping your friendly comments like compliments to yourself so that a person of the opposite gender wouldn’t get the wrong impression? Well, if you’re a woman, you probably know it very well. Because sadly, many women out there have had to change their customs, behaviors, and gestures in such a way that men won’t have a chance to interpret them the way they want.

And this thread on r/AskReddit has given this very common, yet little talked-about practice a much-needed spotlight. “What innocent behaviors have you changed out of fear you might be mistaken for leading men on?” someone asked and the sea of answers came flooding in.

From totally muting any signs of general affection to avoiding eating bananas in public, and making sure you bend your knees and squat down when picking something up from the ground, it’s incredible how women have to put up with men’s egos on a daily basis in order to protect themselves. Or is it all just overthinking? Hit us in the comment section and share what you think of it!

#1

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Mentioning that I have a girlfriend, weirdly enough. You know how saying you have a boyfriend is normally pretty good for making guys go away? Well, saying you have a girlfriend just leads to a bunch of gross questions and offers of "if you're ever looking for a threesome, hit me up" (gag). Like what, does this guy think I'll go home and excitedly tell my gal pal, "Guess what? I met a guy at a bar, and, you won't believe this, he wants to have SEX with BOTH of us!! What a rare and exciting offer, we need to take him up on this!"

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Abhinc
Community Member
3 months ago

yeah sure dude !! she was only "pretending" being a lesbian. that was just a phase. she was waiting for you to help her realize who she really is ... stfu creep and go away. leave her alone

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#2

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Trying to politely decline their advances. Sometimes I have to be rude just for them to get the point.

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Caro Caro
Community Member
3 months ago

This. Women are taught to be nice, kind, polite. We should be able to say bugger off without explaining and without the "smile".

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#3

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Asking a question or giving them a compliment.

But the worst thing is when I've walked back to my car alone and in the dark. I'd been out that day and was wearing cute and kind of revealing clothes. A guy followed me from the train station to where I'd parked (about 10 minutes), and when I got in my car he started to yell at me for leading him on. We hadn't spoken, but we'd made eye contact a couple of times on the hour long train ride, which seemed to be enough for him.

I didn't think that the phrase "leading someone along" was so literal, but okay.

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Lori Jabi
Community Member
3 months ago

Omg this is so bad!

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#4

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Being young.

Turning fifty was the best idea I've ever had.

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Devil's Advocate
Community Member
3 months ago

Except then you get a different kind of guy giving you too much attention

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#5

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message If I have to pick something off the ground I bend my legs and squat down to do it so it doesn't look like I'm showing off my a*s, even though it'd be a lot easier to just bend down.

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Wistiti
Community Member
3 months ago

It's better for your back to bend your knees anyway.

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#6

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Let's just say I don't eat bananas in public anymore.

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Micah Patchen
Community Member
3 months ago

NO NO NO NO eat that banana in public. But do it furiously. Like your ripping the end of something off with your teeth. Mouth wide open. Teeth chomping. Hold eye contact with a guy as you do it. Guys will not correlate furious banana eating with pleasurable things if you do it with aggressive eye contact. Most will cross their legs.

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#7

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message I gradually stopped going to our local board games community after several people hinted that I was doing it to get male attention and find a "nerdy boyfriend."

That was pretty soulcrushing. I just genuinely loved board games.

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Samantha Lomb
Community Member
3 months ago

Get a group of girls together and go. I have had the best time with students and their friends playing at the local games shop

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#8

Today, apparently, I shouldn't have carried a nightstand down the street. It was a little awkward but not heavy at all, and some dude came up to me and tried to take it from my hands, unasked. I held onto it and told him, "no thanks." He kept pulling on it. I had to ask him to let go. When I said "Jesus Christ" he went on, "oh, like it was such a bad thing." Yes, dude, that was absolutely a bad way to try to help someone out. You don't take something from someone's hands unbidden if you actually want to help them. Frankly, you pulling a medium-large object from my grasp makes me think you're trying to steal from me or con me.

