Ask Dr. NerdLove: Play Your Part

If you can post this without raising the incredible ire and discrimination I’m expecting from this question then so be it, also I would ask for a high level of discretion.  If this were to get out  it would ruin my job.  And right now it is my only source of income.

I am a phone sex operator, and I make really good money doing it.  I’m also working towards a post-graduate degree.  And, of course, I’m a nerd.  Now the screwed up thing about my situation, well the thing I think that the majority of your readers would have, and I’m taking a big risk here as you might as well, a problem with is that I’m a straight guy who manipulates his voice to sound just like a woman.  I use my nerd knowledge and my talent to portray a nerd girl over the phone in a fantasy manner.   I’m not into guys at all and that is 100% of my customer base, but I have a knack for the naughty and really detailing what I would like to hear from a woman and it turns out the majority of my customers like to hear that too.  So I do well in what I do but I believe that it is hindering me from finding a girl of my own.  

I have my fun with my coworkers, other PSO’s, and that’s fine, but they are not interested in a relationship.  They have made it clear and being a PSO myself I definitely respect their position.  I would never want a customer of mine to track me down.  I’d be so freaked out if I ever actually met a customer face to face.  I’d be afraid they’d kill me for what I put them through.  I also find that I’m pretty socially awkward to the point where my friends have friends that they will not introduce me to because they don’t want to lose those friends. 

It’s true that I found your site by googling how to hit on girls at comic con, but I have a different definition of where I think hitting on a girl should lead.  It’s not about sex for me. as I can get that anytime I want, it’s about building a relationship.  But in order to do that you have to say hi and introduce yourself and be personable and I only seem to be that with my customers, not out in the real world.  Is there a way that My working persona can become my actual persona?  and is there a possibility to find a woman out there who would be interested in dating me knowing what I do for money or should I keep that a secret til the day I die?

Struggling PSO

Congratulations, PSO, you’re officially the most interesting questioner I’ve had yet. I’m not even entirely sure how I’d classify your job. Vocal crossplay? Audible transvestitism?

That being said, you have a very common problem: how to become more confident and less socially awkward. Now, this is somewhat hard to diagnose; you don’t say what it is that you do, but apparently it’s so bad that makes your friends decide that they’re never going to introduce you to people for fear of your offending them so badly that you drive them away. I’m assuming that you don’t do anything so outre as to just whip your dick out and start demanding hand-jobs or start getting handsy before they’ve finished saying “Hi, nice to meet you.” Maybe you come across as a full-on creeper. Maybe your sense of what makes for appropriate conversation is night-and-day different from other people’s – after all, when you’re working as, and mostly associating with, sex workers, your day to day conversations are gonna be a little different from everybody else’s.

Ultimately what you need is a LOT of social calibration and self-awareness to help curb the awkwardness. Your friends may be able to help you identify exactly what it is you’re doing that freaks people out; once you can identify your behavior, it takes time and experience to learn how to dial it back and be more comfortable and functional, socially. This will, however, entail, making mistakes and learning from them; failure is how we learn, so you’re going to have to be willing to take the hits, as painful as it will be, and chalk them up to learning experiences. You’ll get rejected a lot on your progress to curbing your social awkwardness and you will need to find the strength to not let it drag you down into helpless despair.

Now as to making your working persona your real persona… well, there’s a reason why we have the phrase “fake it until you make it”. It may well help to see yourself as playing a role, just as you do when you’re dealing with your clients over the phone; if you’re able to inhabit the role so well that you’re able to convince strangers that you’re a nerdy young woman instead of a guy, then you should try adopting the role of a smooth, charismatic man. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming too much insight into women based on your phone-sex work; you may be used to playing a girl, but that girl is a male fantasy. She’s designed to be appealing to guys who want to jerk off, not to be a fully-realized person with her own experiences and personality.

As for the job? Well, you have a couple of options. You can be up front about it, or you can hide it until either you feel more secure in sharing it… which may mean taking it to your grave. If you do decide to be upfront, you shouldn’t be apologetic about it; you’re explaining that you’re a sex-worker, not that you have an untreatable disease that randomly makes you take a shit in public. You are providing a fantasy for people, and you’re comfortable enough with your sexuality that you have no problem with the fact that your clientele are men. You want to present it as a feature, not a bug.

