11 Rules for When Your Geeklet Starts Dating

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Yes, this is a real site. NO I will not give the URL. Source: GIS

Dating is a big topic in my household right now. For starters, my daughter is a teenager. Plus, I’m a single GeekDad now (help me). A lot of my friends in my same situation have been talking to me about dating and their own experiences. This led to a conversation in the GeekDad back room, and the below Geek Dating “Rules.” In true SF tradition, these rules are more like guidelines – break them, sure, but keep them around as a reference.

11. IDIC.
Fellow GeekDad Mike LeSauvage points out that a classic Star Trek concept applies here – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. “It’s OK, maybe good even, to be with someone who doesn’t love the things you love. It can even be an opportunity to share a new experience with them. As long as they don’t denigrate you or your interests.” Seek out new worlds, boldly go, and all that. Share what you love with who you love.

Randall Munroe gets it. Source and copyright XKCD.com
Randall Munroe gets it.
Source and copyright XKCD.com

10. The Prime Directive.
For the unfamiliar (both of you), the Prime Directive in Star Trek is to not interfere in the development of other worlds. While this could easily be seen as “don’t date anyone underage,” that’s a no-brainer (one hopes!). Instead, I speak of the flip-side of #10: trying to change your partner. I mean both in general, and specifically don’t be a Geek Imperialist. Don’t force your tastes and views on your partner (I knew way too many guys in college who thought they could get their girlfriends to read JLA because they read Sandman). Be with the person they are, not the one you think they might be. Don’t expect someone to change to like what you do, the way you do.

Like if you ask who her favorite Doctor is and she says her internist? BE NICE! Source: BBC.

9. Spoilers!
Don’t put all your cards on the table and don’t expect your potential partner to. Keep a little mystery, especially early days. Don’t tell them what you got them for your birthday, etc. And don’t snoop! Ugh. No one loves a snoop.

Well, you know, usually. Source BBC (again).

8. Knowing Is Half the Battle.
On the flipside, pay attention to your partner. It’s one thing to keep some mystery, it’s another to be oblivious. Don’t take them for granted. Actually talk. Also: Note that it is 2016 and you no longer have any excuse to forget a birthday or whatnot. There are apps for that.

7. As You Wish.
But don’t just talk. Corrina Lawson wants you to remember that actions speak. Use that knowledge from and act on it. That’s the other half.

Just don't go all Dark Willow, okay? Source: CW.
Just don’t go all Dark Willow, okay?
Source: CW.

6. There Can Be Only One.
Okay, before everyone gets mad at me, it’s not what you think. Despite “There Can Be Only One” being the Highlander slogan–notice how there are always other immortals running around anyway?–what’s important is to define what “oneness” is for you. As Jenny Bristol points out: “What it comes down to is that for some people ‘there can be only one’ at a time, but for other people there can be multiple. Communication and agreement on the foundation of a relationship is vital.” So be monogamous, be poly, but be on the same page. Also? The One you are with now could be played by someone else in the next installment in the franchise, if you know what I mean.

5. Our Princess Is in Another Castle.
When you are out looking for the One don’t elevate him/her to an insane pedestal. I mean to the point where they are basically your fetish object/prize. You’ll eventually  be let down, because of what you’ve created in your head.  Life is not a video game. You are not player one and you don’t get to “win” the significant other. No one “owes you” a date for “rescuing them” (personally, I’m a big fan of the fan theory that Mario isn’t rescuing Daisy at all; he’s an interloper).

4. Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal.
Find me two people who agree all the time. Not going to happen. The fact is, you’re going to fight. Over geek stuff (Wait, you think Voyager is better than Deep Space Nine? I’m dating a monster) and other stuff (No, I washed so you should fold). Don’t be afraid to disagree, and also don’t be too quick to escalate. Pick your battles and decide what’s worth it. One fight won’t end a relationship, but not handling the underlying issues always will.

3. Whosoever Holds This Hammer, If He Be Worthy, Shall Possess the Power of Thor.
Thor’s hammer has a spell so only “worthy” people can lift it. You’re a hammer. Don’t let anyone unworthy pick you up. Now, worthiness could mean a lot of things. But at the end of the day, don’t let anyone treat you like less than you are (while still keeping in mind – remember). And you, reader, are made of star stuff and awesomeness. Although, keep the next one in mind too.

