Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Why do I keep running into this type of guy?
February 3, 2014 10:29 PM   Subscribe

I like nerdy, introverted men but they don't seem to (often) like nerdy, introverted women like me. Most of the guys who ask me out and stick around have nothing in common with me. Why?

We'll go out for a few weeks or months and at first they're very attracted but when it comes to relationship talk I always get the same refrain. They find me beautiful, intelligent, interesting and kind and I turn them on a lot but they don't want a relationship because something is "off" in our chemistry. When I dig a little deeper I'm told that I'm too shy, nervous, not wild enough. Digging deeper still, they tell me that when they were young they were more like me ("I used to be really shy") but they have shed their old skins. This always sounds hollow since these guys are still basically shy, otherwise I wouldn't be attracted, although they may disguise their discomfort with various vices.

I ask them what type of girls they liked in the past and the women they were into most were often out of reach party girls. I've literally heard the same story from about 10 different guys now.

It's so predictable at this point that I can anticipate every beat in the conversation as it's unfolding. And the weirdest part is the regular, non intellectual, extroverted dudes who I'd think would have the least appreciation of me seem to value my deeper qualities the most. Is this a thing?

Why can't I find a shy nerd who digs what I have to offer and isn't looking for some manic pixie dream girl to fulfill him?

Btw, I've dated a whole range of nerds but I always get the same spiel.
posted by caseofyou to Human Relations (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can you seek out someone you'd like to date and ask him out, as opposed to waiting to be asked by men who don't interest you?

I don't know if you're necessarily doing this, but it sort of seems like you're just going out with any reasonably OK guy who expresses interest in you rather than holding out for someone you're actually compatible with.
posted by Sara C. at 10:33 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


You haven't dated a range. You've dated variations on the same theme. What attracts you to these guys? Identify that and next time seek out the opposite. The pattern stops with you.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:34 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


No, I do ask these guys out. It doesn't make a difference.
posted by caseofyou at 10:35 PM on February 3


I imagine the difficulty is, just, that how are two introverts going to get together? All my friends are extroverts because, well, someone has to initiate hanging out and it's never me. Try online dating and you'll probably have better luck finding the shy geek who is OK with being a shy geek like you.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:41 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I find myself thinking: if you're asking out the shy nerds -- the guys who are never asking anyone out themselves, because they're shy nerds -- then you're going to get a lot of "yes" answers from, and so short-term relationships with, guys that are just happy to be picked. They're not choosing you because they're interested in you; they're choosing you because you chose them, and so choosing you is a lot easier (for shy nerds) than turning you down and going after the girl they really want. Eventually it catches up with them. It's a theory, anyway.

Plus, you know, a lot of shy guys do want someone to help draw them out of their shell. People often want to be in a relationship with someone that inspires them to be a better person in some way. At the end of the day, there's a reason that opposites attract, and why shouldn't an extrovert admire the qualities in you that differentiate you from them (much like introverts often admire people who are extroverted for their outgoing nature and ability to talk to anyone about anything?)

Perhaps you need to look for the kind of extroverted guy who appreciates your qualities, but one that you're also attracted to. Which will be harder. But hey, why not?
posted by davejay at 10:55 PM on February 3 [14 favorites]


She's obviously already "together" with them enough to be going out a few weeks or months, so I don't think meeting the guys is the problem.

I attract nerdy introverted guys like this. By "attract" I mean "magnetize to obsession." I think I do have the slightly manic bubbly assertive side to counterbalance them, but I'm not remotely a party girl and I am overall an introvert at heart (albeit a moderate one).

So I am thinking... yes, an introverted nerd guy is going to want someone who will draw him out a bit; the extroverted "regular" guy does the drawing-out but if both of you are nervous and awkward then nobody's going to be any fun, to be honest.

Also: quite personal, but how's the sex life? When I think of a guy saying "you're too shy and nervous" I think that's pretty much code for "sex with you is not interesting enough." So... I guess see if that rings true, and maybe work on the communication and assertiveness in that area. Without more knowlege I can't really expand.
posted by celtalitha at 10:56 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Sounds like you're describing introverts with a history of self-esteem issues rather than simply introverted men. I'd try to identify and choose always-secure men who might talk about themselves as preferring quiet and solitary activities, rather than identifying as "shy", which doesn't necessarily imply social anxiety and the like but I think can shade into it. Actually -- what do you mean by "shy"?

