I have a problem I sincerely hope you can help with, because it’s been a problem that I just can’t seem to fix. I’m a girl of the nerdy persuasion. I am heavy into tabletop RPG and video games, I love sci-fi, and I’m fairly introverted. Making new friends is very, very difficult for me. I have a lot of mental blocks and get very anxious very easily, especially around guys.
I’m not asking for romantic advise. I’m in a very happy, committed relationship with an awesome dude. Come to think of it, the fact that I’m not looking for a romantic connection is the entire problem.
See, I would like to make friends with people who like the same things I like, that is to say Nerdy Things. The nerd scene being what it is, most of those people happen to be dudes. And… Well, there’s no nice way to say this… I guess I’m just not good at making my intentions clear. Every time I overcome my anxiety and strike up a conversation (usually in a nerdy environment, the FLGS or a con or such) it becomes very obvious that they think I’m flirting, when that really isn’t my intention. I usually just say something along the lines of “Oh, you like Stargate/Alan Moore/Deadlands? Cool, me too!”, just your standard opening gambits, and it all goes to shit from there.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of nerd rage. I’ve been accused of deliberately “friendzoning” people (I guess I did, since I wanted to make friends?), I’ve been kicked out of gaming groups for “causing drama” when all I did was… you know, be there, I’ve had angry lectures about guys who are sick of “putting up with my cockteasing” and one guy turned full-on stalker… But those are the extreme cases. Mostly it’s the disappointment that makes me so very, very sad. “Oh, you want to be friends… well, that’s okay too, I guess, if I MUST…”
I’ve tried a lot of different things to remedy this:
- Opening the conversation with a variation of “Oh, you like Firefly too? Cool! By the way I have a boyfriend!” This did not work out well for me.
- Avoiding all body language that could be construed as flirty (to the point where I avoided eye contact and smiling), but that just made me come across as surly and aloof.
- Making friends through my fiancee. That works, sort of, but they’re kind of HIS friends who also hang out with me. They’re cool people, I like them, but I would really like the satisfaction of making a friend of my very own, on my own merits, no letter of recommendation required.
- Trying to make female friends. Worked, once, but didn’t last. There aren’t many geek girls to begin with (it’s not a problem that’s exclusive to geek boys at all), and there’s this awkward atmosphere of competition that makes me really uncomfortable. Plus, most geek girls I do meet tend to be heavy into manga and anime, something I have absolutely no passion for.
- Wearing my engagement ring. Works, on the whole, but it feels like a band-aid solution. Clearly I’m doing something wrong, and wearing my Token of Ownership isn’t going to fix that.
So none of that really worked, and after about a decade of trying, I’m still friendless and sad about it. It’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to even try without a battle plan. So how do I make nerdy friends? How do I talk to nerd boys without coming across as flirty? Most of all, how can I avoid that disappointment when they find out I’m just looking for some buddies to play boardgames with and not anything romantic? I really think my friendship would be a cool thing to have. It really hurts when people are disappointed when I offer it.
Frustrated and Friendless