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Colin Matthews
Community Member
3 months ago

Thats odd behaviour from anyone. If he tried it with another guy he'd get his head rearranged

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#9

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Whenever I'm talking with a guy, I'm always super conscious about not mentioning too soon or too late that I have a significant other. Too soon, and it's 'jeez, I was just making conversation!' Too late, and it's 'jeez, way to lead me on!' Thankfully, since becoming engaged, this is less and less of a problem, as my ring sort of speaks for itself on its own.

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Wistiti
Community Member
3 months ago

I had this dilemma this summer at a wedding. I was talking to a younger man (yes, when you're nearly 40, they all seem so young) and I was there wondering "should I tell him I have kids and a man that I'm very happy with"? And then I said nothing.... I thought "f**k, chill, it's only a conversation".

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#10

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Being in shape. Many men think that women get in shape solely to impress them, so fitness is like an open invitation for unsolicited attention.

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Caro Caro
Community Member
3 months ago

I don't know men who think that but if you meet up with one you can tell him to get lost. Don't stop taking care or yourself and your health because of a couple of morons.

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#11

Acknowledging that I recognized any of my male 'regulars' back when I worked at retail.

Seems like good customer service, right? Remembering that Joe always gets 3 packs of reds or Mac gets a six-pack on days [Sports team] is playing away, or asking Jake how his car rebuild is coming.

Yeah, that's how I got stalked, followed home, and threatened verbally with rape when I explained that I'd only ever been professionally friendly. The cops dismissed the matter because it was he said /she said (Jake said I'd invited him over) and no damage had been done , my coworker/roommate cheerfully told them how friendly I'd been with Jake whenever he came into the store, and my employer refused to ban him.

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snipergun
Community Member
3 months ago

Sad and dangerous. Let's wait till someone get hurt or worse than somebody will maybe do something. I'm sorry that's how it goes. Hope you found better job. I know money is money but force people to serve someone who already showed aggression towards employee is terrible.

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#12

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Not accepting any favor from a man. No rides. No coffees. Avoid avoid. It sucks.

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Abhinc
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

i can't even imagine what that poor woman went through to think that way !! i hope someday she'll meet a man that will make her feel comfortable and safe

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#13

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message there was that time when i was eleven and i started needing a training bra and my teacher gave me a weird talk about keeping bra straps hidden at all times? i didn't even know how to properly adjust the straps so they wouldnt slide and i really didn't need Mr. N's bra strap advice as an impressionable eleven year old

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Random Panda
Community Member
3 months ago

It's so creepy a teacher would notice a kid's bra straps and then talk to them about it. Ew.

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#14

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message I don't let on to any guys I just met that I'm into gaming, especially if I know they're gamers too. There's still this stereotype floating around the gaming community that women who game are a rarity or they're not really a gamer, just a slut trying to get male attention. So if I bring up gaming early on I usually get one of two responses: either the guy keeps hitting on me relentlessly or I get the Gaming Pop Quiz. Any woman who plays games knows exactly what the Gaming Pop Quiz is.

There's also a third option which happens way less often, but I've experienced it all the same: guy just outright becomes hostile, like I've dared to step foot in the boys only clubhouse or something. In all of my 20+ years of gaming that's only happened to me twice, though.

And just a disclaimer: most of the guys I meet while I'm actually gaming are cool dudes. For some reason I only get this behavior out in the wild.

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Tobias Rieper
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

I love it when I meet anyone who is a gamer regardless if they are female or not I just wanna talk about games what games do you play are you excited for this game or DLC thats coming out

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#15

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message I work retail. So I've had to stop wearing makeup, stop smiling, and entirely stop being polite. Because as soon as I smile and say "how are you today?" I get told he's going to "take me out to dinner and put me in lacy panties," and then goes to my coworkers to find out what time I clock out.

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Colin Matthews
Community Member
3 months ago

Call the police

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#16

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Showing any kind of concern for a guy. Like if you have a guy friend that looks sad and you try to be a good friend and comfort them that's seen as flirting somehow. (plus most of the stuff everyone else posted)

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Otter
Community Member
3 months ago

This is a problem that dades away with time and maturity. And is replaced by the expectation of mothering.

