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The Geek Guide to Dating A Geek


Resident style contributor Elizabeth Giorgi takes some time out from DIYing Wonder Woman shoes to share some general advice and personal experience that’s just as relevant to anybody who isn’t dating a geek or isn’t a geek themselves.

I’ve been a self-identified nerd since I was 16, but I didn’t always date within my identity. I dated all kinds. Hipsters. Musicians. Wannabe hipsters. Bad musicians. My current boyfriend is a total nerd too, but I almost gave up on our relationship after our first date because he hadn’t read George Orwell’s 1984. (And he over-used exclamation points in his emails.)

Five years later, I’m so happy I didn’t let dystopian fiction and punctuation stand in the way of love. Here’s 5 rules for geek dating:

1. Don’t judge a geek by their fandom. If you’re a Trekkie, but you discover that the nerd you’re dating hasn’t even seen a clip of Star Trek on YouTube, don’t immediately guffaw. It will be your first reaction, because you can’t imagine your life without it. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to show a side of yourself to this person and share it with them.

2. If they don’t get it, don’t freak out. My boyfriend doesn’t really get my obsession with Game of Thrones. He’s just not into it and I don’t need him to be. As a result, it’s something that we just don’t do together. In the end, I appreciate that we have our own interests. Yes, it’s fun to dress up in coordinating outfits at Cons together, but there’s also a lot more to life than cosplay. Unless you’re cosplaying every week, I wouldn’t base a relationship on it.

3. Share your passion. There’s this tendency among geeks to try and one up each other with knowledge. This comes out in trivia contests, coffee shop conversations and comment sections. It can be really easy to start bickering over the validity of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, but don’t use your shared passions to compete with one another. Instead, use it to grow closer, share experiences and discover new things.

4. Invest in yourself. Geeks love to invest in their collections. Comic books, LEGO sets and action figures all require a commitment of both financial resources and time. As a result, many geeks don’t spend a lot of time or money improving themselves. Go buy a nice pair of jeans and a top that isn’t from Threadless and walk confidently. Then, get a haircut that brings out your best features. If you feel good about the way you look, you’ll feel more confident whenever that first date happens and as you go about your day. (Before you go nuts in the comments section about how outward appearances shouldn’t be important, remind yourself that you wouldn’t show up for a job interview or a Con dressed inappropriately. A date should be no different.)

5. Be open-minded. This goes hand in hand with rule number 1, but I wanted to bring it up again for another reason. In matters of compatibility, we can get very focused on finding someone with shared interests instead of someone with a compatible personality. As a result, we often overlook the people who make us laugh, simply because they don’t love The Hobbit as much as you. I’d choose laughter over canon every time. 

Elizabeth Giorgi is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She blogs about mixing life as a nerd with her career at beinggeekchic.com. In 2010, she was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen. Follow her on Twitter: @lizgiorgi

Pic via Something Awful.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Aw, #1 reminds me of this comic:

    http://xkcd.com/1053/ 
    And yes – just about everything in life can be explained in an XKCD cominc. FACT. 

  • Anonymous

    what about a guide for non-geeks going out with geeks?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001133557040 L.m. Polites

    Re: #4 I agree 100%. I don’t think of it as being vain or shallow at all. 
    I think of it more as self respect. I work out and dress well to make myself happy, NOT to impress anyone else. Why would you treat your body with less care than you do your comic books? 
    I am far from being perfect, but I care enough about myself to not look like 5 lbs of crap in a 3 lb bag. Just because you’re a geek does not mean you should actually look like Jabba the Hut or Comic Book Guy.

  • http://twitter.com/theomniarch Adil Kurji

    They all seem to be variants about the same thing:

    “Don’t be a dick about geeky shit.”

    Or did I miss something?

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Buy new clothes and get a haircut.”

  • Frodo Baggins

    Well, whomever I date better love this hobbit, at least.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    1.Not everybody can afford new clothes and/or a haircut. And flattering haircuts are ridiculously expensive and to keep it up you have to pay that amount again and again in a month or a couple of weeks.  Also, what’s wrong with Threadless? :) 

    2. There is no appropriate dress for a Con.  Some people like to go in jammies.  Some people (myself included) love to go in a different costume every day.  As long as you abide by local decency/nudity laws, there’s no dress code for con. :)

  • Nadja Boehm

    Thanks! I appreciate that comment. 

    I am a girl and as much as I don’t dress fashionable I have some kind of personal style and class. It’s not about wearing a costume but while wearing things you’re comfortable in they can also bring out your nice features. 

    Yes, it’s nice to wear that threadless or woot t-shirt, it’s who you are. But combine that with a nice pair of jeans and clean shoes, or a skirt and a nice necklace/scarf and it makes one hell of a difference. 

    Just because we label ourselves as geeks doesn’t mean we should not think about appearance. And honestly, you really don’t need to fit into ever cliche ;o)

  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah


    Why would you treat your body with less care than you do your comic books?” BRILLIANT!

    I have no problem dropping 30 bucks on a stack of comic books, but 30 buck on a pair of jeans that actually fit, I have to debate and justify it. Nice clothes make you feel nice. I love my w00t, teefury, RiptAparrel, and Qwertee shirts but they make me feel even better when I wear them with skirts, nice shoes, and jewelry. They can be fancy. Meanwhile I’m trying to convince my nerdy boyfriend to buy another pair of jeans, since he only has ONE pair. 

