Unearthing The Geek Dating Advice Library

I have a habit of digging into the compost heaps of the internet. Most recently, my search terms have included things like ‘neck beard,’ ‘fedora,’ ‘niceguy’ and ‘geeks who have no concept of how to treat women like people rather than a concept.’ This turns up a mountain of results, including tales of stalking and harassment, multiple blogs dedicated to showcasing the worst of online dating sites and even more articles analysing the trend of the fedora wearing straight male nerd who fails to understand women (and people in general) on a fundamental level.
It’s both scary and fascinating. While it’s far removed from the queer/queer-friendly, feminist and downright lovely geeks I know in my own life, it does cause you to look over your shoulder and wonder if those who wear have a fedora on their head also have a fedora lodged in their heart.

The rabbit hole goes deeper still, as there are entire books out there dedicated to geek dating – most of them written either by or for the average nice guy geek. OK ‘entire books’ is overstating things a little, since some of these are under 100 pages long, but with titles like “I Got Sex At Comic Con” and “From Geek To Love God” you know you’re up for some entertaining trash. It’s not all snark and bad news though. In what follows we’ll look at both the good and bad offerings in the niche genre of dating advice for geeks.

 

FROM GEEK TO LOVE GOD

From the author of Online Dating Domination and The Plenty Of Fish Playboy comes the meekly titled From Geek To Love God: How To Seduce Any Woman Even If You Are Fat, Shy Or A Complete Nerd! Yes, that exclamation mark is part of the title.

Author Johnny Cole begins by asserting that most of the worlds greatest seducers were, at one time, geeks and that “the pleasure of a beautiful woman’s company and the physical delights of her body…are something no man should be denied.” This is a standard introduction to pickup artist technique aimed at straight males, but what makes this one special is that apparently the author doesn’t know that the plural for a single woman is ‘women.’ Instead, the author inexplicably refers to all women, plural or singular, as ‘woman.’ The results are about what you’d expect.

“Seducers…often find themselves asking the question: ‘what is it that attracts woman?”

“So if you have trouble picking up woman in the past count yourself lucky. It is this experience which has provided you with the stimulus to ask the right questions? I know this is true of you because you are reading this book.”

“Geeks as a species are often highly successful in certain area of their life, whether it is academically, or in their career, or in a certain skill they are a far cut above the rest. And yet they tend to feel bad about themselves because they are a failure in one single area which is with woman.”

Need I say more. Don’t buy this book unless you want to be a jerk, and an illiterate one at that.
THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO GETTING THE GIRL
In this book Elizabeth Drake states from page one that it’s aimed at the male, heterosexual geek who needs a little dating advice. This is appreciated since most of the books I came across just assume that straight males will be the ‘default’ reader. This is classic heteronormativity, since it overlooks existence of women, gay men, trans people and a plethora of other rainbow geeks. The similarly titled Geek’s Guide To Dating by Eric Smith also has a welcome moment where they acknowledge their book adheres to the straight male geek stereotype. Let’s not forget that 40% of Comic Con attendees are women and that 45% of video gamers are female. Don’t just assume.

Elizabeth Drake doesn’t sugar coat things, saying she wrote this book “because I’m tired of your bitching. And because there is hope.” She challenges readers to take some risks and develop social skills first and foremost.

“If you haven’t dated much, your dating maturity is stuck at fourteen. Maybe fifteen. And that is being generous…when you’re a teenager you have all kinds of weird ideas about dating and the opposite sex, especially if you don’t socialise with the opposite sex…it is time to shed those beliefs…let them see the light of day and, like a vampire, become dust in the sun of our inspection.”
YOU GEEK, THEY GROK

Meanwhile this one has a more fuzzy and friendly tone. “TL;DR version: I would love to date you all. Since I can’t, I get my warm fuzzies helping you find each other!”

This is mainly just an extended guide to creating an attractive online dating profile, but it gets bonus points for specifying that while the book is written using heterosexual pronouns, it can be a useful resource to all genders and orientations and offers a refund to queer people who find the book doesn’t meet their needs. Nice!

 

NICE GUYS NO LONGER FINISH LAST

Nice Guys No Longer Finish Last is a strange one. It uses some offensive language, but actually isn’t an offensive book – or at least it tries hard not to be.

