The 10 commandments of dating a nerd

Have you ever dated a geek? Thanks to the popularity of superheroes, Apple products, and sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, nerds and geeks are all the rage now. 

Relationship

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Have you ever dated a geek? Thanks to the popularity of superheroes, Apple products, and sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, nerds and geeks are all the rage now. Most non-geeks assume that it’s easy to be with one –  after all, nerds are so desperate for romance that they’ll do anything to appease their partners.

But as any geek (or partner of a geek) would know, we can be notoriously high-maintenance. Delete our folder full of Harry Potter fan art, and you’ll find yourself sitting alone on a curb somewhere. Mix up Star Wars and Star Trek and you’ll send us into a blinding rage. Say that anime is for kids, and you’ll spend the weekend confined to a couch, terrified, as you suffer through the horrors of Elfen Lied.

Okay, so maybe nerd rage isn’t that bad. But while even the most loving geek boyfriends and girlfriends will take the time to explain their interests to you, it’s less painless for all if you go in prepared.

Need to know more? Continue reading to learn our 10 commandments of dating a geek.

1. Cosplay with your geeky boyfriend or girlfriend at least once
Not every geek has tried cosplaying. But we can assure you that everyone secretly wants to do it. You don’t need to accompany your significant other to every con, as registration can be pretty expensive, but when you do, have some fun by agreeing to cosplay with them. Not only will the experience bring you closer together, but it’s a little weird for a couple to show up at a con with one person fully dressed in costume while the other wears a T-shirt and jeans. If you’re wary of cosplaying, start off with something easy, like the Doctor and his companion or Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

2. Never say that anime is for kids
The only thing that Saturday morning cartoons and Japanese anime have in common is that they are hand-drawn. While most Western cartoons are geared toward children, most Japanese anime caters to an older audience. Many series are epic in scope and encompass heavy themes like sex, gender, ideology, religion, and history. For instance, Fullmetal Alchemist, whose lead character is a human soul trapped inside a set of armor, asks what it means to be human – is a person really human without a human body? Without the ability to sleep and to eat? Understanding how anime addresses the complexity of these questions will help you respect the art form, and in turn, your geeky significant other, more than if you were to dismiss it as a “kid’s cartoon.”

3. Know the differences between fandoms
Entering a fandom can be overwhelming. But if you’re not going to take a deep interest in them, at least know the differences between properties. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman belong to DC, while the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four belong to Marvel. The wise old wizard in Harry Potter is named Albus Dumbledore, while the similarly bearded old guy in Lord of the Rings is named Gandalf. You have your Twilight vampires, which are for newbs, and your legitimate vampires, which belong to Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, and a thousand years of folklore. And don’t even get us started on the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. If you’re unsure of something, either quickly check on Wikipedia or ask your geek about it flat-out. Being honest about your newbishness is better than acting like you know more than you do.

4. Have your honeymoon at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Take a geek girl here and she’ll be yours for eternity. Traversing the ancient halls of Hogwarts, sipping Butterbeer and picking out a wand, is a thousand times more fun than just tanning in on a beach somewhere. But if Florida’s too far, you can always take her to Tokyo Disneyland, where people ship and stan for characters without having even seen the films. Which brings us to our next point…

5. Learn some basic geek and fandom lingo
Be prepared to hear a whole bunch of terms like ship, stan, fanon, canon, OTP, lolitas, WIP, mpreg, flame, drabble, slash, retcon, woobie, and otaku. Again, this can be a little overwhelming, so we recommend that you learn them organically instead of frantically cramming the list of fandom slang words on Wikipedia. A couple basic ones to know though: stans are super diehard fans, otaku refers to people who are obsessed with anime and manga, ships (short for “relationships”) are to fandoms centered on a romantic pairing in pop culture (such as Bella/Edward from Twilight), and an OTP (“One True Pairing”) is the person’s number one dream pairing.

6. Be understanding if he can’t afford to buy you a Hermes bag because he needs to acquire his Limited Edition Gundam figurine
Ideally, a geeky guy would be so loving that he’d delay his purchase for yours. But there’s a time and place for everything. If you’re the type of person who expects a guy to pay for all the meals and buy you expensive presents for every single anniversary so that you can one-up your girlfriends, then you’re probably dating the wrong person (or perhaps you shouldn’t be dating altogether). Understand that while your partner’s acquisition of rare comics, gothic lolita accessories, and figurines might seem impractical, it’s not any worse than a non-geek’s proclivity for designer handbags, shoes, and makeup.

7. Line up with him to midnight premieres
Be prepared for a whole lot of late nights, beginning with the midnight premieres for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, at the end of this year. One hallmark of geekery is that we love being the first to read or see anything, which means that for  a highly-anticipated adaptation of one of our faves, anything later than 12:01am is a no-go. Again, your partner will understand if you don’t have the energy for every single midnight premiere, but going for at least one or two will show that you take an interest in what excites her. And of course, bonus points if you agree to go in costume.

8. Engage him or her in nerdy conversation
Nerds are famously imaginative. Don’t be surprised if he one day asks what your Patronus would be if you were a wizard, whether you’d rather go to Hogwarts or Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, or which of your mutual friends would die first if the whole world were suddenly plunged into The Hunger Games. While you might be tempted to huff and puff at such pointless topics, you can actually learn a lot about how your significant other thinks by entertaining these questions.

9. Don’t judge him for reading more manga and graphic novels than actual novels
Okay, this was a tough one for us to write. On the one hand, people should be well-read, which means maintaining a balance of fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels. On the other hand, so few people read today that we consider it a plus if someone at least reads comics – and honestly, some of them are so well-written and philosophical (such as Watchmen, by Alan Moore and The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman) that they consistently show up on lists as some of the best literary work of the past 100 years. Like anime, graphic novels shouldn’t be equated with kiddy fare like Archie comics. Give them a try and you might be surprised by how much brain power they require.

10. Be prepared to deal with nerd rage
Finally, we’ve arrived at the point of reckoning: nerd rage. As much as we love ourselves, our fandoms, and our fellow geeks, we’ve got to admit that geeks aren’t immune to douchebaggery. People might assume that nerds who were marginalized in secondary school are more humble than most people, but many of them are fiercely protective of their interests and will shun any “wannabe geeks” who decide to jump on the bandwagon. At the same time, a geek can become pretty obnoxious when you reveal something “newbish”, like the fact that you’ve never seen a film from Studio Ghibli. What can we say? Geeks aren’t perfect, but the onus is on you to walk away if he consistently uses his interests as a platform to bully you. 

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