How to meet geeky men?
August 10, 2007 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Dating filter. For geeks.

I am a fairly recently single woman who is hoping to start dating again. My last relationship ended about 6 months ago, due to a combination of factors including long distance. I am a content 22 year old, excited about my upcoming grad school and the career I’ve chosen (teaching) and looking forward to Life After College. So what's the problem?

Up until May, I attended an all women's school, which means my circle of male friends is, well, non-existent. I am also attracted to a VERY specific subset of men. Let me tell you a bit about myself.

I am a dork. I'm attending grad school in the fall in elementary special education, and spend my free time reading mostly sci-fi/fantasy books, watching t.v. shows like Babylon 5 and The West Wing, and have been known to spend days playing video games such as The Sims or EV Nova. That being said, I am mostly a closet dork. I have a small but close circle of friends who keep my introverted soul happy, and enjoy going out on a Friday night. I am only moderately socially awkward, and until I blushingly disclose that I absolutely adore watching reruns of Star Trek TNG and RPing on text-based games, my friends have no idea that I enjoy such geeky pursuits. That is not to say that I am ashamed of these pursuits, but I certainly don't fit into the mold of most people I know who enjoy these same things to the degree that I do. They attend Trekkie or other sci-fi/anime conventions, dress up and play human chess every weekend, or go ‘boffing’. I have no interest in participating in these activities. I would love to meet a guy similar to myself, who would enjoy geeking out with me about things but who isn't, well, weird about it, for lack of a better phrase.

I know the usual advice about meeting people is to go out and join clubs. But what sort of clubs do I go to where I would meet these sort of men, as friends and as possible dates? Are they as elusive as I think they are, or does it just seem that way? I suspect some of you mefites may be exactly this type of guy – so where do you hang out?

More information: I live in the Pioneer Valley in MA, and have joined okcupid, which I have successfully used in the past but am not having great luck with at the moment.
posted by rosethorn to Human Relations (33 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Posting here, Chess club, boardgame club, cons, furries, emo.
posted by PowerCat at 8:06 PM on August 10, 2007

A friend of mine (also elementary ed, interestingly) married a guy who meets your type exactly. How'd she meet him? A friend set them up. So please, let your friends in on your geeky pursuits, so they can introduce you to men you'd like. Your friends don't have to share your pursuits, as long as they understand what you get out of them and will recognize a potential date for you when they encounter one!
posted by xo at 8:17 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

- comic/manga/game shops
- film festivals/video shops (esp genre-related)
- rep theaters, film appreciation society
- bookstores in general
- internet cafes
- Ren Faire
- any screening of Rocky Horror
- local sci-fi groups
- the planetarium (warning: may be stoners)
- local university (try comp-sci or engineering buildings)

Honestly, just post an online dating ad saying you're looking for a nerd. They'll come a-calling.
posted by SassHat at 8:27 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

The kind of guy you're looking for is me to a tee 15 years ago. I never did those geek pursuits that you mention either (they struck me as narrow interest activities), so I think there is merit in pre-empting the cons, clubs, SCA, etc.

My recommendation is online communities that reflect the type of guy you're looking for. Since I would have been on this site 15 years ago if it were around, I'm putting my vote on Metafilter for a good start, so try using the Profile to see who's around you and maybe put out some feelers. Good for giving okcupid a try. Try, too.

My final recommendation is to check meetup for something interesting. I don't like their business model, but I have to say it is useful. If you don't find something appropriate, break down and start an area meetup group for some sort of social thing that has the right flavor of geekiness you want. I actually started a meetup in my area and was kind of surprised at the response, so you might have luck there for starting a new circle of acquaintances.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:28 PM on August 10, 2007

1. Go to the kind of movies you mentioned alone, when the theatre won't be full, dressed in sharp business clothes. Sit near the front. Play somewhat hard to get when approached (you will be, a high percentage of the time. unless there aren't very many of me around)

2. Go to user groups for professional computer technologies. Male to female ratio will be very high, and while the guys will be geeky, if you choose the user groups well they will also be professionals, thus somewhat less likely to be groupies. Ignore the presentations, which will be short because the real reason everyone is there is to network, go to the out-for-beers afterwards. When asked what your interest in XXX technology is, make eye contact and say "Absolutely none. I just came for the beer" and choose from among the guys who manage to avoid responding like an un-house-trained puppy.
posted by lastobelus at 8:29 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also FWIW I met my wife on a science-oriented CompuServe forum in the mid-90s, if that lends any perspective. She's a geek too.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:29 PM on August 10, 2007

Looking where you are located, I'm going to go with tapping into the HUGE lonely grad school population. When I was in college friends of mine used to go to the law school library at our uni to pick up law school students. I'm sure if you get involved with the grad school population of the UMASS, you will find someone. Worst case take a grad seminar. Try the sciences.
posted by zia at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2007

On preview - don't even take the class. Audit.
posted by zia at 8:37 PM on August 10, 2007

In my experience, hiking clubs seem to be full of geeks - and fit ones. I am not sure why, but they seem especially full of pure and applied scientists.
posted by sindark at 8:41 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with zia. And, soon you'll be in graduate school yourself and many of your classmates will be eligible and interested. Keep an eye out. Good luck!
posted by halonine at 8:47 PM on August 10, 2007

Same places as you. We're all around you. Only, when you go out, you have to start looking for the other guy. The guy who's at the bar with his extroverted (borderline obnoxious, because they've been drinking) friends. The guy in the bookstore who quietly looks through the stacks, politely waits his turn, buys the book, and leaves without saying more than "Hi" and "Thank you" to the cashier and nothing to anyone else.

You're going to have to initiate conversation. The ones you're looking for (IMO) are not socially retarded, throw up if you talk to them types. They'll actually like talking to you. They just won't initiate it.

They're not there "looking." I don't know how to put it any different. When I met my wife, I wasn't looking for a wife. You would not have found my whatever-you-call-it on a dating site. If we had an innocuous conversation in a grocery store, It would not have even occured to me to ask you out.

Which makes it hard for both of us.
posted by ctmf at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2007 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I would disagree with the common wisdom of "If you're into (x) go to an (x) activity to meet someone. I guess this is good if all you're into is (x). But from what I'm reading, you're into some stuff that you enjoy, but it doesn't define you. Just as you may not fit into the geek mold at first glance, chances are, the guy you're looking for may not either.

It sounds counterintuitive, but the more specific your tastes, the better it is to widen your scope, not narrow it. You'll find that the specific things you're into don't matter as much as finding someone who understands the feeling behind it. For example, I may not be that into sci-fi/fantasy, but my love for 1960's exploitation paperbacks scratches the same itch, so to speak.

My answer to your question isn't so much a where, but a how. Get better at talking to people about the things they're into. Learn to meet people with the goal of just getting to know what kind of stuff they're into as opposed to simply screening for dates. This will help you to be more open about your own geeky pursuits, which will in turn make it easier to meet like-minded folks. I make it a habit when meeting new people at a bar or party, to skip the usual boring "where ya from, whaddya do?" small talk, and jump right into "If you could have one toy from your childhood again, what would it be?" or something similar.

Nothing seperates the geek from the chaff like a convo about childhood obsessions. I've met some really cool like-minded nerds in the most unlikely places. Actually the more unlikely the place, the happier I am to have a fellow geek to bond with.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:38 PM on August 10, 2007 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: ctmf -- what makes it even harder is that that is ME, too. I go out with my more extroverted friends, but I would never strike up a conversation with someone. I think the idea of hanging out in the engineering/science building is great, but what on earth do I do while I'm there? I wouldn't know if somebody hit on me if they hit me over the head with it.

so it beats me how two people like that are ever to realize the other is there, much less date.
posted by rosethorn at 9:40 PM on August 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

Jeez, if you were a few hundred miles south, I'd be checking your profile for an email address. As I ease out of college life into the real world, I'm trying to figure out how to meet geeky *women.*

But I'll nth the "do fun stuff" suggestions - you don't have to do cons or SCA gatherings to find less-weird/hardcore geeks. Mostly it's about finding activities that geeks do that aren't necessarily geeky themselves - for example, hiking, Ultimate (frisbee), martial arts, and fencing often draw a geekier crowd. Community theater, if you're into it, is probably a very good place to look as well.

Friends, too, are a key source, as has been noted - and if you start forming social networks based on those new activities, it can cascade.

But you might also want to keep in mind that an awful lot of us geeky types are at least a little 'weirder' than you are, but maybe that's okay. After all, you don't have geeky friends, a huge part of the draw of cons, dressing up and playing human chess, et al, is the social aspect - we get to congregate and, at least for a few hours, be able to refer to a lady-seducing Cassanova as a "Regular James T. Kirk" and have people understand us. If you're actively opposed to going to Ren Faires and the like, that's one thing, but they're social functions - and social functions very often turn into mating grounds.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:46 PM on August 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

It's been said before, but here it goes again. Craigslist. I am a girl, quite similar to yourself, who used the following ad to net a very handsome lad I now own a house with, share pets with, in madly in love with and so forth.
at the end, we lay basking in the light of a single vax terminal

I don't know exactly how this happened, but I've begun to fetishize cute nerd boys. I dated one, had my whole network reorganized by one -- and now I can't get enough.

I tried to deny it, dating an artsy boy, a literature boy, but the day they couldn't help me with my shell scripting was the day the relationship began to fail. When all is said and done, it's common interest (and nerd quotient, in my case) that keeps things going.

You: technically inclined yet socially astute, dorky yet confident, interested in working on projects together, truly loving, bonus points for spectacles, 28+.

Me: borderline retro cute, otaku through and through, eats books, off-humored, kind, lover of ponies, common north american flickr'd mefite.
Feel free to crib, or use it as inspiration to write your own.
posted by cior at 9:47 PM on August 10, 2007 [8 favorites]

metafilter meetup. Organize one near you.
posted by filmgeek at 10:01 PM on August 10, 2007

As it seems like this question has been pretty well answered, let me put out a plea for all like-minded women as well as mefi-projects people: someone find a way to match someone like this with someone like... well, i'd wager quite a few of us.

there are sites for indie geeks, for hipster geeks, for hardcore nerds (intellectconnect, anyone?) but wide-interest-range folks who happen toward the glasses-and-html-set? dice (at least not that i've found)
posted by softlord at 10:13 PM on August 10, 2007

A lot of schools have some sort of "activity day" (called "Quad Day" where I am) around the beginning of classes, where clubs etc. set up tables and whatnot to recruit members. Check and see if your school will have such a thing, so that you don't accidentally miss it. It'll be like a shopping mall stocked with geeky clubs and fellers.
posted by washburn at 10:23 PM on August 10, 2007

I'm a nerd. I'm dating a nerd. We met at the dog park. Helps that we both have unique and challenging dogs.
posted by SpecialK at 10:34 PM on August 10, 2007

The guy in the bookstore who quietly looks through the stacks, politely waits his turn, buys the book, and leaves without saying more than "Hi" and "Thank you" to the cashier and nothing to anyone else.

This guy and I kept crossing paths in B&N today, and I was hoping so hard that he would say something to me because I was too shy to take the first step. He didn't.

Now I know why, and what to do next time. :)
posted by sarahsynonymous at 11:59 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

it looks like you are into sci-fi literature geeks, if you feel like meeting a lot of them in one place, you can find them in conventions like Worldcon which focus on literature, or even science fiction film festivals. also, try hitting science fiction oriented bookstores and book clubs.
posted by ye#ara at 12:30 AM on August 11, 2007

hang out with people who are into kayaking
posted by cda at 4:13 AM on August 11, 2007

Be a nerd, live like a nerd, but dress nicely. Doesn't mean you have to go too far spending money, but just dress nicely.

Boy nerds will be attracted to your nerdiness, but the nice dressing will have them going crazy.

This is shallow advice in a way, but to me nothing is sexier than a nerd at heart that has a sense of outward self. In other words, don't present yourself IMMEDIATELY as a nerd.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:28 AM on August 11, 2007

Uhm, ladies, remember a guy who is truly a geek will probably be more scared of you than you are of him. Its the late part of 2007, START CONVERSATIONS. In my experience (ok, all my life) any geek with halfway decent social skills responds well to good questions about books, movies, computers... you name it. In this day and age, if you haven't asked anyone out yourself or at least haven't started some conversations, you can't complain about being single. Oh, and the 'it was totally obvious to me that I was flirting, why didn't he pick up on it?" yes, we really can be THAT oblivious sometimes.

Also, have you looked into the Browncoats? Firefly/Serenity groups seem to be very social and less of the drooling, non-bathing types.
posted by Jacen at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Psst...grad school is like a secret club for people like you. Make sure to get to know the people from your department and any other similar department. It's how I, a moderately normal seeming person, met another such person who also loves ST:TNG and its ilk.
posted by melissam at 7:16 AM on August 11, 2007

My geeky girlfriend found me through her blogging. Geeky females have no trouble meeting geeky men, because of the sheer male-female ratio. Not only will you meet more men that you would by going to a club, but (1) you'll be doing it on turf that permits you to be introverted, rather than extroverted, and (2) you'll have a built-in filter that the people who are interested in you are interested in what you have to say. A blog is like a gigantic personal ad. Post stuff for a month to build up an archive, and then disseminate a post like this one (if perhaps not exactly like that one), and you'll have your pick of the litter--50 responses in her case. The additional advantage is that if your soulmate doesn't happen to live within a few miles of you, you're more likely to meet him when you cast your net globally.
posted by commander_cool at 7:19 AM on August 11, 2007

Two words: Northampton, Amherst. Both are absolutely stocked to the brim with plenty of people you're seeking.

Umass has a scifi society (dating back to 1963!).

If you're looking for an online date-y thing, you might check out Geek2Geek, Consumating, and Sweet on Geeks.
posted by jdfan at 7:28 AM on August 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think your being on OKCupid is good. It's worked for me and several of my friends. You sometimes have to stick with it awhile, though :)

I also think having friends set you up is a good idea. They'll weed out the jerks for you.

