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Captain Awkward’s Dating Guide for Geeks

Once a month I try to answer the things that people typed into search engines to find my blog as if they are questions. It’s an exercise in mixed results.

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An antique brooch with a woman being bored by a man in art history (a la The Toast)

“Eugene, dear, why don’t you run and get your lute? Definitely go away. I mean go and get it. Your lute.”

Hello there, Captain Awkward,

I’m a young person and I recently ended my first relationship. We did truly love each other–even though I’m young, I can say that with absolute conviction. But there were many serious problems in the relationship: they had a horrible, rude friend who would flirt with them constantly (one time she actually kissed them on the cheek while in front of me) and despite my begging they refused to do anything about her. They were into Nazism, which I know sounds bad but they were more into the German Nationalism and never hated anyone, so I convinced myself it was “okay” even when it gave me the heebie-jeebies. However, that wasn’t even the biggest problem in our relationship, which was that they never seemed to care. They would say that they loved me, which I’m sure was true, and yet while I was fighting constantly with my semi-abusive father about them (who yells and feelings-shames me), they refused to even tell their family about me. They would go on and on about their interests and never asked about mine. We went on two dates during the whole two years that we dated, and I had to initiate both of them. They never had time to talk to me and they never could just spend time alone with me, despite how willing I always was to make time for them.

Yet, looking back, I can’t help but think that I didn’t do as much as I could have. Sometimes, they were just worth it. Sometimes they would be sweet and I could really understand why I fell for them. They certainly wouldn’t mind taking me back; they told me that they would always love me and in the week it’s been over they’ve been radiating Cher Lloyd vibes. And I don’t think I could ever really find anyone else who loved me and understood me like they did, since I’m very geeky and I have hobbies many people would consider weird. They were really the only person that I can ever imagine tolerating every part of me, and I don’t know what to do now that I broke it off. Not to mention every person that I’ve been going to about this has been hinting to me that maybe I made a mistake, which I can’t help but start to wonder as well.
What should I do? Did I make a mistake?

Sincerely,
Am I walking away from Sephiroth or Cloud?

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The Emperor from Star Wars saying "Be My Pal-Patine." There’s an Awkward Meet & Geek this Thursday at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago. Games! New people!

This guy who wrote into Carolyn Hax sounds FUN and definitely does not remind me at all of someone reading a consumer report trying to find the best smartphone. “What if I find something with great battery life and an intuitive interface, but the color I want is not available?” :flashes Bad Advisor signal in the sky:

And now a question:

Hi Captain!

Any thoughts about surviving St. Valentine’s for a single-and-never-ever-been-on-a-date-much-less-had-a-SO student?

Many thanks! And thank you for the whole site.

all the best,
OortCloud

Hi Oort Cloud!

Use the day to:

  • Han Solo: "I'll be celebrating Valentine's Day Han's style...Solo." Do something nice for yourself.
  • Do something nice for a friend or family member. There are lots of kinds of love, and there are lots of people in your life who might like pancakes or a new book or a card or a mix tape.
  • If you’re feeling down, ask your friends to be nice to you. “I’m feeling a bit blue about Valentine’s Day. Anyone feel like having Palentine’s Day?
  • Do something nice for a stranger – paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, volunteering somewhere, shoveling sidewalks in your neighborhood.
  • Do you have a crush on someone? Perform this outside their window.*

It’s a perfectly good Saturday, so:

  • Don’t beat yourself up for not following a certain script in your life. If you read the site, you know that the “haven’t had a date or a significant other yet” club is large and adorable.
  • Don’t buy the necklace made from 2 butts stuck together.

Sometimes it feels better to make cutting remarks about how it’s a stupid made-up holiday created by advertising executives and greeting card companies and nurse your fierce proud cynic’s heart. Do what you feel, but try to do it without pooping directly on someone else’s fun, ok?

 

*This is a joke. Do not play this, or any music, outside someone’s window.

