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#1
Old 03-25-2014, 02:45 AM
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Dealing with people who want to stare you down and intimidate you.

When people stare heavily at you in a way in order to try to dominate or to try to intimidate or something like that, I don't know what my best option is. It is annoying. I feel like to look away is to 'lose,' to 'be less of a man.' It is emasculating, especially if I am not doing something wrong and some jerk feels like giving me a cold stare.

Alternatively I can stare back. The problem is with the wrong person this can lead to a fight on your hands. A fight (at least with someone who is big enough, strong enough, knows how to fight or has a weapon) this ALWAYS has the potential to be fatal, so it is generally better to keep the peace.

I just don't like handing people my balls in order to keep the peace, you know? Do you have any words of wisdom about situations such as this?
#2
Old 03-25-2014, 03:04 AM
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If you can, pretend like you didn't see the stare and just become intensely involved in something else, like talking to another person, looking through your wallet. Don't let your eyes stop on him ever.
#3
Old 03-25-2014, 03:26 AM
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Some of us are so oblivious to our surroundings that we don't notice these stares.
#4
Old 03-25-2014, 04:00 AM
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You'll want to ask the woman you're with, "Who is he and what is he to you?".
#5
Old 03-25-2014, 07:07 AM
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I usually cross my eyes (a useful trait) or fart loudly.

Seriously, your difficulty is that you feel bad about looking away.
Once you conquer that, the problem disappears (and you avoid staring contests!)

Try thinking that if someone stares at you:

- they are a zombie
- they have few brains, so need to concentrate just to look at people
- you have better things to do
- you'd rather look at somebody else
#6
Old 03-25-2014, 07:35 AM
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OP, are you in a Stand Your Ground state?
#7
Old 03-25-2014, 08:00 AM
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See, this is why I like being a woman: I never have to prove what kind of man I am. No balls to hand off and something "emasculating"? Pffft!

Look, I understand that whole primate hierarchy/dominance thing (we women do have our own version) but you need to work the brain and not the brawn. If it's a total stranger why do you care? Will you ever see this person again?

THEY are just a bald chimp... and even most chimps are smart enough not try to dominance crap for no good reason. So he's a stupid bald chimp. Be better than him.
#8
Old 03-25-2014, 08:21 AM
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Cheerful smile, maybe a little wave. If they're close enough perhaps a "good morning!"

The big alpha chimps on the CTA do not know how to react to this and will usually break off their staring pretty quick.
#9
Old 03-25-2014, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
OP, are you in a Stand Your Ground state?
Unlikely. Looks like it had only a limited release.
#10
Old 03-25-2014, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Isamu View Post
If you can, pretend like you didn't see the stare and just become intensely involved in something else, like talking to another person, looking through your wallet. Don't let your eyes stop on him ever.
Great advice. Now he'll kick your ass AND take your wallet.
#11
Old 03-25-2014, 08:49 AM
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I've read of such behavior in the lower primates.

I've even observed it in ape houses in the zoos I've visited in USA and Europe.

But I've never seen this behavior in humans.

Naturally, I wonder: Why have you experienced this, but not me?
#12
Old 03-25-2014, 08:57 AM
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It's a male dominance ritual that progresses in predictable stages, which you rightly say can end up in violence unless one of the parties backs down, a game of one-upmanship.

The only winning move is not to play and short-circuit it when you recognise the pattern, don't give an opportunity for the opponent to escalate and don't give into the temptation to escalate it yourself. Simply acting disinterested - a look of complete boredom - has worked for me in the past when I realise I'm getting pulled into the 'monkey dance'.