“This book…will break down the process of obtaining a date with one (or more) attractive women…by drawing analogies with a mathematical model of foraging in the animal kingdom – a predator-prey relationship model and school of thought that establishes that the optimal ‘forager’ maximises it’s net energy intake over unit time…I have simply adopted the principles of this model into the real world where you – the predator understudy – are foraging for one or more dates with various women – the prey.”
So women are prey and men are predators? There’s some insulting implications here that aren’t pleasant for any gender.

Women are also refered to as “pursuits,” which isn’t any better. Author Art Langton at least realises this, asking feminist readers to “please excuse the implied connotation” and seems to use the language mainly to keep up the theme. If the only review of this book is to be trusted, “this is a guide for men who want to treat women like valuable human beings, not disposable bodies…if you are looking for ways to use and abuse women you won’t find them here.”

WHERE TO FIND GEEK GIRLS
This one is full a ideas that sound genuinely useful. Chris-Rachel Oseland suggests that geeks learn to knit and join their local needles club to find lady friends.

“Needlecraft isn’t just for grandmothers anymore. The last 20 years has seen an amazing explosion of geek amigurumi ranging from earmuffs in the shape of Princess Leia’s honeybun hair…to more tentacled things than a Lovecraftian nightmare.”

Reading this I realised I have in fact been seeing more and more of this kind of craftwork at conventions from needle smiths of all genders.

“Best yet, knitting circles tend to be small, intimate and low pressure. Perfect for introverted geek guys who are uncomfortable in crowded, noisy, bustling environments.”

Hey, even if you don’t meet anyone romantically inclined, this still sounds like a fun.

I GOT SEX AT COMIC-CON
At the bottom of the pile is the tactless I Got Sex At Comic-Con: A Fanboy Comic Book Geek’s Move From Loser To Player. This is a story of how the author leaned the ways of seduction from his seemingly unattractive and overweight friend, George.
“The things George taught me would be worth fortunes to some Kings. Wealthy men would trade countless sacks of gold to know what George learned last summer from Rick. You’re lucky. You only paid a little for my book. I should have charged more money for it.”

Oh boy.

So this book is about David’s induction into the world of pick up artists and how he eventually manages to use the prescribed techniques to have sex that one time. If you haven’t heard of the pickup artist community, let me give you a warning now. Generally speaking, pick up artists attempt to boil down complex human interactions into formulas and methods that geeks find easy to follow and replicate. It talks about ‘routines’ (scripted conversations), ‘targets’ (an objectifying term for women that makes you sound like a serial killer), and being “a human computer in order to be a stud.” Never mind things like trust, communication, empathy and consent.

Early on David displays his ability to value women for what he perceives as their most important quality: how physically attractive they are. To illustrate, here’s a scene where David ruminates on his friend Eddie’s complaint about his own love life:

“Girls I like never want me. Girls who do want me, like Harriet Laramie, are ugly.”

I thought, “why are you bitching Eddie? If a girl likes you even if she is ugly or whatever you bases the term ‘horrible’ on, well at least she’s a girl! At least she likes you! At least you have somebody to call at night! At last you have a warm body to dance with at the prom.”

Harriet, for example, was not ugly. She was sort of plain and she was sort of Whitney but she was a she!

I give him points for trying not to care about she looks like, but he seems awfully caught up on using women for his own validation and gratification. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t make it much further than the first few chapters of this book. Maybe David does learn to make meaningful connections with women rather than just seeing them as a means to an end – but maybe I’m being too hopeful.

The thing is though, that I want to be hopeful. Its important to call people out on sexist bullshit, but I also like to think that there are fedora wearing neckbeard types out there who want to better themselves. When that time comes, I hope they are able to avoid books that pander aggressive, results-oriented-ethics-be-damned attitudes and instead find resources that teach empathy and understanding above all.

(If you’ve accidentally picked up a copy of I Got Sex At Comic-Con or From Geek To Love God and find yourself questioning your own empathy skills, a good book to read as a counterpoint would be Confessions Of A Pickup Artist Chaser. Or if TL;DR is an issue, this article has some similar themes and ideas.)

Update: Given recent events, this is essential further reading.