How to Date a Nerdy Guy
Cool girls don't date nerdy guys.
Except now they do.
50 years ago the label nerd was first applied to anyone boring, socially awkward or uncool. They were just a little bit "off", fair game for exclusion and mockery.
By the 80's the nerd was becoming more defined, but no less disdained:
- socially inept
- possibly arrogant and caustic rather than shy
- utterly uninterested in mainstream pursuits (fashion, girls, sports)
- obsessed by their own mysterious passions (comics, technology, theatre)
Think Comic Book Guy.
The rise of tech billionaires, and TBBT, have brought nerd guys to the brink of coolness. They're not all happy about their new status, and the swelling ranks of geek-wannabe's. If you're dating a true nerd (quiz), he's likely to contemptuously dismiss fake-nerds.
My wife thinks I'm a geek. Rather than the stereotype above, I prefer to think of my fellow geeks as people who are intensely alive, open-minded, unconventional and authentic. And apparently we're good in the sack too!
So, how do you handle a relationship with a nerdy guy? We're discussing the stereotypical nerd/geek/dork, but you should take it all with a large dose of salt. Use these comments as a place to start but, as always, you'll need to work it out for yourself. Make an effort to really know the person rather than the label.
Here are a few helpful tips.
They're still men
Nerds are far more alike the "average guy" than they are different. So don't forget everything you've learned about men.
And what do all guys need?
Not just respect for their nerdy skills either. Often they know they are masters in their field, and are deservedly self-confident. It's like a man telling a stunning woman how beautiful she is. Sure, always good to hear, but she knows this. Now, genuinely praise her for some other ability, and she's listening hard!
Respect him as a man.
Don't mock his passions
You don't need to share his love of Star Trek, but never (ever ever) diss Leonard Nimoy.
Laughing at Sheldon's crazy quirks is fun so long as he's on TV, but not if you're dating him IRL. As his partner, your job is to be his number one cheerleader. Heavy-handed teasing will drive him back into his shell.
This is not to say you can't challenge him. There's nothing nerds enjoy more than a reasoned discussion.
A defining characteristic of nerds is being both passionate and expert on an unusual subject. If you feel the need to mock him for spending Friday night researching Runescape lore, then you should ask yourself why exactly are you dating him. (And as for trying to cure him of his nerdiness in a "me or the Ninjago" ultimatum, know that the Lego will win.)
Take an interest in his obsessions
Don't worry, you don't need to be girl-nerd, whispering kinky Klingon in his ear. In fact, Dr Nerdlove thinks nerds are better off dating mainstream girls rather than their fantasy Geek Girl.
But it won't harm to show some appreciation for his heroes. Ask him some questions, and at least try to understand why he thinks Dick, Asimov, Gaiman and Adams are the greatest writers ever. Try also to keep up with the latest news of his favorite books, movies or games. Wouldn't you rather he discussed it first with you, rather than his on-line community?
He might be inclined to vent about minutia, obsess over arcane details that the rest of us neither understand nor care about. Be kind. Listen for 10 minutes before steering the conversation away. Nerds are happy talking to anyone about their passion. But if that someone is a sexy girl then they've just arrived in nerd heaven!
Accept his friends
Nerdy guys will have nerdy friends.
Most guys, nerdy or not, consider their friends to be an extension of themselves. Any perceived rejection of his friends will be taken personally.
Understand and accept their unique tastes, take some interest in what they love doing and genuinely share in their passions and concerns. He will understand you not spending every weekend together with his friends; what will hurt your relationship is if you blow-off his buddies as a bunch of boring nerds.
And actually, if you're having a gang of guys round, isn't it better that they're sweet, witty, D&D geeks rather than drunken, sweaty, chauvinist jocks?
Be sexually forward
More than most men, nerds don't respond to subtle hints. Often they genuinely don't read your body language. Or they do get the signal, but lack the confidence to follow through. But physically drag him away from Github and he'll soon forget about debugging his code, and prove to you that nerds really do make the best lovers.
Find common ground
For a relationship of any kind to work, you have to find a common ground; a hobby, interest or activity that allows you to spend quality time together. There are plenty of things that both of you will love. Movies and shows like Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Hunger Games will satisfy both nerdy and non-nerdy tastes. Hopefully you read? Even if your tastes in literature don't greatly overlap, he will love to hear your thoughts on your current novel.
Show him your nerdy side (the one you hide from your girl-friends). He respects passion, intelligence and excellence in any field. Try him out with some activity that gets you fired up. You might be surprised how interested he becomes in the finer aspects of choux pastry making!
The problem with emotions
In their passion for fact and truth, nerdy men can run right over other people's emotions. Annoyingly, you can't treat their own feelings the same way.
One thing common with nerdy guys is that they disregard or even mistrust feelings. Even more than other types of men, they will keep their emotions closed up. If he does open up to you, it means that he really values your friendship and is ready to get more serious with the relationship.
The worst mistake you can do at this point is to ignore or laugh off his feelings. You will have killed any chance of forming a strong emotional connection with him. On the same note, do not be frustrated if he takes a while to open up to you. It will take time, support and understanding.
Be ready to teach him
Most nerds will be really good in a single area such as movies, physics, astronomy or tech. With this time-consuming focus comes the corresponding ignorance of many other topics that a "normal" person would be good at, such as pop culture, politics and social manners. This may sound surprising but you may have to do a lot of explaining and teaching when you are together.
Do not get frustrated or laugh off his ignorance on these subjects. Instead, take it as a growth opportunity. You learn about his main interest and he learns about a multitude of other topics. There will come a time when he will be as good as you at some of these things. For now, be the gentle loving explainer.
Know how to handle conflicts
Dating a nerd is just like dating any other guy in that conflict is bound to arise. You have to be ready to handle these conflicts in the right way. Remember that nerds tend to be more logical than emotional. There's an overlap with nerdism and autism spectrum. Getting overly emotional or dramatic during an argument will not help matters.
You will almost certainly have a much higher Emotional Intelligence than he does; use it!
We're all the same
The biggest problem with nerd stereotypes is that they cast nerdy guys as some sort of aliens, who have weird habits and tastes. But a geek is not much different from any other guy; they just have different strengths and weaknesses. The same rules that apply in a non-nerdy relationship - respect, understanding, love - will also apply in a nerdy one.
And if you are worried your guy (jock, geek, hipster, whatever) is losing interest, check out my free ebook: Why Men Lose Interest.
Also in Understanding Men: