DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: There is something where I think you haven’t spent much words on before (or I may have missed it), of which I would find your view on the matter interesting.
I see a number of your visitors seem to be jealous of men who are professionally very successful (for the extreme example, you mentioned Elon Musk on your blog recently). I understand that, in principle, women can find such success attractive. Now, I’ve noticed that for these men (I partially include myself here, though I am far from an Elon) who have a rather high responsibility, there are some other ‘problems’.
The thing is that the more you have a public function or a leadership role, the more you should be a good example and people expect you to behave with much dignity and responsibility. This seems to mean that you have essentially less space to maneuver when hitting on women, though. And mistakes can have a larger impact. This combines with the fact that many people who are professionally or academically successful have little time to hang out in bars and have had little time for these things during their studies as well, meaning having less experience.
Finally, in such leadership positions you can afford less to come over as sexually frustrated or so, you should always remain calm, be happy for the others and certainly avoid being jealous.
I definitely would consider myself as a nerd, in the sense of having been the smart kid without many friends at high school. When it comes to social intelligence and physical attractiveness, I used to be horrible but think I moved to acceptable over the last few years. Now, towards the end of my twenties, I am comfortable around women, but still have limited physical experience.
At parties, I see many women primarily seem to go for guys that are tall, handsome, smooth and good dancers; rather than for their vision on the future of mankind or so. When I do attempt competing with such ‘natural players’, I often seem to end up coming off either as too arrogant or too calculating.
Do you have good suggestions, either specifically to me or more general?
Another Anonymous Messenger
DEAR ANOTHER ANONYMOUS MESSENGER: as so often happens, AAM, this is a case of “the problem you think you have isn’t the problem you actually have”.
You have an issue I see a lot in guys, especially guys who don’t have as much social experience as they’d like. Many times, they’ll spend a lot of time developing their grand unifying theory about How Relationships Work. The problem is that, more often than not, these theories have less to do with actual experience and more to do with confirmation bias. It’s easy, for example, to think that “nice guys” are disadvantaged in dating as women chase after assholes when “asshole” gets defined as “guy who got the woman I wanted to date”. As tempting as it is to believe that our observations are objective recordings of reality, the truth is that we take the little that we see and craft narratives that allow them to conform to our already-extant beliefs. We assume we see the whole picture when, in reality, we barely see even a tenth of it and fill in the rest with what we assume to already be true. This is how we end up with dudes who have developed a literal modern day form of phrenology to explain why they can’t get laid.
The idea that being a “leader” or having “status” constrains you is… kind of obviously BS on its face. I mean, all you have to do is look at the United States government for examples to the contrary. When former congressmen become infamous for posting pictures of their pajama parties on social media (and paying sexual harassment suits with taxpayer money) or offering to “inseminate” their staffers, the idea that people in positions of power find themselves restrained in how they behave is kind of absurd. If anything, having power and status gives them more license to act out, often with even less fear of repercussions than they had before. Not to mention there are all the various celebrities and politicians who’re notoriously horny on main.
I’m also not sure where you got the idea where people who are professionally or academically successful have less experience or less social success. While there’re always going to be folks who’ve treated charisma as their dump-stat, who chose to forgo socializing for studying or who are just socially awkward but academically gifted, the truth is that there are just as many entrepreneurs, scientists, professors, lawyers, and finance-bros out at the bars as mid-level managers and office workers. Nor, for that matter, are bars the only places where you can go to meet women.
(And if you don’t think that academics don’t drink and party, then I have no idea where the hell you went to school because goddamn some of their conferences are lit)
But let’s get to your real issue: the fact that women are choosing “players” instead of you. Here you are with your “visions of the future of mankind” and these dudes are there with their abs and their hair and their dancing… what do they have that you don’t?
I mean… besides her number.
Well, the answer is that those players makes women feel good. They’re fun to talk to, they’re entertaining and they’re engaging with her on an emotional level, because when folks are at a party, they’re there to have fun. Yeah, there’re going to be folks who love to discuss deep topics… but those still have to be fun conversations, not just one dude trying to show off how hung his brain is. When you describe women going off with the players and not the guy with a “vision for the future of mankind”, you conjure images of the stoner at the party who really wants to discuss their new philosophical insight with someone who’s really there to rage.
And honestly, the way that you describe “competing” with “natural players” does make you sound a little arrogant. I mean, if I’m catching the vibe that you’re looking down your nose at those players in your letter, I can almost guaran-damn-tee that women are getting a double dose when you’re talking with them in person. And, as someone who thought he was “competing” with naturals back in my bad old days, let me share some insight with you. First: you’re not “competing” with anyone. This isn’t about points on a spreadsheet, it’s about someone asking themselves “Am I into this person right here in front of me, Y/N?” It’s not that Captain TightPants and Studly GoodNight have higher point totals, it’s that you’re not that person’s particular flavor of yum. And, from one nerd to another: you will never get anywhere by bad-mouthing the folks who seem to be doing better than you. All that you’ll do is come off as bitter and resentful and confirm that she’s right to not want to date you.