  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah

    A nice haircut doesn’t have to be expensive. My most favorite hairstylist ever is at a training salon with pricing based on stylist experience. The less experienced the stylist, the cheaper it is. Don’t discount newbie stylists, they have fresher ideas and a cheaper price. I get my hair cut for less than $25 with the tip. The other trick is to research haircuts before you go, that way you have a clear idea. Certain cuts don’t have to be maintained like others. I told my stylist right off the bat that I am EXTREMELY low maintenance and my hair is too. You can’t tell all I do it scrunch in some product and let it air dry. And I’ve written a lot now. 

    tl:dr Try a training salon and research haircuts before hand. Also tell the stylist you want something low maintenance. 

  • Anonymous

    I get awesome hand-me-downs from my best friend who is way more girly than me. And my mom still cuts my hair. It’s all about making due with what you have and can access. Just because you lack the finances doesn’t mean you have to dress like you do. I’m sure if can afford a Threadless shirt, you can buy an equally nice and flattering shirt. It’s about priorities, we have to represent our genre and show the world we aren’t the basement dwelling fashion victims they think we are. 

  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah

    Oh and the FIT of clothes is more important than the price or trendy-ness. 

  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah

    As a geek dating a geek, yup these are all pretty true. When we go to the comic book stores together I’m primarily DC while he’s buying a little bit from everything. I buy comics to read and he obsessively seals them after reading and has the big comic boxes. I’m also a much bigger webcomic nerd than him, but he knows tons more about anime. It all comes down to respect and communication. 

  • Anonymous

    “If you feel good about the way you look, you’ll feel more confident [...]”

    New clothes and a haircut ain’t gonna make me like the way I look, and I sure could get a lot of movies/comics/figurines for the same price!

  • Anonymous

    As someone or other said, looking pretty is not the rent you have to pay for occupying a space marked “female”, and I will not pay it to occupy a space marked “female nerd.”

    What is a “flattering” shirt anyway?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000126711816 John Lam

    At the risk of sounding like a jerk, the fact that number 4 actually needs to be said mystifies me. It’s one of those things–much like the “make sure you shower at least once a day!!” tips in “How to enjoy convention” booklets–that makes all nerds look like basement dwelling losers. 

  • http://twitter.com/sithwitch Lauren

     It does need to be said. Back in high school, I had no self esteem and while I did not live in a basement since I didn’t live in an area that had basements, I had absolutely no self-esteem and lots of issues and didn’t want to be noticed by anybody ever. So I wore gigantic t-shirts and huge jeans and an oversized jacket even though I lived somewhere that was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit more often than not and tried to avoid notice. One day I decided, “I’m better than this.” I didn’t get rid of t-shirts all together, but right about then was when I found places online that made girl-cut shirts with geeky references that still felt like protective armor to me. I got the haircut that I’d been too scared to get in high school and played around with dyeing it. I even started wearing skirts on occasion because what the hell, I found one or two that I thought made me look fantastic.

    It’s not about getting a 100 dollar haircut or Alexander McQueen heels. It’s about feeling good. I feel better when I don’t look like a turtle. Feeling better about myself absolutely helped me feel bold enough to ask a guy out for the first time ever. Now I’m married to him, and while I’ve still never thrown away the Darth Maul t-shirt that’s three sizes too big for me, I’ve also never thrown away the awesomely flattering purple v-neck shirt that looks great with my eyes.

    And it was cheap, so I had no qualms about running by my LCBS afterwards.

  • http://twitter.com/sithwitch Lauren

     To me (and this is just me, mind) a flattering shirt is one that makes you feel good. My two favorite shirts are a dark purple one that looks fantastic with my hair and eye color and my Padme Nouveau shirt, for completely different reasons. I like what I feel like I’m saying when I wear them both.

    It’s not about looking “pretty”, at least to me. It’s about feeling in yourself. I feel better about myself when I’m in clothes that I feel comfortable in, which is why I don’t wear dresses or shorts but do wear a lot of socks with designs and fitted t-shirts that are either geeky or have dark, solid colors. I have a mental image of myself that involves wearing those clothes, and I feel more comfortable on days when that outer image matches my mental image. (Sometimes my mental image wears giant t-shirts and pj pants, and I’m cool with that, too.)

  • Anonymous

    I laughed at the Threadless thing, cause I have 3 of their shirts but I didn’t know they were considered “geeky”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/briannons Briannon Schaeffer

    I’d prefer a Threadless (or other quirky) tee over many other shirts. But don’t let your pants fall apart! Holes in pants -> not good.
    Otherwise, Word.

  • http://twitter.com/BoomCookie Valerie Schoman

    Short and sweet.  Good advice!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/Das_Pooch John Paduch

    So you don’t like the way you look now, or do you just not care at all?

    If you don’t care how you look, then you’re in the social minority, and despite what you may tell yourself (“only shallow people care!”), you’re not better than the rest of us for not caring. While it’s true that some people care too much about looks, those are people who take it to extremes. The rest of us put SOME effort into how we look, be it via exercise or having nicer clothes, because it feels good to look good, and there’s nothing shallow about that. It shows a certain level of self-respect, and when people see you respecting yourself, they’ll have more respect for you as well.

    If, on the other hand, you dress like a scrub, eat too much and get no exercise, it tells people that they needn’t respect you, because you clearly don’t have enough respect for yourself to at least keep healthy and put some effort into yourself.