DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a pretty serious geek and I live an extremely male-centric/nerd-centric life style. I mean, I think I can count the number of girls I have regular contact with who aren’t family members on like ten fingers. I’m a computer engineer/computer science student at school, I work for a computer repair shop and I have two girls who work there with me, both in serious relationships. Oh, and I don’t have a customer facing position, I actually fix the computers behind a black barrier.
Now, this isn’t to say I’m socially incapable or even awkward. When I get started with someone, I’m actually very good. I’m relatively in-shape (I live my life with computers, but I do play soccer once or more a week at a relatively competitive level), I’m not bad-looking, I know how to talk to people, and I’ve had girlfriends, some long-term, in the past.
My biggest issue is my lifestyle. It is not conducive to meeting women in the slightest. I rarely get a chance to go out because I’m always buried in work or other commitments and when I do go to a bar or something, I end up at a dive bar that I’ve been going to with my friends (all male, one female who I’m severely friend-zoned with) for years. This bar has no women that aren’t either 50+ (and I’m early 20s) or with their boyfriends.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make some modifications to my life to make it easier to meet new women, but I really don’t want to give up things I like doing. Are there any small modifications I can make? Oh, and last piece, I actually live on the campus of my university, but I’ve always had a hard time meeting girls. First off, because the engineering building is almost female-free, and second because my school has a strict “no door propping” rule that really restricts my chances to meet girls.
Please help me out! I move back to school in a few weeks and I’m hoping I can get some ideas before then! Especially if you’ve got some ideas to meet girls at school. That does seem like my biggest opportunity!
– Nerd Herd Manager
DEAR NERD HERD MANAGER: So you want to adjust your lifestyle so that you have more opportunities to meet women, but you don’t necessarily want to make any changes…
Well, if you have loads of free time, that’s not really a problem. Just start adding some additional activities to your weekly routine and boom, there ya go. Problem solved, next letter.
Of course, that doesn’t really work if you’re like most of us and you’re feeling the time-crunch already. And as you say, NerdHerd, you’re already dealing with work, a double-major and, y’know, feeding that pesky addiction to food and sleep. Now, online dating is an obvious answer, especially if you’re in a larger city; it’s a way of meeting women on your schedule without much of a time-investment on your part. If you’ve got enough downtime to scroll through Instagram, you’ve got enough time to fire off some emails to women who catch your eye on OKCupid or Tinder.
But it sounds to me like you’re wanting to meet some folks out in the real world too… and frankly, that means you’re going to have to compromise a little. If you don’t want to actually change your lifestyle, then things are going to just keep on going the way they are now. And as always, I have to ask: how’s that working out for ya?
Cold hard truth time: unless you find a woman who’s just looking for a part-time no-strings good time because her schedule is just as jacked-up as yours is (i.e. the Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher scenario… and damn you for making me remember that movie exists) you’re going to have to be making some sacrifices to your “me” time. The odds of finding a girlfriend whose interests and schedule are so similar to yours that your hobby Venn diagram is a set of concentric circles are so remote that I’m not entirely sure science has invented numbers that large. This means that even basic relationship maintenance is going to mean adjusting your priorities and changing up what you’re doing on the weekends. You may as well get in the habit of being more flexible about what you want to do now… because as it currently stands, you’re not going to be having much luck finding a girlfriend, never mind keeping her.
The good news is that being on campus means you have almost unlimited opportunities to meet people. You don’t need to keep your door propped open to lure girls in like some sort of trapdoor spider, you just need to branch out a little and expand your social repertoire. There will always be activities going on that will be a perfect chance to go out and meet people – concerts, gallery openings, lectures, group trips, intramural sports teams, movie nights, campus clubs… you name it, it’s probably out there. You just need to be willing to take the initiative and go out and find them. Take more of an active role in campus life besides work, school, sleep and hanging at the same bar when you do go out and you’ll find that you’ll naturally have more women entering your life.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: So, like a lot of the readers of your website, I’m a nerd. I’m also legally blind, and happened upon your article on reading women’s signals. This is actually something I’ve been trying to do a little academic research on–and there’s literally nothing out there on a scholarly level.
Here’s my essential question: are there any substitutes for nonverbal signals if you can’t see? It’s probably impossible to say without personal contact, but how much am I truly “missing”? My disability makes cold approaches impossible (I usually won’t know that there’s a cute girl to be approached if I’m at a public social event) but I’m trying to do my best no to be the creepy guy with friends I go on dates with or girls I know who I’m interested in.
I’ve gotten better and better at interpreting negative signals over the last few years–but can you think of any equivalent verbal/other signals that are positive like the ones you listed in your article?
– Like A Bat
DEAR LIKE A BAT: That’s a tricky one LaB. Humans are incredibly visually oriented; much of our social interaction is based on a mix of verbal and non-verbal cues that are designed to be picked up visually. I’m not going to lie: this can be a tough one. But there are some options for you.
To start with: a wingman can help you locate women you might be interested in, especially ones who seem open to meeting someone.
Now granted, you don’t necessarily want to be having some Mystery-wannabe at the other end of the party feeding you lines over an earpiece like some messed-up modern day Cyrano De Bergerac, but a friend who can help you overcome the initial problem – finding people in the first place – and keeping an eye out for “p
s off” signals can be a huge asset.
(Of course, having said this, I’m seeing a new business opportunity opening up for me if smartglasses ever get mainstream market penetration…)
In your case, I’d recommend focusing on warm approaches – that is, meeting people through your social circle. Being introduced by your friend helps break the ice immediately and also helps to ensure that you’re not intruding on somebody who’s giving “go the hell away” vibes that you can’t pick up on. It also gives you a leg up in that you’re being pre-vetted; presumably your friend wouldn’t be introducing you if he or she didn’t think that you were already a cool guy.
Now when you’re actually talking to someone, there are things you can be on the alert for that aren’t strictly visual signals. You’re not going to be as able to pick up on things like body language or facial expressions, so you’re going to have to pay very careful attention to things like tone, proximity and physical contact. As you’re talking to her, keep aware of the conversational balance. Are you doing most of the talking, or is she making a point of keeping up her end of things? Is she giving detailed answers or responding with short, curt sentences? Is she asking you questions and getting to know you or is she mostly talking about herself? The more active a role that she takes in getting to know you, the more interested she is.
Is she laughing at your jokes, even if they’re kind of lame? She’s trying to ingratiate herself. Is she touching you as she talks? If you touch her – say, on the arm, to emphasize a point – does she quickly touch you back? Physical contact, especially reciprocal touching is a huge indication that she’s digging you.
Does she make a point of being in general proximity to you? If you walk away – getting a drink, say – does she go out of her way to come find you again? These are all clues that she’s enjoying your presence and wants to keep hanging around with you.
And with regards to being creepy, the key to avoiding being a creeper is to treat people with respect. If you feel like you’re getting some “I like you” vibes, then go ahead and ask her out on a date. If she says no, then it’s no big deal; just smile, shrug and say “ok, cool, I thought I’d ask” and then talk about something else. If you find out that you’re making her uncomfortable – which will be harder to avoid since you’re physically unable to pick up on the most common signs of discomfort – then apologize, explain that you don’t mean to and make sure that you stop doing whatever it was that creeped her out. Calmly taking a step or two to give her space or even just saying “hey, my bad” and making your excuses to go will ensure that you’re not a creeper.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)