Ask Dr. Nerdlove

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am utterly in love with the geek of my dreams. It’s the kind of romance I’ve always dreamed of. We met on a dating website and within five minutes of meeting in person we were chatting as though we had known each other for years. We are equally happy going out to dinner or spending a night in playing video games. We both fell hard and fast and have recently started to look at engagement rings. He is extremely socially awkward and I have a temper, I’m an extrovert and he’s an introvert so the two of us have our share of arguments, but we always manage to work it out. It’s not a perfect relationship, but I tend to describe us as perfect for each other since we balance each other’s flaws exactly as we both need. All in all I’ve never been happier with a partner.

I’m giving all this background because with how excellent things are, I am currently feeling like the worst person in the world. I have a crush on someone that I have only ever met online.

This other person is very different from my boyfriend. Self employed musician and indie comic book publisher. He’s smart and funny and we have engaged in some very light flirting via FB posts. I’ve never seriously hit on him, in fact I’ve flirted harder with my male friends in front of my boyfriend (he’s very secure in the fact that I love him and just happen to have a flirty personality), but the fact that there is this mildly sexual edge made me feel like a douchebag after it happened. I almost feel like it’s safe to flirt with him because we’ve never met in person, but since he is a musician he has invited me to several of his gigs. I think he might not even be aware of my crush since he says when are you and your man coming to see me play? Even if I brought my boyfriend with me I feel like actually meeting this guy in person would be a form of betrayal.

I have no intention of ever cheating on my boyfriend. I love him and am absolutely committed to starting our life together. So why do I have a crush on this other guy? And more importantly how do I make it go away?

The Worst Girlfriend Ever

DEAR WORST GIRLFRIEND EVER: I object to your use of pseudonym, WGE, because honestly? What’s going on here? It’s no big deal.

I want to say this again just so you get it: it’s no big deal.

Back away from the ledge, WGE. You’re not destroying your relationship, you aren’t betraying your boyfriend and, critically, there’s nothing wrong.

You’re dealing with a very popular misconception about love and romance: that being in love with someone, especially being monogamous, means that you don’t ever look at or think about or have sweaty pants-feelings about somebody else. We’re taught to believe that love is all-consuming, that if you love someone you never ever ever think of anyone else at all forever period the end. And that’s just not how humans are wired. Loving somebody doesn’t make you blind and deaf or illiterate and it doesn’t lock your junk up in a room that can only be unlocked by one specific set of genitalia.

You’re still going to see other people and think they’re hot. You’re going to realize you’ve got crazy chemistry with people. You’re going to get inconvenient crushes on other people. That’s part of the glorious human experience. Monogamy just means you choose not to sleep with other people; it doesn’t say a damn thing about not wanting to.

But because we have this social narrative that says being in love means you only ever think of your lover (singular, I might add), as soon as our primate hindbrains rear up and says “hey, that person over there is pretty hot!”, people freak out and assume that something must be drastically wrong with their relationship. Why else would they suddenly be having sweaty naked thoughts about that hot guy at the office? Or, in your case, the hottie you’ve been talking to on Facebook?

Well, like I said: that’s just being a mammal with a libido. That has absolutely nothing to do with the state of your relationship and everything to do with being alive. It happens.

Moreover: just because it happens doesn’t mean that it’s any sort of betrayal. Even if you were to indulge in a little self-lovin’ thinking about this guy, that’s not a betrayal. What goes on in between your ears is yours and yours alone. The only time this becomes an issue is if it’s actually materially affecting your relationship – not in the sense that you’re feeling guilty but in the sense that you’re actually neglecting your relationship with your snugglebunny to give priority to your crush. And from the sound of it: that’s not what’s going on.

I think you’ve got an overactive sense of guilt plaguing you right now and that’s making things worse. In a lot of ways, it’s a self-reinforcing situation; you’re enjoying the frisson of a crush, but you’re feeling guilty about it which makes it taboo and making it taboo makes it even more appealing, which makes it even more enjoyable so you feel even guiltier. The more you obsess about it, the worse it gets because you keep thinking about it.

Here’s what you need to realize: crushes go away on their own. You go about your daily business and you start to realize “hey, I haven’t thought about wozizname in a while. Huh.” And then you keep going about your business.

So what do you do about it? Well, this is going to sound weird but: enjoy it. Crushes are fun. Crushes are harmless, as long as you’re not trying to actually do anything about it. You’re buzzing with energy that only makes things worse by trying to bottle it up when what you should be doing is using it. Take that sexual energy and excitement and channel it back into your relationship. When you’re feeling all keyed up because you’ve had a flirt-session with the musician, grab your boyfriend, drag him back to the bedroom and bang his brains out. Trust me: you two will have some of the most amazing sex of your lives. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Well. Except for your crush. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, if you’re really worried about things (you shouldn’t be), then dial things back a little. Be less flirty, be less available on IM. You don’t need to cut him off, just turn it back a notch.

And hey: take your boyfriend and go see one of the dude’s gigs. Then drag your boyfriend into the bathroom and have incredible, nasty concert sex. You’ll both love it.

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:   am a 25 year old successful man in a progressive city in America. I’ve been on a few dates (more in the future) with a girl I am very interested in. She is 26 and we connect on large number of things! She is very intelligent, driven, beautiful, etc…

The thing is, I find myself getting really excited about the possibilities, and worry I will become too interested too quickly. Our dates are long 2-4 hours each, and she never cancels postpones, or leaves future dates “open” in terms of scheduling.

My problem: Our dates are pretty infrequent by my previous experience. She’s available once every 7-10 days and is not someone who texts much or talks on the phone. I want to make sure things move in a healthy positive direction, but don’t know how to walk the fine line of being interested but not desperate/too available. Should I just take it easy and let things figure themselves out? Is it wrong that I want to see more of her after 3 dates that went well?

- Overthinking Oliver

DEAR OVERTHINKING OLIVER: Stop overthinking this, my dude.

One of my personal pet-peeves is the idea of “(s)he who cares less, wins” in dating. It teaches people to play bulls

t head games and pretend to be less interested than they actually are because relationships are about power instead of, y’know, feelings. Worse, it makes people confuse actually being interested in someone with being needy and clingy and they end up coming across as “not interested at all”. And it sounds like you’re caught up in that particular trap.

I mean, let’s go over what you just told me. You’re going on long(-ish) dates. You’re having an amazing time together. You’ve got crazy chemistry and you’re connecting on an intellectual and emotional level. She’s giving you every indication that she totally digs you and has fun with you… what in pluperfect hell is the problem again? She sounds awesome. Why wouldn’t you want to see more of her? You should want to see more of someone you’re having an incredible time with.

And trust me: it’s a little difficult to be “too available” when your schedules only synch up once a week. Too available is when you’re clearly dropping everything – even things you should be doing – in order to be with her whenever she wants. When there’s literally only one day a week that both of you are free, that’s not being over-eager, that’s just scheduling. 

Now, I can see the differing communication styles potentially being a problem but hell, that’s how those of us olds who grew up before texting and Snapchat had to date.

Seriously: you’re freaking out over nothing. Take a deep breath, pour yourself a tall glass of chill the frack out and realize that everything is fine. Now that you’re calmer, you know what you need to do: use your words. You want to see more of her? You want to take this someplace more serious – or at least see if it’s got potential? Then you need to use your words. It’s important to make sure you’re on the same page; if she’s thinking this is a casual thing and you’re not, then you need to sort that out sooner rather than later.

But seriously. Calm down. Have a quick talk with her, take it all one date at a time and you’ll be just fine.

Good luck.

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