DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: What the hell is there to do in the real world?
I say this as I’ve been getting more active in talking to women (albeit at the checkout line but it’s a start) and doing some online dating.
Basically, I have absolutely no idea of what to do outside and I know that when I get a date, it is unlikely to be inside my bedroom playing video games, it’s going to be outside doing something, but I have no idea of what to do outside.
I have an interest in typical nerdy stuff, and have wanted to try LARPing but that doesn’t get you dates, useless crap like concerts (the only use in them is selling massively overpriced food, drink or merchandise), coffee dates where you try not to fall asleep, anything hipster where they use antiquated machinery to simulate having a personality, going to bars and paying for drinks then not having your date talk to you again, that’s the thing that most dates are made of.
I’ll admit, this is only stuff I’ve seen in TV shows and movies, but I still have no freaking idea of how to approach actually going on a date with someone, and am considering a life in a monastery ( that’s a lie, I’m too obsessed with machinery for that to ever work)
Also, how the hell do people spend their time without a computer or a phone anyway? I used to love reading and still do but the idea of just reading in a cafe terrifies me for the chance of some twilight-reading meathead to dump a cup of hot coffee over me, or a jock to punch me in the head, or getting ridiculed for reading.
Also I refuse to take my laptop to a coffee shop for the chances of it getting stolen, broken and the fact of I need to build a life outside of it.
Now the gyms a darn good idea, especially as my current diet involves a crap load of Pepsi and little water , I’ve also been trying to get more into philosophy and Buddhism just to make me more well rounded.
I think charity work could also do some good, particularly for a mental health charity, they could use some tech help or just carting around boxes, something to put on the resume.
Doc, I guess I’ll also have to accept that my dreams will never come true, like building giant robots or living on Mars or piloting giant robots or defending the earth from an alien invasion , I was born too early for that. I was holding out hope for that for a long time.
My question is, how can I get a normal life which sucks, as it’s an upgrade to my current one. I’m still young (20s) so that helps.
Blue (almost) Alien
DEAR BLUE ALIEN: Here’s your first step, Blue: turn your damn TV off already. You seem to have gotten the idea that life outside of your apartment is an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia mixed with Revenge of the Nerds and honestly? Not only is none of that true, but it’s so cartoonishly wrong that I’m left wondering how you manage to get to the grocery store without taking the wrong left turn at Albuquerque.
Right now, dating is the last thing you need to be doing. You need to get some basic life experience under your belt because your view of the world is so off-kilter that you’re not going to get a date in the first place, never mind go on one. Concerts make for lousy first dates but they’re amazing experiences on their own. Coffee dates are all about talking with your date and getting to know them and seeing if it’s worth going on a second, more active date. And I really have no idea where the hell you’re going with “hipster crap” or the idea that going to a bar somehow results in your date not talking to you.
And that’s before we get into the weirdness about bullies who…also read… Twilight?? Or random jocks traveling in packs and physically assaulting people or being made fun of for reading?
Like, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works. I not only read books in cafes and restaurants, but I read my weekly stack of comics while I’m out and about. Hell, one of my close friends has various bars she’s designated as reading spots when she wants to get out, have a beer and relax with the latest from Seanan McGuire or Myke Cole. Nobody is going to give a damn about the fact that you have a book with you.
I also do a fair amount of work in coffeeshops when I need to get out of the house. Here’s how you keep your laptop from being stolen while you’re there:
YOU: Hey, I have to run to the bathroom for a second. Could you keep an eye on things and make sure someone doesn’t jack my stuff?
HELPFUL STRANGER: Sure!
YOU: Thanks, appreciate that.
HELPFUL STRANGER: No problem.
So before you start worrying about dating – or flirting, really – you need to pry yourself away from your phone, your laptop, your TV and apparently damn near everything electronic and actually get out into the meat space. You need to spend some time – and I mean evidently a lot of time – interacting with people without a screen between the two of you. Social skills are more than just making small talk while you’re bagging up your groceries, it’s understanding how the world works, what behavior is appropriate to the situation and how to read the social context. And honestly, even if we allow for your exaggerating for effect, you seem to have little idea about, well, any of it.
