8 things you need to know before dating a geek girl

Elite Daily's guide on dating geek girls was misogynistic and wrong. Here's some better advice.

Internet Culture

Published Jun 10, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 3:08 pm CDT

According to a recent listicle from Elite Daily, geek girls are low maintenance, meek, and easy to please. And for the heterosexual man about town, looking to divest himself of the Herculean efforts of waiting on women, picking out thoughtful gifts—and I don’t know, showering?—geeky girls offer just that respite. 

Or at least, that’s what author Dan Scotti wants us to think. His impression of geeky girls, however, is woefully misguided, so much so that I’m not sure he has ever actually met a geeky girl. Not all of us study quantum physics. Not all of us wear pocket protectors. Not all of us even watch Doctor Who. But I know one thing most geeky girls can unite behind: They are smart enough to know when they’re being fetishized by lazy misogynists, and they have enough self-worth to weed that crap out of their lives.

Basically, the geeky girl Scotti describes is a slightly more low-key, more academic Manic Pixie Dream Girl (a term now disavowed by its author). She’s Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State, full of optimism and enough life-affirming quirk to challenge your ennui-filled, middle-class white male lifestyle. And she magically has great taste in music and enough room in her schedule to wear a garbage bag with you in the rain.

Except in reality and not Zach Braff male-dreamland, Natalie Portman is a Harvard-educated Oscar-winner as well as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her Erdos-Bacon number is 7 (same as Stephen Hawking’s). She played Senator Amidala in the Star Wars prequels. Suffice to say, she has the geek cred deck to beat you in 100,000 rounds of Magic: the Gathering

The truth is that to land the geeky girl of your creepily Woody Allen-informed dreams, you probably need to step up your game. Geek girls don’t require less romantic effort—we require more.

So now, for those of you woefully underprepared to delve into the world of geek dating (not the Katherine Dunn variety) as a result of Elite Daily’s bad advice, let me elucidate for you.

1) Get in line

Clearly, your geek love interest has other suitors. And why wouldn’t she? My own anecdotal research has told me that if you’re a moderately conventionally attractive heterosexual female and include the word “nerd” in your online dating profile, no further effort is required. They will come forth and attempt to woo you in droves. 

Why the romanticization of geek girls? Many believe a self-proclaimed female geek is an entity of unicorn-like rarity. Many others believe, like Scotti, that geek girls mean less effort and more shared interest. 

Just don’t forget that two of Hollywood’s formerly most eligible bachelors are currently arm candy trophy husbands for one of Europe’s most sought-after human rights lawyers and a trilingual futurist and founder of a robotics company.

2) Geeky girls need to be treated as individuals

The mark of any geek can be picked up pretty quickly, especially if they rattle off lists of things they love (be they invasive species of mosquitos or post-punk record labels or intersectional feminist writers). That said, you’d better get to know a geek girl on an individual basis before you assume that, as Scotti said, she loves Game of Thrones and you find yourself unprepared for the ranting storm you’ve unleashed over the representation of women in the books versus on the TV show.

Put simply, every woman (or anyone woman-presenting), geek or not, is different, with different interests and different ways of showing enthusiasm. This should be an easy concept to understand.

3) Geek girls shouldn’t waste their time with someone who lacks intellectual curiosity

The no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Geek girls are often marked by intelligence. We are generally aware of how smart we are, and we’re not interested in helping suitors do their homework. And if you don’t have any intellectual curiosity yourself, move on immediately. 

 If a geek girl excitedly shares something with you and you respond with, “What, did you read that in an article or something?” please step away.

4) Her enthusiasm is not for your amusement

Contrasting Scotti’s point, a geeky girl does not get excited in order to show off. She does not geek out in order to be objectified or pandered to. She geeks out because that is her way. She fangirls over Neko Case, Ewan McGregor, or Neil deGrasse Tyson because it is in her nature.

A close friend of mine in college said, “Anything worth doing is worth obsessing over!” She is currently a reigning national pie champion in the blueberry Comstock category, as well as one of the top software engineers for a national non-profit. Her husband is totally supportive of her passions and is an outstanding sous chef.

A geek girl’s passion is entirely internally driven. It’s not about her making an effort to be quirky, it’s about expressing herself and her obsessive drives. You either have to appreciate that or get out of the way.

5) Her obsessions are often extremely time-consuming

Have you ever dated a cosplayer? Do you have any idea how much time they spend sewing? That constant time commitment is not just limited to cosplaying, either.

