Love may be a many splendored thing, but that doesn't mean we don't screw it up from time to time. This year, we decided to hire a guy who might help with that.
Ever since his first column last January, Harris "Dr. Nerdlove" O'Malley has been visiting Kotaku every two weeks to dole out relationship advice to many of our readers. Let's take a look back at the all the advice he offered in 2014.
"Frankly, your relationship is over. She's cut off all intimacy, lest you start thinking about sex. She's not willing to work at fixing things and when you fight, it's pretty clear she's fighting to wound, not to resolve things."
"Anxiety and insecurity are relationship-killers, whether they're directed inwards or outwards. It makes it impossible to relax and to trust in your partner, in your relationship and in yourself. You can't be with someone, really with them when you're constantly waiting for the Sword of Damocles to fall. Y'know. Like you are right now."
"Remember: when it comes to dates, exciting beats pleasant hands down."
"You're allowed to keep a certain amount of space and set limits, even with your friends. You don't need to be at their beck and call or give them all your time. Set some boundaries and do things on your terms, too."
"By chaining your self-esteem to external factors, you've surrendered your sense of self to others; it can be taken from you at any time. Is that really the way you want to live?"
"I know there's that fear that you're going to be Forever Alone. But here's the secret: everyonehas that fear. It's easy to give in to despair and assume the worst, but nobody, nobody knows what life is going to bring. And that's the glorious thing about life: there is always hope."
"Hard truth time: you weren't really on the path to romance. Hand-holding and cuddling is nice, but you weren't really dating. You were hanging out - platonically. The fact that neither of you would classify what you were doing as "dating" is a pretty good clue that this wasn't on the road to romance."
"The fact that the person on the other end of these DMs and messages is refusing to meet in person or Skype or what-have-you is a giant red flag."
"One of the things it's going to do is filter out people you aren't compatible with. People who freak out because you've got an advanced degree, know your way around an engine or because you like a good stout or IPA instead of a malbec are doing you a favor by self-selecting out of your dating pool and good goddamn riddance."
"Sometimes a problem isn't really a problem. Sometimes a problem is only a problem because other people insist on making it a problem."
"This is the worst possible time to move in with someone you're dating. Moving in together is the ultimate stress-test of a relationship and if there're any cracks in the relationship, it's going to shatter the whole thing. Breaking up is painful enough; it's even worse when you're stuck in a lease with someone you used to date."
"Honestly? I think the problem was just miscommunication. If you're still interested in him, there's no reason not to give it another try."
"Just because he's into her doesn't mean that she's suddenly lost all free will and it's just a matter of time until he's racked up enough XP to level up to Booty Call. Attraction isn't destiny. The fact that he wants her doesn't call your relationship into question. She's dating you specifically and either you trust her or you don't."
"While I can see the different points of view, I'm of the opinion that people don't get veto power over other people's relationships. His sister is her own person with her own interests and desires; telling her that his feelings outrank hers is a shitty thing to do. He doesn't get to control her dating life."
"When we focus on what other people have that we don't, it's easy to lose track of what we do have. And even when you don't have a lot, you can turn it into more than it seems. Taking time to appreciate what you do have and to express that appreciation for what others have given you or done for you is a powerful way of pulling yourself out of the darkness."
"You already knew this was a bad situation, but the combination of sex and feeling like you were secretly the hero of this story is combining to make you feel like a character in a movie. At this point, there almost had to be some part of you that knew there was no way this was ever going to end well."
"OK, all of those things you're worried about? That's your depression speaking. Almost every single one of those fears and anxieties are the voice of of that large gray weight bearing down on you, sucking your life away."
"Here's the cold hard truth about 'The Friend Zone': all that's happened is that this person doesn't want to date you or sleep with you. That's it. There's no malice involved. You're not being exiled, tricked, toyed with, kept on 'the friend ladder' or any other horseshit, she's just not into you the way you're into her. Period, the end."
"You met this woman on an online dating site, not an online friending site. She met up with you because hey, there seems to be a bit of chemistry there, why not see how you two do in real life? And now she's a little confused because you mostly walked around and talked. Which can come off as you tellingher you're not interested in more than friendship. As a result… well, she's going to start seeing you as a friend."
"It's generally a bad idea to ask someone out while they're at work."
"One of the best things you can do when it comes to meeting new people and striking up friendships is to get proactive with your hobbies and interests."
"Remember: You have have a right to your boundaries and you're not obligated to sacrifice them to spare some dude's feelings, especially when he's being a jerk about it."
"How to introduce your girlfriend to the idea that you're into the stuff you're into? Start by bringing up the topic in a way that doesn't necessarily come across as picking a fight."
"Your other photos should be the ones that make you look like you're fun to be with. Include at least one full body shot. And absolutely no "check these abs" selfies. Seriously, they make you look like a douchebag"
Dr. Nerdlove will be back next week with a new column. In the meantime, you can find more of his work at his site, Paging Dr. Nerdlove, and if you have a romantic query of your own, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Kotaku" in the subject line.