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: Am I Smart Enough to Date a Nerd?

mliu92 - Not in Oz
I'm not sure how many people have this question and are afraid to ask, but I've heard variations on it over the years:

I really like her, but I'm worried that she's more intelligent than I am and we'll be incompatible.

He's always talking about things that go way over my head.

Sometimes she's telling me about concepts and I literally have no idea what she is talking about.

I'm worried that he's only with me for my looks.

I wonder if a more intelligent person might be better for her.

As long as your nerd treats you with respect, don't worry about how smart you are.

Think about it: is your nerd actually smarter than you, or does she just have more knowledge about certain things? Anything can sound super complicated and intimidating if you have zero knowledge about it, but once you learn what it is, everything makes sense. If this is the case, share in your nerd's interests by learning about them. You don't have to become an expert; just knowing that you can understand the subject of a conversation will make you feel more comfortable. If you don't understand something your nerd is talking about, ask her to explain it. This gives you a chance to learn more and gives her a chance to show off a little about what she knows.

On a related tangent, chances are that you know more about some things than your nerd does. This could be something intellectual like finance, business or writing, or it could be social like negotiating sales, popular culture or simply how to talk with strangers. Just because you don't know how to build a nuclear reactor doesn't mean you're not intelligent.

Consider your nerd's side of things. You know what he loves? It's the way he feels when he's with you, not what you can do with a DNA sequencer. He's interested in the things you can teach him that he doesn't already know, not the things that he already deals with at work all day. Someone who cares about you is more interested in your personal passions than whether you understand the difference between general and special relativity. So take pride in your own interests and strengths because that's what makes you interesting.

Always remember where you mesh. Maybe it's your love of movies or books, maybe it's card games, Ultimate Frisbee, video game tournaments, hiking, trivia, or maybe it's simply chilling on the sofa while watching the Muppets. The spaces where you overlap are where you share your passions. It doesn't matter who's smarter, because this is your common ground.

Finally, think about this: would you care less for your nerd if he isn't comfortable talking with strangers, or dealing with changes in daily routine, or making a decision about what clothes are appropriate for a party? It shouldn't, and probably doesn't matter because you've got your nerd's back, just like your nerd has yours.

What you are to each other is far more important than what you aren't.

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