So you need to close down all your tabs with Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, kiwifarms and any of the rest of it, log out of Snapchat and actually go outside. Everything you listed, from going to the gym to volunteer work? Yes, do that. Find a LARP group or a geek-themed pub-quiz. Hell, go chase (or get chased by) zombies and see if you’ll survive the zombie apocalypse. Join a Pokemon Go MeetUp. If you’re going to study Buddhism, then I suggest you go to an actual temple in your area and see if they have any classes. Get your local alt-weekly and make a list of everything going on this weekend and pick three events to go to. Go to some dive bars and have a beer, go see a concert with a no-name band, eat some food that didn’t get delivered to your house or come from a chain restaurant (and preferably has a vegetable or two mixed in) and actually get to know your town and the people who live in it.
You need to spend more time outside and getting to know the world around you and how it actually works before you worry about dates or roving gangs of Twilight-reading, crotch-punching jocks who also hate reading. Start building an interesting life that isn’t exclusively on the Internet – and that’s my addicted-to-his-iPhone ass telling you this – and you’ll be in a better place to actually meet women who will want to actually be part of that life. And the more of an interesting life that you lead, the more ideas you’ll have for dates.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: A few months back OKCupid made some changes to their messaging. As I understand it now both parties have to message each other before they will see any messages that have been sent. I was wondering how this might alter some of the standard advice around when to message someone you are interested in?
So with sites like Match that would allow me to message anyone or send them a wink I would expect to message someone to show my interest in them. That would be preferable to just sending them a wink or similar.
But with the changes at OKCupid does that bring it more into line with sites like Tinder where you would just send someone a like and wait to see if they liked you back? Only then would you send a message. Or is it better to take the opportunity to send them a message anyway, which will be waiting for them if they like you back?
I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
What’s OK, Cupid?
DEAR WHAT’S OK, CUPID: The core of my advice for online dating is that you do best by messaging the people who show interest in you first. Doing the dating app equivalent of cold-calls is always going to be considerably less efficient than focusing your attention on the people who showed at least some curiosity about you.
Now, before OKCupid made serious structural changes to how the site worked, this meant that you could see who’d visited your profile or be notified that someone who had a high-compatibility score was checking you out; then you could send them a message. Now, OKCupid has changed their system to be more like Tinder in that each profile has the option of “Like” or “Pass”. If you like someone, they get a notification. If you both like each other, then you’re able to message one another.
You still can send people a message without having matched first… but OKCupid will only show the first couple of lines.
So while the dynamic of the site has changed some, it hasn’t changed that much. However, it does prioritize mutual interest prior to messaging, rather than shotgunning out dozens of messages and hoping something stuck.
How do you work with this new dynamic? Well, you have to make sure your dating profile is up to snuff. If you’re not getting any attention or likes from people, then it’s on you to go through and do some serious revamping of your profile. What is the story your dating profile is telling potential matches? Do your photos show you off to your best effect and do they match the version of you from your dating profile?
Are you practicing good dating SEO and making sure that your profile is liberally sprinkled with hooks for matches to respond to? Are you making sure that your profile is appealing to the people that you want to match with? If you’re trying to, say, find a no-strings casual relationship, those pictures of you playing with your adorable nephew are going to send the message that you’re looking to get married and settle down.
And don’t forget: the algorithm is watching. People who’re more active get higher priority in other people’s feeds. So switching out your photos regularly or A/B testing the various sections of your profile will put you up in front of more people and invite curious sexy strangers to come check you out.
Fine tune your profile until there’s no fat to trim and it’s polished to a high gloss. Then, as the “likes” roll in, see how many of them you dig. Having to have mutual likes may seem like an inconvenience, but trust me: you’ll get a better rate of return on those messages than if you’re just firing off at everyone you see.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)