First let me say I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I’m a big fan. That being said, let me share my story with you.
This past Saturday night I visited the Temple nightclub in San Francisco for a little dancing. Shortly after eleven I was up on the dance floor performing one of my moves which I like to call “the boxer” when a small group of ladies caught sight of my moves. One of them decided she wanted to dance with me and proceeded to grind on me. I am-of course-only happy to accomodate. After maybe a minute she’s had her fun and backs off. I give a cordial bow and continue on dancing. Then she brings her friends over. I was a bit pre-occupied with dancing, but I think there was a total of eight women suddenly dancing all around me and with me. For about 15 minutes I was at the center of the dance floor with all of these women dancing with me, grinding on me, and sandwiching me. At one point one of the women lost a shoe and I dexterously kneeled down, pick it up, and held it up like prince charming so she could get it back on. I even spotted a couple of guys trying to figure out how I was doing my dance moves. Needless to say–but I’m going to say it anyways–it was awesome and I really killed it on the dance floor. After this 15 minutes, the group dissipated and I decided I’d engage the woman I’d been dancing with the most in conversation. Here’s how that conversation went:
Me: Hi, my name’s Allen.
Me: Pleasure to meet you.
Her: You too, have fun.
Me: (Pause)…Thanks, you too.
I walked away perplexed and decided to not try to engage any of the other women as I couldn’t readily see them and I didn’t want to come off as a creeper. I only came there to dance in the first place. Getting a pretty girl’s number would have only been icing on the cake. So I left. My question is this: What the hell happened?
Looking back I can only see two things that could have played against me. The first was that in the midst of the crazy action happening on the dance floor, I did let one of my hands slide a little too far up the back of her thigh for her taste, but this–as all touching I did with all the ladies–was a light touch and she easily guided my hand away with no ill consequences. It’s still possible that it was too much for her and I’m ready to admit I may have gotten carried away.
The second was when I spoke to her, the inflection of my voice may have made it seem like all I wanted to do was say hello. I was a bit out of breath with sweat streaming down my face and I was essentially shooting from the hip as far as the conversation was concerned. It’s a small thing, yes, but I figured I’d mention it.
I personally have a tough time with social etiquette and picking up nonverbal cues, so it’s very possible that she did something I didn’t notice. At any rate, I’m happy with the way things turned out. I’m just trying to analyze the situation and learn from it. Thanks for your help, Doc.
Cutting A Rug
You didn’t do anything wrong.
The dance floor, especially in nightclubs, is it’s own beast. You will see men and women doing everything but actually fucking when the DJ drops the right beat (and even then, you’d have to look REALLY close to make sure there wasn’t any penetration). Strange women will come up, grind their asses into your crotch to the beat as you run your hands all over ’em and then they’ll leave without saying a word. None of it means anything other than somebody decided it’d be fun to dance with you and get crazy for as long as it took to crossfade from Flo Rida to LFMAO. A lot of guys will make the mistake of thinking that getting up on a girl on the dance floor means that she’s really into him… when in fact, she’s probably just doing her own thing and will be moving on to somebody else in short order.
In other words: what happens on the dance floor tends to stay on the dance floor. That includes attraction. It’s one thing if you ask a girl to dance; it’s another if they come up for a song and leave afterwards.
Don’t worry about it. If they stayed with you the length of the song, you were doing alright.
Salutations Dr. Nerdlove,
I have been successfully and happily dating a geek for two years now. We have a great mental, physical and emotional connection, and I don’t want to be with anyone else.
However, one thing that’s missing in this introverted geek of mine is empathy.
Yes, geeks don’t socialise throughout most of their life, leaving them lacking in a lot of social skills.
This means that my guy, when I come to him with a problem, such as “my friends left me out, I don’t feel so good”, “I got in trouble with my superior over something I didn’t do”, or ” I felt kind of insecure about myself today because”, etc, he will approach it with no empathy because he has never had to deal with these experiences.
He will more than likely play the devil’s advocate, asking me to see it from the other person’s side, or he will give me the disapproving “I wouldn’t feel bad about this, so you shouldn’t feel bad about it” line. Is it so much to ask to get a ” gee, that’s pretty bad” and a hug? Maybe some choc-choc?
It came to a head and I confronted him about it. Me, sitting in front of him crying and explaining how bad I felt when I actually need him to be there for me and he’s not, and he listened for about five minutes before his eyes started flicking back towards his computer screen in boredom and irritation. The conversation about me explaining that I would like more empathy and he continues to show none, probably because again, it wouldn’t be an issue to him, why is it an issue for me?
All of these issues that I have had, are minuscule in the grand scheme of life, I’m still happy with the majority of the relationship and I always have my friends to turn to for comfort.
When I look at our future together, though, I sense misery.
When I lose a career, if I diagnosed with an illness, when I lose a family member…
If he can’t be there for me when I cry over a friend’s betrayal, and makes me feel like I have to deal with life’s general bad blows on my own, do I continue to stay with him until a major blow comes, and he leaves me picking up the pieces again, with no understanding or regard to how I feel?
If something devastating and life-changing comes along I really won’t have the energy to write him a to-do list: 1) give me a hug 2) make me hot chocolate 3) tell me it will be OK and that you’re always here for me. I will just need somebody to do that for me without asking, as would anybody. I’m not sure he can be that kind of person…
Is this a common trait among the socially-challenged community? Am I supposed to count my blessings and look at all the other great things he brings to the table? He loves and cares for me. I know he wants me to be happy and he does so much for me, he’s loyal and faithful, we share the same values, but when I’m in trouble with something that he doesn’t understand he pulls out the judgement card instead of the empathy one.
Other times he doesn’t judge me at all but his idea of comforting somebody when they’re sad is to say ” I’ll leave you alone and give you some space”, thinking that it really is the best option and what I would really want at that time. He seems to genuinely need written instructions on how to comfort somebody who is upset.
How does one train somebody who’s socially incapable of giving comfort, or of sensing when it needs to be delivered…
And don’t get me wrong, I am not the type to cry every five minutes, I have been visibly upset four times in the last two years in front of him, the other handful of times I have delivered my feelings without tears and in a straightforward, logical way. His lack of patience and empathy can not be put down to him being bored by some kind of high-maintenance girlfriend, crying all the time.
It might also help if I add that I was his first girlfriend. It was why I been understanding of his behaviour thus far, but him still using this excuse is getting on my nerves at this late stage in the game.
Are geeks changeable in this regard? And if so, what can I say to act as a catalyst for change?
Congratulations, you’ve stumbled into that hoariest of relationship tropes, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Overused Cliches. Same planet, different worlds. The problem is less to do with him being a geek (although that certainly doesn’t help) and more to do with him being male.
The problem with a lot of guys is that we grow up used to communicating with other guys, which means that we frequently end up falling back into unfortunate socialization patterns that teach guys to be less in touch with their emotions and more direct about problem solving. Tell a guy something’s been bothering you at work and he’ll be more likely to try to help you fix it than to say “Hey, that sucks, why don’t you come sit on the couch and tell me about it?” We tend to try to logic our way through issues, and sometimes it can be a little frustrating to deal with something where the only thing to do is to say “There there, have a margarita,” especially if it’s something that we might not see as quite as big of a deal as you do.
From the sounds of things, it seems as though your boyfriend is basically treating you like a guy… possibly with a hint of condescension for – as he sees it – not being able to handle your own problems and interrupting his precious “fucking-around-on-the-Internet” time.
When you had your conversation about how you wanted him to show you more empathy, did you tell him what you wanted specifically, or did you tell him you wanted more empathy? For some guys, what you’re saying and what they’re hearing are night-and-day different and he may be getting frustrated because he doesn’t get it. To his mind, he has been giving you empathy; he may even think that he’s treating you with respect by trying to give you space or by trying to see the other side so you can work through things rather than trying to go down a checklist, which may feel insincere to him.
You’re his first girlfriend, so he’s likely never had to deal with any of this before… which means that you’re probably going to have to train him a little to understand in no uncertain terms just what it is you want from him, when you want it and how you’d want it delivered. Sometimes the only way guys learn how to understand and anticipate their girlfriend’s emotional needs is to have it drilled into their heads. If someone doesn’t take them by the hand and teach them, they tend to learn by trial and error, usually in the form of failed relationships.
So… yeah, you may actually have to write out that list, if it comes to that. Have a conversation – before something happens and you need comforting – about what exactly it is you need from him. Give him specifics rather than generalities; it will be easier for him to process rather than trying to fumble his way towards what you want or trying to improvise something and accidentally making things worse. It may feel a bit weird to both of you, possibly even a little artificial at first, but once he gets used to the proper displays and application of empathy, it will start to feel much more natural and he’ll be better able to read your moods and needs without slipping into judge-y/problem-solver-y mode.
If he loves you and wants you to be happy, he’ll be willing to learn just how to comfort you in the way you need, not the way he expects.
Don’t forget: if you have a question for Dr. NerdLove, you can call it into the podcast! Record your question or comment at (512) 522-6513.