Try out a jock, though. Some of them read ;)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:12 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


I am familiar with this problem. Like you, I had no success with the nerdy guys who were more similar to me (this was back when I dated dudes) and all my dating success came with non-nerdy guys. The relationships went very well in the sense that those guys liked me a lot and treated me well, but went less well in the sense that we had less in common.

Honestly, my take on it was that as nerdy dudes, they had been socialized to, you know, want the cheerleader. Getting the cheerleader proved that they were not Failing Masculinity. (I have a relative who, in fact, married someone ridiculously inappropriate for him and was hugely unhappy, and has had a history of intense friendships with nerd women that seem, from the outside, like things he wishes he could turn into affairs. Of course, his wife also has her own issues, hence the marriage.) I watched these dudes go through, generally, crushes and relationships that were always basically "she is so hot, why won't she admire my braaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnn, she must be shallow", when the real issue was "you don't put a lot of time in on your appearance, you spend your weekends playing D&D and you're super into making physics jokes, while she is the lead singer of a popular local trance act [who has to act nice to you because you are a fan], is really into scene stuff and does modeling on the side - you have nothing in common at all even a little bit".

I think that a subset of nerdy men grows up feeling that they are failing masculinity by being nerdy, and that getting a "regular" girlfriend is proof of something. And that nerd girls are failing femininity, too low status, etc. I think this is very much about how masculinity is constituted and how people learn about sex and status. I think that if you are in some way a social outcast, it's very easy to be socialized into really counterproductive dating habits because you're learned that you yourself are not valuable, that you always have to prove stuff, etc.

(My point is not that every one of these guys would/should have gone out with me personally If Only They Had Good Values; it was more that we all had a pattern of choosing the same kind of unsuitable romantic objects over and over again and as a result having either no relationships or unfulfilling ones.)

Also, back when this kept happening to me, I didn't have the greatest romantic judgment - I was unconsciously drawn to guys who would reject me for the very things that I value about myself. So while other women friends of my general type successfully dated a variety of nerdy guys, I kept striking out. I did better with non-nerdy guys because I was not inexorably drawn to people who would reject me - in fact, the non-nerdy guys were drawn to me.

On the whole, I'd say that this problem went away as everyone got older. But also, for me it went away when I started pursuing people who were more fully self-actualized. The nerdy guy who is always pining after the out-of-reach party girl generally (not always, but often) is pining after a fantasy of what life would be like if he could only date the out of reach party girl; he's imagining that she would not be how she actually is but would just look like an out of reach party girl but be a nerd on the inside. He doesn't really have any idea about who she is; he thinks that if she notices him, she'll like him because he is a sweet person, and her personality will pretty much be "sweet girl who likes him".

Now, some of these nerdy guys actually go away to school, transform themselves and become artsy party guys, date artsy party girls...and then everyone is happy (even me, because the guys in question are not longer my type). So the wish for the party girl isn't a wish for something contradictory and impossible, but a personal transformation coming into being.

My point being, I would suggest looking carefully at what is attracting you to these guys. In my own case, it was the unconscious desire for rejection, and the feeling that if I could just get one of these rejecting guys to like me then...something would happen. This was pretty much the same dynamic as with these guys pursuing the party girls, only for me they were the party girls.

Raising your standards might also help - I found that when I started looking for people who had at least one non-nerdy area of their life really together (whether that was being successful in work, or playing a sport, or having a really healthy social circle, or being a supportive family member or doing volunteer work) those people tended to be emotionally healthier. That didn't mean that I was never rejected, but it seemed like the whole thing was easier and better.
posted by Frowner at 11:35 PM on February 3 [77 favorites]


I think that a subset of nerdy men grows up feeling that they are failing masculinity by being nerdy, and that getting a "regular" girlfriend is proof of something. And that nerd girls are failing femininity, too low status, etc.

So. Much. This. Welcome to my high school experience. I was so angry about this by the time I finally became conventionally attractive that it actually made me angry when a nerdy guy approached me, even though my preference has always been for them, because fuck you. Guys like you shit on me when we were even in conventional attractiveness. Like overtly said horrible things to my face and behind my back and treated me miserably. *Now* I'm good enough for you, since my looks have changed, while I'm supposed to be unshallow and understanding for you? While you are potentially rejecting other women for being too nerdy? So then I dated a bunch of good looking men I had little in common with for a while.

