DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: First off, I wanted to thank you for your work–it has really been the first time that I’ve found realistic and opinionated articles for guys (especially those like me who are missing maybe just one or two aspects that would really help them step up their game).
Anyways, my question: I want to start out that I’m going into college next year, and am really looking forward to it as a positive transition for my life — less parents, more opportunities to become the man I want to become–however while I’m still in High School, I have the same ambition. I want to be the guy who can show up at a girls house and take her to IHOP at midnight (I have dozens of dates just planned out, waiting for that girl), but I feel limited based on where I am. I know that I’m susceptible to that routine wrap-up — get up, talk with people, get through school, go home, do homework, TV, sleep, repeat. But I hate it. But its what my family seems to want out of me.
So really, I know I attract girls. I know that there are those who want me, and who I want, and that there is nothing I would rather do more than test out the dates I’ve been wanting to take girls on, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger. It’s truly a case of lack of trying. Sometimes, I get so close to making that move, and then just let it pass. Of course I hate myself for it, but somewhere, it seems like something is holding me back. But I don’t want to having anything holding me back. I want to be ‘that guy’ who can completely throw caution to the wind and do things, but whenever I try to legitimately change that, I just fall back into my routine with the idea that “college will be better.”
Part of me says I’m just getting off the boat from the train-wreck called Middle School (you know, glasses, pimples, complete lack of pectoral muscle) and am still playing catchup, but the other part says that that excuse is timeworn and complete BS. So my question is, how can I get out of the rut before college? I have dated before, and I know I can do it well, but what is holding me back from it NOW?
Its not that I want to bring a girlfriend to college or anything, but I’d love to have the experience with my last 6 months of being a high school student — maybe a summer romance, or anything, just so I can affirm to myself that the best has yet to come (damn I wish I could sing like Sinatra) but also to tell myself for now I’m doing okay, and that I am working toward that precipice of knowing what I was doing at all times. Any thoughts?
Little Big Man On Campus
DEAR LITTLE BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: I’m glad you’re emailing me now, BLMOC, because you’re kind of setting yourself up for some serious disappointments down the road. Granted, they’re the ones that you’ll look back on in your 30s and shake your head and wonder “what the F
K was I thinking?” but between now and then is going to be some seriously rocky roads, heart break, self doubt and depression. Because you see, right now you’ve got Fantasy You in your head. Fantasy You is the hero of every romantic comedy. Fantasy You is the unholy spawn of Ryan Gosling and John Cusack, suave in that Rat Pack kind of way but also a bit adorkable. Fantasy You is the one who goes off and has the sorts of romantic adventures that are usually reserved for car commercials, where you, your bros and your girl just go careening down the road in your convertible with nothing to do and adventure waiting for you just around the corner. And while Fantasy You is great, Reality is waiting around the corner with the Spiked Bat of Life, waiting to pull a Shane Stant on Fantasy You’s knees.
There are a couple things you need to consider here. First: it sounds like your fantasy – being the guy who throws caution to the wind, shows up at a woman’s house for a midnight pancake run – isn’t who you actually are. I mean, let’s be honest here: how often are you taking off with your male friends on crazy adventures just because one of you got a wild hair up his ass and decided that by God there was a Krispy Kreme SOMEWHERE in this city with piping hot donuts rolling out of the oven at 4 AM and you were going to find it? Because if that’s not what you’re doing already… well, it’s already pretty far out of your comfort zone.
(Incidentally, I’ve actually done that. In my defense, I was in my mid 20s, trying to finish up my computer animation final project, and I was also high as balls.)
Also: dude, we have a word for guys who show up at women’s houses at midnight trying to get them to go out on a date and that word is “creepy”. S
t’s cute in the movies, not so much in real life.
Your dating issues – including Fantasy You and all your pre-planned Fantasy Dates – all stem from the same place: you’re not comfortable with who you are. This is pretty obvious from the way you talk about middle school. You were this stereotypical nerd and now you want to put it all behind you and pretend that it never happened and you’re now Dirk Chestmeat, coolest of the cool. Except I suspect that you want yourself to be further along than you actually are. It happens to all of us: we want to be better – especially with women – and we want it to have happened yesterday. This is why you want those high-school romance fantasies: because if you get to experience it now, it’s confirmation that you’ve left your old life behind and you’re 100% New You.
And in fairness: change is hard. Your old life has carved a deep groove in your brain. You’re basically trying to break old habits and form new ones and those take a long time; most experts estimate it takes about six weeks of constant practice to build a new habit. And you can’t rush that process along, no matter how much you really want it. And when it’s something that is 180 degrees away from who you currently are… well, good luck with that. You’re trying to tackle something huge and you’re trying to do it nownownow and that’s a recipe for heartache and frustration.
So here’s my prescription for you: quit worrying about romance. Let Fantasy You and your fantasy dates get put on the backburner. Trying to push yourself to get your ideal romantic experience before a deadline is just going to make you insane; wanting it as proof that you’re no longer a loser is even more insane… and unfair to the women you’d be dating besides. It’s just another form of external validation and one that’s unhealthy for you. What you should be doing is focusing on having an awesome life. You’re at an ideal time to experiment with your life and your identity, finding out more about who you really are and what you’re actually into. This is a time to try new things, especially things that you’ve always been curious about but never thought you could manage. Take a martial arts class. Find a gym that teaches parkour. Volunteer at a politician’s election campaign. Join a code gym or a maker-space and learn how to build cool s
t. Spend less time wishing you were somebody else and more time doing new things. Those new experiences will unlock new ways of seeing the world and new sides of yourself that you never believed existed… and those accomplishments will give you more of the self-worth that will make it easier for you to pull the trigger and ask someone out.
Will they make you into Fantasy You? Maybe. Maybe not. But as you find out more about yourself, you’ll come to realize that Fantasy You isn’t necessarily who you wanted to be anyway.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com