One of the most frequently asked questions I get on this blog is from women: “Do you have any advice for helping the girl trying to get the nerd?”
The cliche rejoinder of “Yes: show up” is a tempting (and frankly, obvious) response, but it does a real disservice to both men and women. As much as guys like to toss around the idea that women can get a date – or laid – without effort, if it were true, every single woman’s magazine out there wouldn’t be plastered with advice on how to catch, keep and please a man.
When you’re a woman who’s into geek guys (or just a little geek-curious) the difficulties grow exponentially. Take the usual difficulties in meeting a man and throw in some painfully shy guys who’re used to rejection and mockery from the opposite sex and trying to win their hearts has gone from challenging to Nintendo hard, even when you already share a mutual love of Joss Whedon and retro video games.
Fortunately, you have Dr. NerdLove to guide you. Take it from a dyed-in-the-wool geek who’s seen and done just about every variation of the nerdy meet-cute you can come up with. I’ve been the guy who desperately wanted the girls to approach him and the one who’s done the approaching. So start taking notes and hold your questions until the end; if some of the advice seems a bit contradictory to what I’ve said elsewhere, just wait. There’re reasons for it.
Why Date Geeks?
The first question many women would ask is “Why should I be interested in dating a geek?” And to be fair: this is a good question. I won’t give you any of the standard fluff answers about how geeks are more loyal and less likely to cheat because they’ll be too grateful (the stereotype of the dateless virgin is outdated… and besides, guys are guys regardless of whether they’re into fantasy football or Final Fantasy) or that they’ll treat you better than the usual Alpha Male types you’re used to (being a geek doesn’t mean you can’t also be a jerk).
So what is there to recommend to them?
Geeks have complex inner lives and imagination
Geeks spend a lot of time lost in their own heads, which allows for the development of a rich imagination and a shocking level of creativity. They’ll surprise you with their insight; they have a way of looking at things from an unexpected angle. A geek boyfriend will surprise you with his imaginative gifts and out-of-the-ordinary dates and experiences. It can take some getting used to if you’re used to the typical “flowers and chocolates” type, but it can be so much more rewarding.
Geeks cultivate their intellectual curiosity
Geeks are very cerebral creatures. They love learning and knowledge for it’s own sake; if they have an interest in a subject, they’ll dive into it with great eagerness. They’ll pick up skill sets just because it interests them. Knowing how to build a replica of Cyclops’ visor, modding a computer into Portal turret or building Hollywood-quality costumes from Mass Effect may never come in handy… but it’s damn cool on it’s own, right? Geeks take interest in a wide variety of subjects and pride themselves in being engaged in the world around them.
Geeks like smart women
Just as geeks love learning and collecting facts, they appreciate a woman who has a brain and isn’t afraid to use it. Nothing makes a geek happier than being able to have an in-depth and detailed conversation with the woman they’re attracted to. If you’ve become frustrated dealing with men who’re intimidated by the fact that you are as smart as they are – or smarter – you need to find yourself a geek boy.
Geeks have passion
Still waters run deep. Geeks feel things strongly and respond even stronger to the things they’re interested in. You will never find someone as excited about his hobbies or interests as a geek and his eagerness to share them. It’s hard to be bored with a geek.
Geeks have great senses of humor
Take a good look at the current crop of a-list and up-and-coming comedians: Patton Oswalt. Aziz Ansari. Doug Benson. Aisha Tyler. Chris Hardwick. Kevin Smith. All unabashed geeks. That intellectual curiosity and imagination I mentioned earlier? These are critical components of humor.
Geeks are kinky
Are you into BDSM? Polyamory? Toys? Geeks tend to be more sexually adventurous than most and are up for trying new things. The kink community has an almost shockingly heavy geek population. If you’re looking to get tied up and spanked, you’ll find geeks are ready, willing and incredibly able.
You’re a geek yourself
Hey, who doesn’t love shared interests? Geek guys will appreciate your love of XKCD and Avatar: The Last Airbender. They’ll understand why you need some time to grieve at the end of Mass Effect 3. Even if they’re not into your flavor of geek, they’ll at least understand it.
(Hey, geek guys: want to know what else women like about you? Check out the thread over on the Dr. NerdLove Facebook page. Ya’ll are a hot commodity to the right women.)
So how do you win over a geek guy? I’m glad you asked…
To start with…
Last Monday, I mentioned (to some small controversy) that attractive women can be intimidating to guys. This is especially true to shy, socially inexperienced guys – as geek boys tend to be. You need to remember that many geeks are so used to rejection that they expect it; the dialogue in a geek guy’s head is a neverending chorus of rationalizations and worst-case scenarios. They have played through every possible outcome in their mind and every single one of them ends with laughing and pointing, occasionally with a drink thrown in their face. It’s like having the worst super-power ever.
When you couple that with the occasionally crippling approach anxiety, nerdboys are unlikely to make the first approach.
If you want them to come to you, you are going to have to make it easier on them. You have to let them know that you’ll welcome their attention.
Geek guys are frequently shy and afraid of rejection. If you’re the sort of person with a large personality, this can make them even more afraid; they’ll become convinced that being rejected by you will turn into a full production that will guarantee that everybody witnesses their humiliation. Think of them as timid little deer that you’re trying to convince to come closer so you can pet their soft fur. They’re always on alert for danger signs, so you need to reassure them that everything is ok. Strong eye contact followed by a welcoming smile and open body language will help break through that continuous maelstrom of rationalizations and convince them that yes, they should come over and introduce themselves.
