About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerd Q&A: How do I Date if I'm Awkward?

"According to advice, I'm supposed to at least be interesting, a good listener, or adventurous or something. Seems like a tall order."
(The original question also mentioned "I'm average looking", but I don't that's particularly relevant since by definition average puts you on the same level as most people, so you're not at a disadvantage in the looks department.)

This isn't actually a particularly tall order, but dating does take a little bit of effort, even for people who are socially skilled.

Think of social interaction as a game (with rules) where everyone gets a random set of attributes at the start. Let's go ahead and admit that your looks are part of that attribute set, but keep in mind that everyone else on the planet has a different opinion of what they find attractive; some people like skinny and blonde, others like short and hairy, and there are infinite variations on what another person finds pleasing to the eye. You have no way of knowing if your looks will attract or repel someone until you meet them, so you may as well forget about that for now.
Secret tip: absolutely no one is 100% happy with how they look. (If you don't believe me now, you will in a few years.)

Social awkwardness is something common to everyone as they start out in life, some people learn how to play the game faster than others, but it's still a game and you can play well if you take the time to figure it out.

My basic advice: study the rules, gear up, get in the game, win.

I could write up some specific guidance, but I really like the way Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness re-contextualizes several aspects of self-improvement in game terms, and his site is about more than just physical fitness. You don't have to do everything he's talking about, but of particular relevance to this question are the blog posts about improving how you interact with other people like Lindsay Miller's article How to Improve Your Social Skills. (There are links in that article to other blog posts with really good advice.)

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