Hi Captain,

I am a single man who, after the end of my last relationship, took a
few years out of the dating scene to really rethink what I want out of
my love life and learn to be happy with myself. (For context, I’m 32,
my divorce was 5 years ago.) I feel ready to come back onto the
market, but I’m finding it hard to meet single women who actually
inspire my interest. I’ve tried online dating and singles events, but
they don’t really work for me.

Far from sitting idle, I have become more and more active in the past
couple of years about pursuing my hobbies and interests, which has
helped me extensively expand my social circle. However, it seems that
every time the circle grows, the women I meet are either happily
attached, gay, or just folk I’d rather have as platonic friends than
romantic partners. I’m thrilled to make all these great new friends,
of course, but there’s more I want out of life than my platonic
friends can give me.

Cutting back on my hobbies and going to more singles events would be a
false economy; I’m at least making new friends through hobby events,
whereas singles events have given me nothing. At the same time, I
don’t have time to cram in even more regular social activities – not
without ending up with such a busy schedule of commitments and
responsibilities that there isn’t actually space for a relationship in
my life anyway.

This being the case, I’m thinking about outsourcing the problem by
asking trusted friends to try and introduce me to single friends of
theirs. Since I’ve put in the work to expand my social world in the
first place, why not enjoy the benefits of that expansion? Plus I’d be
more confident making contact with someone a friend has recommended
than a total stranger.

That said, how do I:
- broach the subject in a way which makes it clear that this is a
serious request I am making of my friends without sounding needy and
pathetic?
- make it clear that if people don’t want to play Cupid for me we’re still cool?
- make the point that I’m not up for “blind dates”? (I’d like to know
a bit about the person in question before meeting them so I can
politely decline suggested matches which clearly aren’t going to
work.)

Yours,

The Last Turkey In the Shop, UK

Dear Turkey:

I have thoughts! on your question.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve recently been making an effort to meet new people via online dating, and it’s been pretty great so far – I’ve met a few cool, interesting people who I enjoy hanging out and exploring potential romantic stuff with. Most of them have super interesting lives and a lot of cool stories to tell, which I like listening to. The problem is, they never ask me about myself and it’s starting to bother me!

I was raised to believe that it’s polite to demonstrate an interest in the person you’re talking to, and that asking them questions about themselves and their opinions is a good way to make someone feel at ease when you’ve just met. Plus, when I like someone, I usually WANT to know all about them and to collect as much info about this cool stranger as possible. The combination of the above means that on first dates I tend to spend a lot of time asking my date about the interests they listed on their profile, what they think about X global event, what they like to do in the city, etc., but I’ve started to notice that the effort is rarely (and sometimes never) reciprocated. This includes people who messaged me first and asked me out, so I know they’re interested in me romantically. I date people of all genders, so I know it’s not just an entitled dude thing (although the dudes are worse).

I’ve tried leaving pauses after a topic of conversation wraps up, for them to ask me something about myself (doesn’t work, they usually start telling a story about themselves or drag out the previous topic a little longer), and occasionally I’ll answer the question I just asked them uninvited (e.g. Me: “So where are your favourite places to hang out in the city?” Date: “Oh, I like X Y Z” Me: “Cool, I’ve been planning to check out Z sometime! Personally I like F and G”), but it makes me feel selfish to do this too often when they’re not showing more than a polite interest. I’m pretty sure it’s not shyness that’s stopping them from asking me about myself, because there are plenty of questions I ask them that they could easily ask back onto me (this is another thing that I was taught it’s polite to do when possible, but I accept that mileage may vary on things like this).

Plenty of these dates lead to a second or third date, and the trend of me feeling like I’m interviewing them continues even when we get to know each other better (or at least, I know THEM). Am I just dating assholes, or is there some script or social convention that I’m missing out on here? I’m not looking for a date to talk AT or for our dates to turn into back-and-forth quizzing sessions, but it’s starting to make me feel uninteresting and unappreciated!

Yours,

The Date Interviewer

Dear Dating Interviewer:

Hello, you are me from three years ago. Open to dating. Interested in meeting lots of people. Able to carry on a conversation with most anyone and put them somewhat at ease. Meeting a lot of basically okay people with whom I could pass a pleasant hour, but few kindred spirits. Meeting a lot of expectant looks across cafe tables. Feeling sometimes like I was putting on a show.

