If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then the odds are you aren’t satisfied with your dating life as it currently stands.
Maybe you keep ending up in the Friend Zone. Or perhaps you have never had a date in your life and you’re afraid that you’re going to die a virgin. The specifics don’t matter; what ultimately matters is that you know that things could be different, but you’re not quite sure how.
Now going through the blog, maybe some of the advice makes sense to you. It agrees with your pre-suppositions about what you should and shouldn’t be doing in your quest to improve your dating life.
Some of it though… some of it may leave you scratching your head. “Really, this doesn’t apply to me. I’d need to be at a higher level than I am to try this. This couldn’t possibly work. This isn’t me.”
So no, maybe it isn’t you. Maybe it conflicts with how you think dating and relationships work. Maybe this makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you want to dismiss it out of hand.
And that’s fair.
Y’see, as much as this may sound like it, this isn’t about my trying to justify my advice to people who don’t agree with me. It’s about change. Sometimes it’s about making a lot of changes, some of them at a fundamental level. One of the things I hear often, especially from guys with low levels of social experience is that I’m either asking too much of them or insisting that they have to change or hide aspects of themselves. As far as they’re concerned, some things are impossible. Others feel that that they shouldn’t have to give up so much of themselves.
So let me ask you – with total sincerity: Being yourself. How’s that working out for you so far?
Geek Vs. Nerd: How Labels Affect Our Destiny
Let’s talk about words. This may seem like a digression but stick with me for a second.
It’s actually rather astounding the level of power words have over us. One of the biggest lies that parents teach their children is the classic “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sounds lovely until you’ve spent any time in junior high. Or on the Internet for that matter. Words can harm. Words can heal.
And words can utterly affect your life in ways you never anticipated.
Names, for example. Names have power. Names are our label, our identity. They define us.
A few of you will scoff at this idea, I’m sure. I mean, sure, we’ve all heard “A Boy Named Sue”, and anyone who names their child “Sheldon” is ensuring that they’ll be getting atomic wedgies and Big Bang Theory jokes from birth until they get their PhD, but really, names don’t have that much of an affect on us, do they?
Here’s the thing: your name is part of your self-concept. No man is an island, nor do we develop in a background. Your self-concept – how you see and define yourself – is a composite, defined in no small part by how others interact with and react to you. As we grow and mature, we can control more of how others see us, but that is still defined by how we see ourselves. How we label ourselves, in fact.
Now before anyone asks, no, I’m not saying that you need to change your name. What I am saying is that you need to think about your label.
To give a personal example: when I was growing up, I had a tight group of friends. As is often the case in such groups, we all had our roles. One of us was “The Good One”. Another was “The Troublemaker”. My twin brother was “The Athletic One”, while our friend – we’ll call him Miles – was “The Natural”. Girls were attracted to Miles the way that mice are attracted to cheese.
I wanted to be like Miles in the worst way, but I was continually edged out, overshadowed by Miles’ natural easy charm and my brother’s athleticism and looks. As much as I wanted to be a lady’s man – in as much as one could at 15 – I found myself continually ill at ease with them. I was bookish and unathletic. I had little sense of style or how to relate to girls. I was into comics and anime; everybody else was into sports, the high-school social scene, who was hooking up with who… I had no points of commonality. I didn’t know how to convey my passions in an interesting manner and I was ill at ease around people I was attracted to. My idea of “flirting” involved following around the girl I liked like a lost puppy. Because of my clumsiness and various relationship disasters, I was labeled “The One Who Wasn’t Good With Girls”.
This was a label that followed me through high-school and even well into college – a place where nobody knew who the hell I was, a place where I was free to completely re-invent myself. Why?
Because I had passively accepted that label as part of my self-concept. I had allowed myself to be defined as “The One Who Was Not Good With Girls”. It became part of who I was; even when I had dates or a girlfriend, that identity remained a core part of me and I lived in dread anticipation of when it would come to the forefront of my life again.
It wasn’t until years later – ironically, after I went head to head with Miles, both of us trying to hook up with the same girl – that I realized what I had done. I had taken a label, someone else’s idea of who I was, and absorbed it into my self-concept.
We know instinctively the power of labels, which is why we fight over their definitions. Look at the ongoing attempts to define “Geek” and “Nerd”, for example. Call a self-professed geek a nerd and you’ll be corrected immediately. Geeks are into genre fiction while nerds are into hard sciences and engineering. Nerds will call geeks dilettantes, geeks will insist that nerds are borderline Aspie cases who can’t handle relationships with non-nerds, blog will be written and infographics drafted defining which attributes apply to which name, and everybody will agree that they’re not dorks because who wants to be a dork?
Meanwhile the general populace will continue to use “geek” and “nerd” interchangeably, usually with geek being slightly less derogatory.
So why all the fuss about the definitions?
Because those are the labels that people are using to define their self-concept. These labels become part of “who I am”… including their facility in getting dates and relationships.