You don’t need to be a nerd to suffer heartache. It just so happens that nerds tend to be traditionally the least desirable social classification. There is a longstanding prejudice characterizing we who love anime, technology, and comic books as lacking normal social skills. Well, I’ll have you know that I only occasionally sniff other people’s armpits. Apart from that, I’m so normal, I’m perpen-freaking-dicular.
Among all types of people I met in school, I found nerds to be the nicest people. I was socially mobile and therefore moved easily between emos, stoners, punks, preps, posers, smart kids, jocks, goths, geeks, and muggles. Inevitably, though, I returned time and again to geeks. Smart kids drank away their weekends, jocks were too busy going out with girls, and goths were always painting their nails black. My best friend invited me to my high school’s computer club in senior year. I didn’t even know we had one, so I was intrigued. Fascinatingly, it was an after-school program where we played Quake II for hours. I thought that was pretty nerdy, and that’s coming from someone who got athletic letters for being on the chess team.
All that time I spent theorizing on the advantages black chess pieces must have over white and getting shot by railguns left little time for love. I wasn’t actively avoiding a romantic relationship. It was merely one bad choice after another for me. You gents reading this can sympathize with me; I was seemingly forever banished to the friend zone, like the Twilight Zone but with more disappointment. Certainly, seeing very nice girls go out with guys possessing the refinement of crude oil made it seem like I was in the Twilight Zone. Girls who were raised properly admired utter Neanderthals in a clear case of “the grass is always greener” syndrome. I would have so much in common with these girls and they were transfixed by boys, usually the ones who got tattoos of their own name on their rib cages because they were too ignorant to remember otherwise. There are only so many times you can hear, “There are other fish in the sea,” before you want to swear off fish forever.
Being the best friend, never the boyfriend, was at least educational, if nothing else. I discovered something highly important: most people don’t know what they want in a romantic partner. That leads them to take a scattershot approach in dating and to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Even people who think they know what they want might not know what they need. A college friend asked me once what my ideal partner would be like. I told him, “Someone just like me,” a remark at which he laughed. He went on to criticize me, saying it was boring for partners to be so similar because there is no spark. Since then, he has had one awful relationship after another with girls who have zilch in common with him. Seems his spark led mostly to conflagrations.
This leads me to another important point: Paula Abdul may sing about how opposites attract, but Cicero teaches us, “Like readily consorts with like.” In other words, there is always an initial, fiery ardor at the start of a relationship. The test begins after that first burst. Relationships can fall apart if people are very similar or very dissimilar, to be sure, but I’ve found that being someone’s opposite is the more aggravating scenario. There is little in the world more likely to inspire you to want to chew off your own foot in ire than your partner annoying you because he/she just had to do things his/her way, which coincidentally is the exact trigger for you to pop a gasket. That is less likely to happen when your partner is so much like you.
All of that is still cold comfort when you can’t even get a date. Trust me, I know how it goes. If you know yourself, you know which parts of yourself need improvement. However, the most important point is this: rejection doesn’t mean you’re undesirable. Some of us are so plainly fantastic that, when our advances are callously spurned, we wonder what’s wrong with ourselves. What’s wrong with us is that we care too much about those who don’t care about us enough. You might think that is some kind of Dr. Phil hogwash, but it’s true. We are hurt by the ones we love because we genuinely value them and their opinions. When they brush us off, we are more likely to internalize that because we hold them in such high regard. “She’s so perfect, she can’t possibly be wrong. She must not like me because of something she sees in me.” Next time you feel that way, consider the source. Is it coming from someone who keeps you at arm’s length, someone who values meaningless things over your worth to him/her as a human being?
It’s not you. It’s them.
When someone is the Lila to your Arnold, remember that you are not a freak (except for your weird football head). Seriously, though, I hope I’ve given you something to think about, even if you disagree with me. As a self-identified geek, I get how hard it is for us geeks to get the guy or gal of our dreams. Everything is like living the torture of Sisyphus, trying so hard only for things to slide backward time after time. I have walked your path. I have had my heart broken. When you find that right person, though, you will know it. It will be so clear to you and you will rejoice, for that person has finally come along and brightened up your life. Now, go out there and ask that cute guy or girl you’ve quietly admired from afar out on a date. Living in fear of rejection is far worse than ever being rejected. You know how I know? I asked out an older girl to my senior prom, utterly dreading the forthcoming rejection. She was surprised but said yes. Had I not asked her, she would never have gone and we would not have had one of the most fun nights of my life. This is your life. Live it! Love it!