And before you comment, yes we ALL thought of the Doctor Horrible joke. You are not original. Source: The twisted mind of Joss Whedon.
And before you comment, yes we ALL thought of the “Doctor Horrible” joke. You are not original.
Source: The twisted mind of Joss Whedon.

2.The Force Doesn’t Work That Way!
(That doesn’t count as a spoiler, right?) Anyway, Mike LeSauvage has another darn good point. You don’t have to be on a relationship quest, but you do need to interact with the people and world around you to make yourself visible and interesting to others.

Don’t make them have to use a #where’s[yourname] tag. Source: Disney.
1. Don’t Panic.
Seriously, just don’t. Know where your towel is, have fun storming the castle, etc. Life is too short to worry all the time. A relationship is work (so much work) – and yes, it’s going to feel like work – but be sure to have fun. Be sure to laugh. With each other, at each other, and at yourself. There’s enough dark stuff out there.

That’s it for us – what are your Geek Dating rules? Share in the comments.

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32 thoughts on “11 Rules for When Your Geeklet Starts Dating

  1. I’d add one more– lighten up. Most happy couples have a sense of humor about one another. I mention this only because many in our tribe have been the victims of bullying when we were kids and so have a ridiculously heightened threat response to being teased, especially by the opposite sex. Learn to take a joke and be cognizant of the difference between gentle kidding and actual sniping.

      1. Mordechai, the quote for the “Lighten up” recommendation should be from Galaxy Quest, when Guy is freaking out about possibly dying to rescue others: “Maybe you’re the plucky comic relief.” After all, the “plucky” is a compliment.

    1. On the other side of that, I’ve known people to say vicious things and then act offended when called on it because “it was just a joke” and then turn around with a snotty, superior tone to insist that you have no sense of humor.

      Whether or not that tone is there, while you don’t have to immediately scramble the jets, do let them know if you find it hurtful or upsetting! If it’s really just a joke, it shouldn’t be too big of a thing for them to apologize for upsetting you and to try to avoid doing that again in the future. Again, communication is key! If you need a certain topic or area to be hands off in that regard, you need to both examine it yourself and let them know.

  2. Great stuff! I would only add a couple of things:

    People often stress that Compromise and Communication are the mainstays of a relationship… and “Everybody Knows” that these things are treasure maps that, if you follow them faithfully, will land you on “X Marks the Spot.”


    1. Compromise: Yes, learning to compromise and being able to, is important. What’s equally important is knowing that there are things you are NOT willing to compromise on, and other things you SHOULD NOT compromise on. For instance, something that falls under the latter is “tolerating abuse”—you should not tolerate abuse, thinking that you’re “compromising” and thus, doing a relationship “the right way.” (There IS no one true way—in Valdemar, or here, by the way.)

    Part of building a good relationship is realizing that you personally have things you will not compromise on because those things are so important to you, and other things where you might compromise a little but not a lot—and figuring out what those things are. Also, be aware that people grow and change over time (you, and your partner(s)), and your “compromise/no compromise” list may shift over time. Theirs may, too.

    2. Communication: Again, communication is not the Sovereign Remedy. Absolutely we need to communicate with each other—and also with ourselves!—but simply telling each other how we really feel, what we really think, isn’t a guarantee of fixing a problem or issue. Number One reason why?

    Baggage. I’ve got baggage, you’ve got baggage, we’ve all got baggage, hey hey (sounds like a song). This baggage is NOT just “I had a bad relationship in the past;” it’s mixed. Part of it can be issues with a parent. Part of it can be having been attacked or abused, or going through some other traumatic experience. Part of it can be how you learned to react or navigate through peer pressure as a kid/teen. Part of it can be abuse or bullying we’ve received as *adults*—from a boss, or co-worker for instance, or even from perfect strangers (i.e. I saw a story recently on a woman in a Starbucks line who was grossly insulted very audibly behind her back, by two other women in line, who thought her weight and appearance were “fair game”). It might even be something like “one person grew up in a very emotionally-demonstrative home, saying ‘I love you’ a lot, giving lots of hugs, etc… and the other grew up in a very strict non-demonstrative home, where displays of affection were frowned upon or simply never done.” The latter may seem cold or uncaring; the former may seem pushy or needy or ignoring of a need for consent for things like hugs. If the partners don’t unpack this, realize that their family styles had great impact, and figure out how to work with them and each other, it can cause big issues.