I agree with davejay here:

I find myself thinking: if you're asking out the shy nerds -- the guys who are never asking anyone out themselves, because they're shy nerds -- then you're going to get a lot of "yes" answers from, and so short-term relationships with, guys that are just happy to be picked.

'And I think cotton dress sock has the solution:

Sounds like you're describing introverts with a history of self-esteem issues rather than simply introverted men. I'd try to identify and choose always-secure men who might talk about themselves as preferring quiet and solitary activities, rather than identifying as "shy",

Pick guys who are happy and satisfied with their lives, guys who feel like they have the ability on the whole to get the things they really want in life. I think guys who have this kind of yearning for a different kind of life or even a different kind of self, and feel like they don't really have the ability to make it happen, are more likely to give you this issue.
posted by cairdeas at 12:07 AM on February 4 [17 favorites]


There's quite a difference (from my perspective) between being shy, an introvert, or lacking self confidence.

Shy: they take time to get used to social situations.
Introvert: they like a lot of alone time, small groups, staying home etc.
Lacking self confidence/self esteem: Pining after the party girl but never actually doing anything about it/ feel like 'getting' a girlfriend proves something. They want a different kind of life from what they have.

You can be introverted but not shy. You can be introverted and shy and not lack self confidence.

I suggest avoiding people who fit the third condition, and identifying which aspect of the first two appeals to you.
posted by Ashlyth at 12:13 AM on February 4 [14 favorites]


Oh. This one is sooooo easy.

My heart goes out to you, fellow NerdPerson.

Nerdy guys are often (not always, but often) so socially stunted (even when they think they've grown emotionally) that they are still, basically, stuck in the Madonna/Whore Complex.

These man/boys are not for you. Their interpretations of Women are not linked with reality. You are a Real Person, therefore, scary and unknown, therefore not "relationship material."

---

That's a bit of an oversimplification, but not by much.

----

That said, every guy is not " The One" until you end up with someone compatible!!

So really, your dating experience, nerd of not, is fairly NORMAL.

----

Even all that said - yeah - you should stop asking for critiques and ESPECIALLY stop taking them to heart.

Nerdy men (all men, really) learn about what adult females and adult relationships are like from written fiction, movies, and probably now, video games.

Just for reference, in highschool, the literary character I most personally identified with was Holly Golightly from Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. She's not the first manic pixie dream girl in books or cinema, but we shared NYC in common, so there ya go.

In no way was I a "catch" until my now husband and I "caught" EACH OTHER.

----

Your question should be: How do I filter out the undesirables until I find someone worth being in a relationship with?

Lucky for you, I have this answer!!


#1 - A worthy gentleman says what he means, and means what he says.

For your purposes... It doesn't matter who someone says he is. What does he do?

Does he behave politely? Have social and political views you find acceptable? Is he honest with others when it is easier not to be?? And so on.

#2 - Does he say, feel, and act as though the sun and the moon rise and set on YOU ?

A worthy partner, ultimately, thinks and knows you are FABULOUS. They don't compare you to past girlfriends. Their work or their mother or their friends or hobbies don't come before maintaing a HEALTHY realationship with their partner - in this case, YOU.

So really. That's it. That's the recipe and ingredients you are looking for.

Simply identifying as "nerd" is not enough. Not by a long shot.

You'll find someone awesome. Get out there! Stop wasting time when you successfully identify someone who is not into you, as quite obviously, he should be.

Get back out there!
posted by jbenben at 12:29 AM on February 4 [10 favorites]


When I dig a little deeper I'm told that I'm too shy, nervous, not wild enough. [...] I ask them what type of girls they liked in the past and the women they were into most were often out of reach party girls.

If they consistently expect you to be some sort of wilder thing than you are or want to be, maybe you're accidentally misrepresenting yourself. In public do you feel the need to dress or act like you might be a wild one, but at home turn out to be the opposite of a party girl?

It probably sounds lame, but try advertising more accurately the sort of person you are. Externalize who you are on the inside. Dress and act and talk like the inside you, the home you. Steer conversations to what you're actually interested in and actually doing or reading, not what you think might make good conversation for the guy. Quickly burst any illusion they might have of you being a party girl.

But if you're always landing shitty fish, maybe you're using the right bait in the wrong pond. Dump the crowd and places that are failing you. Invite yourself into better situations. If you can't get in by yourself, make contacts with people who go where you wish you could go and do what you wish you could do. The guy you want lives somewhere and hangs out somewhere. Where is that?

Change your luck.
posted by pracowity at 12:45 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I like nerdy, introverted men but they don't seem to (often) like nerdy, introverted women like me...Why?

You keep running into the same guy because you continue to seek the same guy.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:04 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


For the record, I know exactly what you’re talking about. The nerdy introverted guy who likes the out of reach party girl is a trope in sitcoms, for goodness sakes. Just look at the Big Bang Theory, for instance. Unfortunately, there is a strong sort of cliché or idea in our culture where men are judged by their brains and women by their beauty, ergo, a trade of the two is a “similar status” trade. How true is this? Not as true as often as most nerdy introverted guys who idolize out of reach party girls would like it to be, let’s put it that way, and with significantly more downsides in real life than in fiction. But still just common enough that it keeps a lot of them hoping, if that makes sense.

I think some of them grow out of it. I know some of them must grow out of it, because I’m certain party girl types do not always return the affection of nerds in all cases, ergo, it’s probably safe to just wait for people to start settling down/maturing and the odds will be more in your favor. Most really hot beautiful party girl types want to marry pretty hot guys. Some of them will marry nerds, but in real life, I do not observe this actually happening more often than not in the final count.

Do give those muscley, average jock type guys a chance though. I absolutely find that many of them genuinely appreciate a smart, classy lady and are not threatened too much by a relationship with one. It’s sweet and endearing and it can work out well. There is a trope as well in our culture whereby men bring the strength and women the class/smartness (I think this is more common in a slightly lower class setting, like lower to middle middle class, but there are many sitcoms with this cliché as well- Everybody Loves Raymond, etc. A lot of fantasy novels have this trope as well.) So much the worse for the nerds, it’s really their loss and your gain.

So yes, in my life experience, absolutely you are not crazy and absolutely this is a real thing.
posted by quincunx at 1:41 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Other quick thought:

When I dig a little deeper I'm told that I'm too shy, nervous, not wild enough. Digging deeper still, they tell me that when they were young they were more like me ("I used to be really shy") but they have shed their old skins.

How much older are these dudes? This sounds very much like "you are too young for me" kind of thing. It is completely possible that you come across as a bit clingy/needy/I-look-up-to-you-a-lot-y and this puts a lot of pressure on them to sort of be your guide/leader and they don't like that. Shy guys may have trouble with shy girls because guys are expected to initiate, so it can be doubly annoying for them.
posted by quincunx at 2:17 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Nerdy guy here, pretty much chiming in to say that the "you are seeking out the wrong type of guy, this is a you thing, stop hitting yourself" answers don't hold water to me.

I'm nerdy, and i'd say i'm a centrist on the introverted/extroverted spectrum, i however used to be VERY introverted when i was younger. I have a lot of friends that are very, very nerdy. I have seen the exact sort of thing. And i think i can shed some light on this situation.

See, In highschool/the early stages or all of college the Seriously Nerdy Guys get taught through shock collar trial and error that the most introverted nerdy girls are pretty much unapproachable and only talk to eachother. The moderately introverted to somewhat extroverted but nerdy girls are perpetually being courted by the much less socially awkward and socially witty, and generally more style conscious more conventionally attractive, but still moderately to pretty nerdy guys.

Whereas, outside of that hamster wheel of "everyone in this circle of people i'm vaguely related to or recognize likes nerdy things" bubble, there are often people who are just inexplicably passed over by any of the infighting and courting of that group.

So by midway through college, pretty much every nerdy guy i knew was dating some completely out of left field person that they didn't share a lot of common interests with, that rather than being directly compatible with them on a lot of those fronts was more of a contrast. And all of them had pretty much just started self-selecting out of even approaching the other nerdy girls, because someone else was nearly always there first in the past and they got tired of competing.

Sure, within a certain subset of nerdy dudes the "out of reach party girl" thing applies, but for the most part it's entirely self-defeating "she wouldn't want me anyways" stuff from what i've seen.

Outside of the scope of that rant though, there's a whole other thing i was thinking here, mainly addressing this:

Why can't I find a shy nerd who digs what I have to offer and isn't looking for some manic pixie dream girl to fulfill him?