You could try keeping quiet for a bit and seeing if the other person jumps in, but honestly I think you should keep doing what you’re doing, but use it more as a screening process. If you get through Date 2, and the other person hasn’t asked you a single question despite you giving them many openings to do so, you know that they are not for you and there should be no Date 3 (unless they make all the effort to make one happen and make some kind of massive conversational rally). You can also say, explicitly, “I’d love to hang out again next week, why don’t you choose the place” if you’ve been taking more of the lead in planning stuff. The person will either rise to the occasion or not.

And when you run across someone who takes as much of an interest in you as you do in them, where it feels like a conversation rather than an interview, where things flow and it doesn’t feel like you are doing the work of keeping a conversation going, you’ll know you’ve clicked with someone. This is less about finding people who are interested in you (a lot of them are, and a lot of them will be) and more an exercise in finding out who passionately interests you.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Take breaks when it gets to be too much. Among the moths drawn to your flame, you’ll find someone who burns as bright as you.

<3,

Captain Awkward

 

 

 

Hello Chicago!

This is an event co-hosted by the Chicago Game Lovers Meetup, Geek Bar Beta, and me. We are trying out a thing. Read on for more info.

Date: Thursday, November 13

Location: Geek Bar Beta, 1941 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622

Time: 6pm-11pm

Event name: Awkward Meet & Geek

Description: Put on a clean shirt and come out to play games and meet some new people at this low-key event for single people sponsored by Geek Bar Chicago and Chicago Game Lovers hosted by Captain Awkward. More details below!

Who can come to this event?

Anyone over the age of 21.

Is this speed dating?

Nope. We’ll have board games like Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, and King of Tokyo, some video games like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Pokemon Stadium, and some art supplies and coloring books so you’ll have something to talk about and do with your hands. We’ll also have little cards you can fill out with your contact information, like so:

“Hi, my name is ___________. I really liked _________________(playing x game/coloring/geeking out) with you and I’d love to hang out again sometime. If we did get together, I would like it to be a (check one) _______ DATE-date/_______ FRIEND-date. If you’d like to get in touch you can reach me at _____________@________________________.”

If you like someone, you can fill out a card and awkwardly hand it to them before you (or they) leave. They may email you. They may not – there is absolutely no obligation! The idea is to make a low-key and friendly event where everyone can meet some new people without any pressure or “hitting on” (please see Geek Bar’s anti-harassment policy) needing to take place.

Is this for straight people only?

Nope!

What if no one of my preferred gender or orientation shows up?

SOME nice people of some sort will show up, and you’ll play games with them, and it will be a pretty fun night out of your house.

What else should we know?

There’s a full bar serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a menu of awesome food you can order. Also, you can sign up for a free 10-minute consult with Captain Awkward or Geek Bar’s Fleet Admiral David Zoltan. Discuss your dating hopes and woes, get some fresh eyes and perspectives on your online dating profile, or let us take a few recent, flattering photos of you.

I’m scared it will be awkward.

We are (wo)men of action, and lies do not become us: It will probably be awkward, for the first 5-10 minutes. Putting yourself out there as ‘I am single and actively looking’ is awkward and vulnerable. It’s also an incredibly brave and wonderful thing to do. If you come to this thing, you may not meet the R2 to your Threepio, but you won’t be alone.

Meetup Members can RSVP at the Meetup Event Page, you can RSVP in comments here, or you can decide to roll on in at the last minute – no worries. There’s no cover charge. I hope to see some of your smiling faces there to keep me company and play games.

Ahoy there!

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun. Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him, but if you’re looking for relationships where (for example) you’re planning to move in together in a year’s time, and start trying for a kid in two, bearing in mind you might not meet someone compatible straight away, you are completely justified in deciding you don’t have time to waste dating guys who definitely will never want children (or any other reason!).

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. I suspect that being the type of guy with a long history of fixating on people and not wanting to change anything about himself, it’s convenient for him to decide she would be the next Only Girl In The World rather than look around for more dates. But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.

Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

Why AM I Still Friends With Him

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