If you want more social and romantic success, you need to start letting go of your ideas of How Things Work and accept that maybe you’ve been going about things the wrong way. Instead of expounding on your grand vision, focus on connecting with people. Spend less time trying to “compete” and more time learning how to enjoy yourself and help other people have fun too. Trust me: not only will you do better socially, but you’ll have far more fun in the process.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I turned 18 last year ad have finished high school and am going into college in just 2 weeks. I am not particular afraid of this new experience since this is bound to happen and I just have to face it. However, even though I can face this I have a problem with the idea of dating. See I have never been in a relationship and it takes a lot of courage for me to even ask a girl out. I have managed to ask girls out before, albeit through text, it usually end up with rejection which I should have honestly expected.
With that all being said what has happened with these situations is that the next day I would hear about the rejection by other people. Here is an example, in middle school….,yes middle school.., I asked this girl out who i had know for over six years over text and was met back with “I have a boyfriend”. I didn’t think to much of it, but the next day of class literally every girl in my class ended up approaching me about it to make fun of me. This killed my self-confidence, but I got over it eventually. Fast forward to high school and I kinda did the same thing only this time with Snapchat and did not get a response. Which I understood it was a pocket rejection. But again the next day I had to hear about this story.
Oh boy was this one crazy. What happened was this girl in particular went into the homework club room, which I usually hang out in but was not present that day, to ask out loud to every girl to turn me down. And let me tell you, when they say a girls can be harsh I think that is an understatement. I don’t really want to go into detail about what was said since I do not want to get angry again when writing this, but suffice to say I got let down and had to hear about though my peer around me.
With all that being said now if I see someone who I am interested in and I started getting thoughts of asking them out, my mind starts to freeze and remember those bad experiences I had. This worries me since I am off to college, where people will be hooking up and I don’t really know what to do since I am afraid of just freezing up.
It is all really confusing to me at the moment so any advice and thoughts would really help.
DEAR MR. FREEZE: Hey, I’m sorry you went through that MF. The school experience tends to blow for just about everybody. The folks who say that high-school is the best time of your life either peaked too early or really don’t remember what school was like.
But you’re out. It’s over. It’s time to move forward and leave that all in the past. Because right now, you’re treating middle school and high-school as though it were a reflection of reality. Middle school and high-school don’t resemble the real world so much as a maximum security prison. You’ve got hundreds of sleep-deprived, over-caffinated balls of anxiety and insecurity – all of whom are in the middle of hormone-fueled identity crises – confined in too-small spaces and being monitored by people who aren’t paid nearly enough for the job they have to do. The result is less “developing real-world social skills” and more “apes with anxiety throwing their poop everywhere”.
We play stupid status games and mock people because we’re all notoriously insecure and have no goddamn idea what we’re doing but we desperately want a place to belong. So we put on acts of performative cruelty and arrogance in ways to make ourselves feel better and to try to secure our place in the pecking order. Fortunately, most people manage to grow out of that stage post haste as they actually start to become secure in who they are.
(I say most because, there are always a
holes and hey, a
holes gonna a
Now there are a lot of ways to start undoing the damage and pain you felt in school, but the quickest and easiest is to start to deprogram your own brain. You need to take those memories and strip them of their ability to hurt you by editing those worst-case scenarios in your head. You want to change the narrative in your head by playing it out differently. When you imagine those moments, don’t try to resist them. Instead, let them play out. Then play it again but change it up. Picture it like a movie from the 1910s, with cue cards and plinky piano music. Now imagine it again… except everybody’s heads have started to expand like balloons. Or their heads are shrinking and their voices are getting higher and squeakier. Now picture it but every time someone tries to insult you, they end up singing “Day-O” by Harry Belafonte. Each time you picture it, add another layer of absurdity and abstraction. By doing this, you’re breaking the association between that memory and the emotional states it provokes. After all, how could you feel hurt when the Mean Girl in high-school keeps insisting that daylight come and she wanna go home?
The more you break those associations, the less power it has over you and the less you’ll fear it. And this is good because, ultimately the only way through your fears are to confront them. You’re going to have to get comfortable with the possibility of being rejected because… well, it’s gonna happen. Nobody goes through life without being shot down. But, paradoxically, the more you can face rejection without letting it destroy you – or letting it turn you into an angry rage monster – the less rejection you’ll face in the future.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)