Best of luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think that I am probably reasonably close to -- or was, anyway, at an earlier stage of my life -- the kind of guy you're describing, and I'm not sure that organized activities like ren fairs, anime/comic cons, etc. are necessarily the way to meet the kind of person you're looking for. Just based on my friends, the kind of people who go to fairs and cons are probably not "closet" geeks. There may be exceptions, of course, but I get the impression that you're not looking for the anime-con/human-chess/ren-fair set.

Rather than looking at 'hardcore geek' activities (anime, comics, etc.) you might look into some more, for lack of a better term, 'moderately geeky' activities. In my experience, there tend to be a lot of people involved in theater who are quasi-geeks but also have decent social skills. Also, activities that are centered around producing something (48 Hour Film projects, for one example), may be a good way of meeting people without getting too involved in an organization or club that you're going to feel pressured to keep coming back to. (Since once the project is over, it'll basically dissolve, but if you've hit it off with someone, you'll have a good basis to keep up with them.) I've had very good luck in the past (as a guy, obviously) meeting people in situations like that.

I'm a big fan of 'projects' as a way to meet people, because they give you some common goal to work towards and feel a little less artificial and forced than situations where you're just "meeting people" for the sake of looking for partners.

You're in a good area for it, though, in any event; the whole five-college area is pretty intellectual.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:19 AM on August 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

I had a roommate who did tae kwon do, and the club was pretty much filled with guys like this. Plus, it was a very social club, with instructors hosting parties at least once a month, and the parties were awesome.

Swing dancing classes seemed to attract a similar-type crowd, but that was a few years ago when swing dancing was getting really popular, so I don't know if that's still the case.
posted by occhiblu at 10:09 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

The guy in the bookstore who quietly looks through the stacks, politely waits his turn, buys the book, and leaves without saying more than "Hi" and "Thank you" to the cashier and nothing to anyone else.

You're going to have to initiate conversation. The ones you're looking for (IMO) are not socially retarded, throw up if you talk to them types. They'll actually like talking to you. They just won't initiate it.

They're not there "looking."

This is perfect.
posted by jragon at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2007

I live in the Pioneer Valley, but have never sought out dates here (I moved here with the woman who became Mrs. Plinth). That said, in addition to geeky game shops (there are at least four that I know of, 2 in NoHo, one in Sunderland, one in Hadley), you could see about starting an informal gaming group through one of these shops and see if you can convince one or more of your friends to participate as well. Playing games, fantasy/sci-fi or otherwise, is a traditional human way of socializing.

If you play a musical instrument, there are several community bands in the area, and that can be a nice way to meet people.

You might consider zymurgy or related activities as a way of finding geek boys. On the weekend of 9/8, there is a very nice Brewer's Festival which is a great way to learn about beer and there are usually a fair number of homebrew enthusiasts there as well. You could even volunteer. If you met someone you liked there, maybe next summer you could take him on a date to a tour of the Berkshire Brewing Company, or you could wait until next summer (ah, the teacher's schedule) and take him on a date where you work the volunteer bottling line (usually Fridays and Mondays).
posted by plinth at 8:15 PM on August 11, 2007

That is not to say that I am ashamed of these pursuits, but I certainly don't fit into the mold of most people I know who enjoy these same things to the degree that I do. They attend Trekkie or other sci-fi/anime conventions, dress up and play human chess every weekend, or go ‘boffing’. I have no interest in participating in these activities. I would love to meet a guy similar to myself, who would enjoy geeking out with me about things but who isn't, well, weird about it, for lack of a better phrase.

You will get a lot of mileage towards your goal by ditching this mistaken perception, where you're mistaking the sizzle for being synonymous with the steak. Or, of you prefer, just because A->B doesn't mean B->A. Just because a zebra is an equine doesn't mean all equines are zebras.

I used to be guilty of this kind of thinking with regards to other computer professionals. The field has indeed changed in the last fifteen years, but there were always people like me working in it - folks as interested in classic literature and cars as they are science fiction and clock speeds. But the ones who wanted to talk about nothing but geekery or computer games were the most easily identifiable and the squeakiest wheel and I always believed that I'd just as soon not socialize with other propeller-heads.

I've since met and become friends with many people in my field who have varied other interests and even a few who don't. You'll also find that as you and they get older than even the boffers - whatever the hell that is - will get deeper and have more varied experiences and suddenly seem more interesting. So don't be afraid of the folks who profess interest in those geeky things, you'll find there's a percentage of them that are otherwise well-rounded individuals and can hold a decent conversation on something other than Picard vs Janeway.

You're just going to have to filter through some crap ones, which has nothing to do with nerd-dom and is just an unpleasant fact of life in dating: it's a numbers game.
posted by phearlez at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2007

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