How to get people to look past the geeky archetype?

I’m a geek. Gaming. Tech. Comics. Book worm. Speculative fiction. Introvert. From the first time I played the neighbour kid’s Atari or taking apart our brand new Apple IIE. I was just born that way.

I’m incredibly proud of my geek status. However, geekdom is only one part of me. I’m also an artist, world traveler, adventurer, people watcher, history/sociology/psychology junkie, athlete, baker, raging liberal, dancer, Buddhist, theater fan, and film enthusiast (worked in the industry for 10 years).

Most importantly, I’m a woman. I have a female brain that studies in neuroscience since the mid 90’s has proven that’s it’s scientifically impossible to think like a man. I love kittens, flowers, rainbows, crafts and cooking. I want romance, emotional support, a safe place to show vulnerabilities and talk about feelings.

I don’t have the time, money or desire for high fashion. I work with geeks, so during the day it’s nice jeans, a fitted nerdy tee and minimalist make-up. When I go out though I do dress up with subtle make-up. I get my eyebrows waxed, mani-pedis, and shop at boutiques; so it’s not like I’m frumpy in any way.

Relationships always starts the same. Excited to find a kindred spirit (smart and geeky). When I do get a chance to talk about my other interests, they appear to be interested. They say they want to try the activities I’m interested in. They say they are attracted to my enthusiasm for experiencing new things. However after a month or 2, that all changes. If I talk about something non-geeky, their eyes glaze over. If I ask to do something other than gaming, some other geek activity, or yet another dinner and a movie, at best I get “yeah sometime,” and it never happens. Worst case is nasty and manipulative comments about how I shouldn’t want it or even that I don’t deserve it. What about non-geeks? Just reverse it with an added bonus of anger at my gaming time.

I don’t expect people to read my mind, so I clearly ask for things calmly. I’m upfront and honest about what I’m looking for. But it all just seems to be ignored.

I’ve tried online dating profiles that have only a single line that I work in tech, and still the only non-canned responses I get are from people only wanting to talk about tech. To the point of ignoring other topics.

If this was an isolated event that would be different. I am constantly left with this overwhelming feeling that they fall for some idea of me instead of the person. That because I’m a geek, intelligent, and confident that I should be no maintenance (actually has been said a few times). That being a gamer I should just be complacent when they want to game all night every night. That being a geek should nullify being a girl.

Is there anything I can do differently to get them to see me as something other than this archetype that still keeps me true to myself? Other than “stop dating assholes.” Which is the only thing my friends can come up with.

10 thoughts on “How to get people to look past the geeky archetype?

  1. Claudia says:

    [Thanks everyone. I don’t actually do online dating anymore due to being a lot of effort for a string of really bad dates. Most of this was from relationships via meeting friends of friends in social gatherings or cons/meetups/events and they already knew the geeky side.

    I’ve been doing a lot of self evaluating and reflection since a particularly nasty relationship. Looking at common themes, recurrences and patterns in my 21 year dating history. I’m the only common denominator and the only one I can change so I’m looking for things I can do that doesn’t ultimately change who I am.

    It’s true that my needs to have a diverse life are left unfulfilled. But maybe what I wasn’t clear about is that my needs as a woman are left unfulfilled. What can I do to get people to see the WOMAN behind the geek? Being one of the guys is fine at work and with my guy friends, but really sucks in a relationship.

    1. I’ve been working on softening up a bit. 11 years of online pvp gaming made the trash talk come a bit too easily.
    2. Put a bit more focus on feminine aspects.
    Will add:
    1. Reframe what I’m willing to accept from a man especially early on.
    2. Put more of a balance on the topics I talk about and reveal things slower.

  2. karlos says:

    [This is a toughie. Because geek culture is inherantly multi-layered. For example, with gaming, I’ve dated girls who say they’re gamers, but the second I load up a copy of Street fighter, they have no interest in it, they prefer the sims. People have a tendency to see the word “geek” and instantly think “yes, this person is into exactly the same geeky pursuits as me” even though the definition is massively open ended.

