I had the opportunity to speak to a young woman who was feeling a bit weird about someone who kept following her. The more I talked with her, the more it was apparent that this guy was a little odd in how he approached girls he was attracted to.

Although it turned out he was just a little socially inept, it still left the young woman very uncomfortable and feeling like she was being stalked. He didn’t realize it, but instead of being seen as Don Juan on a white horse, he came across more like Freddy Krueger on a basilisk. In this day and age, we should all be aware of our surroundings and watch out for odd behavior. Is that guy or girl who has been following you for the last month just shy? Or is that old boy or girlfriend just not wanting to let you go?

How are you perceived by that guy or girl you are admiring from afar? Are you more of a Don Juan or a Hannibal Lecter? Let’s take a little test. If you answer yes to, oh let’s say, one or more of these, you might wish to reconsider your slick romantic moves.

You might be a stalker if: You have more of her used socks than she does; the last batch of roses you sent included a small dead animal to show your “undying” love; the last date she went on included you, but in a separate car desperately trying to keep up, and a lot of ducking out of sight; your love letters to her begin with the phrase “I’m watching you;” your love letters end with the phrase, “If I can’t have you, no one can;” or if your idea of a date includes flowers, candy, a candlelit dinner and a straw dummy with a picture of your “true” love’s face glued on it. You’re also at risk for being a stalker if: She often talks of you with her friends, but your name is “that weird guy”; your most in-depth, open-hearted, soul-searching conversation with her included your asking, “Would you like fries with that?” both of the bedrooms in your apartment are used for displaying “loving memorabilia” and you sleep in a bathtub; or you had to think hard to come up with a reason why you “coincidentally” bumped into her at her gynecologist’s office.

But seriously, when you talk to someone who has been stalked, you see some of the fear that they live with all day, every day. Maybe the person “stalking” doesn’t mean any harm and is just really shy, or lacks social skills, but how do you know that? It’s not like someone could have gone up to Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez and made everything all better with a hug and a “how are you doing, Rich?” Scary is scary, whether intended or not. No one should have to live feeling like they’re being watched or followed.

If you feel you are being stalked, or even if you just aren’t sure, call either your local police at (805) 893-3446 and talk to an officer, or call the UCSB Women’s Center at (805) 893-3778. Talk to someone about what’s happening and let’s work on creating a safe environment for everyone.