Because honestly, i think if you're self-selecting from the group of the shyest nerdy dudes, a lot of them have really shitty/messed up/unrealistic/etc views about women. Part of this is driven by inexperience, and the unapproachability of women who shared their interests earlier in life(Or, alternatively, just being so introverted in that stage of their life that they didn't even make any moves that would have gotten them any experience). A lot of nerdy guys* start out dating with a bunch of pre-loaded manic pixie dream girl type of expectations, to quickly have them dashed by experience.

The reality is that a lot of introverted, nerdy guys hit their early 20s with what a large portion of the Average Person in society would consider a like, 9th or 10th grade amount of dating experience at best. That kind of stuff was cute or excusable then, but reads in a completely different and much less charitable way(for good reason!) once you're actually a kinda-sorta-adult. A lot of he "Yea uh, i don't see this working idk" stuff you're getting is likely a result of that.

My advice, honestly, is look for guys who seem less outwardly nerdy. All of my friends who were seriously awkward and nerdy when they were younger grew up to be less awkward, appear less nerdy, but are absolutely still as nerdy in any sort of context where it would matter for compatibility of interests/personality/opinions about nerdy things/etc. I think that there's a huge, low level association of a sort of immature socially inept awkwardness tied to nerdiness in both genders in different ways, and that "moderately to not all that introverted" is generally read as not nerdy even when it's not.

Did i come back around to saying this was a you thing, and that you're self selecting these guys? I hope it doesn't come off that way, because that really wasn't my intention. I just think that this entire category of guys has some negative qualities once you start drifting towards the platonic ideal of introverted nerdy dude that has less to do with them being nerdy, and more to do with them fitting a stereotype that includes a lot of other baggage.

Who knows though, maybe i'm just talking out of my ass. Hope something in there helped.

*one could argue a lot of men in general, but hey, i don't have a gigantic sample size here
posted by emptythought at 2:48 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


From the other side, genders reversed: I'm a shy nerdy girl who once had a preference for thrill-seeking extroverted guys, so the "these guys just want cheerleaders" explanation doesn't hold much water for me. Of course that's true for some guys, but not every dude who expresses that preference is looking for a trophy girlfriend.

For an introvert, especially one who wants to get out of the house more (few introverts are islands, after all) but has underdeveloped social muscles, dating an extrovert can be hugely appealing. Not only do you have a partner, but you have instant access to that partner's social life! You can go to new places and do exciting new things and meet interesting new people, and your date does all the heavy lifting. Dating a partier is instant adventure.

The disadvantages of this matchup show up after the initial thrill wears off: you've often been too distracted Having Fun to figure out whether this person is actually right for you; you don't know how to handle downtime together; the other person starts to realize you're not bringing your share of new social experiences to the table; you get tired of going out but they never do. Someone who has little long-term dating experience, however, may never have gotten to the point where they've had this epiphany.

I don't have a handy way for you to tell which of these guys are socially stunted manic pixie chasers, which guys don't yet realize they may be equally or more compatible with introverts, and which guys really truly are more compatible with extroverts. "Keep trying and don't get discouraged" is probably hollow advice, but it's the best I can do. Most new relationships fizzle before the three-month mark, so your batting average sounds pretty normal to me.

It may be good for you to keep your eyes and ears open for yellow flags that indicate a potential date has an immature view of women and/or relationships. What does he say about his exes, about women who refused to date him, about the skinny blonde sorority girl you pass on the street? Does he consume a lot of pop culture that shows women as trophies? Is "feminism" a dirty word to him? Weed these jerks out; there are healthy nerds out there who will be good for you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:15 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


Why can't I find a shy nerd who digs what I have to offer and isn't looking for some manic pixie dream girl to fulfill him?

Because you are approaching the shy nerds still haven't gotten their MPDG fantasy out of their system, and for them, dating you means passing up all those opportunities to date the person they really want right now.

Also, I am not going to judge your introvertedness, but some people in their 20s might want to spend those years making up for lost time by going to parties and concerts and other social events that they only now get a chance to do, and the introvert who wants to stay home and watch netflix on Friday night isn't too appealing.

Echoing the idea though that people change these superficial habits. You aren't going for the "wrong" guys as much as you are catching guys at the wrong stage in their lives.
posted by deanc at 5:46 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


10 is nothing, really. My understanding is that ordinary people can go through a few dozen failed relationships before finding one that lasts (for whatever definition you have of "lasts"). At least.

I can't claim ambassadorship for all nerdy introverts, but speaking as one who's never been close to a relationship his entire life (and certainly one who's never been asked out, ever): if someone like you asked me out, of course I'm going to say yes. I mean, duh. It doesn't matter if you're a party girl, a nerd, or any other kind of social outcast. By some miracle you suddenly want to date me, am I seriously going to reject you (and spend years regretting it, wondering what might have been) because you're not the cheerleader of trite and tawdry fantasy? I don't think so.

So, yeah. Getting into a relationship with my class of nerdy introvert is like getting the achievement you can earn in The Stanley Parable for just pressing the spacebar. It's much harder to make those relationships LAST (again, whatever definition) for the simple reason that the vast majority of relationships end in failure. My first relationship will surely be a failure. So will your eleventh. Maybe your nth will succeed, maybe not, but the hope is why you keep trying.

My advice: keep asking guys out, but stop asking out guys that you know or meet in real life. How well do you actually know him? As well as you would if you'd read his OkCupid profile? Try to get suss out what kind of person he really is, how compatible you are with him, and what he wants out of a relationship (truth: many of us are idiots who don't know what we want, and are often somehow deluded into thinking that out-of-reach party girls are not out of reach, or something) first.
posted by Androgenes at 6:13 AM on February 4


Frowner's comment gave me an idea: try dating nerdy guys who are not "nerdy guys." By this I mean guy a who is into nerdy pursuits - science, history, fantasy board games, whatever - but if you saw him walking down the street you wouldn't think "that's a nerdy guy!" He wears button-down shirts and jeans, not D&D t-shirts. He might watch sporting events occasionally. He's not pining for the cheerleader, hasn't since he was about 15, and doesn't feel the need to show off his intelligence all the time.

There are plenty of guys who do not necessarily look and act like "nerds," but are intelligent and into intellectual, or even nerdy, pursuits. Most guys I know probably fit this description, in fact. Find one of them and I think you'll be good.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:23 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Also - how old are you? These kinds of tropes - "nerd," "jock," etc - tend to matter a lot less once people hit their mid-20s. Eventually people will just settle into being themselves.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:37 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


They find me beautiful, intelligent, interesting and kind and I turn them on a lot but they don't want a relationship because something is "off" in our chemistry. When I dig a little deeper I'm told that I'm too shy, nervous, not wild enough. Digging deeper still, they tell me that when they were young they were more like me ("I used to be really shy") but they have shed their old skins. This always sounds hollow since these guys are still basically shy

People who tell you "I used to be really shy" when they are currently really shy are actually telling you, "I don't like the fact that I'm shy. I don't want to be shy." They haven't shed their old skins, but they want to. Frowner's exactly right: these specific nerdy guys want to become something else. And just as they imagine the perfect party girl could help them transform, they imagine that the nerdy girl that reminds them of their own nerdy selves and nerdy ways will hold them back from transformation, keep them chained to the nerd-dom that they clearly want to escape. They're basically coming right out and telling you this.

Metafilter loves to give the advice that only people who are happy even if they aren't dating should date, and while that's never sat right with me (Dixon Ticonderoga made a great comment that helped me pinpoint why I disliked that advice so much) I think the grain of truth in that advice is that only people who are happy with their own identity should date. Dating is a terrible thing to do during a period of self-transformation, largely because unless the person you're dating is also transforming at the same speed and in the same direction, you either start out incompatible or end up that way. (Or you just transform yourself so your identity is subsumed by theirs, which is A.) creepy and B.) not healthy.)

So you want to find nerdy guys that are actually content with being nerdy guys, even if they aren't content with every other aspect of their lives. Personally, I don't think stereotyping people is necessarily the right approach, for a lot of reasons: for one, dating a "jock" instead doesn't guarantee you won't end up in a relationship with a jock who's looking to escape jock-dom and become a "deeper" person and thinks that dating a smart nerdy girl can be a step in his self-transformation. Same problem, but in reverse. For another, I'm not convinced that you can tell the nerds that like who they are from the nerds that don't simply by looking at how they dress/where they hang out/etc.; there are too many other factors in play. But I do think that once you know what you want to be looking for, and are up front about who you are, you can probably sort the wheat from the chaff a lot faster - ask the right questions and you can probably figure out the guys who are happy being nerds in a date or two instead of weeks/months/however long. Don't try to impress them by being more social than you normally are, early on. Ask them what they would change about themselves or their lives, if they could magically change anything.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:28 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Where are you meeting guys?

