Dear Dr. Nerd Love, (m.d?, ph.D?)
(Doctor’s Note: Dr. NerdLove is not a real doctor.)
Thanks for writing such a female-friendly advice column for men. It’s very refreshing. However, I’m a woman and I need some help too! I’m 26 and single. I’ve never really had a relationship that lasts longer than 5-6 months, if it even reaches that point. I don’t really have any “issues”. I’m pretty secure with who I am, successful in life, sociable, and communicate pretty easily. I am nerdy, as in I work as a computer programmer and have a degree in math. I tend to go for nerdy guys, but not exclusively. To be honest, I don’t have a type, just require them to be a decent human being and not fail at life. However, it seems most of my interactions with the opposite sex have either led to me being “friend-zoned” or only desired for sex. Physically, I’m attractive, but on the curvy side, and I’ve never really had issues “getting laid”, but that’s not what I want. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong that I can’t seem to find a guy who actually wants to have a meaningful relationship with me. Sometimes, I feel like guys think that just because I’m kinky in bed, that I’m not the kind of girl they can bring home to their parents, which is completely untrue. I have impeccable manners, and a wide selection of dinner appropriate conversation topics under my belt. I am also not willing to subscribe to playing by “The Rules” and engaging in shitty gender role games to trick a man into committing to me.
Here’s the problem with trying to do a long-distance diagnosis: there’s a lot of info not present. We don’t know why you and your various boyfriends have broken up, for example or the circumstances that lead up to each break-up. It could be you’re attracted to guys whose lifestyle doesn’t mesh well with yours, it could be a case of incompatible sex drives… who knows. Sometimes, the only common denominator is, well, you.
You’re a computer programmer, so you’ve got an analytical, detail oriented mind – use that to your advantage. I’m a big fan of following the data when it comes to solving your dating issues. I’d start by recommending that you go through your past relationships, writing down everything that lead up to the break-up and look for commonalities. Sometimes it can be hard to get the distance you need to have some proper perspective and pin down recurring issues; writing everything down can help.
You mention that you’re kinky and that this seems to be a reason why guys see you as “the one you don’t take home to mother.” First let me establish: there’s nothing wrong with being into kink, and especially nothing that precludes kinksters from having loving stable relationships. That being said, some guys still have the Madonna/Whore complex going on – there’s the women they marry and the women they fuck and rarely do the two intersect. They hear “kink” and they assume that you’re a bondage queen and you’re only down for wild crazy sex, not possibly a house, 2.5 kids, 1.4 cars and a rumpus room that doesn’t have a St. Andrews Cross in it.
Now, this makes it their problem, not yours, and if a guy can’t see past your being kinky to your other qualities, then they’re clearly self-selecting out of your dating pool and you’re well rid of them.
How you roll out who you are and what you’re interested, however, can sometimes cause a lot of false positives on people’s radar; for all I know, you mention that you’re kinky on the first date before the salad course. This can cause some folks to mentally reassess how they see you, rightfully or not. I nearly missed out on dating a wonderful woman because of the emphasis she put on how important religion was to her early on; I’d mistakenly thought that this was a sign that we weren’t going to work out.
But like I said: this is all my spitballing and may well have nothing to do with your situation.
I agree with you: playing gender role games and following The Rules (feh) is a bullshit way of getting someone to commit. I do, however, believe in pre-screening dates, which is one reason why I love online dating; you can establish what you’re looking for and what people dating you can expect and people who misunderstand or ignore your standards are folks you can freely ignore. You’re looking for someone who wants a relationship with you, not just a fuck-buddy… so it may help to take sex off the table while you’re getting to know new guys. Not because sex is dirty and wrong1 or that everybody should wait until $ARTIFICIAL_TIME_UNIT but because that seems to be the recurring issue. You want someone who’s into you; let them prove that they want more than access to your panties.
I experienced an interesting reversal today–when a girl rejected my advances I was the one put in the position of not knowing how to be direct without being awkward, and telling a white lie. I’ve learned a lot recently about indirect refusals from women “I’d love to, but I have this spy mission in the Czech Republic,” etc. This girl did not do that. She was a down-to-earth hippie type, and wanted to be clear that though she would go to tea with me, she had a boyfriend.
We had had a pretty good conversation, but I barely have time for my CURRENT friends; knowing about the boyfriend made me lose interest in tea. I didn’t know how to extricate myself from my own invitation–regardless of whether she actually wanted me to follow up or not I didn’t want to reveal I am so shallow that I would only go out with her if there was a romantic possibility there.
So I lied. I asked for her number, said I might call her if and when I wasn’t busy. I fully intended to throw away the number without looking at it, and did just that when I was out of sight. Unfortunately I didn’t have a pen or paper so she had to dig through her purse for those things. I feel like kind of an asshole.
Do you have any advice for informing a woman that you changed your mind about going out with her when you learned it has no romantic possibilities, without coming across as a total douchelord?
Sure, I’ll Call You.
Um… you feel like an asshole because you’re being an asshole. You had every opportunity to say “Hey listen, you seem like you’re cool and under different circumstances I’m sure we’d be great friends. But I want to at least give you the respect you deserve and be honest: I’m looking for a romantic partner, not a friend. You’ve got a guy and I feel like a total jerk wasting your time like this, so I hope things go well for you all. ‘Bye!”
But you didn’t.
Guys like to say that they’d rather women be direct and tell them “no, I’m not interested” rather than soft-pedal it or give a fake number… and so would a lot of women. Show ’em enough respect to say “Thanks but no thanks,”
But that’s just my opinion as a guy… so I’m going to turn this over to the commentors and the Facebook page. Ladies: how would you prefer a guy to turn you down if they realized that it wasn’t going to work out?
- only if you’re doing it properly [↩]