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#17

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Well I've taken to dressing like a hobo so men don't think of me as a sexual being. I get treated like "that guy who wears baggy clothing and has long hair".... it's alright

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Lora Mad
Community Member
3 months ago

My best friend used to go to piano lessons as a young girl. And always wondered what happened to the other girl that had lessons before her, she used to dress up so girly and nice, and all of a sudden she started wearing saggy ugly clothes. Sad and scary if you think about it.

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#18

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Playing with my hair, many things actually, some dudes think every single thing a female does is because she wants him.

In my experience you can't treat most male friends the same as female friends. I want you to succeed at life because you're my friend and I care about you. Most dudes would read way too far into it, it's f*cking annoying. I don't want to have to analyse everything I say to the opposite sex to make sure nothing I say makes them believe I'm leading them on in any way.

I like being a "mother hen" kind of thing, I like feeding people and making sure they are ok, ie I make birthday cakes for any friends who don't get one. I wish more people saw it that way and not some f*cked up version. Just because I am nice does not mean I'm in love you, I am only trying to treat you like a decent human being.

I play with my hair because of general anxiety, constantly doing something with my hands is just something I've always done, for job interviews I have to wear my hair back so I'm not messing with it, I'm not f*cking flirting.

This got kind of long, but yeah some dudes are just crazy.

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Helen Haley
Community Member
3 months ago

Oh god, the hair thing. I twirl my hair, they think I'm flirting. Nervous habbit.

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#19

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Like general affection, even with hugs and compliments I'm pretty reserved unless our relationship is clearly drawn out and we both know that nothing is being implied

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Iggy
Community Member
3 months ago

I was always taught that if you could compliment someone, you should but I stopped paying male friends and colleagues compliments. A few genuinely thought I was coming on to them. I was mortified! If I tell you your jumper is nice, that's all I mean.

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#20

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Licking or biting my lips. Used to stick my tongue out when I was concentrating on something, that went out the window real quick. Sucks having to be overly-conscious of unconscious facial movements, even chewing on a pen is risky.

Oh yeah and no licking ice cream cones in public. Ever.

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N G
Community Member
3 months ago

this would be funny, if it wasn't sad

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#21

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Smiling, being alone with men, physical contact of any kind, even just sweeping lint or crumbs off of their sleeves, eye contact, dressing comfortably, wearing even relatively tight shirts, touching my hair when nervous, moistening my lips with my tongue while talking...

Honestly, nearly stopped interacting with men in general, as my bust size is used as an excuse to claim I was flirting.

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Ripley
Community Member
3 months ago

Gasp! How dare you have big boobs in a public place! Shocking! /s

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#22

Along the same lines of all these--making new guy friends. I have a lot in common with guys, but almost every guy I've befriended has asked me out at some point, and after I decline (as nicely as possible) they don't want to be my friend anymore.

So I've come to assume that guys don't want girl friends. They want girlfriends. And so my boyfriend is basically my only friend. Being a pretty, boyish girl is a lonely life.

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TheBlackPanda (JustABlackBear)
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

I'm a guy and I've experienced this with girls too. I know this mostly happens to girls but I just wanted to point out that it happens to guys too and share a little bit of my experience. I've had a bunch of female friends that flirted with me and would send me unsolicited lewd photos of themselves because I gave them attention. Because i was friendly and paid attention to them and would remember little things they'd normally expect a guy to forget. I'd give them compliments because I'm trying to boost their confidence, not because I was trying to flirt. This counts as flirting to some women. Human interactions can be pretty complicated. Being nice can be seen as flirting by men or women. It really just depends on the individual

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#23

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message I used to always greet everyone with a smile and happy eyes. Either a nod or a quick 'hello'. But I got hit on way too often while doing that, to the point where they kept following me. I'm just trying to be polite dammit

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Daenarys
Community Member
3 months ago

Or looking at their face, saying thank you, and smiling when they hold a door open for you. I've been followed through several stores by guys because obviously, I was flirting with them. Now I just look down, say thank you, and walk away. After I explained this to my husband he doesn't get irritated when women don't say thank you when he holds the door for them. He had no idea that kind of thing happened to women.

