Geek Dating (And Why You Shouldn’t Date People Just Like Yourself)

Via Wikipedia.

I decided that I’m going to start dating again. And since I’m now writing about Geek Culture as a career , I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to address all those geek-specific dating websites that are popping up and an issue I have with them.

Before we get into this, there’s an important thing I need to share with you: I’m one of those super liberal guys that think it’s awesome (and hot) for the girl to make the first move on a date. In fact, I prefer the girl ask you out to go on that date. I know that’s not quite the norm among “the straights”, but I think it’s going to become increasingly common. Especially since we live in a world of Yes means Yes. So, this mindset I have is going to color the rest of the advice I have to share with you.

Here is everything I know:

-If you don’t put any effort into the relationship, every single day, it ain’t going to last.

-If you don’t use your words and communicate with each other effectively, it ain’t going to last. This open communication has to start before your first date. For example: Who pays the tab? You? Your date? Do you split it? I advocate splitting it. There’s no pressure placed on anyone by you doing that.

(You should also be sure you’re out on a date and not just hanging out with a friend. I made that mistake once a couple of years ago, and I still get a twinge in my stomach thinking about it.)

This advice may seem overly cautious, and it is. But there’s a good reason. If you’re a guy, you need to know that our gender has ruined dating and relationships for everyone.

Like seriously.

I spent a solid two years collecting horror stories from women who used OKCupid, and received daily messages like “Make fuck now?” (which, if we’re looking at that statement objectively, is hilarious, but remains subjectively horrifying). They are also bombarded with unsolicited photos of dudes wearing gimp masks and dick pics. So you need to understand the reason for caution. Man didn’t just poison the well. Man made sure that drinking from the entire water supply is about as appetizing as drinking from a puddle of mud found in the Port Authority’s third level bus garage.

Should you advance to the relationship stage after going out on a few dates, there are some other things you should know:

-First, you both need space. This isn’t just literal; it’s also financial. Don’t mix your money. Don’t pay off each other’s debts. That doesn’t mean don’t help out or pay for things, but it means to keep your stuff separate as much as you can. Nobody wants a relationship to fail, but many relationships do, and if you’ve crossed the streams, you’ll regret it later.

-You both need your privacy to maintain a sense of your identity. Otherwise, it ain’t going to last. Why do people cheat? For the most part, it’s not because they’re jerks, it’s because they’re looking to re-establish a sense of identity that may have been lost within the relationship. Don’t take my word for it. Watch this video.

If for some reason, you’re like me and have a vast library of Wonder Woman themed porn, you need to inform your partner. It can’t be a secret. That DOES NOT mean you have to give up your porn. Or that watching porn is wrong. There is nothing wrong with watching porn. (Porn as porn is awesome. Porn as an industry can be a different story depending on what we’re talking about.)

But porn, within the context of what we’re discussing here, is problematic when not discussed with your partner and if you let it impact your sex life. (For example, using porn as a replacement for sex with your partner.)

That’s why it’s imperative that you communicate what you want and what you need regarding the fun stuff in bed with your partner. If you’re not on the same page here, forget everything I’ve said. The relationship will fail.

And hey, watching porn with your partner can be fun too. If they’re up for it, don’t let that always be a solo activity.

Finally, and this is why I’m even sharing all of this with you, if you are too much like your partner, later on when that partner changes their interests, that could spell the end of the relationship. And let’s be clear, over time, your partner WILL change their interests. This is inevitable.

So, I’m an advocate of going out with people who are somewhat different from you right from the start, which brings us to the single-serving dating websites like Star Trek Dating (but also non-geek sites like Trump Singles and Purrsonals, a dating website for cat lovers. One is horrifying. The other is adorable. You decide which website is which!)

This doesn’t mean, date someone completely different. Although that could work too. The issue with someone being totally different from you is that you have nothing in common, meaning there’s a whole lot of awkward silences and probably a whole lot of dead ends. But if you go out with someone “different enough”, you’ll avoid that problem.

“Different enough” is defined here in that you two have some common ground together, but hold different interests.

This is why dating sites for Trekkies can be a terrible idea. (Stark Trek is just one example, by the way, there’s a litany of websites focused on narrow dating verticals in Geek Culture. I don’t want you to think I’m picking on Star Trek fans because I grew up on a steady diet of Deep Space Nine.)

Now to be clear, I didn’t say using these sites are a bad idea. I mentioned how important finding common ground is, and that common ground could very well be that you think Quark should have had his own series, and his show would have been awesome because the show could have basically been Cheers in space.

(You know you would watch that show. Assuming you’re old enough to know that Cheers was a television show and not something annoying hipster douchebags say because they had a friend from the United Kingdom say it once to them at the end of a conversation.)

In many other cases, you can find that Star Trek is all you have by finding a date on a website like that. So what happens when you get bored with Star Trek?

What you need to understand is that being in a relationship with someone “Different Enough” is what you want to strive for. You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone exactly like you. It’s not that a relationship like that can’t work, it’s just not as likely.

You, the person reading this right now, will hopefully not be the same person five years from now that you are today. Or ten years from now. Or maybe even twenty. Remaining the same is not how we’re wired as humans. Dating, and being in a relationship with someone that is “Different Enough” challenges you. It keeps your brain sharp. It gives you new things to learn and discover about yourself.

And maybe, yeah, you do find that you hate these new things that your partner likes. No relationship is 100% guaranteed to last. But by having different interests, and taking the time to explore them with your partner, even if the relationship doesn’t work, you’re a better person. One living a fuller life for having tried something new.

That’s hard for all of us to do today, geek or not. We let ourselves get sucked into our own bubble, deluded by the idea that what we read on the Internet reflects reality, even when it doesn’t. If our culture is going to survive and thrive in trying times (see: Brexit, ISIS, Trump, climate change, the list of reasons I’m voting for Dr. Jill Stein in 2016 goes on …), then we need to break out of those bubbles.

Put another way: My fellow Trekkies should be dating Star Wars fans, and vice versa.

And If you try these new things, keep trying new things (because again, you have to put in the work every day to make a relationship), and you like them? Think about how much better and cooler your life will be. Especially because if you’re successful, now you’ll have someone to share in the fun.

B.J. Mendelson is the author of “Social Media Is Bullshit” from St. Martin’s Press.

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