If you do decide to hide it… well, most secrets tend to come out regardless of your preferences. Some women are going to feel as though you were lying to them by not telling them. Others will feel insulted that you felt as though you couldn’t trust them and still others will feel that you betrayed them by hiding this – especially if they’re the sort of person who has negative views about sex-work.

By the by: there are plenty of sex workers, male and female, who have relationships with partners who know exactly what they do and are ok with it. It can take time and effort to find someone that accepting, but it’s always worth it. Take some time to Google around; there are resources out there for helping negotiate the tricky paths of maintaining a relationship with someone in the sex industry.

Good luck.

Dear Dr. Nerd Love: 

I’ve learned a lot about communicating with people and managed to start a few relationships thanks to your help. However, I’ve had some questions that I’ve been afraid to ask because I’m in a different position than the rest of your readers; I’m gay. I’m hoping that this isn’t too big of a roadblock, but from my experience it’s not as different of a game as a lot of people seem to assume. I don’t know how prepared you are to talk about homosexuality, but I can’t imagine any of my issues are exclusive to gay dating. Most of your articles have had helpful information despite appealing towards a different audience, so hopefully it won’t be a problem. 

I’ve been able to start relationships without too much difficulty lately; the problem is keeping those relationships. After a couple of dates, I feel as if I’ve run out of interesting things to say about myself. Once we’ve gotten to know each other well enough, we eventually get to the point where the only things that we have to talk about is our routine schedules of college and work. We both eventually get bored of each other and stop seeing each other. What worries me is that I don’t feel like I have a lot of options. Not only are 95% of men immediately not interested, good gay men are hard to find. Most of them in my area are either flaming stereotypes or flaunt their sexuality to push their personal agendas on you, both of which I find irritating. I don’t want to waste any more opportunities, so do you have any advice on retaining the interest of partners and keeping yourself from becoming boring? 

It’s understandable that you’re worried about your options; gay men make up somewhere around 3-5% of the population. Depending on where you live – a large city vs small town, West Coast vs. The Bible Belt – the number of gay guys in your area could be small indeed.

Your biggest problem that I can see, in as much that it’s a problem, is that you’re relatively young. Young men in general, regardless of sexual orientation, are less interested in relationships and more in hooking up. They also have a tendency to overcompensate for any lack they perceive from earlier in life. As a result: you get a lot of binge drinking, serial fucking and a lot of people who are incredibly obnoxious in one form or another. This is why you will frequently find the Campus Crusader, determined to push their agenda whether it be freeing Mumia, veganism, the Republican Party, Objectivism or gay activism on anybody who makes the mistake of holding still long enough. This is also why you’ll find people determined to live as stereotypes: they’re acting out and trying on new personas and roles.

Fortunately, time and experience (hopefully) bring maturity and wisdom. Some of the guys may find that they really do have flaming personalities. Others will settle down into who they really are, to one degree or another. Allow for time to do it’s work and you’ll find that the pool of available (and desirable) men will grow.

But that’s not going to help you in the here and now.

I think you’re selling yourself  – and your dates – short. Two or three dates is hardly enough time to know everything there is to learn about somebody, never mind what there is to say. Unless you and your date have less depth than a mud puddle, I think you may be running into lulls rather than running out of things to say.

To start with: Don’t just stick to the same 10 questions that everybody asks on a date: where did you grow up, what is your major, what do you want to do when you graduate…  you’ll burn through these quickly and end up with little else to say. Start finding out who they are and why. Ask about their hobbies and what it is that they like out of it. Who was their first crush? What was their dream job as a child? Ask deeper, more involved questions and you’ll have deeper, more involved conversations.

