Tracking Down A Woman Is Not Romantic. It’s Probably Stalking. And That’s Illegal.

Whether it’s through letters, a track and trace app or weird ‘viral Twitter moments’ we need to stop feeding the idea hunting down women is romantic.

Tracking women is not romantic

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

A newspaper website has come under fire, after it posted a story about a ‘love-struck’ man trying to track down a woman who gave him the wrong number ‘by mistake’, by sending 100 letters to people on the road where she said she lived.

It’s not the first time this has happened – I’ve lost count of the stories I’ve read over the years about guys who’ve gone viral trying to ‘track down’ a girl they met. And it’s stepped up recently too, with us having to give out numbers for track and trace purposes. There have been multiple incidents of women leaving their numbers in bars and restaurants for covid track and trace purposes, and being contacted by people who work there. And one woman this week posted about a man who took her blood – then used the details to message her.

While most of us women will shudder and probably think of moments we’ve had where we’ve tried to get away from a guy who just won’t take no for an answer (because yes, most women have had that moment guys), the stories are repeatedly romanticised. Not only in the press, but by those online - and wider society.

The woman who tweeted about feeling upset by the man who found her THROUGH HER PRIVATE MEDICAL RECORDS DURING A MEDICAL PROCEDURE was attacked over and over on social media by people who thought she hadn’t seen the romantic side and were instead worried about the man losing his job. This is 2020. FFS. The replies to her were so ridiculous, we won’t link to her story and chance that she gets more abuse.

Fran* tells us something similar happened to her recently, where a member of airport staff tracked down her social media. Spoiler: she did not feel romanticised, but scared.

‘I was travelling back from holiday, when the member of staff who checked me and my family in struck up a conversation with us,’ she says. ‘He seemed friendly, and shared that he had family living in Liverpool, but that was it – very brief.

‘I arrived home safely eight hours later, and went straight to bed. When I woke up the next day I had a message request on Instagram from the man who checked me in.

‘It said “Hey Fran, how are you? How goes? Maybe you can remember me, I had your flight check-in.”

‘My immediate reaction was to complain. This man has taken my name from my passport and the flight booking, used it and scanned the internet for me. I found it incredibly creepy and uncomfortable.’

Today, yet again, it has taken the emotional labour of women on Twitter to complain about the romanticised way the story has been laid out – or even reported at all. And that, of course, it mostly likely was NOT a mistake that she gave him the wrong number. Sorry. It might’ve been, but if it was, that’s tough. It’s not a reason to stalk the whole road she lives on to find her.

After scores of complaints, the paper has now removed the tweet and amended the headline to remove ‘love-struck’. References to the 10 hours he spent writing the 100 letters as ‘astonishing’ have also been removed.

Unbelievably, the man in question says that he’s had many people reply to the letter saying it was ‘brave’ and had ‘made my day’, enquiring whether he’d found her. It’s probably the fault of the romcom meet-cutes we were dragged up by that we think this might even border on lovely - but come on everyone, engage brains.

Women are TIRED of this. We are even more TIRED with the emotional labour of having to spell this out.

So, for any man who needs to hear this: you are not living in a romantic comedy where it’s acceptable to deploy methods that err on stalking to find a woman.

And for anyone else who needs to hear this: It’s not romantic, or heart-warming, or ‘just the tonic for 2020’. Stop feeding that narrative. To depict it as such makes you complicit.

READ MORE: 'I'm Proof Stalking Doesn't Just Happen To Famous People'

READ MORE: The Reality Of Having An Online Stalker

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us