Geeky women are busy. Any woman with a passion that even borders on geekdom finds herself with little downtime. She doesn’t know how to be bored, but she also won’t always be around to do your laundry or cook your dinners. She may bounce around bat caves in Belize for post-doc research or draw comics about Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace for fun. Or she may have geeky interests, which include rewatching the entire Star Trek original series quarterly. These are priorities to her and you must allow her time for these things.

6) Conventional femininity is not the enemy of geekdom

Scotti doesn’t seem to think that geeky girls wear makeup. Of course, he also supposedly praises geeky girls, stating that they’ll likely get prettier in the future. That they’re only a couple of years (or a really great boyfriend like you!) away from their swan moments, when they grow up, learn how to contour, and finally get Lasik surgery.

Please don’t make me name all of the super hot geek celebrity women out there. And in spite of heteronormative, corporate-defined, patriarchy-driven standards, confident geeky girls tend to make up to their own standards. Some of us don’t like make-up or primping. Some of us do. Whatever space we occupy on the spectrum of conventional attractiveness (and how do you even measure that?), geeky girls have a strong tendency to decide what they like most about themselves and flaunt it, not for sexual purposes but because it makes them happy. 

And yes, as a result, it often takes them a very long time to select outfits and get ready.

7) Geeky girls have standards, possibly standards you don’t meet

Have you ever perused the Pinterest boards of a really geeky girl? You might find multiple boards devoted to Benedict CumberbatchTom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, or David Tennant. Heterosexual men have their pin-ups, but geek guy-cons are often lauded not only for their looks but for their brains and hearts, as well.

Geek guy-con obsessions aside, geek girls are realistic, and many geek girls have partners who fart regularly and willfully watch The Expendables and aren’t Benedict Cumberbatch. Our standards are high, but they are not unattainable.

That doesn’t mean you should stop showering or, for crying out loud, expect that a gift card for the mall is a great gift. The opposite is true if you seek to catch a geeky girl, who probably knits or codes or reads circles around you. Any person who seeks to have a partner, either temporarily or long-term, should probably actively pursue self-improvement and self-care as much as possible, as well as creative ways to show affection.

Just because women in pop culture trope settle for Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Kevin James, and Adam Sandler doesn’t mean geeky girls have to.

8) Geekiness in a woman is empowerment, not a sign of meekness

If you’ve ever actually spoken to a geek girl, you’ll find that while we are all different, there is one thing that geekiness brings out in all of us: The knowledge of our own power and our innate worth. Most of the institutions that control our society have long sought to make women believe they are secondary in worthiness to men. Sure, we have made some progress, but history is a heavy weight on women or anyone who has been “othered.”

However, geekiness in girls (or those who are female-presenting) is something that tends to bring out confidence and empowerment. The term “geek” has the connotation of social ineptitude, but anyone who declares geekdom is at least confident enough in what they are passionate about to proclaim it aloud.

The social stratification of geekdom has been particularly rough on women. Often geek girls find themselves socially rejected by peers early on because of their eccentricities, enthusiasm, or general unconventionality. Once geek girls are rejected from female peer groups, they are often doubly rejected from male-dominated geek groups and dubbed as unworthy of geekdom itself. 

But we rebound. We’ve been insulted, castigated, and deemed unworthy by enough people in our lives that we have realized it’s not up to others to determine our worth.

We take charge of our own lives, destinies, and romantic pursuits. Sometimes we do it boldly and sometimes we do it quietly. We have made the decision that we should not be put down for our enthusiasm or our intellectual curiosity, that we should not give up on the things we dream about, and that we will pursue our interests, no matter how obsessive or strange they may seem. And we apply the same standards to our relationships.

So no, Dan Scotti, dating geeky girls is not for those looking for low-maintenance, meek women who lack self-confidence and seek to amuse you with their knowledge of China Mieville. Geek girls are not simply looking for a guy who deigns to eventually show up with an armload of pizza and Coen brothers movies while she quietly waits, Netflixing Buffy and The X-Files. Most geek girls want to find a guy or any sort of partner who agrees on their worthiness and can keep up with them. 

And maybe even someone who, in the quiet moments, will cook them Thai food while re-watching Lord of the Rings extended recuts.

Emily Jane Scott is a writer and professional band geek. She has had an inflated opinion of her own prose since her elementary school sent her to the Young Authors Conference in 1989.  She began her freelancing career in earnest in 1998, writing for the Orlando Sentinel as a teenager, and has contributed to the Central Florida Future, Sunshine Artist magazine, and various blogs over the years.

Photo via Harry Potts/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jun 10, 2015, 4:43 pm CDT