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 Get a Nerd To Go Out With Me?

Pierre Willemin - Nerd Power

Here's a question I would like to see more often.

I'm a very outgoing woman but I'm attracted to a shy, awkward nerd: how do I get him to go out with me...and maybe take things further?

You may have noticed this already: the majority of nerds are, as you put it, shy and awkward. A lot of nerds don't realize they're attractive, or they're simply insecure, which means they misinterpret signals that other people easily pick up, so they don't typically make the first move.

A caveat: I've written this to answer a question from a woman interested in a man, but the advice applies to any budding relationships.

First things first, make sure the person you're attracted to is available. In any potential dating scenario, don't make assumptions about the person's relationship status or sexual orientation just because of the way he dresses or talks.  It's fine to ask, “hey, what did you and your girlfriend do over the weekend?” or even, “do you have a girlfriend?” If you're not that straightforward, do a little reconnaissance to be certain. Ask around, look for photos, a wedding ring, or other signs that the guy is available or not.

Once you know that your nerd is open to a date, don't play hard to get. This will just come across as “I'm not interested” because nerds are used to getting this message and assume it's everyone's default setting.

The best approach is direct. Since shy nerds don't usually make the first move, it's great if you tell him you're interested in going out. Maybe keep the first date simple, like going to lunch, out for a coffee, or just a walk outside. This way you can both get a sense for how you feel toward each other when you're face to face.

Note: when you go on this date, prepare to be the one leading the conversation. Your nerd is shy, nervous, and thinking about all the ways he's going to say something wrong and ruin this wonderful opportunity. If he's really quiet, doesn't make eye contact, and speaks in single syllables, take it as a sign that he's really interested in you. This is your time to show him that he's not going to blow it, so ask what he's been doing on his computer this week. If he talks about things you understand, carry on a conversation. If the words he uses make no sense, ask what they mean. Be honest and see where the conversation takes you.

Here's an important truth: be honest with yourself. If he starts talking about computers, science fiction, video games, trivial facts or any other nerdy topic, listen and try to engage yourself with the subject. If you get so caught up in the conversation that you lose track of time, great! It's time for another date. If you find yourself bored out of your skull, you should call a halt and figure out how to let the guy down easy.

If things go well, you will probably have to do some follow up work. For example, nerds overthink things. He will want to call or text you, but might not because of a thousand different reasons such as, “I don't want to pester her,” “this is too good to be true,” or “I must have dreamed that whole thing.”

I'm not kidding.

Call or text him later on that day or the next and mention something that you liked about your date, then tell him you'd like to go out again and suggest a time and place. This may seem a little awkward if you're used to guys running the show, but you need to give nerds very clear signals.

Another important truth: it will take some effort on your part to convince your nerd that he's not misinterpreting your interest. The payoff? Nerds are usually great friends, loyal to a fault, and will treat you like gold. If there's something about this nerd that draws your attention, then take the time to cultivate your relationship. It's likely to be worth the effort. 

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