Quote:
2) If the stare is met and held, it will escalate to a verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?” Again, if the recipient at this point looks away and pretends to be very interested in something else, dominance is established and the aggressor will likely move on. The recipient, especially if girls are watching, will have an incredible urge to respond in kind. It is, in fact, fear of being humiliated by not responding that is driving the dynamic. The MD is not a game you play. It is genetically programmed and unless you possess wisdom and exert will, the game plays you.
http://ymaa.com/articles/violence-dynamics

Last edited by Mr. Kobayashi; 03-25-2014 at 08:58 AM.
#13
Old 03-25-2014, 09:07 AM
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If I even notice it, and if I happen to make eye contact, I give my most expressionless face possible and go on about my business. As others have pointed out, if I don't even play the game, I don't have to feel like I lost. And that's what it's mostly about to me. I try not to get caught up in what I think others may be thinking about me. Works in a lot of situations, not just in the stare dominance game. IMHO and YMMV, as is usual on SDMB


Sometimes, if I'm feeling ornery, I'll flash them a big goofy smile. Their confused reaction is often a hoot. However, I am a rather large guy, so maybe some others shouldn't try that. Also, on at least one occasion, that strategy led to an attempted physical escalation. At the end of that one, all that remained to be said was, "You're done."


>

Last edited by AncientHumanoid; 03-25-2014 at 09:08 AM. Reason: >..<
#14
Old 03-25-2014, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kobayashi View Post
It's a male dominance ritual that progresses in predictable stages, which you rightly say can end up in violence unless one of the parties backs down, a game of one-upmanship.

The only winning move is not to play and short-circuit it when you recognise the pattern, don't give an opportunity for the opponent to escalate and don't give into the temptation to escalate it yourself. Simply acting disinterested - a look of complete boredom - has worked for me in the past when I realise I'm getting pulled into the 'monkey dance'.


http://ymaa.com/articles/violence-dynamics
So basically, resist the urge to fling poo in response to being stared at.
#15
Old 03-25-2014, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
So basically, resist the urge to fling poo in response to being stared at.
Yep - don't go apeshit, literally or figuratively.
#16
Old 03-25-2014, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Gateway View Post
When people stare heavily at you in a way in order to try to dominate or to try to intimidate or something like that, I don't know what my best option is.
Honest question, but where have you been experiencing this with any frequency?
#17
Old 03-25-2014, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Krouget View Post
Honest question, but where have you been experiencing this with any frequency?
Public transportation, sports events, and almost any retail environment is where I have seen it.

And then there is the in their car/truck starers, hoping for a reason for road rage.

YMMV

Last edited by AncientHumanoid; 03-25-2014 at 09:26 AM.
#18
Old 03-25-2014, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Randy Seltzer View Post
Cheerful smile, maybe a little wave. If they're close enough perhaps a "good morning!"

The big alpha chimps on the CTA do not know how to react to this and will usually break off their staring pretty quick.
Yip, that's what I recommend. It's not so much because they don't understand, but because you've acted like you're treating their staring as a greeting instead of a hostile act. Body language is all about context. Escalation usually happens because the other person thinks you are being hostile back--they are in the wrong frame of mind.

At the same time, I think it shows a lack of intimidation, which makes it less likely they'll do it again. Aggressive people seem to target those who can be intimidated. But that's just a guess on my part. All I know is that smiling seems to work. I've never had it fail.
#19
Old 03-25-2014, 09:27 AM
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I can almost guarantee you that the person who is "staring heavily" at you is just wondering why you are staring heavily at him. He may even be posting on another board asking what his "best option" for dealing with you is.

If you're anywhere around lots of people, at any moment someone's eyes are going to be pointed in your general direction, and your eyes are going to be pointed in someone else's general direction. Just by laws of chance, occasionally two sets of eyes will happen to point at each other at the same time.

Your best option is just to ignore it and don't worry about it.
#20
Old 03-25-2014, 09:30 AM
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Maybe it's my appearance, but I stare back, all the while thinking, "go on, motherfucker, try it". Never had escalation, we just both go on about our business. Mutual assured destruction, maybe?
#21
Old 03-25-2014, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krouget View Post
Honest question, but where have you been experiencing this with any frequency?
Seriously ... do you frequent biker bars or something? The best way to avoid these situations is don't go to places where lots of people act like juvenile jackasses.
#22
Old 03-25-2014, 10:18 AM
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*stares heavily at the OP*
#23
Old 03-25-2014, 10:45 AM
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[QUOTE=Gateway;17226687]
Quote:
I feel like to look away is to 'lose,' to 'be less of a man.' It is emasculating, especially if I am not doing something wrong and some jerk feels like giving me a cold stare.
I never really understood this. Why is it emasculating that a complete stranger essentially challenges you to something, in this case staring, and you choose to decline... so what? Some perfect stranger has the better of you in an utterly meaningless contest? Chances are, he'll completely forget about it in a few minutes. Worst case, he goes to the bar later and talks about how he totally owned this random guy in the line at Chipotle and he totally looked away. Score!

Seriously, ask yourself, what exactly are you losing here?

Quote:
Alternatively I can stare back. The problem is with the wrong person this can lead to a fight on your hands. A fight (at least with someone who is big enough, strong enough, knows how to fight or has a weapon) this ALWAYS has the potential to be fatal, so it is generally better to keep the peace.
Strongly disadvised. Sure, it's highly unlikely to escalate, but sometimes there's people who are just itching to start something. If someone declines the challenge of the stare, he no longer has an excuse to start something. Otherwise, if he's all "alpha" or whatever, he might take it as a challenge to his manhood and decide to start something for it. Even if you did think you could take some random dude in a fight, it's just not worth it.

Just look away, and if you REALLY feel so ashamed about doing so obviously, then come up with some excuse like looking at your phone or whatever.

Quote:
I just don't like handing people my balls in order to keep the peace, you know? Do you have any words of wisdom about situations such as this?
This is just one of those things about manhood that seems to have a strong tie with the whole "alpha" mentality, and gets strongly associated with athletics, the gym, drinking, whatever. Despite that I have been involved a fair amount in athletics and the gym, I still don't understand this stuff, and very rarely see it myself. Quite frankly, I don't even see how "losing" a staring contest constitutes "handing people my balls."

It's like Marty McFly, always having the smart reaction of turning away from a fight, but then gets egged on when he's called chicken. It takes him three whole films to get over it and it changes his future. As far as I'm concerned, my "balls" aren't about answering to ill-advised challenges; to me, being a man means having the balls to let someone else think they won, and I can spend my energy worrying about stuff that actually matters. It's almost always posturing and insecurity, but it's just not worth calling the bluff, because my manhood doesn't depend one iota on what someone I don't know thinks of me.
#24
Old 03-25-2014, 11:00 AM
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By not staring back - by casually shifting my gaze elsewhere - I classify the starer as "not a threat", and therefore not worthy of my interest. That way, I end up holding his balls.

Um... metaphorically speaking.
#25
Old 03-25-2014, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Look, I understand that whole primate hierarchy/dominance thing (we women do have our own version) but you need to work the brain and not the brawn. If it's a total stranger why do you care? Will you ever see this person again?

THEY are just a bald chimp... and even most chimps are smart enough not try to dominance crap for no good reason. So he's a stupid bald chimp. Be better than him.
This. Right here. Maybe it is an age thing but I just don't care. When I was younger, maybe I'd feel my masculinity is being challenged. Now, I just chuckle a bit and move on. That bald chimp (awesome Broomstick!) who feels the need to do this is either a.) young and dumb and/or b.) pretty much a loser in the grand scheme of things. I own a home. I contribute to my neighborhood's improvement. I have a loving wife. I have a job that compensates me pretty well and is satisfying. I have amazing friendships. So really, ignoring that stare doesn't change my view of my own masculinity in any way. You didn't dominate me in any way with your angry stare. Escalate it to a confrontation and you'll find I can in fact defend myself pretty well. (I'm wicked fast dialing the police! Haha)

As for those asking where this happens, I get it regularly in my neighborhood. It is a mixed economic neighborhood and you catch this behavior from a lot of the younger (and even some of the older) black males I encounter. I'm not hip enough but maybe the term is "fronting". The younger hipsters in our neighborhood don't do this, they're too busy being ironic and disinterested in anything beyond how cool they pose at all times. :-D The rest of us wave hi, stop and talk with our neighbors, and generally are open and friendly towards each other.
#26
Old 03-25-2014, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gateway View Post
When people stare heavily at you in a way in order to try to dominate or to try to intimidate or something like that, I don't know what my best option is. It is annoying. I feel like to look away is to 'lose,' to 'be less of a man.' It is emasculating, especially if I am not doing something wrong and some jerk feels like giving me a cold stare.

Alternatively I can stare back. The problem is with the wrong person this can lead to a fight on your hands. A fight (at least with someone who is big enough, strong enough, knows how to fight or has a weapon) this ALWAYS has the potential to be fatal, so it is generally better to keep the peace.

I just don't like handing people my balls in order to keep the peace, you know? Do you have any words of wisdom about situations such as this?
Stare back and bark "What!?"
#27
Old 03-25-2014, 11:47 AM
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There's the intimidation stare down and there's being smart about your surroundings. Ask yourself what is going on around you on different sides. Did anyone appear suddenly? Is anyone moving closer to you or... circling you?

Smile as best you can, but be aware and be safe.
#28
Old 03-25-2014, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Gateway View Post
I just don't like handing people my balls
Simple, don't. Take them and put them in your wifes purse that you are carrying around for her.
#29
Old 03-25-2014, 11:58 AM
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I think you have put too much thought into this. By too much I mean to say "any". If strangers are walking up to you and challenging you to a fight you need to learn how to deal with it. But staring? This is something to be ignored.
#30
Old 03-25-2014, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
By not staring back - by casually shifting my gaze elsewhere - I classify the starer as "not a threat", and therefore not worthy of my interest. That way, I end up holding his balls.
Sort of my feeling, except that there are very, very few testicles in this world that I care about. Similarly, there are very few people whose opinion of my masculinity matters to me, and dumb ornery stranger wanting to pick a fight? Not one of them. I have no desire to have any sort of relationship with a dumb ornery stranger, and so I arrange my life to avoid that outcome. If that means that they think I'm a pussy, they're welcome to their dumb ornery thoughts.
#31
Old 03-25-2014, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
Seriously ... do you frequent biker bars or something? The best way to avoid these situations is don't go to places where lots of people act like juvenile jackasses.

That's what I always try to do. It's really been a long time for me since I've been in a situation like this. Anyhow, I usually stare right back - I am very small in stature, but one time my unflinchingness scared the crap out of one guy I met in a bar; he was kind of drunk and I think he expected a different response due to our size difference, and we actually talked a bit after the dust settled - weird I know. Wouldn't say I would recommend that approach for everyone though - like I said I was much younger then.
#32
Old 03-25-2014, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
By not staring back - by casually shifting my gaze elsewhere - I classify the starer as "not a threat", and therefore not worthy of my interest. That way, I end up holding his balls.

Um... metaphorically speaking.
Boy, you guys sure do care about each other's balls a lot.
#33
Old 03-25-2014, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AncientHumanoid View Post
Public transportation, sports events, and almost any retail environment is where I have seen it.

And then there is the in their car/truck starers, hoping for a reason for road rage.

YMMV
Have you considered the possibility that you may be the problem? Seriously, I've been told that I make too much eye contact with people and that it intimidates some of the lower ordered folk. Generally I'm just interested in everything that is going on around me and some people interpret that as being too nosy. Yo really can't know whats going on in other people thoughts, some of them are actually paranoid.
#34
Old 03-25-2014, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Boy, you guys sure do care about each other's balls a lot.
They're very precious and vulnerable, and they need friendship!
#35
Old 03-25-2014, 01:51 PM
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Have you checked a mirror? Maybe you have spinach in your teeth.
#36
Old 03-25-2014, 02:06 PM
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OP, where are you and/or what are you doing when this happens? I can't imagine when or why this would occur.
#37
Old 03-25-2014, 03:02 PM
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You all need to watch "Roadhouse" again. ::: sheesh::::
#38
Old 03-25-2014, 04:11 PM
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I'll have you know I watch Roadhouse every morning while I'm doing t'ai chi and smoking Marlboros.
#39
Old 03-25-2014, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AncientHumanoid View Post
Public transportation, sports events, and almost any retail environment is where I have seen it.

And then there is the in their car/truck starers, hoping for a reason for road rage.

YMMV
?????? I haven't had this happen to me since high school. um...you are an adult right?
Truthfully, when I read this, I have to think that if this is a common enough occurance to make you this uptight; that I wonder if you might have some issues that could be addressed with some counseling or medication.
I'm guessing your behaviour is causing people to glance your way, and when you catch their eye, you instantly go into "I'm being challenged!, my honor and masculinity is on the line!"

when, all they are really thinking is, 'what's up with that guy?' or even more benign "Lasagna, I think I'll have Lasagna for dinner."
#40
Old 03-25-2014, 05:16 PM
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Nope. You are completely wrong. Thanks for trying, tho.
#41
Old 03-25-2014, 05:22 PM
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Whip your head around and look behind you, and if nothing's there, turn back and look at him with a "What the hell?" look on your face. Usually they start laughing at that point, so it's all good.

Similarly, if people on the other side of the room, who you don't know, are looking at you, smiling and waving, smile and wave back. The looks on their faces are priceless, particularly if you stand up and walk over to them before their friends (behind you) get there.
#42
Old 03-25-2014, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Seltzer View Post
Cheerful smile, maybe a little wave. If they're close enough perhaps a "good morning!"

The big alpha chimps on the CTA do not know how to react to this and will usually break off their staring pretty quick.
I tend to do this. I smile and ask "can I help you?" if they're close enough to approach.

If they're further away I just stare back and kind of make this face, look behind me to see if something's there. I think it conveys "why are you staring at me?" well enough.

Last edited by Grey area; 03-25-2014 at 05:29 PM. Reason: ETA: Ethilrist beat me to it. Darn it.
#43
Old 03-25-2014, 05:31 PM
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As a rule, if someone decides to intimidate me through aggressive body language - especially invading my personal space - my inclination is to step forward, making bodily contact if it comes to that. So far, that has always resulted in the other person backing down.
#44
Old 03-25-2014, 08:20 PM
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How often does this happen? Once a week? Everyday? Once a month? I've literally never had this happen to me in at least 30 years. Where are you? I'm in the complacent Midwest, so maybe it's a regional thing? Are you in the northeast?

Also, I'm pretty much small city suburbia, do you experience this in a different neighborhood or demographic?
#45
Old 03-25-2014, 08:35 PM
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A lot of people seem to be wondering what is going on when this sort of thing happens, or where, or if I am doing anything strange. Well, it's not so much that there is a huge frequency, it's just here and there. But when it does happen, it can piss me off and be a bit deflating. I never came up with a good response to it so it has been on my mind. I live on the border of a big city and that can bring with it these things. Also I think this happens more for males than females.

As far as if I am doing anything out of the ordinary, I am not sure. Sometimes I sing when walking down the street, or I may not be wearing "normal" clothes, so pretty slovenly... I also have a big red beard so that can bring attention. There is more but I now realize that these things may be the culprit... (Side note: so yes Si Amigo, I may be drawing that sort of attention myself on some level)


Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker
OP, are you in a Stand Your Ground state?
I'm not sure if this is referencing a movie, but I am kinda not into accepting people's shit at least if there is no reason for them to give me shit. Generally on the inside what I feel is "stand my ground," but I also think that keeping the peace and choosing your battles are good ideas.


Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
Seriously, your difficulty is that you feel bad about looking away.
Once you conquer that, the problem disappears (and you avoid staring contests!)
Good point. I will reflect upon this idea


Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaster Master
Why is it emasculating that a complete stranger essentially challenges you to something, in this case staring, and you choose to decline... so what?

