DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I hate for this to be a “can you solve this debate for me and my friend” situation, but I am interested in your opinion on the subject.
I am of the standpoint that someone has an inherent responsibility to talk with his/her friend if they are wanting to hook up with that friend’s ex. Not to get permission, though that would be nice, but at least show respect for the friend’s history and any unresolved feelings there might be.
This seems to be a popular opinion among me friends, but there are a few who passionately believe that idea is absurd and if you want to bang a friend’s ex, go ahead. Any thoughts?
I Wished I Had Jesse’s Girl
DEAR I WISHED I HAD JESSE’S GIRL: Hopefully I don’t have to explain this to anyone who reads my column on the regular, but you can’t call “dibs” on people, and the idea that “you can’t date your friend’s ex” is actually kind of insulting to everyone involved… especially the ex in question. One of the unspoken parts of this debate is how much this prioritizes the feelings of the friend over what the ex may want.
Telling someone that they’re not “allowed” to date anyone they please because the person they’re looking to hook up with is buds with their ex is… honestly, kinda sh--ty and denies them their agency.
Similarly, dating isn’t a democracy, nor is it corporate employment. Other folks don’t get a vote in who you date, nor are there such things as non-compete clauses when it comes to break ups. Once two people have broken up, who they date isn’t really anyone’s business except their own. Any feelings YOU may have are ultimately, a YOU problem, not a THEM problem and one of the Doc’s first rules for dating is “Thou Shalt Handle Thine Own S--t.”
So strictly speaking, no, you don’t OWE them a head’s up. Everybody can put on their grown-up pants and deal with it.
Now, is it a good idea to give a heads up? That’s a different story entirely.
Depending on how close you and your friend are, and the situation with his ex, you might want to talk to him. If you and they have a casual hook-up, then no, he doesn’t need to know. But if you and your friend are close and this situation with his ex is going to be an actual relationship and that means that he’s going to be seeing you and her together… well, you probably should buckle down and have the talk, if only so he hears about it from you and not as a complete surprise.
Let him know how much you value his friendship and that you care about him, but at the same the same time, you are dating his ex. Then give him the time and space he needs, if he needs any. It’s gonna be a difficult conversation, but you should be willing to tackle those difficult conversations head on, ‘cuz explaining that you’re dating your friend’s ex isn’t going to be the last one you ever have. Or the most difficult, for that matter.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a nerd recently graduated from college (23 years old) in an unfortunate situation. Due to lack of funds I had to move back in with my parents, and the only job I could land is entry-level enough that I won’t be able to afford an apartment for at least a year. My commute into the city is so convoluted that it and my job combined take up 55 hours a week, leaving me chronically tired. On top of that, I left all my best friends several hundred miles away at my college, and of the few friends I had in high school, only one or two are still in my home town (an extremely suburban area with not much to recommend it).
In short, I don’t really know what to do with myself. There are so many things in my life that need to be “fixed” (lack of local friends, lack of relationships, lack of money and free time, lack of emotional development, lack of social interests) that I just can’t envision a proper starting point. It doesn’t help that I’m craving intimacy to an extent that causes concentration issues and depressive episodes (which I’m seeing a counselor about), yet I know that I’m basically undateable until I somehow get my life into better shape; there isn’t much reason I should even try to meet girls or set up an online dating profile, because the fact that I’m a quiet, uninteresting nerd who lives with his parents would set me up for failure from the start.
I guess I’d just like to hear your take on the situation. If you were in my shoes, where would you start? Given my limited free time and less-than-ideal location, what can I do to meet new people? How do I acquire nerd-friendly interests that are more social than programming, video games, and anime? Can I salvage anything positive on the dating front, or should I resign myself to <forever_alone.jpg> for a while longer as I slowly improve my life?
Failure To Launch
DEAR FAILURE TO LAUNCH: Man, you’ve had a rough time of it lately, and I suspect you’re hardly the only person going through something similar. I mean, all you have to do is look around; between the pandemic, the environment, the lopsided economic recovery AND the isolation and sense of financial and personal insecurity that comes from it all… it’s a LOT.
First of all: kudos for you for going to see a counselor about your depression. It can be difficult to face up to having emotional problems; even in this day and age, seeing a therapist and admitting to having problems can still make you feel as though you’re being judged by others.
Now here’s what you need to do: build yourself back up. You’re living with your parents – kinda sucks, but that’s the economic reality we live in. Part of what you need to recognize is that while it’s not what you’d hoped for, it’s also not the end of the world, nor is it a dealbreaker. More and more people are living with their parents and extended families because, hey, turns out rent is out of control, housing prices are even worse and jobs are kind of a nightmare right now.
But while the situation is less than ideal, you can take advantage of it. Since you have fewer expenses and even less time to spend your hard-earned money, start saving up now. Take a portion of each paycheck and set it aside into a savings account. Look at it as laying the groundwork for getting a new place or a cushion against future hard times. When you find a new, better paying job, you’ll have this extra stash to help pad things out.
Beyond that: work on yourself. Once you get adjusted to your schedule, start an exercise program. Join a class at the Y, find a dodgeball league, get into jogging… something that you actually ENJOY.
(Also, ideally outside or in places that require masking and vaccinations and who put in a LOT of effort to mitigate the risks of COVID)
It’ll help with the depression, it’ll improve your cardiovascular health, and it’ll get you out of the house. Check for gaming groups in town too, as well as the subreddit for your hometown; you might be surprised how many nerds and geeks are out there without your knowledge. If you can scrape together an hour or two a week, consider volunteer work. I can’t stress that enough: it’s a great way to meet new people and to help make your life more interesting.
But more than anything else: change your outlook. Life may be tough right now at the moment, but you’re not helping yourself by insisting that you’re an undatable, uninteresting nerd on top of things. You’ve got more going on than you give yourself credit for, and defining yourself by what’s ultimately a tough but temporary situation is just self-defeating. You need to be your own biggest fan and hype man; the more you talk yourself down, the harder you make it on yourself to get out from under the belief that nobody could possibly be interested in you.
Learn to love yourself and all your awesomeness — no matter how hard or silly it may seem right now — and you’ll have far, far more success than sitting around with an attitude that says “it’s ok if you don’t want to date me. I wouldn’t want to date me either.”
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org