What is it called, if someone watches their crush from behind without the crush knowing?

I often watch movies in which a guy looks at a girl he likes, happily watching her for some time and pretending to be talking with his friends when the girl looks back or realizes his actions.

Is there a single word for that?

I can't think of another word other than spying, which is just wrong, I think.

To be precise:

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  • Would "watching surreptitiously" work here ?
    – Prem
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 4:08
  • Isn't that the same as "secretly"?
    – Safira
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 4:12
  • I think @Prem made a great suggestion. Secretly is rather generic, like when describing one's password or medical records. Surreptitiously has a little more nuance, as expounded on here: vocabulary.com/dictionary/surreptitious
    – Quillmondo
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 4:20
  • 6
    "Stalking" certainly has currency in this space. Commented May 21, 2015 at 4:28
  • Side-eye. It's clunky but it works.
    – Catija
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 5:18

2 Answers 2


I think furtive/furtively works here.

behaving in a way that shows that you want to keep something secret and do not want to be noticed

  • He looked at her furtively
  • He cast a furtive glance towards her.

It doesn't have the negative connotations of spying or stalking.

  • "furtive" probably isn't as negative as "spying" or "stalking", but it still definitely carries a negative connotation, e.g. this dictionary defines it as "secretly (and often dishonestly)".
    – psmears
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 14:11

We also say "to steal a glance".

  • That means to take a quick look; the OP asks about watching for some time.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:02

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