Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

How Do I Overhaul My Entire Life?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: As of the beginning of last month I’ve been reading your website and finding myself amazed at the knowledge of dating that had remained in the dark to me until now. I understand that the concept of, “me,” is a fluid concept that is ever changing due to my true efforts and wants, and from that I understand that in order to be who I want to be, I’m going to have to perform a personal overhaul.

The part that gets me is where to start. Actually…let me rephrase that, where is the best to start? Should I start with improving myself physically: begin using quality deodorant, skin care products, bath supplies, and begin a healthy lifestyle, mentally: mastering the abundance mentality, warding off my negativity, building my confidence, and mentally preparing myself for rejection, or socially: mastering the art of conversation, learning how to tell stories, relate my geeky interests, how and when to approach women, and so on. Or should I start with fashion?

Now I’m not saying I’ll go full out one aspect while ignoring the others, I’m just looking for some guidance.

- Young Man at the Crossroads

DEAR YOUNG MAN AT THE CROSSROADS: So I’m going to be honest here: every time someone refers to themselves as coming to me at a crossroads, I immediately picture myself as Mark Sheppard.This has absolutely nothing to do with your question and everything to do with how my mind works.


The thing to keep in mind is that dating success is a hollistic process. The problems you have in your dating life are inevitably problems you have in your everyday life. You want to improve yourself as a person overall, rather than focusing like a laser on specific aspects. But performing a full-life overhaul is rather like building a house. Whether you’re performing a back-to-the-studs remodel or scraping the whole thing and starting over, you need a good foundation before you can start making it pretty.  If you don’t, the whole thing comes crashing down around your ears.

Like I always say: dating success is 80% attitude, 20% skill. That attitude is what gives you the strong foundation to build upon. So when it comes to a life overhaul, you want to work from the inside out.

Now I go into much greater detail about this in my book “New Game Plus: The Geeks Guide To Love, Sex and Dating”, but the way I recommend you go about fixing things is to start by working on your confidence, developing an abundance mentality and dealing with issues around negativity before you work on issues of skill such as how to approach women. My suggested order is mental issues (attitude, abundance, entitlement, etc) > external issues (lifestyle, fashion, etc) > skills. The thing that’s great about this approach is that each subsequent step helps bolster the previous ones. Learning how to dress better, makes you feel more attractive, which in turn helps boost your confidence, which means more people will notice you which in turn helps cement that abundance mentality.

It’s tempting to leap straight to the skills – after all, it’s only natural to want to get better with women as quickly as humanly possible – but if you don’t have that strong foundation to being with, you end up propping up a false facade. Women aren’t stupid; they’ll see through that fake front quickly, and you’ll be left worse of than you were before. This is actually one of the issues I have with a lot of discussion about meeting women and dating that you can find online. The focus on magic bullets and “this powerful technique that will make women putty in your hands” takes away attention from growing and changing as a person. Focusing on techniques at the expense of everything else just makes you manipulative and shallow, trying to borrow somebody else’s life instead of improving your own. It’s a great recipe for an impending mental meltdown.

This doesn’t mean that you do it in a strict step by step order; you’re not prohibited from getting better clothes or working on your hygiene as you’re trying to cultivate your internal validation. But you do want to put the lion’s share of attention on internal matters rather than the external. The more solid a base that you have, the better off you will do.

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been reading several of your advice pages and have found them incredibly helpful, so much thanks for that!

I have a few questions relating to texting in the early stages of meeting a girl: If she doesn’t reply with any questions after I have asked a few is this a polite way of saying ‘no’? Also, how many texts is generally acceptable to send without a reply & when would be an optimum time to ask to meet in person again? Say even if she hasn’t replied to a previous text?

Also, if there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it’s play Dark Forces again. That game is drenched in quality.

Confounded Communicator

DEAR CONFOUNDED COMMUNICATOR: Hate to say it CC, but no response is a response. This is what’s known as a “soft” no, a way of refusing without actually saying the words. A direct and unambiguous refusal is often seen as being overly harsh and rude so many people will use a “soft” no as a way to turn someone down. These may include being “busy” or having plans that they can’t otherwise shake, deliberately pretending to not understand the question or simply not responding at all.

While the specifics will vary depending on the personalities and writing styles of everyone involved, the basic rule of thumb is “one unanswered text per day”; if you text her something and she doesn’t respond, then you get one more attempt. If she still doesn’t respond, then you’re done for the day. Blowing up her phone with text after text after text when she isn’t responding to you is not going to make her any more likely to write back. Quite the opposite in fact; when you respond to radio silence with a barrage of texts, all you’re doing is signaling that you’re desperate and needy – very unattractive traits in anyone. It means that she’s even less likely to respond than she was before.

It often helps to think of texting (or phone calls, or instant messaging) as playing tennis or volleyball. You’re volleying the conversation back and forth: you serve, she volleys back, you bounce it back to her, etc. If you serve or volley it to her and get nothing back, then you get to try once more. If you’re still not getting your serve sent back to you, then it’s pretty clear she’s left the court or has stopped paying attention to the game.At that point, the ball’s in her court; if she wants to serve one back, she can. Otherwise, it’s best to move on and play with someone else. Throwing even more balls at her is only going to annoy her at best.

And remember: one unreturned text is could be anything. Two unreturned texts is worrying. Three unreturned texts is enemy act… er, is her sending you a message. And that message is “I’m not interested”.

Good luck.

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