I've been trying to pinpoint what bothers me about a lot of the above advice. I guess it seems like a lot of it is that you should date jocks/extroverts, or that nerdy guys inherently want to date cheerleaders. (I don't mean to disparage any particular comment, but that seems like the trend.) I obviously can only draw on my own experience, but I know so many quiet and nerdy guys who aren't like that at all; and a lot of nerdy girls who are quite happy not dating jocks. I think advice like mstokes650's is good: you want to look for guys who are happy to be nerds, not ones who are just bitter they aren't more conventionally cool/outgoing.

Which is why I ask where you are meeting people, since I think most of the people I know met each other through friends, or sometimes through online dating, or through nerdy activity groups (including Metafilter meetups :P). Maybe you're already in these situations, but if not, I suggest trying them out. If you're meeting guys at parties, bars, or concerts (to give a few examples off the top of my head), it's only logical that they're going to be more likely to want to party/drink/rock out, and expect you to do the same. (What are these "various vices" they disguise their shyness with? I expect it's related. Introverts exist without characteristics I'd characterize as vices.)

Also, just show shy are you compared to these guys? I am hella introverted but I'm generally more interested in social activities than my boyfriend (plus have more of a social network in our city), and I'm sure that sometimes he likes being able to go out with my friends. I think it could be hard if you're looking to make a new boyfriend your only social support.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:56 AM on February 4


I think it's actually pretty simple-- the nerdy guys you're picking actually wish they were something else.

My ex, in ways, was kind of like this-- he looked nerdy, and it was kind of inescapable for him-- but deep down, he wanted to be a tall buff jock like his brothers. In his case it didn't manifest in his taste for women, but it did manifest in other ways. An inexplicable like of SUV's he'd never ever need or use, for example. Trophy-looking houses. He was always deeply insecure and unhappy with himself on some level, though you'd never know it, asking him.

So, they may even appear nerdy and happy about it, but deep down they want to fit in-- in the case of these guys, fitting in means having a trophy girl who can complete them, and make them appear 'successful' -- I think it stems from a desire men have to compete/show off, on some level-- especially to their peers.

I think the remedy isn't to swear off nerdy guys forever and look for extroverts; I think the remedy is to be more discerning about the types of nerdy guys you seek out. Not every nerd is created equal and wants the same things. Just keep at it.

A sure-of-himself nerdy guy who is smart and comfortable in his own skin, and doesn't wish to be anything other than he is-- will be smart enough to not want the fantasy, and want someone like you.

I mean, it's the same for you, right? I love nerdy guys like me, because I never bought the prince charming complex, myself. So you need guys like you who are like you, and don't want a fantasy. They want a real person.

This is harder than it seems-- the upside is that it's actually hard for everyone to find (society as a whole tries to push the 'fantasy' down all of our throats as something we should want). So keep at it. I don't think you need to give up on your preferences necessarily; but don't rigidly limit yourself to them either.

Look for your John and Hank Greens, and stay away from your Leonard Hofstadter's, and, you'll probably have more success.

Good luck!
posted by Dimes at 8:59 AM on February 4


Introversion and shyness and nerdiness are all different things, so it might be worth tangling out your expectations a little. I can't imagine that introverted men are regularly actively seeking out extroverted women for relationships, which makes me suspect that these guys had or have some social anxiety. An actual introvert-extrovert relationship is possible, and lots of people make it work, of course, but if an 'introvert' is looking for someone to coax them out of their shell and into more social situations, they're probably shy and/or socially anxious, rather than genuinely introverted. Well adjusted introverts are usually capable of managing their own social interactions, and are often focused on limiting their social interactions, rather than seeking out new ones.

Nerdy, too, is kind of fraught. There is a pretty common 'nerd culture' that's ironically kind of faddish these days, and it can be incredibly toxic to women. It's like 'nerd' or 'geek' boys have created this big support group that is not only not welcoming to girls and women, but that often grossly objectifies them. Women are considered their rewards for overcoming their awkwardness. That type of culture is very welcoming and nurturing for men with social anxieties and unusual interests, but it treats women with those same traits as defective or suboptimal.