Hell, you may want to give them the “come here” nod, because they’re likely to not quite understand the “eye-contact, look away, look back and smile” sign.
Speaking of which…
Be Obvious With Your Signals
How many times have you been at a bar, party or book store, locked eyes with a hot geeky guy and given him your best come-hither stare, only to watch him turn back to the graphic novels? How many times have you been giving your date the “kiss me now you fool!” signals, only to get a handshake at the end of the night? It can be mind-blowingly aggravating when you’re giving every possible sign short of semaphore or singing animals.
The fact of the matter is, guys are notoriously bad at picking up signs that women are interested in them. The less socially experienced they are, the less likely they are to know what to look for in the first place. Hell, there was one particularly harrowing time in college when I was doing spot illustrations for the campus paper. One girl I’d known in passing stopped in to hang out and chat. Before too long, the subject had taken the very odd turn from what I was doing to movies to hentai1 Finally, she mentioned that she had a copy of La Blue Girl up in her room and had I ever seen it before?
Guess who’s got two thumbs and stayed in the office to meet his deadline instead of having crazy monkey-sex with the hot-if-slightly-crazy girl because he didn’t realize she was saying “Would you like to come back to my room for a hot cup of FUCK ME GODDAMN IT”?
The reason for this is two-fold. To start with, most geeks are going to have a hard time believing that you’re actually interested in them at all. Despite treating every conversation with that One Girl as though they were analyzing the Zapruder film, guys are deathly afraid of making the social faux pas of reading too much into things. Sure, you’re always hanging out with him and hugging him and touching his knee, but that doesn’t really mean anything, right? If he has especially low self-esteem, he’ll have a hard time believing that anybody could like him.
The other reason, frankly is that women are socialized to be friendly and to avoid causing offense. As a result, women frequently display a lot of positive body language and very few “go away” signs. As a result: men pick up a lot of false-positives. This can be confusing, leading to frustrated women, guys continuing to miss telegraphed intent and the occasional psychotic email from men who could stand to be beaten about the head and shoulders with a clue-by-four.
As obvious as you might think you’re being in letting a guy know you’re interested… take it up a notch or two. Or five.
Make The First Move
Speaking of signals, there’re few signals more obvious than approaching them, now are there?
This is going to be frustrating to a lot of you, but stick with me here. Many of you are already used to having to take the initiative in every other aspect of your lives. Some of you may be used to having to be the one doing all of the chasing and you’d appreciate being approached for once.
Unfortunately… you’re dealing with geek guys. They tend towards the introverted and shy and more than a little afraid of you. They may think you’re the most amazing thing since Macross: Do You Remember Love, but the very thought of trying to come over and tell you makes their hearts pound the drum line to YYZ and the sudden adrenaline dump leaves them literally shaking. By the time they’ve worked up the courage to come and speak to you… well, you may well have left the party.
Making the first move however? They will be so grateful that it will be absurd. The mere act of saving them from the anxiety attack they were building up to will make them love you all the more.
In all seriousness, your approaching them will be a shock at first, but when they recover they’ll be much more relaxed. They’ll engage you at a more honest level than if they’re constantly devoting half of their attention to trying to gauge whether you’re killing time until the social contract says that you can walk away.
Now that you’ve got his attention, it’s time to build the connection between the two of you. The easiest way to build a rapport is to find commonalities. Finding out that the two of you share similar – or at least complimentary – interests will make him feel a bond with you. Being able to share favorite moments from Supernatural or Courtney Crumrin or banter Rocky Horror Picture Show lines back and forth will make him feel like he’s known you forever.
If you’re not a geek already? Show a sincere interest in his geekdom. And I do mean sincere. Because of years of mockery and cruel teasing, geeks have highly tuned bullshit detectors. They can tell the difference between “humoring them” and an actual curiosity.
And don’t forget to flirt… carefully. I can’t say this enough: geeks are frequently socially inexperienced and are used to being made fun of. A teasing joke about how he’s hitting on you can send a geek into a spiral of denials and pulling away because he’s afraid he will have offended you.
While you’re at it, make him laugh. Geeks appreciate a woman with wit and a sense of humor. An attractive geeky woman is a prize to begin with, but an attractive geeky woman who can make him break out in laughter with a well timed quip or XKCD reference? That is a treasure more valuable than gold to a nerdboy.
Before too long, the odds are good that your geeky guy will be dying to ask you out on a date but too shy or too unsure to actually pull the trigger. Whether you want to give him the go-ahead or you ask him out yourself, remember: geek guys tend to assume that you’re not actually interested in dating them and will err on the side of caution in the face of any ambiguousness. Being coy or subtle here will only end up with missed signals, your frustration and his being convinced that he’s been thrown into the Friend Zone again.
Make it unmistakably clear. Give him your number – punch it into his phone if you have to – and tell him that he should call you tomorrow because you would like to see him again. Be sure to give him a specific window of time in which he should call you; nobody ever went broke overestimating a nerd’s ability to overthink when he should call you.
He’ll feel like the luckiest man in the world.
You’ll have just scored a date with the geek guy of your dreams.
- For the uninitiated: Japanese animated porn. Don’t ask. Also: don’t Google it. It’s not safe for work and most of it isn’t safe for your sanity. [↩]