Some Problems At School

Long story here, rambles a bit:

Well after school yesterday, I stayed on after class so I could ask my chemistry teacher my grade. However he said he wanted to talk to be about something else. So my teacher said that I was making some kids in my class “uncomfortable”. He didn’t specify exactly what they said I was supposedly doing to them, so I told him honestly that I didn’t do much to those people other than small talk with them (which pisses them off anyways). Well I did go up to them really close a few times (mostly as a joke) but than again I’ve never erhm touched them or stroke their hair or whatnot-which a lot of boys do anyways to girls. At any rate, they were annoyed by it certainly but only in a (at least to me) non-serious way. So anyways my chem teacher agreed not to call my friends or the school office as long as I tried to correct the behaviour.

So am I creeper or not?

Yes. Don’t do this:

Most people have a personal space that they prefer remain clear. If you are deliberately invading that space, just to mess with them, that is creepy. I suspect the touching other boys are doing is likely welcome. Pushing someone’s buttons just to see what they will do is a jerk move.

Not enough information to know. I’ll guess that the teacher was talking to you because the kids asked him to, though.

Well, I’m too lazy at the moment to get into the complexities of human interaction but I’d say don’t do whatever you did again (I’ll let someone else layout all the factors that might’ve been involved). It’s more complicated than you apparently thought.

I don’t see how you can correct he problem if he hasn’t spelled out to you what the problematic behaviour is.


Qin, you frequently pose questions you already know the answer to. Is this the question you want answered?

“If other boys can touch girls and/or stroke their hair, then why can’t I get away with standing in their personal space just shy of touching them? I’m not breaking any written or verbal rules, right?”

I’d like to help, but I’m confused.

Are you assuming that the getting too close is what made them uncomfortable or do you know this to be a fact? I’m unclear on this.

I’m 99+% percent sure, since that’s the most I’ve done.

Qin, you and I are of a kind - we do not always understand the unwritten rules of life, and do not always pick up on the hints those that do understand are sending us. Although your teacher was not fully clear, he is giving you some direction. You should take that direction.

By your own words “small talking” the other students - at least some of them - is making them uncomfortable. I suggest you pull back on the small talk attempts. While you are talking to your fellow students, keep an extremely careful watch for boredom, or even anger. If you see any signs of this, say something to disengage from the conversation politely.

At my office when someone I’m talking to pulls out his/her blackberry/iphone/whatever, I know the conversation’s over. I say something like “We’ll pick this up later” knowing full well we probably won’t. Whatever I was saying to them was not important to them. Time for me to move on.

Invading personal space uninvited can make you appear very creepy. Stop. Give people lots or room, especially in school. Again, watch carefully for signs of discomfort in the person you are approaching. If you find yourself too close - or if the person you’re talking to seems uncomfortable at your being too close, say something like “Oh my! Here I am standing too close again. I’m trying to break that bad habit. I’m sorry.” Then take a pace back and ask “Is this better?” Either way, end that conversation as soon as possible. Many people will say things are OK just to be polite.

I hope this didn’t come off as orders, but it’s advice you should take to heart.

I suggest in the strongest possible terms that you discuss the conversation you had with your chem teacher with your parents. They need to know this has happened, and they’ll probably have good advice for you. If another teacher goes directly to them, or to the school office, they won’t be blindsided.

Also talk with your close friends at school, and ask them if they’ve noticed these things about you, and what they think you can do to improve. We are all always learning how to be in the world. I find no shame in asking for help and trying to get better.

Ok, but I think the teacher owes you a better explanation. It is unfair of the teacher to ask you to correct your behavior if you don’t know what that behavior is.

Once that is known, you can make corrections or changes.

But, if you think you know it’s the close talking, then yeah, don’t do that.

Is there another question in there somewhere that you’re having trouble articulating?
I only ask because it does seem that you already knew the answer when you asked the question.

In fact, most people see someone who is invading their personal space as a threat. Generally, you should only get really close to someone if you’re about to touch them in a very personal or very professional moment. If you’re going to hug or kiss someone, then it’s appropriate to be very close. If you’re going to perform a medical exam, then it’s also OK. Otherwise, try to stay at least two or three feet away from other people.

Basically, you were getting very close to people to make them feel uncomfortable, and you thought this was funny. They didn’t feel it was funny, and you did indeed make them feel uncomfortable. This sort of behavior is not likely to endear you with people. And if you persist in trying to make small talk with people who don’t want to talk with you, that’s not going to make you very popular, either.

I can understand why he would call the school office but why would he call your friends? Do you mean that they’re the ones you’re doing it to and he wants to ask them if they’re OK with it…?

I meant parents, it was a typo.

Boldface added. Is that a typo, or does your school have classes on Saturdays?

As for your behavior. Yes, it’s creepy and it sounds like you already know that.