So I might suggest just tossing out the nerd designation and thinking about what discrete qualities you're looking for. Someone unselfconsciously passionate about their interests? Someone with a rich internal life, who is happy and content with more low-key activities? Someone who appreciates you for those same qualities? These might not be the same guys who identify themselves as nerds, or the ones you might peg as such.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:37 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Here's another way of looking at this.

There are tons of people who are nerdy, not jocks, fun to be around, share your niche interests, etc, who aren't shy and introverted and looking for someone to draw them out of their shells.

I dated one. As someone who is nerdy and tending towards introverted, but who cleans up OK, I ended up with a guy who is also nerdy, but super extroverted. He was a serious gamer, loved obscure science facts, obsessed over Community and Game Of Thrones, etc. but he was also a journalist who is literally the best "people person" I've ever met. If anything, he was the manic pixie dream girl to my sad loner.

THIS is the person you are looking for. Instead of assuming all nerds are like X, so thus you need to find a non-nerd with whom you otherwise have nothing in common, start by assuming that there is someone out there that you have things in common with, but who is not going to shut you out.
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Some people are shy, some are socially awkward, some are introverts and some have little to no dating experience. Why are you making your life difficult by deliberately selecting these guys as potential romantic partners? There are tons of normal, socially healthy guys with their shit together who like pop culture nerdy stuff in the US. Easily half the American guys I know will passionately debate comic books or baseball stats or whatever esoteric thing, inbetween fixing cars and playing sports and doing more typically "male" things. If you just want a guy who will watch star trek with you that cannot be hard to find.

If you're looking for shy, socially awkward types for some other reason you should delve into that. It is not uncommon when you're young to use dating to explore your own potential other selves and lifestyles. Is that something you're doing? Or maybe you feel shy and awkward so you want someone like you so can be weird together? (nb: being weird together never works). Anyway, something to think about.
posted by fshgrl at 10:18 AM on February 4


They find me beautiful, intelligent, interesting and kind and I turn them on a lot but they don't want a relationship because something is "off" in our chemistry. When I dig a little deeper I'm told that I'm too shy, nervous, not wild enough. Digging deeper still, they tell me that when they were young they were more like me ("I used to be really shy") but they have shed their old skins. This always sounds hollow since these guys are still basically shy, otherwise I wouldn't be attracted, although they may disguise their discomfort with various vices.

I ask them what type of girls they liked in the past and the women they were into most were often out of reach party girls. I've literally heard the same story from about 10 different guys now.


I am trying to understand why you would ask them these questions. If someone is telling you that they think you are great, but they're not that into you, believe them and move on. I don't think you need to dig deeper and ask them what kind of women they were into, or what is wrong with you, or whatever. In fact, I would think that the kind of guy you can go on a couple dates with who would tell you that you aren't good enough because of X and Y, are dicks.

You seem to have a pattern of hanging on when you know you shouldn't. This may be something you need to address before you can have a healthy relationship, or dating life.

Instead of looking for "shy nerds" look for men who share your interests. You seem to be dividing up people into the introverted, shy, intellectual category vs. the nonintellectual, extroverted, "regular" category, but most people don't fit in to either category.
posted by inertia at 10:57 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


One important thing to remember is when someone is telling you why they are breaking up with you, unless it's a very black and white issue like I want kids and you don't or I'm moving to Antarctica, they are generally: 1) going to tell you a gentle white lie to soften the blow which at most contains shades of the truth and/or 2) make something up because they either don't really know or can't articulate what the issue is.

Neither is helpful to you. Digging deeper won't help because they will either just flesh out the white lie or they will go on a free form philosophical tangent "I just think I need to figure myself out and what I want in life..."

This makes dissecting the cause of the break up useless. It almost certainly has more to do with them than you. Unless the people you date are consistently telling you that you have a serious and commonly accepted personality defect, you should just ignore everything they tell you other than it's over. Something being off or having no chemistry does not qualify. That just means you two weren't compatible. Most people aren't.
posted by whoaali at 11:28 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Don't be a Taylor Swift.

By that I mean, don't do your version of "She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts . . . blah blah blah . . . WHY HER AND NOT ME?!?!?"

Everyone does this, but it's a behavior/state of mind that won't get you anywhere. People want to be with whomever seemingly unsuitable person they want to be with. Dwelling on why you're a better match than some other girl is not a good use of brainpower.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:35 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


« Older I had a phone interview with a...   |  Does the Bay Area hive mind kn... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments