Hello all you frightening nipplybeasts, and welcome to Ask Dr. NerdLove, the only dating advice column to help you speed run through the worst parts of dating and start the New Game Plus of your love life.

This week, we’re diving into the weird corners of relationship drama, the sorts of questions you never thought you would need to ask until you suddenly had to deal with them. How do you know when you’re being too picky about what you want in a relationship? How do you find the motivation to actually date when the world is a raging trashfire? How do you tell your current girlfriend about how you’ve memorialized a girlfriend who died suddenly?

It’s time to gird your loins and insert coins. Let’s do this.

Hey Doc,

Well, I’m single, lonely, and mildly irritated by everything. I feel like this because I’m so isolated from the majority of people I know. Daily, I properly speak with around eight people, anything more than “hello” or another greeting. I am wondering if a dating site would be my best option because it is hard for me to find a girl that I like that fits all of the following traits:

Heathen (Norse religion)

Intelligent

Charismatic

Gorgeous

Tough

Athletic

Roleplays at a minimum

I feel like I’m practically asking for a valkyrie that plays D&D. In my last relationship, she was only tough. That was all she brought to the table. When I talk to girls outside of my social circle, but still the common people of the region, I feel like I’m speaking with a child, and it sucks. I value the mentality above all else, but I still want the physical ability to be there.

I also feel that I will never have a relationship that makes me content. My whole family on my da’s side is extremely analytical- it’s surprising that I exist. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but how do I not pick at all of a girl’s flaws, even though I’m around her every day?

Really, there are three ultimate questions: 1. Should I not be so picky 2. Should I use a dating site to find someone, due to locale 3. Should I wait until I have more friends of the Norse religion to choose from?

Desperately Seeking Freya

You’re asking the wrong questions, DSF.

I mean, you can be picky to your heart’s content, and if you’ve got your heart set on finding Lagertha who also loves D&D and World of Darkness games, then more power to you… as long as you realize that the longer your list of “must haves” is, the list of reasons why you’re still single is equally as long. This doesn’t have anything to do with you per se, but more about pure demographics. The more specific you get, the more you narrow your potential dating pool down.

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Take, for example, your desire to find someone who’s a practicing Heathen. The number of active Asatru practitioners alone ranges from somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 depending on which census you refer to.

So if being an active practitioner of old Norse religions is a must have then you’ve already decimated the number of potential partners. The number of women who a) practice Asatru and b) are single is going to be very small indeed. Of those, the number who’ll meet your standards of looks, charisma, athleticism and also gaming? You’re going to be lucky if you haven’t narrowed it down to double or even single digits.

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(And that’s before we winnow out the Odinists, who’re white nationalists.)

At that point, online dating is likely not going to be your best bet. While there are undoubtedly sites that have higher pagan populations than others — even ones that specialize in single pagans—you’re still going to be dealing with a very small population at best.

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And that’s assuming that they’re even in your geographic area.

You’ll have better luck going to where the Heathens are and meeting them in person. Which, incidentally, includes metal festivals and burns. Evidently there’s a disproportionate number of Asatru practitioners in the Burner community.

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But here’s the real problem you’re going to have: your social skills kinda suck. And that’s going to follow you whether you’re trying to meet people online or in person.

Here’s the thing about dating sites, DSF: while they’re great places to meet people — especially as a way of supplementing meeting people in person — they’re not magical, liminal spaces where all your problems disappear. People whose social skills are rusty in real life tend to find that those same limitations transfer over to dating sites too because, hey: talking to folks online is functionally the same as talking to them in person.

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If you’re having a difficult time talking with folks who don’t fit firmly within your very narrow sphere of interests in person, you’re going to have a similar problem having those conversations with people online.

Because to be perfectly honest? The number of folks who don’t match what you’re looking for is going to be a lot larger than the people who do. And even if you happen to find the 5th ed Valkyrie of your dreams, you’re still going to have to deal with other people in your life. If she — and your social circle — are the only people you talk to, you’re going to find yourself isolated really damn fast.

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I suspect that part of your problem is that you aren’t comfortable talking with people who don’t already match your narrow set of interests. If you’re feeling like you have a hard time talking with folks with whom you don’t already have major commonalities, then it’s a lot easier to write them off as being less interesting, less intellectual or less stimulating than it is to accept that you’re the one who feels awkward. What you need to do, more than anything else, is learn to develop your social skills and get more proficient at interacting with people in general instead of sticking to the small slice of the Venn diagram where all of your interests intersect.

Part of this is going to involve consciously choosing to be interested in people and being willing to get to know them as more than just “not my tribe” or looking for the flaws that retroactively justify your not feeling comfortable with them in the first place.

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You don’t need to be Baldur the Beautiful or the most social butterfly of the Aesir, but you do need to be both willing and able to talk to more people, and for those interactions to be more than just a grunt or monosyllabic interactions.

The more social you become, the more socially successful you’ll be. Both in person and online.

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Good luck.

Hey Doc,

Been a lurker on the blog for years and decided to reach out because I feel stuck, but not for the reasons I see other guys messaging you about frequently.

I’m far from a virgin, but my last meaningful relationship was in high school, and I’m 25 at present. I have a job, my own place that I keep reasonably clean, and a therapist I talk to every month about my problems. I started seeing him almost two years ago, after the 2016 election basically broke me. Despite the therapy and the antidepressants, I can’t seem to affect the positive changes I want to make in my life, namely get a job that’s not a night shift, and by extension, be more social.

To put it simply, I feel like there’s no point because every indication seems to point towards the world being screwed. From Trump getting elected in 2016 and leading an effort to turn the US into an authoritarian state to recent reports about climate change, everything seems to point towards disaster in my lifetime. And the worst part is, not enough people care to do anything about it. Everyone seems to just be wandering around, hypnotized by pop culture. I’m just as guilty as anyone else - I spend much of my free time with my nose in a book or lost in a video game because I find those worlds infinitely preferable to ours. The people in them (usually) actually give a shit and try to make change happen in meaningful ways, rather than dithering around while the planet gets hotter and hotter.

And all that leads me to ask: what’s the point of it all? Why should I take care of my physical health when everything seems to be headed towards disaster in the next few decades? What’s the point of making friends and meeting people when we’re all just going to eat each other as the world collapses around us? Perhaps most terrifying of all, why should I find the will to carry on living now when the future is just a nightmare looming in the distance?

Sincerely,

A Writer With Issues

You, WWI, are a classic example of “the problem you have isn’t the problem you think you have.”

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Your biggest issue isn’t that the world is a blasted hellscape where we’re all rapidly discovering that the falcon no longer hears the falconer and that the blood-dimm’d tide is loose, it’s that you’re dealing with depression and your current therapies aren’t helping.

I mean yeah, on one level you’re not wrong: Trump got elected and he seems hell-bent on ending the great experiment that was representational democracy, Nazis are having a resurgance and politicians and corporations don’t seem to give a flying fuck at a rolling donut over the fact that they’re hastening the end of the ecosphere as we know it.

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But on the other hand, you seem to have gone out of your way to miss… well, literally everything. From the get-go, the people have been active in ways that we haven’t seen in decades. We’re seeing protests, marches and political activism that has been unmatched since the opposition to the Vietnam War. The Trump administration has been handed defeat after defeat and even attempts at stacking the deck haven’t worked out for them the way they’ve hoped. 2018 was a political landslide that lead to the Dems taking back the House of Representatives and, in the process, reclaiming the duty of conducting oversight on the Executive branch.

Hell, around the world there has been positive changes. Just this week in the United Kingdom and Eurpoean Union, the UKIP were handed defeats so profound that it may well have destroyed the party entirely, and entire swaths of right-wingers are terrified of people with the right to bear milkshakes.

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So while I get that you’re feeling frustrated and hopeless, the idea that people are just idly standing by and letting it happen is compete and utter horse shit.

And hell, even if it were true… that doesn’t mean that you can’t start trying to do something about it. I mean your choices here are cowboy up or just lie there and bleed.

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You may be one man, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute to the cause. You can call your senators and representatives and make your voice heard. You can volunteer with election campaigns, both for local politicians and for one of the current candidates running for the presidency in 2020. You can organize in your community, join a protest and otherwise be the kind of man that Steve Rogers knows that you can be.

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But that’s not really the issue here.

The issue here is that you’re dealing with depression and depression fucks with you on multiple levels. It saps your motivation and your energy, it clouds your vision and it whispers in your ear about how there’s just no point to anything. And it’s all the more seductive because it uses your voice to do it.

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But depression is a goddamn liar. Things may be dark — nobody’s denying that — but it’s neither inevitable nor hopeless yet. But before you can do anything else, you need to deal with it.

And here’s the thing: I can tell you from personal experience depression is hard to fuckin’ control. Different therapies and treatments just won’t work for some folks. It takes a while to find the one that you need. Some people respond to cognitive behavioral therapy. Some folks need talk therapy. Some people find that yoga and mindfulness meditation helps; for others, it’s a waste of their time. Some people need medication. Many people need a combination of all of the above.

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And even then, it may take time to find the exact combo that works for you. It takes a while for antidepressants to work, and finding the right medication and dosage is more art than science. You may have the right therapy but the wrong therapist. And most importantly, you need to be willing to advocate for your own needs.

So if you’re finding that your current regimen isn’t working for you, that’s something to bring up to your therapist. You may need a different dosage or a different medication entirely. Hell, you may find that what you need is to switch therapists. Therapy is, in its own way, a lot like dating. You need someone you have actual chemistry with, someone you feel understands you and your problems and who you believe you can be open and honest with. If that’s not your current therapist, then it may well be time to find someone else.

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You’re seeing a lot of darkness in the world, and that’s understandable. But right now you need to start being your own light in the darkest hour. You’re gonna have to be your own hero because nobody else is coming to save you.

But you can do it. You’ve got the strength. You’ve got the power. You can make a difference, in your life and the world around you.

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Write back and let us know how you’re doing.

All will be well.

Dear NerdLove,

Bit of background before my question: a few years ago I was engaged to my childhood sweetheart. We had been together for 15 years and I thought we were happy up until the day she took her own life. Naturally this was hard on me and I spent a good three years dealing with this.

Recently I have started trying to see people again and I met a girl that I can see myself seeing more often. We have been on 6 dates and things seem to be going well. But I have a tattoo on my arm that was done in memory of my late fiancee and she has been asking questions about it. I want to tell this person the truth about what happened and what my sweetheart meant to me. But I don’t know how to tell her.

I fear if I don’t do this right I might A) scare her off or B) make her feel like she is competing with a dead girl. But I want to let her in, I just feel like I am walking a tightrope without a net. Any advice on how to approach this topic with her and not ruin what seems to be a chance at being happy again would be very helpful.

In Memoriam

Before I get started: I’m so sorry for your loss. Suicide is always a tragedy and in many ways it can be incredibly hard on the folks who’re left behind.

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Now with that in mind: you’re overthinking this, IM.

First of all: if the fact that you lost someone you loved to a very real tragedy is enough to scare somebody off… well, to be blunt, this wasn’t going to be a relationship that would last.

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Second: I don’t think you get just how appealing and romantic many women will find this scenario. The romance genre has more stories of “man who dealt with a tragic loss is learning to love again” than I can easily count, and there are women out there who will eat that with a spoon.

But honestly, there’s not really much you need to say here. This isn’t some candle-lit shrine to her memory. It’s not as though your current girlfriend is going to discover she looks JUST like your childhood sweetie. This isn’t some deep dark terrible secret that you need to hide, it’s a heartbreaking piece of your past. You lost your childhood sweetheart and you got this tattoo in memory of her and the history you had together. That’s it. That’s all you need to say. If she has questions, you can either answer them or tell her that you’d rather not talk about it right how, but most people are going to take their lead from you. If you make a dramatic production about this, then yeah, she might feel weird about things. But if you treat it — not matter of factly but with seriousness and tact — she’ll understand.

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Just recognize that what you’re doing is showing somebody that you trust them enough to be vulnerable with them. In all likelihood, she’ll feel honored that you were willing to open up to her like this.

Good luck.


Did you have a long list of dating prerequisites? Did you learn to love again after a tragic loss? Share your story in the comments below and we’ll be back with more of your questions in two weeks.

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Ask Dr. Nerdlove is Kotaku’s bi-weekly dating column, hosted by the one and only Harris O’Malley, AKA Dr. NerdLove. Got a question you’d like answered? Write doc@doctornerdlove.com and put “Kotaku” in the subject line.

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Harris O’Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove and the Dr. NerdLove YouTube channel. His new dating guide New Game+: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex and Dating is out now from Amazon, iTunes and everywhere fine books are sold He is also a regular guest at One Of Us.

He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook and on Twitter at @DrNerdLove.