Oh no, human interaction, people of the internet hide in the closet, quick, before real people find us. (one day, my brand of humor will be recognized…)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but were you trying to flirt with them and it didn’t come across as such, then you persisted and they freaked out a little? On top of that, did you repeat this mistake merely out of revenge or to be annoying, then it just got strange and creepy? (In the style of Workaholics…nice :D) I suspect this to be the case, having been in a similar situation myself one time, it’s actually fixable, in fact, it’s fixed the same way any other problem like this is fixed: go to them, apologize, man up and explain it, then apologize once more before walking away, keeping your head high (not too high to seem snobby or not truly sorry, but not low hung like you’re ashamed, a perfect height to make it seem like you’re moving on and so should they)

(if this isn’t the case exactly, then this solution will still probably work just fine, you must channel your inner Zin Master, Qin-son)

Qin, what exactly do you mean by “go up to them really close a few times (mostly as a joke)”. That is not normal behavior, and not how jokes work. How close did you get, and why did you do it? I suspect you’ve done nothing to violate any specific rule or the teacher would have notified the office and/or your parents, but you have put yourself in a bad position. Please tell us the details of your actions. We don’t need names and places, but how close did you come to someone, and under what circumstances. I’m sure there is someone on the board who can advise you on a course of action which you can use to avoid this kind of problem, and protect yourself if you have been falsely accused of something.

BTW: Is this something you could talk to your parents about? I can understand a lot of reasons you might want to avoid that even if this is a trivial matter. We all were young once, and what you are going through may not be all that unique.

Qin, you or someone else may be making a mountain out of a molehill here. But if that is not the case you should be careful. Teenagers can be cruel and dishonest, especially when they act as a pack. According to your OP, if you have done something wrong it didn’t amount to much. If you haven’t done anything wrong, you’ve been unjustly accused. You really should address this with someone. If your parents aren’t the right people to talk to, you should find someone. I’m probably not that person, but others on this board are. Try to come across with more useful information. Clearly something has happened for you start a thread of this nature, and you could use some advice.

OP, your predicament reminds me of a situation that I and my coworkers are having with a certain person at work. We all eat lunch together in the company lunchroom, and one day, one of the kind-hearted souls decided she felt sorry for this woman eating all by herself, so she invited her to our table.

Big mistake. This person now sits with us every single day and not only has no sense of personal space, but she goes on and on and on about the same stories and subjects over and over again. If you do try to carry on a conversation with her, you get the sense that she is not really listening, but just waiting for you to stop talking so that she can share her oh-so amusing anecdote. She does not recognize the signs and social cues from the rest of us that her story has gone on too long or we are not interested or bored or uncomfortable or would really like to talk to the other people in the group who are not so irritating.

I am not surprised that the teacher wasn’t able to get into a lot of specifics as to what you are doing “wrong”, because most of my coworker’s offenses really don’t sound that bad to people who don’t know her, and it is actually hard for me to put a finger on what exactly is so irritating. A lot of people talk about, for instance, their families or their vehicles, and it is mildly interesting small talk. She talks about these things, going on and on and on with uninteresting detail, and it drives me up the wall.

This has been a sign of consternation to the rest of us, because while going to a supervisor or HR seems like way overkill, especially since this is technically not work time, it has really cut down on the enjoyment at what should be a pleasant time of day. We’ve even told her to shut up, but it was kind of in a joking matter, so she thinks it’s a joke. Part of the problem lies with us, because in Minnesota culture, direct confrontation is very rude, so we rely so much on these social cues that she just can’t read. I think the solution will ultimately have to be direct confrontation, but that could open us up to trouble. What if she goes to HR on us as a result?

My point is, OP, if you recognize anything about yourself in my story, please understand that your classmates and teacher are not being mean, and even if other people seem to get just as close or talk about the same subjects, the way you do it makes others uncomfortable or irritated. In the short term, I would suggest stopping any of the behaviors that you even think might be causing discomfort immediately. In the long term, if you think that the problem is that you are not recognizing others’ social cues, you may want to see if there is some sort of therapy available out there, because, believe me, you do not want to be in your 40’s and having this sort of problem in your work life.

**Qin **has mentioned before that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s and that he has a lot of trouble reading social cues from other people.

(Anyone familiar with the British TV show “Skins”? Everytime **Qin **posts he reminds me of the character of JJ.)

This seems to be the root of the problem.

You can’t ‘joke’ like that unless there is already a context in which such a ‘joke’ would be understood. From your description it sounds like the ‘joke’ would have come out of the blue, and only be funny to you, internally. Out of context the other people will probably think you have serious intent and be creeped out.

If you have problems with social cues already, I suggest that you avoid this kind of joke and behaviour altogether, because you are unlikely to know when it will be well received and when it will get you in trouble.