I think many desi women have childhood memories of being told to smile less around strangers or out in public, because certain men may take it as leeway to violate your boundaries. The belief is rooted in many years of patriarchy, with men consistently mistaking women’s politeness for flirting, of course. 

Which is why this Reddit thread of women sharing all the times this has happened to them is such a relatable read.

So, if you’re interested and think you might be able to relate to the confessions, here take a look, read on. 

1. Performing basic customer service at my job.

– Pterodactyloid

2. So much of this. So many men seemed to think because I greeted them politely, or helped them with whatever was going on/their issues, or was making idle conversation by asking how their days were going, that I was interested in them. No, I’m just performing my job and trying to be polite/friendly. I’ve been given love notes, phone numbers, and one time, someone came back to my job and gave me a photograph of himself with his number on the back. It’s really frustrating, but luckily, all this hasn’t happened to me in awhile.

– sluttychurros

3. You: scans his items at the register. Guy: she totally wants to fuck me right now.

– M19Wielder

4. I had to deal with this at my old job and I got so tired of it I literally told them not to flatter themselves and it’s just for our system to enter client information loool. 

– Hall0wsEve666

5. Dude. I work in HR, and I help people with promotions. I told a guy “You can do it! I believe in you!” before a test he had been prepping for at work. I just wanted him to relax and not fail lol. He texts my work cell, talking about “When all this is over, I’d love to take you to your favorite restaurant and shops and treat you for believing in me.” No, thanks bud.

– Omnomnivore_11

6. When I worked as a fast food employee, I handled multiple tasks. And if employees weren’t nice to customers, then they would begin yelling and giving the employee minor threats, and then going to the manager to yell and complain. Yet when I was nice like the other employees, they thought I was flirting. My thoughts to that are “Ew no, I’m just trying to keep you from yelling and complaining to my manager to write me up or fire me.” That job was such a mental nightmare I was only able to work there for a year before I quit. Otherwise my mental health was going to completely tank.

– ButterflyFrequent241

7. At this point I’m pretty sure that resting bitch face is just a defense mechanism. First, we spend our entire childhoods being told to smile for creepy men. Then as soon as puberty hits, it’s assumed we’re on the market. And if we do smile, we’re accused of hitting on them or leading them on. When it’s just us reacting the way we were conditioned to react to men. So we stop smiling at men and fall into a resting bitch face, because we never know when a smile is going to turn into sexual harassment. Then we get harassed in the way we did as little girls, being reminded that we exist solely to provide creepy men pleasure with our bodies. But hey… at least it’s not sexual harassment.

– Alert-Potato

8. Giving someone directions after he asked me for directions.

– snailprivilege

9. Making conversation with a coworker about a shared interest in film and television. After which, he proceeded to tell me that I had great tits and say that we should hang out some time. Hard pass.

– HiIntrepidHero

10. I smile and talk but dudes just assume I like them. I don’t see how, because I treat girls the same way as boys, so it’s not like I act that way to one specific dude lol.

– HeadDot141

11. Smiling. I naturally smile a lot, it’s in my nature and I can’t help it. Apparently, my smile is very attractive because men always think that I’m flirting with them. I am not. I am really not.

– sunshine4sunshine

12. I also smile when I’m nervous, uncomfortable or feel awkward. Which doesn’t help.

– InterestingPeach8

13. I smile at everyone too and I’m not going to stop! My actual, “I am flirting with you” smile and body language is completely different from my regular smile. If someone gets confused by my everyday pageant-smile with minimal eye contact, that’s their problem!

– chickenlover46

14. Being polite. Ordering food. Speaking. Breathing. Pumping gas!

– TacosForDinnnnner

15. I often compliment people because I think it’s nice and it makes people feel great. I am not complimenting men anymore, because they always assume it’s to flirt. I find it weird because a lot of guys say that they would like to be complimented more and that they never do. But when you do, they assume it’s because you want to fuck them. No thanks. 

– Future-Tangerine-264

This is years, and years of conditioning of women being told to be more digestible, more agreeable (especially for the men around them). 


And then men ask why they’re receiving mixed signals? Sir, the woman is literally afraid of upsetting your ego and the social repercussions that will have on her life, hold some space for her.