The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.
Hi Dating Nerd,
I’m writing you about this girl I met on Tinder. She's a great flirt, which I respect — there aren't enough of them these days IMO. But there's one thing that drives me crazy about her. It feels like every time we talk she finds a way to bring up some other guy she’s talking to or going on a date with. I don't mind that she's not being, like, "faithful" to me or whatever. I get that the normal thing for young people right now is to date around, and honestly it takes some pressure off me to know she's not expecting me to be "boyfriend material" necessarily. But I just wish she could find something else to talk about than this. Why would someone do that? It seems like she's trying to make me jealous or something, or else just doing it because she doesn't care about my feelings, even though she's really sweet to me otherwise. Overall she seems really cool, but she's done this so many times it's started to feel like a real issue. Should this kind of thing be considered a deal-breaker? I want to know what you think.
– Not The Only One
Hi Not The Only One,
I’m sorry you like this girl, because it sounds like it's causing you no small amount of suffering. The fact that she’s telling you all about her other male interests is a sure-fire indication that she’s pretty immature. Maybe even very immature. You might think this sounds harsh, but hear me out for a second, here.
Obviously this kind of behavior is disconcerting for you. It can be hard to get to know a person through online dating. It’s even harder when you have to get to know all the other guys who are in the picture. This is a wealth of information you don’t need. And assuming this crush of yours has noticed that you aren't telling her about any of the women you have in the picture (because, as near as I can tell, you have none), she knows that you’re probably not entirely happy with this raft of unnecessary facts. She knows that every dude carries around at least a wee bit of jealousy and insecurity, and that she’s deliberately inflaming your worst tendencies.
Also? It’s not like you need reminding that she probably has a sex life. She’s hot, she’s fun, she goes on dates. It’s 2017. We all date around. This is not news. And yet she specifically goes out of her way to tell you, “Hey, other guys are into me, hey, hey, what do you think of that, hey, hey.” Why? Really, why?
Well, the most intuitive answer seems like the correct one: She’s trying to make you jealous, or at least keep you on your toes. She’s saying that she’s surrounded by dudes who are jumping through hoops for a moment of her time, and you’d better be the best show pony of all. She’s saying that the moment you fail to capture her interest, you’ll be one of a long line of men she’s discarded. Can you measure up with Harry Haircut, or Buff Bob?
Now, she’s right in that you are, in fact, competing with other guys for her attention. If you participate in the act of trying to date other human beings, that's perforce the case. But any sane person doesn’t constantly remind you of that fact, to try and trip you up. If she decides that you’re not in the running, she should just tell you that she doesn’t feel a spark, no regrets, you’re cool, but she’ll take a pass. That’s the way a mature woman does it. A mature woman doesn’t torture you just to make you squirm.
And there’s another motive for the little stories she’s telling, which isn’t any better. She’s not just playing games with you — she’s also puffing herself up. Trying to make herself sound like the heroine of a romantic comedy, or a complicated reality show. Trying to make herself sound like some sort of buried treasure, sought after by all sorts of courageous explorers.
First of all, this absolutely screams “insecure.” She should be able to feel valuable — to be confident that she’s worth it — without going on and on about it. She should have something more to talk about than how much people want to be with her. This might be a sign that she’s the kind of person who becomes sullen when they’re not given wonderful compliments 20 times a day, or when they receive the faintest implication that they’re not everyone’s favorite. Try to imagine a guy doing this — constantly telling a girl he's seeing about other girls he's seeing — and you see how desperate it feels.
And, perhaps needless to say, anyone who tries to relentlessly deliver the message that they’re a dream-girl is not that. A great partner is someone who wants to connect with you on an individual basis. Because you’re you. Not somebody who wants your attention because that proves that they’re worthy.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you absolutely shouldn’t hang out with her, or hook up with. People who care about you a little bit, but not a lot, are fun sometimes. For a little while. And frankly, even if she's oversharing, it's better that she's being honest with you and above board, rather than acting like you're the one when you're just Joe Average to her. Just make sure you know what you’re going into, and you don't let yourself get into an unhealthy dynamic with her.
For example, I’ve actually dated someone like this. Her name was Annabel, and she was great. At least, she was at first. A cute English major with endless energy. Very sweet, very clever, always filled with weird quirky jokes. But, like your Tinder prospect, Annabel was constantly talking about other interesting guys she’d hung out with. Liam the chef, Jacob the scholar. The implication was, “You’d better show me a good time, or I’ll find someone else.”
And I did show her a good time. For a little while. But it was hard, because, weirdly, it turned out that Annabel was unhappy. The moment she wasn’t the center of attention, she started feeling afraid. So she’d get grumpy anytime I talked to a female friend, and God forbid she participate in a group conversation with another beautiful woman. “She seems really trashy,” she would say about an acquaintance of mine's revealing outfit, even though she herself often wore equally revealing outfits.
What I thought was going to be a fun little fling ended ugly. When I tried to break up with her quietly, civilly, on a mostly-empty patio, because I couldn’t take it anymore, it ended in a loud outburst. “I don’t understand why you don’t want to screw me,” she shouted. Then she threw half a beer in my face. I went home, took a shower, toweled myself off, and felt relief.
Perhaps this girl won’t be like that. But signs so far do not look positive.
Look. Maybe you’re not looking for a long-term partner, but before you devote your precious time to somebody — and your time is precious, remember that — you should at least take a moment to think about what kind of person you want to end up with. My assumption is that you want somebody who’s not constantly engaging you in psychological games. And you don’t want someone who doesn’t make you feel like you constantly have to cater to their extremely complicated needs. Also, you want someone who sees you as more than a guy in a long string of guys, someone she can tell the next guy about. This might not be that person.
If you dismiss what I’m saying, because you like her, and you want to give her the benefit of the doubt — if you think I’m reading too much into a small pattern of behavior — then, honestly, I hope you’re right. I hope she’s not actually an insecure, self-absorbed person who will ruin things between you. Reader, I wish you luck.