A while back I had a coworker that complained about his inability to hook up with young women. Essentially, it was his point-of-view that he was having difficulty finding a woman because he was shy and unremarkable in appearance.

He was correct insofar as those two things hurt his chances with the fairer sex, but those two things did not even begin to describe the barriers he’d put between himself and a happy, fulfilling relationship. When he wasn’t bitterly ranting, he was sulking. He attached moral superiority in any debate to the side with which he had more in common. That he was generally quiet around new people didn’t hurt his prospect nearly as much as much as what he said when he was ready to start talking to you.

This guy is an extreme example of a pattern that I’ve noticed among a certain subset of guys: their problems with women are not what they think their problems with women are — and their tendency to lay primary blame on that which they cannot change mostly just excused them from making those changes that they could make.

Almost every close friend I have had a good deal of trouble with relationships in high school. We didn’t even set our aims very high and yet we came up short time and time again. Over ten years later, all but a couple are married or living with someone as though they are. It wasn’t purely a matter of lightning striking because they had opportunities before their spouse and had they never met their spouse I am relatively confident they would have found somebody acceptable to them.

All of this despite the fundamental things that we perceived our problems to be (shyness, unremarkable appearance) didn’t change and, in some cases, got worse (years add pounds, it seems). That is to say the things that we could not change ourselves did not actually change to favor us, for the most part. Those things that we could change, however, we did at least to some extent.

I was thinking about this when I read commentary on Half Sigma and 2 Blowhards on the subject of finding women. The moral of the story for many is that there are absolutely no girls out there looking to date geeky, tech-oriented guys and they guess they’ll just go eat worms so there’s not much point in really trying.

It’s a not-uncommon belief that being interested in geeky things (computers, scifi, fantasy, comic books, and anime) is off-putting to women and it’s not wholly without merit. The thing is, though, that these things largely serve as indicators and not generally, and of themselves, a factor in the decision-making of most women that I know.

So what do these things indicate? A stereotype, mostly, but one with enough real-world grounding as to be significant. People that identify with the above hobbies tend to be introverted and socially awkward. They also are very oftenly underachievers insofar as a lot of their brainpower is dedicated to minutae that aren’t particularly helpful in a marriage and family. Very smart people that apply their smarts to their career become lawyers and superstar programmers in Silicon Valley and typically don’t have much trouble with women and to the extent that they may be interested geeky things is usually an afterthought.

So to an extent, geeks have a bum rap in that they are associated with the most problematic of their kind. On the other hand, if you cultivate enough social skill and otherwise have enough going for you, the fact that you’re interested in geeky things is something of an aside, of not much import (except to the extent that the person you end up with must be interested in these things, which is itself a problem) .

For the most part the answer is to improve that which you can. What’s hard about this, particularly for the proud geek-type, is that you have to admit your shortcomings and stop viewing life as unfair that you have them. In a perfect work maybe introversion and lackluster looks wouldn’t hurt you. But what matters is that they do hurt you and if you want to succeed at relationships you have to spend time and energy figuring out how to compensate for them (usually by learning how to meet and talk to new people and improving hygene and attire).

The good news for now, though, is that if you’re a geek, it’s relatively easy to stand out from the pack with even marginal social skills and hygene habits. To wit, the average guy-girl ratio at anime conventions when I used to go was about 4-to-1 or so, 7-to-1 if you don’t count girls under 15. Yet despite these long odds, three of the four of us that used to go to these things together managed to meet someone at a convention.

But it seems that a lot of geeks have very little interest in self-improvement. They seem to feel that the world is stacked against them, to an extent, and would prefer to leave it that way than risk their pride by admitting the the problem may not entirely be society’s and that, on the whole, the system may not be merely as unfair as they had previously suspected.

Category: Coffeehouse

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2 Responses to Geeks Not In Love

  1. Becky says:

    I always enjoy the way you write and bring about your points. I was just having this type of discussion with one of the few single guys in my office. We were at happy hour and I asked when he last asked out a woman and he said “I’m a geek, I’ve got no game.” And the thing of it is that my co-worker kind of digs him (and I probably would too if he weren’t so much younger than me), but he’s not willing to make the effort in the first place.

  2. trumwill says:

    I appreciate the kind words.

    It kinda becomes a self-perpetuating thing. When you have difficulty in the dating world, you tend to dismiss romantic possibilities in an effort not to get your hopes up, which ultimately makes matters worse. Or, as often is the case, your social ineptitude spills over into reading the looks that others give you.

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