    With that in mind you seem to be really framing yourself as a geek, but not going into enough detail to specify exactly what kind of geek. As I can see where these guys are coming from, you’ve gone into a lot of detail describing your geeky chops, which are mighty impressive, but you’ve not really elaborated on the other stuff, so I’m just seeing “This girl won’t mind that I wear superman underwear and play xbox till three in the morning”, not “oh cool, she’s into some of the stuff as me, we should hang out”

    That said, you mention people out right ignoring your requests for something as simple as dinner or seeing a movie? That’s like common couple fodder, if you’re meeting people who have views that polarised about entertainment that’s their problem, not yours. So your friends may have a point about the assholes, which is one of 3 sentences I never thought I’d type again.

  3. Dave Jag says:

    [You might be painting yourself into a corner by providing too much information about yourself up front. I believe that the initial attraction to someone typically occurs even before you know anything about them, based on just the things you “see”, like how they carry themselves in public, how they dress, the sound of their voice, their humor, their passion, etc. This initial positive feeling provides a cushion for the negative things you are sure to find out soon enough. (“Oh, so you raise tortoises in your bathtub? How fascinating!”) Human nature is to interpret things that are different from “your things” as strange or perhaps even wrong… regardless of how liberal you are. That’s because we all spend our whole lives perfecting ourselves, and since we assume everyone else does the same, we can’t understand how “those people” came out so weird! So, here is my advice:
    Drop the “geek” label and the long grocery list of self qualities. When you meet someone new, tell them where you work, but not specifically what you do. Keep it all “top level” and let the conversation and the relastionship naturally progress inward. I don’t think successful relationships are built on people who meet and have everything in common; I think they belong to people who are fundamentally in love with who a person is (not what they do!) and are willing to grow with each other and try new things until they develop their own “couple’s grocery list”. They simply grow into each other…. a single entity that necessasrily comprises all the support mechanisms you crave because you built it together from the ground up.

  4. Happy Pants says:

    [Do you mind my asking where you live? My theory about geeks (I am also a geek, just not with technology), is that when they’re put in big cities, they’re more likely to also have social skills and be interested in doing other things, simply because there are a lot more of them being offered.

    I think in this case, there’s nothing that you can really do, yourself. In a sense, I think your friends are right in that you just need to stop dating assholes, but it’s not your fault you’re dating assholes. There are people out there who are geeks but who also like to rock climb, or programmers who also love musical theater, gamers who go to Comic Con but also go out at night. They’re just harder to find online because everyone picks a defining characteristic or two for anyone they see (hence my nicknames for the last few guys I’ve dated: “nerdboy”, “poetry guy”, “creepy old horn dog”, etc.), and once we put people in categories, they’re harder to break out of them.

    I wonder if taking out anything specific about your job might help in that respect. I think there are a lot of guys out there who do like video games and tech stuff, but it doesn’t take up their entire life. That topic can come up naturally over the course of dinner conversation, but it doesn’t have to lead the discussion. I’m not at all saying you need to hide who you are, but since you’re dealing with a lot of frustration about this and have already tried to get strategic about it, maybe it would be a good idea to take it a step further.

  5. Maracuya says:

    [I would think that my being a geek would make my response more helpful, but… apparently not. Most of the nerds I know in my life would jump to go rock climbing, or picnic in the park and watch a free symphony.

    My boyfriend and I are both geeks but also ‘normal people,’ in the sense we like to do things other than play games and can hold a conversation. If I never mentioned my unnatural love for Professor Layton/cooking the food of Westeros/some anime, people would never know. I’ve been surprised recently because I discovered a handful of people at work who were staying in the geek closet. These are the people you want to date.

    So I would keep the mention of video games and tech, but also mention all the other things you want –a partner in crime and a romantic. You love going to parks, museums, festivals, movies, hiking and if they want to date you they better be game for adventure. Plan a third date that’s non-geeky and if they balk then you have a good indicator that they might not be your type after all.

  6. AKchic says:

    [As a fellow geek (who was previously married to two non-geeks), I hear you loud and clear, sister.

    A lot of guys who don’t profess to be geeks end up being closet geeks. Look for someone who is intelligent and has some of the same interests you do, but don’t try to box all geeks into that “everything I love doing” box. Step out of your geeky comfort zone and find someone who doesn’t appear to be geeky.