While you’re at it, practice active listening. There are two types of people in this world: people who listen and people who wait for their turn to talk. Everything your date says is a potential springboard into another conversation if you’re paying attention… and those springboards can lead to interesting places. A conversation with a stranger at a bar lead to my finding out that he had literally struck it rich: he was a miner who eventually found gold on land he owned and was now travelling the world. Another random conversation with a young lady lead to a story about how she and her family found a wrecked pirate ship while scuba diving in the Caribbean. And these were people I met at random, not people I went on dates with. I have friends I have known for literally all my life and we’ve yet to run out of things to talk about. There’s always something new and interesting going on, whether it’s in our lives, in the news or happening around us right at that moment.

Failing that: you’re young. Your live should be about collecting stories and experiences so that you can share them with other people. If you lead an interesting life, you’ll quickly find that you’re meeting other interesting people. And neither of you will be running out of things to say.

  • Ketsuban

    I'd suggest "gender transcoder", but that might be too horrendously corny.

  • Anin E Mouse

    Re: Running out of interesting things to say:

    If you have a hard time getting to know people better, I've found books like The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion and 4,000 Questions for Getting to Know Anyone and Everyone are good resources. Buy the kindle version to keep on your phone for easy access any time. You can say "Hey can I throw some questions at you from this book? I want to get to know you better. I'll answer them too." or you can pretend you can you got a txt, or sneak off to the bathroom to peak at your phone to look up the next Q.

    example Qs: What do you think the next Olympic Sport should be? What is your strangest possession?

    Don't take it too seriously. Answer some truthfully and some teasingly / outlandishly.

  • Gracie

    "my friends have friends that they will not introduce me to because they don’t want to lose those friends. "

    Get. Better. Friends.

    I mean, my god, I have many socially awkward friends, but if there are people not okay with these friends to the point of not being my friend then they can go die in a fire.

  • Mike

    "Transphonite," if we're just following the pattern set by "transvestite."

    • Anthony

      We could go with 'transloquite' or something like that. Keep it all Latin.

  • christina

    no don't be your phone sex persona because that will turn alot of people off. you're looking for a relationship not a one night stand. Just be yourself only more confident be a go getter!

  • Yuki

    Something that helped alleviate the running-out-of-things-to-say was to ask a random question of the day and alternate it by day. For example, Marilyn Manson, yay or nay? Favorite Tim Burton movie? Apple or Windows? Sometimes, it even ends up being, "My favorite Tim Burton movie is Sweeney Todd" and the other person hasn't seen that, and it becomes something to add to the list of things to do together: watch Sweeney Todd.

    • DrNavi

      nice idea, although I would probably never mention Marilyn Manson or Tim Burton, not a huge Burton fan………but Ed Wood is the best Tim Burton movie

  • Stephanie

    Gosh PSO, you sound interesting. Too bad you swore the Doc to silence.

  • James

    @PSO – Yet one more reason I'm never going to do phone sex! I do feel for you guy, but definitely take the Doc's advice to heart, he nailed it.

    RE: Something to talk about

    I struggle in conversation sometimes. If the other person is interested in talking and engaged, I can usually do fine, and even crack a few off the cuff jokes to make them laugh (or sometimes groan =P).

    If they're monosyllabic and they answer your questions with the bare minimum of data and never ask any questions in return, and basically seem uninterested in talking… I struggle. I know of others who can still keep a conversation going in that kind of situation, but I can't. It either dies or starts to feel like an inquisition with question after question after question and they keep giving just short answers and waiting for the next question.

    Alternatively, I could talk about myself, but while most of the time that doesn't bother me at all, if I know next to nothing about the person I'm talking to I'm really more interested in learning more about them than in telling them about me.

    A list of examples of deep, meaningful questions would be awesome. Should I just google it? XP

    • If you're running out of interesting things to say and are too young to have any stories to tell, to poor, or worse, busy, to go out into the world and experience them, then go ahead and invent something.

      Talk what you're dreaming, or day dreaming about. Be daring. Share those worlds of yours. If you're lucky and your conversation partner is even remotely interested and/or interesting, they'll share theirs too. Or dwell for a while and expand those worlds.

  • dvid22

    this rare yet very intriguing case period, as far as dating goes dont worry about it. a job is a job but if a female or male ask just say you worked in customer service and dont go beyond that. On the issue of meeting people not that hard just be available (ie proactive) and be open to new experiences within reason.