    Baggage piles up, mixes and mingles, and some parts reinforce other parts. Baggage is basically “pain we carry forward, and reactions we’ve learned to deal with/avoid similar pain in the future.”

    The thing is, baggage often teaches us habits that hurt us: refusing to love because we might be hurt, a habit of dishonesty to *ourselves* on what our real feelings (and fears!) are (how can you be honest with a partner if you aren’t honest with yourself?), kneejerk reactions, triggers or buttons that, when activated, create a disproportional reaction to what is actually happening, self-doubt, self-loathing, etc. Dealing with baggage is a messy, painful, difficult things to do… and it’s a long term commitment, because you might clear out one aspect or one area… then find it’s at work somewhere else, in the same or in a different way.

    Here’s where it messes with communication: often people aren’t *ready* to deal with their baggage, and some may *never* deal with it. Some may deal with this bit or that bit, but refuse to go after the underlying baggage that’s fueling the rest. Some people simply hate the introspection needed to deal with baggage, and thus do it as little as possible… and if you drag them to it every single time, in your effort to have good communication, they *will* come to resent you for it. They were perfectly FINE going along in their life with their attention always turned outward, and enduring the occasional blow-up that they have no idea why it happened—it’s in the past, it’s gone. The fact that it repeats predictably… meh. I don’t care, it’s not worth all that digging and dealing and pain to fix it. Some are so good at this, that they have *no* clue that they’re *creating* these repetitions, or that undealt-with baggage is the culprit.

    You CANNOT FORCE THEM to deal with their baggage. They will resist, and resent you—and resentment ultimately kills relationships. Sure, you can be honest, you can point it out to them, you can offer encouragement… but what they do is ultimately up to them, not you. This falls under “you cannot change a person.” You can only work on your *own* baggage, and hope that they will also. If they refuse to, if they make placating attempts or say they will and then the cycle just keeps repeating, be willing to admit to yourself that you cannot make them address baggage by invoking the “but we must communicate to make our relationship work” card. At that point, your options are to a) live with their baggage and the predictable reactions it brings up, or b) end the relationship and seek one that’s healthier.

    Sometimes the other person refusing to deal with baggage is (or becomes) a “I cannot compromise on this” point; at other times, it may well be something you can live with. It really is situational, and depends on the people involved, the baggage involved, and the effects involved. One example of the latter: someone who was a rape victim who has PTSD may not be in a place where they can fully (or even partially) deal with how it affects their sex life; their partner may be willing to work with this. Or, they may regretfully not be willing or able to work with it. IDIC, remember? Everyone is different. It’s like how some people really want to be parents and are great parents, while others never want to have children because it’s not in their nature—there is no right or wrong way in this, it’s just people and how they are: some are one way, some are another, and some are still a different way. In these situations, learning who and how YOU are is key to determining what you want to do, and whether or not you want to continue a relationship. And, it’s no fault on your partner, either, if they’re not at a place where they can, or want, to deal with their baggage; only they can decide that. Ditto for when YOU are the person who can’t or won’t deal with their baggage.

    You can communicate until the cows come home, but if there’s baggage that never gets addressed, just talking about it over and over won’t change it one iota. That’s where you decide either to live with it, or to move on, and no harm no foul either way—because YOU are the only one who can decide if you can live with it, or not. Or, if it’s your baggage, your partner has to make that decision in their own mind and heart, as to whether or not THEY can live with it. And sometimes, you have two (or more) people who each refuses to deal with their baggage, or this or that piece of it. It happens. You either learn to live together despite it, or you go find someone who is willing to do so.

    Going back to compromise for a moment: compromise has to be balanced between a reaching out and respect for the other person, and a respect and caring for yourself. Figuring out the areas where you *don’t* want to compromise, or where you will only bend a little, is important: it helps you learn more about who you are and what you value most. If you can find a partner whose “things I value most” matches up fairly closely with yours, it can help you avoid a fair amount of conflict—but remember, ALL relationships have at least some conflict. Learning to be honest with yourself, and each other, can help you navigate it.

