How to Tell If You Are Being Followed — And What to Do About It

What to Do If You are Being Followed

Today’s topic comes from you, the listeners. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been told stories of people being followed in stores, in parking lots, and even someone who was targeted by two cars that chased her. So today’s topic is how to know if you’re being followed.

The first thing we need to understand is that being followed is not unlike a wildlife documentary. There is a predator and there is prey. The predator isn’t going to catch its meal lounging under a tree. It has to work for its food. It has to find where it is, target it, and then attack it.

The predator has to stalk his prey. Humans work the same way.

‘Why’ is Not Important

Let’s break down the relationship into a stalker and a target. The reason why a stalker selects his target is a bit of an unknown and somewhat irrelevant. When faced with this sort of situation, we don’t need to focus on why we’re being stalked, we need to focus on spotting the stalker and responding accordingly.

Awareness

We must pay attention when we are out of our homes. In stores, the office, in a parking lot, and even in the stands of your kid’s soccer game. Awareness will give us the time we need to respond. If we don’t see the stalker coming, then we’re left only to respond to his attack and our chances of being hurt skyrocket.

When being aware we have to know what to be aware of, right? Signs you’re being followed will be different based on your stalker and your environment. So what I discuss here will be general, but will apply to a variety of situations.

Focus

The first sign you have someone following you is their focus. If you notice someone paying you too much attention, that’s unusual. Even if you’re an attractive person like me, too much focus can be a sign of trouble. (I’m kidding.)

The stalker will focus on you because you are the target. They are watching you to size you up, make plans, and look for the perfect opportunity to strike. So being aware of other’s focus is important.

Spotting the Same Person

If you see someone in more than one location that’s actually not abnormal. If you grab lunch at a popular restaurant downtown and then head to the courthouse, and spot the same person, don’t panic. Those are both popular places where a lot of people come and go.

If you see them at the restaurant, at the courthouse, in the parking lot, driving behind you in traffic, and at the grocery store on the way home – then you have trouble.

Seeing someone once in close proximity isn’t enough to get worked up about. Seeing them at 3 or more places needs to raise your awareness.

How Are They Acting?

Also, note their behavior. If you see a man in multiple places and they seem to be going about their business, then it’s a coincidence. But if they look like they’re faking talking on the phone and glancing at you, then you have a problem.

As the book, Left of Bang teaches us, multitasking is a myth – humans can’t fully do two activities at once.

So people who are watching you at the grocery store won’t look and act like normal shoppers. They’ll exhibit signs of being uncomfortable and looking unnatural. You’ll be able to spot this, things will look odd.

Let Them Know You See Them

If you do see someone in three or more places I want you to consider making eye contact with them. Do this to acknowledge them, not to escalate the situation. The last thing you want to do is accuse someone of following you and not have any real evidence. They’ll be able to deny it and get into head about it.

The stalker wants to remain covert. Even lions when they stalk gazels sneak up on them. They want to get as close as possible before they strike to minimize the chances their prey will run.

That’s why they get low to the ground and hide in the tall grass for so long.

By letting the stalker know you see them, you change that dynamic. You will steal a bit of their confidence and make them rethink their plans. Most people will lose their confidence to act if they think there will be any kind of resistance. They have planned out their attack and you knowing they’re coming wasn’t part of that.

Take a Picture

If a casual glance or a repeated glance doesn’t work, then take a picture of them, outright. Lift your phone and snap a picture and don’t try to hide it. Then text that picture to a friend.

If they approach you and ask why you took their picture, tell them you liked their outfit. After you take the picture, stay in public until they leave or you can be safely escorted to your car.

Someone is Following You. Now What?

If you have a dedicated stalker, meaning someone who is overtly following you, don’t go home or to your office. Stay in public. If you have a car, get moving and call 911. Explain to them what’s going on.

They should tell you to go to a public place where hopefully officers will meet you. If you don’t have a phone, drive to the police station.

If you are on foot, look for a large group of people who you can stand with. And if you’re really worried, you can find someone who you think will help you and explain the situation to see if you can hang out with them until help arrives.

Defend Yourself

It’s never a bad idea to be able to defend yourself. That can be self-defense training, a self-defense tool like a firearm or pepper spray. Knowing how to protect yourself in a violent situation is always important.

Listen to Your Little Voice

Lastly, when you think you’re being followed, trust your gut. If that little voice is telling you to be wary of someone, then listen to it. This is your intuition and we all have it. Don’t stifle that God-given gift, embrace it. It wants to keep you safe.

Those are a few tips to help spot someone following you and how to deal with it. I want to encourage you to share this episode and article with someone you feel needs it. I hate to say it seems that we all know someone who’s had this problem before so be brave and share this with them.

For more information about keeping yourself safe in public, find out how to prevent a carjacking.

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How To Tell If a Guy Likes You Sign #11: He Doesnt Use His Phone Around You

If he likes you, he’ll put down the phone.

If he likes you, he’ll put down the phone.

I know, I know. The fact that this is a sign that a guy likes you is a testament to how glued to our mobile phones we all are today.

But phubbing is a real thing. The slang term for “phone snubbing,” it describes how someone can totally ignore you, instead opting to scroll through social media feeds or checking the news or texts on their phone.

It’s insulting. And yet, for many, it is extremely hard to put down the phone and focus on the real, live human in front of us.

But if his phone never leaves his pocket, or even if it sits face down on the table, he is clearly ready to give you his undivided attention. He only does that with people he likes and respects. So count yourself among this exclusive group.

The best thing you can do is to reciprocate. Leave your phone in your purse. You can even compliment him on his self-restraint: Wow! Most guys totally ignore me for their phones. I love that you aren’t glued to yours.

(That also sets a precedent for him to understand that you don’t like it when you get ignored for a phone, in the off chance that he simply hasn’t gotten around to gluing his face to his phone just yet.)

Confirm that you’re not just being paranoid

Erickson is a big believer in listening to those “not-so-warm-and-fuzzy feelings” you sometimes get for no reason. But for sanity’s sake, here are some simple ways to prove your spidey senses are correct.

  • Use mirrors or windows to watch people behind you.
  • Make unexpected stops, go places you wouldn’t normally go, change your pace or your route. Is someone who walks your normal path suddenly also at these random locations, too?
  • Jump in a taxi and take it one block and get back out. Did someone do the same thing behind you?
  • Walk your normal path, then make a show of “forgot my keys” and turn around and go back the other way. Did they start going the other way, too? This method also gives you a good excuse to get a good look at the face of the guy you think is following you so you can give a description.
  • If you’re in a car, get in a traffic circle and go all the way around and pop out on the road you were just on. Did someone stay with you?
  • Flip on your turn signal. See if they do, too. Then just continue driving straight. Did they continue straight as well?

Impact of Lying in a Relationship

Some lies may seem harmless, and the occasional lie is probably inevitable (especially in the case of white lies or lies of omission). But even little, infrequent lies can add up to distrust and other relationship problems, including:

  • Decreased trust: If your partner keeps telling lies, it can have a direct impact on trust. The more lies they tell, the less you trust them or have faith in their honesty.
  • Diminished compassion and empathy: Lying makes it harder to detect someone’s emotions, which in turn, can diminish the compassion and empathy you feel toward that person.
  • Lower intimacy: Intimacy requires emotional vulnerability, which can become nearly impossible without a foundation of trust and honesty.
  • More lies and deception: One study found the brain can adapt to dishonesty. In other words, the more someone lies, the more their brain gets used to lying.

Facial Cues

The eyes: Someone who is lying might stare or look away at a crucial moment, says Glass — a possible sign they’re moving their eyes around as they try to think about what to say next.

The research conducted by Geiselman at UCLA corroborated this, finding that people sometimes look away briefly when lying. The 2015 study conducted by the University of Michigan also found that those who lied were more likely to stare than those who were truthful — so much so that 70% of the clips of people lying showed them staring directly at the people they were lying to.

There is still some debate over this, however. A 2012 study published in Plos One debunked the concept that people look in a specific direction when they are dishonest. And while there is a possibility of reading too much into someone’s mannerisms, Glass maintains that there is some truth to be gleamed from the eyes.

The mouth: Rolling the lips back to the point where they almost disappear could be a sign someone is lying by omission, according to Traci Brown. “It’s been my experience that, when people do that, they’re holding back emotions or facts,” she says.

The research conducted at UCLA found that people who lie are more likely to purse their lips when asked sensitive questions. Pursing the lips could also mean someone doesn’t want to engage in the conversation at hand, says Glass. “It’s an instinctive reflex meaning you don’t want to speak,” she says.

Change in complexion: Ever notice someone go white as a ghost when speaking? That could be a sign of untruthfulness, says Glass, who says this signals blood rushing out of the face.

Sweating or dryness: Autonomic nervous system changes can trigger liars to sweat in the T-area of the face (upper lip, forehead, chin and around the mouth) or have dryness in the mouth and eyes — the person might excessively blink or squint, lick or bite their lips or swallow hard, according to Glass.

Get the latest career, relationship and wellness advice to enrich your life: sign up for TIME’s Living newsletter.

How To Tell If a Guy Likes You Sign #13: He Asks Questions

Another big fail many guys make on first dates is talking about themselves incessantly. This flaw doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dating a narcissist, but it may indicate that he’s not all that into you.

A man that likes you will want to get to know you. How can he do that? By asking you questions. About your work. About your family. About your upbringing and friends.

Good chemistry flow has both people on a date asking and answering questions back and forth.

So if you’re mid-date and wondering how to tell if a guy likes you, consider how many questions he’s asked you versus talked about himself. Are you doing all the asking? Or is he genuinely showing interest in what you’re telling him and coming up with more followup questions?

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