Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

How Can I Get Someone To STOP Liking Me?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a geek girl with a problem. I’m super attracted to geeks, mostly because of the whole similar interests thing. As you have said sometimes geeks are shy, I’m pretty shy too, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I am more comfortable asking people out. I was told (by an ex) that relationships never work out when a girl makes the first move, it sounds ridiculous in my head, but could he be right? Obviously I haven’t had a relationship work out (or I likely wouldn’t be looking for a new one) but I haven’t had someone I’ve asked out work out at all. Am I doing something wrong? Should I still stay shy?

Shrinking Violet

DEAR SHRINKING VIOLET: To put it mildly, your ex is an idiot.

There are any number of reasons why a relationship might not work out whether it’s because of sexual incompatibility, emotional disconnects or even just your lives going in different directions. The idea that a relationship won’t work based on who asked whom out first? You might as well insist that you can’t ask someone out on days where you see a pigeon take a s

t while flying east-northeast because the relationship will never work; you’ll have about the same level of accuracy.

To steal a line from my celebrity Patronus, every relationship fails until one doesn’t. The idea that a woman asking a man out automatically dooms a relationship is a) bulls

t and b) really amusing when you get all of the dudes complaining about why women “don’t approach more“.

I know people who come up with all sorts of contrived “rules” about when you can ask people out and when you can’t, whether it’s within a three month span between Christmas and Valentine’s Day or within X days/weeks/months of someone else asking them out because of some bulls

t reason and it all comes down to magical thinking and confirmation bias.

If you like a dude and you’re moved to ask him out, then by all means, do so! The only thing I would caution you about is that some guys – especially the mores socially inexperienced – may assume a greater level of interest than you actually have; some guys take a woman asking him out or making the first move as a sign that said woman is under his sexual thrall and they’re off to make 30 minutes of squishy noises any minute now. But hey, if that happens… well, it’s one of the risks of putting yourself out there.

And if he turns out to be one of those idiots who is threatened by the slightest alteration in traditional gender roles, then really, you’re better off not dating him, aren’t you?

Go ask out some cute nerdboys. You’ll be glad you did.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: was wondering if you could help me with a problem. I know most people write to you asking how to get OUT of the friend zone, but I’d like your advice on getting INTO it. Allow me to elaborate:

There’s this girl at work who likes me, but I don’t share her feelings. She wants to go out with me, but I’m really not interested in a relationship. It’s not like there’s any problem with her. Simply put; she’s in MY friend zone.

I met her at work. The company I work for was preparing to open a new branch near my job site, so they hired a bunch of new trainees. She was one of the new people me and my coworkers helped to train.

She apparently took an interest in me because I’m bilingual and she studies foreign languages, which was nothing new for me because I’ve had numerous coworkers who study foreign languages and they’re always interested. I gave her the standard carbon copy routine I give everyone who ever asked about my language skills: Yes, I’ve lived overseas. Yes, most of my family is bilingual too. Yes, I sometimes dream in two languages. Yes, I can watch foreign movies without subtitles. No, I can’t think in one language and speak in another. Etc. Etc.

At one point she asked if I’ve ever had a foreign language job, and I mentioned that I regularly write for a foreign language website. Shortly after that, she found my twitter account on the website and began asking questions about my experiences via twitter after she started working at the new branch. 

Over the next month, she would often ask about me, my hobbies, and things like that. I kind of got a hint that she liked me but I wasn’t completely sure until today when I ran into her and she abruptly asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner some time. I was kind of caught off guard at the moment and sort of mumbled, “Yeah, sure.” and watched her half-walk, half-skip away. Now I feel like a total douche because I realized that since I feel no romantic attraction to this girl, if I don’t do something, I’ll be stringing her along like the so many girls I pursued back in high school who I’d follow like an obedient little puppy. At the same time, I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t dislike her or anything. It’s just that I don’t feel any romantic emotions for her. She is, to repeat my earlier statement, in my friend zone.

I don’t know what to do here. I’ve spent all my life chasing after girls, I don’t know how to deal with being on the opposite side. How can I get her to stop liking me without hurting her?

On another note, do you have any idea why she started liking me to begin with? I treated her the same as I did all the other trainees, I don’t recall ever sending any overt signals that I was interested in her, I even told her about my geek hobbies (computers, movies, anime, and a video game collection that could choke a whale) when she asked, which up until now would usually send girls packing. Where did I go right, the one time I didn’t mean to?


Bad Wolf

DEAR BAD WOLF: Well that’s a first. It’s not very often we hear from a guy trying to figure out how to let a girl know he’s not interested.

First things first: unfortunately, there is no guaranteed painless way to let someone know you’re not interested. If there were, we wouldn’t have an entire genre of music devoted to “I Love You Why Won’t You Return My Feelings?”

On the other hand, we’d be getting rid of at least 90% of Taylor Swift’s career. So, mixed bag.

The best thing you can do is be short and direct: tell her you’re flattered, but you’re just not into her that way. It’ll suck for her, but the clean break heals fastest and shows respect for her by not dragging it out or stringing her along.

Now as for why she’s into you: you’re her superior, which means you are essentially a leader and many women find that attractive. You treat her like the other trainees, which can be seen as confidence. Also:  you’re exotic to her. You’ve lived an interesting life – you’ve lived overseas, you speak two languages fluently, you have a job that entails writing in your non-native language… these are all things that set you apart from just about everybody she’s used to. If you’re into anime, you’ve undoubtedly seen the trope of the transfer student who used to live abroad and came back home more worldly and experienced than his peers.

Guess what, BW? That’s you. And she’s the giggly classmate with a crush.

You’ve done things she’s never done, seen things she’s never seen… all of this can make someone quite the dashing figure. Hell, she may well have dreams of living abroad herself one day… and here you are, a living example of her goal.

Long story short, you’ve demonstrated a host of qualities that women find attractive, you just didn’t realize you were doing it. Keep this in mind for next time you’re interested in someone else: you have a lot more going for you than you give yourself credit for.

Oh, and quit treating being a geek like it’s a bad thing. Lots of women are into geeky dudes. Just ask Shrinking Violet up there.

Good luck.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (; or to his email,