Originally featured on joinonelove.org
Written by Writer’s Corps member Carrie Manner
Pop culture has a bad habit of presenting stalking as normal dating behavior. Rom-coms and popular TV series feature lovable underdogs fumbling in their quest for love as they study their crush, join the same activities, ask around about them, and coordinate “coincidental” meetups. If the object of their affection doesn’t instantly fall for them, they’re seen as playing “hard to get” and efforts to win them over get ramped up. Through these unrealistic depictions of “love,” viewers are socialized to perceive these grand gestures as romantic and suitors “are socialized to be persistent,” University of Michigan professor, Julie Lippman told the Huffington Post.
IRL, these actions are often unwelcome, unwanted, and downright creepy. When partners try these grand gestures it’s easy to confuse their actions with intense love since “we’re taught that we should want this” from a partner said Lippman. But stalking is less about love and more about obsession and control. To complicate matters further, most stalkers or someone who repeatedly harasses or threatens another person are people you already know. According to Stalking Resource Center, 61% of women and 44% of men have been stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
If you haven’t already, check out our article It’s Not Cute, It’s Stalking to learn the basic warning signs of stalking. Then learn about additional signs below to help you determine if you’re being stalked by a former or current partner.
You Get Hang-up Calls and Messages from Unknown Contacts
Are you receiving calls from blocked numbers who hang up or breathe into the phone until you disconnect? Is your current or former SO keeping tabs on you through email, texts and DM’s on social media? If this is happening to you (and you’re sure it’s not a prank) then it may be cause for alarm. Stalking is more common than you may think, it affects 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men in their lifetime. People experiencing stalking are often cautioned not to ignore their stalker however, psychologist Kris Mohandie told NBC that “this doesn’t work with stalkers who are already violating the boundaries of normal behavior.” Instead, he recommends you remain alert and avoid engaging your stalker directly. Inform key people if you feel unsafe and increase security measures such as locks, alarms and security cameras.
They’re Always Driving By
It’s never okay for anyone to continually drive by your house, school, or work when you’ve explicitly asked them not to. A stalker may try to convince you that they’re only “checking in” to make sure you’re safe but in reality, it’s part of their obsession. If your partner continues to check on you, or you notice they’re driving past your house even after you’ve asked them to stop, this could be cause for alarm. What may appear as heartfelt admiration can feel overwhelming and intimidating to you later on. If you notice someone actively circling your neighborhood and/or following you, it may be time to get the authorities involved.
They Obtain Info On You Before You Provide it
Does your current or potential SO ask you questions that make you feel like you’re being interrogated? For example, are they asking about your schedule? Or your exes? Being interested in you is one thing, but a potential stalker’s aim is to know everything. You do not owe your SO information about your whereabouts or details about the people you’ve dated in the past. If someone continually pries on you or asks your friends for details you won’t provide, this may be a precursor to more intensified behaviors. If this is happening to you, please visit our real-time resources to get help.
They Use Gifts to Make up for Obsessive Behavior
Let’s face it, accepting gifts can be flattering, but it’s a hallmark move stalkers use to gain their target’s affection. Accepting gifts from someone may not seem like an issue at first, however, experts say stalkers will do anything to gain attention and elicit a response from the person they’re pursuing. Any response you give a potential stalker can be misinterpreted as interest in them or interest in continuing an unhealthy relationship.
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