    Just a hint – Alaskan guys are great when it comes to blending geek with non-geek attributes. Well, the good ones anyways. There is a reason for our dating motto up here.

  7. Bonita says:

    [I think your troubles are not necessarily geek-centric. I think any of us trying to bridge two worlds struggle with this. I get pigeon-holed in either the “derby girl” world or librarian land the same way you appear to be stuck solely in the geek zone. The variety you desire in your dating life is entirely vital to leading the full life you deserve.

    My advice would be rather than reframing how you present yourself, reframe what you are willing to accept from a man in the earliest stages of dating. If dating a geek, insist on a non-geek activity out of the gate. You can still discuss your common gaming interests while hiking, or having a picnic, or some other activity. If dating a non-geek, keep your own gaming time.

    If you know it will eventually fall apart because of your partners unwillingness to bend, better to let it crumble in the early stages.

  8. MargieCharles says:

    [It sounds weird, but my advice would be to leave off the “geek” part in your profile as much as possible and see how that goes. I think it’s a common misconception that us geeks need to stick together and wouldn’t it be soooo amazing if you could find a fellow nerd to date and revel in your geekiness with. Being a girl, I think being a geek is looked at in a different light than it would be if you were a guy, and so I think you can get away with not mentioning it until you’re on a date with someone. With guys some people assume that they’re a virgin who’s never going to leave the house, but with girls it’s seen more as a quirk or it’s just assumed that she really only plays The Sims.

    It might sound bad, like you’re hiding a piece of yourself, but I think that’s one of those aspects that people focus on too much and then get blinders. Almost like they can’t see the fully rounded individual who has other hobbies, they just fixate on the one trait that they’re looking for. And I think that’s probably one of the downsides of online dating. Someone is supposed to present themselves to prospective daters in a nutshell, so the dates can pick and choose what kind of person they’re looking for. In real life you’d hit it off with someone and then learn their interests, but online dating seems to be working backwards from that.

    And even if you end up getting a guy that has never held a controller and is computer illiterate, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t share your hobbies with him. When my boyfriend and I started dating, he was both of those things. I was able to get him into video games (and now we fight over the console). Unfortunately, he’s still computer illiterate, so I just have to fix everything that goes wrong for him.

    Of course, leaving out the geeky part could backfire. You might find a budding chef who only wants to talk about cooking, and the second you turn the conversation away from your favorite cinnamon bun recipe his eyes may glaze over (no pun intended!), but since people seem to be only seeing you as the geeky archetype that they’re fixating on, it might be worth a shot to take that out and see how it changes the type of guys you get messaging you, and how they perceive you. Then on your first date maybe you can mention those hobbies that you love that you left out.

  9. JoeDev says:

    [I agree with all the suggestions to drop the archetype. From my own experience as someone with interests and skills in a wide range of disparate topics, it’s not what you do that people react to most. It’s what you label yourself as. “Birds of a feather…” they like to say and it’s true. If you want to talk music exclusively (for example), find someone who calls themselves a musician.

    I think I would take that a bit further and say that you should pay attention to the labels other people use when defining themselves (specifically your dates). Those labels will tell you right away what’s important to the person, without you having to listen to three or four dates worth of talk about the latest Call of Duty release or the intricate details of a triathletes nutrition and training programs. Try to find people who have closets filled with gear of the many different activities they’ve tried, and not just the one that they do.

  10. lovelygirl says:

    [Dating just sucks. If you choose to go the online route, make sure your profile shows you are a positive and well-rounded person. Also, maybe make a small effort to be slightly feminine for a date since people judge each other in the first 10 seconds. You want a guy to see you as a lady and not as a “buddy”. Wear a long flowy skirt if you aren’t comfortable with a dress. Guys dig smart tech girls because we make excellent long term partners.

    Another idea: try to meet people. There are groups for just about anything and it’s a great way to meet people without a ton of pressure. If there isn’t a group in your area, start one! I started one where I live and I met my best friends through the group (it was a 20’s and 30’s professionals group). Even if you make friends that aren’t potential dates, they might have friends that are single…

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