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#24

Women Reveal What Innocent Behaviors They Had To Change In Fear Of Sending Men The Wrong Message Just generally being nice and outgoing? Seriously. It would lead to advances and if I wasn't interested it lead to physical assault.

Now I don't talk anyone I don't know. I'm very intentionally cold. I now have friends/coworkers that know me well enough get mad at me for being standoffish and intimidating....at least no one messes with me now

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Daria Z
Community Member
3 months ago

Same. Had to stop showing interest in any aspects of their lives, or they'd assume I fell for them. Even if it's a small thing like a compliment or polite concern, or just my "happy to see you" face.

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#25

I've had to deliberately force myself to stop squeeing or smiling at puppies being walked by single men who aren't obviously gay, because of the frequency with which interest in the puppy gets interpreted as interest in the human.

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KimB
Community Member
3 months ago

I chuckled at this because I remember peoples dogs even the dog names and refer to their owners as it's parent lol

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#26

During my pre-pubescent years I had a lot of male and female friends and I found it easy to talk to both genders because I treated both the same way--as if they were full people deserving of my interest and attention during a conversation. During the teenage years I realized that more and more of my male friends started dropping off because they assumed that my friendship meant that I was really in love with them. In early adulthood I became apprehensive to even start friendships with men and as a mid-20s adult I am apprehensive to even hold deep conversations with men lest they expect something in return. Sure, I'll do small talk and am friendly but I won't ever let you know me or try to get to know you unless I know for SURE that you're not one of those guys who thinks that women are incapable of holding an engaged conversation unless they crave the D.

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Hotdogking
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

I’ve learned a skill that let’s women know I’m not that kind of person. It’s called “stupidly low self-confidence.” (Before you all downvote me or give me sympathy, just know that I am joking (well, half joking, my confidence is pretty low))

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#27

I've stopped getting lunch with male coworkers. I go into it thinking, "Yay! I've finally found a lunch buddy!"

But they don't really want to be my lunch buddy... and that hurt. It feels like I've lost a potential friend... Like this person doesn't actually think of me with the respect I thought they did.

And then it's awkward for a few weeks and I eat alone in my car again.

It happened more than once so I just stopped agreeing to lunches with guys at work unless it's with a group.

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snipergun
Community Member
3 months ago

I'm sorry to hear. You shouldn't feel / be confronted with this in such a way on workplace. Sad taking lunches alone.

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#28

I have learned not to make eye contact with men in public places or on the street. 89% of the time they think its an invitation to hit on me. No sir. I just looked up for a second. Please keep walking.

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Viviane
Community Member
3 months ago

I don't mind men flirting just for a little attention and fun with little or no expectation of more. It's the ones who proposition over eye contact that piss me off.

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#29

Smiling. I'm a naturally smiley person and smile when I talk to people just to be friendly, but I have to be careful about it if I notice a guy taking it the wrong way. I had a coworker who took it way, way too far and I ended up having to show him a picture of my ex-boyfriend and I together and buy a cheap ring to wear to get him to back off. All because I smiled when I talked to him.

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Caro Caro
Community Member
3 months ago

What is it with these d!ckheads who think a smile means "yes please, stalk me"?

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#30

I'm thinking more in terms of social media, but I've found if a guy messages me and I send back so much as a polite 'hello' that guy will never leave me alone. Every couple months he'll pop up trying to start a conversation, usually being rude or lewd, long after I've stopped messaging him. Last time it happened the guy had been trying this for a while and right now I'm 7 months pregnant and in a serious relationship and I just went off on him. It's so sad that it has to come to that. And I know it's just a few delusional, ridiculous guys that do this but Jesus...what on Earth makes them think this behavior is ever going to get them anywhere?

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Random Panda
Community Member
3 months ago

Whatever happened to just blocking people? As a rule I never reply to random guys who message me on SM and especially not when I am in a relationship. I just block them. I've also had a few losers message me inappropriately in LinkedIn - they were immediately blocked and reported.

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