  3. Concerning #2, the “you don’t have to be on a relationship quest”: my dad had the following bit of wisdom on the subject. He argued that nobody can be happy in a relationship if they can’t be happy on their own first. Depending on someone else to be happy makes you dependent upon them, which leads to jealousy, which leaves to anger, which leaves to suffering. (No, my dad wasn’t Yoda!)

    If you’re fine on your own and meet someone who makes your heart beat faster, you have a lot to offer (since you don’t *need* anything) and can concentrate on the other person’s happiness; you have no reason to be jealous, ever, which is also a big plus in a relationship.

    I look at my own teenage boys who are getting involved with girls: I can certainly understand why a boy who has a positive outlook on things, who seems to be genuinely comfortable with who he is, would be more interesting than another who moans “why won’t anyone love me”. Unless one’s ideal is Florence Nightingale, I would expect a potential significant other to expect to gain something out of a relationship, and not to be a happiness buoy.

  4. Fun read, but to me? you left off a HUGE one:

    “Have Fun Storming the Castle”

    why date someone if you aren’t having a good time (or any fun at all)?

    No, you don’t HAVE to have everything, or anything for that matter, in common. But you SHOULD enjoy being around that person, regardless if you are sitting on the sofa, or running with the bulls. If you aren’t enjoying being around someone?

    Go find another castle to storm.

  5. 10. addendum to Prime Directive – Don’t change who you are to be the one you think they want.

    Don’t compare the original with the reboot. Each version is unique, each has positives and negatives; approach each as individual entities.

  6. Remember, you’ll get more respect if you treat your date as a comrade-in-arms (think Star Wars) than as a companion you can just drop in on for fun “adventures” whenever the mood strikes you (think Doctor Who). Having said that, I prefer Doctor Who over Star Wars, but that’s just my personal viewing tastes.

  7. Only date someone with whom you can be friends, and value them for what they are. And NEVER disrespect their teddy bear. They’ve known the teddy bear longer than you.

  8. Never insist that they like the same manga or anime, never prosyletize for your favourite manga or anime, and, realistically, don’t ask that they act or dress like any character in your favourite manga or anime. If anything, they are their own manga or anime in the process of being written.

  9. I don’t know my trekks from my wars, but I can say that this is very sound advice, and I look forward to showing it to my kids one day. They are receiving most of their star education from their Father.

  10. I have to remember #9 in the future, couple glasses of wine and I am “and then in 10th grade we stole the shop teacher’s car!” or something (didn’t do that, but stuff just as dumb/bad).

  11. 11. Don’t just sit there..Do Something.

    Go to a movie, take a walk, get a bite to eat, go surfing. Don’t just sit there and “hang around”. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money, but if you are going to “date”, actually date. It’s a great opportunity to explore the world around and have some great company while you do it.

  12. Everyone remember where we parked!

    Seriously. There’s a Greenwich Ave. and a Greenwich St. in the west village, and that kinda mistake can ruin your evening.

    Also seriously — these are tips for LTRs, not teenage flings! What about going out in groups, sharing experiences, and going slow!?

  13. I’ve been trying to come up with a clever geek reference to title this one, but I admit defeat. So here it is:

    Pay no attention to how nicely your date is treating you; they want to impress you. How are they treating the waitstaff, the parking valet, and random strangers? A “nice guy” who is rude to the waiter is not a nice guy. The way they treat people they aren’t trying to impress is the way they will treat you when they get comfortable enough. Pay attention.

    1. No, *do* also pay attention to how nicely your date is treating you. If he or she is already making you uncomfortable, don’t put up with it in the name of being accepting, not being ableist just in case he or she has autism instead of treating you badly on purpose, believing “don’t care what other people think!!!!” enough to believe your date shouldn’t care what other people including you think, putting out for sex you don’t want to have lest your date die a virgin, etc..

  14. I don’t have a handy quote for it (I’ll ponder), but what comes to mind is:

    It’s not just about whether you like them. It’s about whether you like *yourself* when you’re *with* them.

    It’s easy to be with the wrong person if you tell yourself they’re wonderful and you suck and don’t deserve their wonderfulness. That lets people who are actually treating you poorly convince you that you can’t do any better.

    If being with somebody makes you feel like *you* aren’t good enough, then you’re with the wrong somebody.


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