Levelling Up Your Dating Game With Dr Nerdlove

Ask an Expert: Levelling Up Your Dating Game with Dr Nerdlove

Is your love life DOA? Say hello to Harris O'Malley, otherwise known as Dr Nerdlove. The good doctor offers love, sex, and dating advice to those of us — nerds, dweebs, dorks et al — who may be more comfortable playing Magic the Gathering than actually going to a gathering.

Image adapted from Ljupco Smokovski (Shutterstock)

You can find more from the Doctor on his blog, his podcast, and regularly on Kotaku, where he dispenses his life and love advice.


What are the most reliable signs that a woman is not interested romantically? If she is, what is the best way to ask her out on a date nowadays?

Well the most reliable sign is that she doesn't want to go on a date with you, or drives home that this a "friend" thing when you do go out — especially if nobody's said "this is a date".

Honestly, the best way to ask someone on a date is simply just say "hey, I'd like to take you out to $ACTIVITY". I'm a big advocate of inviting someone to a specific date at a specific date and time rather than the more ambiguous "hang out" or "some time".



So I have never been on a date in my entire life and I really want to start. I am super nervous about approaching women because I never know what to say and how to attract them. I would love some pointers on how I can improve myself in this field.

Well, if I can plug my blog, I've written a *lot* about starting from scratch, and I have a book coming out soon that's a starting-from-the-beginning guide to dating.

But the best advice I can give you is to not psych yourself out when it comes to talking to women. It can seem scary, but at the end of the day, it's not that big of a deal. Being turned down can hurt, but at the end of the day, it's a sign that you weren't going to work in the first place.

Quickest and easiest way to make yourself more attractive: relax and adjust your posture. Standing up straight, letting your muscles relax, holding your shoulders back and letting your chest and shoulders expand convey more confidence, and adopting that more confident posture helps you feel more confident.


What's the best way to meet people with similar interests? I'm pretty much against going out to clubs/bars/etc unless I really love the place(that's literally one place). It's mostly because I don't make much money and would just rather spend as little as possible. I've tried online dating but I always walk away from dates feeling unfulfilled or that the person is less than genuine or not really interested.

The best way to meet people with similar interests is to find ways of indulging your interests in ways that bring you in contact with others. Sometimes it's obvious: you can find MeetUps for people with specific interests or volunteering opportunities. Other times you may have to get a little creative — joining groups that are tangential but not directly related to the things you're interested in.

A lot of amateur sports leagues — especially sillier ones like kickball — are good places to meet people who may have compatible interests. Social events like pub-quizzes — especially team-based ones — can be another way to plug into a community that may have ties to things you're interested in.

The mistake is to get tunnel vision and assuming that you only want to find communities of people that are into the exact thing you're into. People tend to have wide ranges of interests and finding the areas where they intersect can be a good way to meet more people than you would if you were just looking for one specific group.


How do you know if your standards are too high?

The longer your list of must-haves, the smaller your dating pool tends to be. If you're continually finding that you can't find very few (or any) people who meet your standards, then you may want to reconsider how many of your must-haves are, in fact, "would-be-nice" and what you can be flexible on.

One thing to keep in mind: nobody, not Michael B. Jordan, not George Clooney, nobody, gets 100% of what they want in a relationship. You get 70, 80%, even 90% and round up because what your partner does offer is worth forgoing that remaining percentage.


Do you have any suggestions for people in relationships whose partners are suffering a crisis of confidence? I'm doing my best to make my partner feel good but he's had a lot of setbacks lately and is just feeling understandably bummed. I don't really know how to help and I feel useless, and him feeling sad makes me feel sad!

One of the best things you can do is be his fan and help him see himself how you see him. You don't want to sugar-coat things or lie to him, but being willing to tell him the things you appreciate about him and helping him see his own good points can be powerful.

You might also want to ask if there's anything practical you can do to help. Sometimes folks need some practical help on top of the emotional support. Just be sure to ask first; doing something out of the blue can feel like you're pressuring them into something.


The guy I most recently dated broke up with me a month ago. Today is his birthday and my stomach has been churning nonstop from thinking about our past and all the ways I could have made him happy, especially today. I've tried getting outside and spending time with friends and family, but I can't stop thinking about him. Everywhere I go, there's a reminder of our time together. Any tips to get over this?

First of all: a month isn't that long in terms of a break-up. It's OK to be sad about a relationship ending and to feel the fuck out of your feels, as long as it isn't making it impossible for you to go about your life.

The best thing for healing a broken heart is to get busy. Find things that you can occupy yourself with, whether it be work, school or your hobbies. Finding things to do focuses your time and gives you things to occupy your brain so you're not thinking about your break-up.

Exercise is also a great way to handle a break-up. The endorphins make you feel better, and you can get lost in the physicality of your own body, like a moving meditation. It also means you're doing something that's good for you in general, which helps put you in a better place mentally and emotionally.


I've read your blogs and columns, and I've observed that you advocate persistence, even after rejection. I've tried repeatedly to land just one date, to no avail. Despite my introverted nature, I have tried to approach girls, hold a conversation and so forth, but it simply seems like no one wants to date me. I'm at the point where I just don't care anymore. What do you suggest to someone who has had no luck in the dating arena and discouraged about trying after repeated failure?

First of all: don't be afraid to take a break and let yourself recover. You don't do yourself any favors by draining your energy and self-esteem.

If you're continually experiencing rejection, the best thing I would suggest that you could do is to start journaling. Sometimes you're just too close to the subject to see where things are going wrong. You want to start writing down as much information as possible about what you're doing, what you're saying, time of day, how the other person reacts. Do it as dispassionately and objectively as possible. Then try re-reading it — maybe on a weekly basis. Watch for patterns or repetitions — things that tend to crop up regularly in your interactions with people. When you start noticing these patterns, change things up.

The other thing you can do is simply break down your approach and try one thing differently for a while. Experiment a little — maybe it's what you're saying, maybe it's how you're saying it or maybe you're approaching people whose lifestyle isn't necessarily compatible with yours.

But the thing to keep in mind: dating is a skill and improving your skill takes practice. Everybody sucks in the beginning. The people who get good have persistence to push through the hard parts and keep trying.


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