...

Seriously, ask yourself, what exactly are you losing here?
I am going to reflect on this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaster Master
It's like Marty McFly, always having the smart reaction of turning away from a fight, but then gets egged on when he's called chicken. It takes him three whole films to get over it and it changes his future. As far as I'm concerned, my "balls" aren't about answering to ill-advised challenges; to me, being a man means having the balls to let someone else think they won, and I can spend my energy worrying about stuff that actually matters. It's almost always posturing and insecurity, but it's just not worth calling the bluff, because my manhood doesn't depend one iota on what someone I don't know thinks of me.
Marty McFly is a great example. I really like this; I'm going to think about it. Perhaps real strength means being able to lose, or at least being able to let it seem like you lost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness
Similarly, there are very few people whose opinion of my masculinity matters to me...
Nice. Good point

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan
By not staring back - by casually shifting my gaze elsewhere - I classify the starer as "not a threat", and therefore not worthy of my interest. That way, I end up holding his balls.

Um... metaphorically speaking.
Good form. Good logic. I will reflect on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Seltzer
Cheerful smile, maybe a little wave. If they're close enough perhaps a "good morning!"
Interesting, maybe I will try this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist
Whip your head around and look behind you, and if nothing's there, turn back and look at him with a "What the hell?" look on your face.
I have used this before effectively. If you do this then it makes it way more of a, "you are ACTUALLY trying to stare me down right now" and they may not want to if that motive is brought to light and/or they don't have a good reason to.


...and Sigene, yes, I am an adult. 25. (By the way, I just saw your newest post. I live in California, USA, in the Bay Area)

Last edited by Gateway; 03-25-2014 at 08:36 PM.
#46
Old 03-25-2014, 09:26 PM
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"You keep staring at me, you're going to see me beat the shit out of you."


Seriously though, that is pretty bizarre that you have a problem with random people engaging you in a stare-down contest. It almost sounds like some form of mental illness that you think these people are trying to emasculate you. I don't mean that to be insulting. But why would someone you never met want to do something like that?


Although, I am in New York where we make a point NOT to look at other people.
#47
Old 03-25-2014, 09:28 PM
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Blow him kisses.
#48
Old 03-25-2014, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnM View Post
I've read of such behavior in the lower primates.

I've even observed it in ape houses in the zoos I've visited in USA and Europe.

But I've never seen this behavior in humans.

Naturally, I wonder: Why have you experienced this, but not me?
Umm...from Mars?
#49
Old 03-25-2014, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max the Immortal View Post
Blow him kisses.
And, remember to say "I'll be your huckleberry."



And, then, let Mr. Uzi do the rest of your communicating for you.

Last edited by handsomeharry; 03-25-2014 at 09:52 PM.
#50
Old 03-25-2014, 10:02 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 475
Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
"You keep staring at me, you're going to see me beat the shit out of you."


Seriously though, that is pretty bizarre that you have a problem with random people engaging you in a stare-down contest. It almost sounds like some form of mental illness that you think these people are trying to emasculate you. I don't mean that to be insulting. But why would someone you never met want to do something like that?


Although, I am in New York where we make a point NOT to look at other people.
NY ≠ San Jose or Vallejo

In any case, no, it's not imagination. I actually originally wrote this because my neighbor did this the other day. I asked him about it today and he mentioned "I was wondering who was standing by my window" (I was in the parking garage having a smoke at night, apparently he was sleeping in the apartment right above me). He walked out of his front door, and stares in my direction for about 1 minute straight, and walks back inside.

Most examples aren't that extreme. I suppose a lot of this is about the casual staring contest one gets into on the street. It's not always an extreme, hardcore, aggressive stare but could just be losing a "normal" staring contest, when 2 guys make eye contact just walking down the street for example. If you don't know what a normal staring contest is, you probably live in a small town, are older, (it seems) a female, or you just don't get out much.

Last edited by Gateway; 03-25-2014 at 10:06 PM.
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