DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I feel as though there is something wrong with me. At the time of writing, I am twenty years old, and I can say with honesty that I’ve never truly been in love.
That isn’t to say that I’ve never been physically attracted to a girl; there have been several that I liked. But I’ve always recognized it as fleeting lust/infatuation and for this reason (along with my lack of self-confidence, surprise surprise) I have never attempted to act on it or even openly state my feelings. In retrospect, this was a good thing; spared me the embarrassment and the sort of relationship I wanted would be unlikely. (This was high school, mind you)
As it stands, I’ve never been interested in casual sex; I don’t want sex without a relationship. (Is this an unreasonable expectation?) The problem with this is that I have never met a girl that I can truly say “yes, I’d like to spend my days with you”. I’m concerned that my (non-physical) standards may be a bit too high.
As it stands, I’m obviously not in a relationship at this time, and I know for a fact that I’m not ready. There are a few things that I would like to improve about myself before I really put myself out there. But I want to try to figure this out before that day comes. What is so wrong with me that I’ve never felt this way about someone?
Young Heart, Old Soul
DEAR YOUNG HEART, OLD SOUL: Dude, you’re 20. Chill out. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just inexperienced. It’s like complaining that you’ve never learned how to swim when you’ve never so much as dipped your toe in the water.
Most people don’t wait to fall in love with somebody before they start dating them; they find somebody they’re attracted to and go on dates to get to know them better; love comes as part of the whole process, not as what starts it in the first place. Love at first sight isn’t love, it’s limerence; you don’t know anything about that person, just what you think you know.
Look, straight talk, my dude: if you feel like you’re not ready to date, then take the time to improve the stuff you want to improve. You aren’t on a deadline. There’s no time limit; you aren’t going to reach a point where you’ve missed your chance to date and now you’re stuck. You’ve got all the time you need to get comfortable and feel ready.
Just don’t let it become an excuse as to why you’re not putting yourself out there. It’s easy to keep saying “I’m not ready yet, I’ve got to do more,” when what you’re really saying is “Dating scares the p
s out of me.” If you’re gonna want to date, then eventually, you’re gonna have to take that first step.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a female artist trying to date a math genius. Of course genius is relative in nerd terms, but this guy just recently landed a job at my university teaching both mathematics and engineering. He’s a little out of my league, but we connect sharing ideas about art theory, perception, and science. However I think I’ve made a mistake. I just need to know if I’ve completely blown my chances or if I just need to wait it out.
We’ve been talking on and off for about a month or so. He seems really busy, so I’ve been the one texting more. The only problem: he never asks me out. We could text for days about food, but he’ll never get the hint that maybe we should go eat. We’ve hung out a couple times, but otherwise it’s just texting. So I drew the line. I couldn’t tell if he’s shy or busy or just careless. He seemed like a sincere guy, but I don’t really know him. I told him it was over, that if he doesn’t have time for me and cannot communicate that he can just keep his geometry. He didn’t respond.
Now though, I really miss him. A part of me doesn’t care if he’s out there in Mathland, spaced out on variables and solutions, because he changed my perspective on the world around me.
Is it too late to say I’m sorry? Or should I just realize that the program is unresponsive and force quit?
Missing His Beautiful Mind
DEAR MISSING HIS BEAUTIFUL MIND: Um, Missing? Here’s a random question but… did you ever ask him out? Because he may well have been clueless and just not picking up what you were putting down. Or your hints were so subtle that most people would never have picked up on them. Regardless: if you want to go on a date with him – instead of just “hanging out”, then there’s really no reason why you couldn’t take the initiative and ask him instead of waiting for him to catch a clue.
Beyond that: he may well have been picking up all of your hints that you wanted more and just wasn’t into you that way. He liked your company and talking with you but quite possibly wasn’t attracted to you romantically or sexually and didn’t necessarily want to make a big deal out of telling you “thanks but no thanks” for fear of risking the friendship. So he may have been deliberately missing your hints and hoping that you would take the hint and stop asking him out.
I’m not surprised that he didn’t respond; if you hadn’t actually been on any dates and were just hanging out a couple of times, blowing up at him like you did is going to seem kinda random and out of the blue. But since he didn’t protest or say “what’re you talking about?” then odds are… well, he wasn’t that into you in the first place. You can try apologizing, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think you’re ever going to actually end up in an actual relationship with this dude.
Better to just accept it and move on.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Long time reader, first time writer. I got a situation that I hope you can give me some advice on. I’m in college and was interested in this girl who was more or less an acquaintance earlier in the year. I was quite infatuated with her and I asked her out, but she didn’t really seem interested and declined. She then started a relationship with someone else sometime after that. But recently, it seems like she’s broken up. And it might be just me, but she’s been doing things like waving me down on campus when we see each other, going out of her way to chat, and always asking me what I’m up to. I don’t know if I’m reading tea leaves.
The main thing is that I’m conflicted about what I should/can take things from here (even if I’m just completely misreading the situation).
There’s a voice in my head that says I should keep some self-respect and move-on. After all, she had her chance right? But another part of me wonders if I should let my ego/pride get in the way of a potential relationship. I mean, people can change their minds. I don’t really know what to do. And I admit, there’s that whisper in the back of my head that says I’ll never find anyone like her again. I don’t really know what best to do.
Please advise. Thanks!
Kind of Conflicted
DEAR KIND OF CONFLICTED:KoC, you’re missing a third option: she’s trying to be your friend. Just because she turned you down when you asked her out doesn’t mean that she doesn’t think you’re a nifty person and fun to talk to. There’s always the chance that she’s trying to reconnect with you because she likes you platonically and wants to hang out. And frankly, if you can avoid trying to use a friendship with her as a way to backdoor yourself into a relationship, there’s no reason why the two of you couldn’t be awesome friends and have a great time together. Not every woman in your life has to be somebody you’re trying to bang, y’know?
In this case however, you’re struggling with a bit of incipient Oneitis, which is part of why you’re hoping that she’s trying to let you know it’s cool to hit on her now. The best thing to do would be simple: take it slow and be friendly. See where it’s going. You can test the waters by flirting a little and seeing how she responds; if she does… cool, perhaps she’s starting to realize maybe she is interested in you. If not… well, you’ve got another friend and more friends are always cool to have.
And by the way: the appropriate response to someone turning you down isn’t to yell “YOU’RE DEAD TO ME!” and never having anything else to do with her again. Just because someone didn’t want to date you doesn’t mean that you have to avoid them or not talk to them any more. In fact… it’s kinda weird and off-putting when folks act like that. It tells them that either you can’t handle rejection – in which case, it’s a good thing to find that out now – or that you only liked them as a potential partner, which is a sign the relationship wouldn’t have worked anyway. People do change their minds, circumstances change and attraction can grow where it didn’t exist before.
In fact, being cool about somebody turning you down and being able to continue being an awesome guy even in the face of rejection is much more likely to change somebody’s mind over time.
However, you can’t count on that. If you’re into her, the best thing to do would be to actually ask her out on a date. Whether she says yes or no, you’ll have your answer, and you’ll be ready to move on to the next step… whatever that maybe.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org