Ask Dr Nerdlove: How Do I Ask Out The GameStop Girl?

Ask Dr Nerdlove: How Do I Ask Out The GameStop Girl?

What’s up, Kotaku? Welcome to the latest instalment of Ask Dr NerdLove, the only dating advice column that understands what to do when your prince or princess isn’t just in another castle, they’re also not returning your calls.

This week, we have stories of office-fling etiquette and an answer to the burning question: What do you do about your crush on the hot GameStop clerk?

Hey Dr NerdLove,

So a while back I was having casual sex with a women I met through some friends (best sex I’ve ever had actually). Let’s call her Jill. After a while she was giving me some hints that she wanted to have a relationship and not just casual sex. But every time I invited her to dinner or going out for drinks or whatever, she would have some excuse to not go. Then we would end up going out with friends again, and end up banging again.

Question 1: What’s up with that? Why would she say she wanted more than sex, and then make no effort to do so?

Now, I work with her. After a few weeks, I noticed she was flirting with me pretty heavily. So I asked her to dinner. She blushed and said she wants to, but because we work together, she isn’t sure if we should date. But she said “We should at least hang out”

Now she has been asking me like every Friday, “What are you doing this weekend?” I let her know my plans and ask what she’s doing. She is usually not doing much. She asks me so often, I figured perhaps she wanted to go out. So I invited her for out for drinks this Friday night (not realising it was VDay). She says she made anti-Vday plans already. I know for a fact she made these plans with her friend. So she isn’t making excuses this time.

Questions 2: Should I ask her again, or am I just wasting my time?

Now the hard part. The women I really want to ask out also works in my office. Let’s call her Sally. We flirt all day long. I have a hard fast rule to not ask out or go for any women that haven’t made physical contact with me in some way. Sally pushes me if I make a joke about her or walks by my office chair and shakes it to razz me. We have a ton in common and she’s really fun to be around. Problem is, Sally became friends with the women I used to have casual sex with, Jill. I feel trapped. Like I can only ask out Jill. I feel like because they are friends, of course they talked, and Sally knows I used to sleep with Jill. I hate it. The first 2 questions wouldn’t even be a concern for me except I’m aching for some sex. I don’t want to totally screw over my 2 options for it. Problem is I really want to date Sally. And I can tell she wants me to ask her out. WHAT DO I DO!!! AHHH!!!!


OK Confused, let’s take it step by step here.

So you’ve got a casual, no-strings-attached fling with Jill and you think you’re getting some “let’s have a proper relationship” hints from her, but whenever you drop the possibility of going on an actual date… well, she’s got an excuse as to why she can’t. And while you don’t mention it in your letter, it sounds like she’s not offering an alternate time when she would be free.

I hope you see where I’m about to go with this.

Here’s the NerdLove rule of thumb: once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is sending you a message. This applies to unreturned texts, canceled dates and being “busy” when you ask her out.

Hate to tell you this, but she’s giving you a pretty clear message: she’s cool with the bangin’ but she’s not actually interested in turning this into a relationship. Why is she dropping “relationship” hints if she’s not actually interested? Well, one possibility is that she feels like she should want a relationship… but she doesn’t. The cultural narrative is that women are “less interested” in sex than men are – which, incidentally, is complete bullshit – and there’s a lot of social pressure to conform to this idea. Women who take ownership of their sexuality – like, say, having a casual fuckbuddy relationship with a guy – tend to get slut-shamed for it. As a result, you get a lot of women who get denigrated by society for what they want and feel pressured to at least pretend that they’re looking for something more serious when all they want to do is get some strange, same as guys do.

The other possibility: you’re reading things into it that aren’t there.

From the sounds of it, everything she’s doing – asking you about your weekend plans and what-not – is her being friendly and making standard co-worker chit-chat. She likes you as a person. She enjoys hooking up with you on occasion. But it could be that she really just doesn’t want to date.

Sally, on the other hand, certainly seems like she does. So what should you do?


The fact that you’ve slept with Jill isn’t a disqualifier. You’re not her possession and people don’t get to call dibs on other people. It doesn’t matter if Sally knows you used to hook up with Jill. In fact, in many ways, this could be a good thing: you’ve essentially been pre-vetted as a cool (and bangable) guy by Jill.

So quit making this more complicated than it has to be. If Jill has a problem that her no-strings-attached fuckbuddy is taking advantage of the fact that there are no strings (SPOILER ALERT: she won’t) then everyone can put on their grown-up pants and deal with it. This ain’t high-school or a dating sim. Ask Sally out. You’ll be fine.

Hey Doc,

I’ve been a frequent customer at my local GameStop for years and have a great rapport with most of the staff there. If I’m in the area and it’s not busy, I typically hang out a bit just to chat with the employees about life and things besides video games (never distracting them from work, of course.)

A new girl started there a few months ago and since then I’ve managed to strike up the same basic rapport… except that she’s kind of flirty with me, we have fun and she’s really cute. I’d like to ask her out for coffee sometime but I don’t want to be THAT PERSON. I’m socially aware enough to recognise that flirtation behind a counter is not necessarily a sign of interest. However, I’ve paid attention to her interactions with other customers and none seem the same as our own, but that could just be confirmation bias.

So my question is, what is the etiquette regarding asking someone out while they’re at work?


A Consumer

It’s generally a bad idea to ask someone out while they’re at work.

Here’s the thing about asking out people in retail or service industry, whether they’re waitstaff, bartenders, baristas or store clerks: they’re on the job, and their job requires that they be friendly professionally. Women especially know that being a little flirty can be the extra edge that helps make a sale get a larger tip.

It also means that people mistake their professional flirting for genuine interest. As a result: they get hit on all the damn time. This is why hitting on the waitress or the bartender, or the cute alterna-punk at Starbucks who knows your order by heart, is usually a bad idea. You end up being just one more guy trying to ask her out in a long string of ’em.

And when it’s a woman working at a nerd enclave like GameStop, it can be a never-ending rotation of dudes hitting on her and other dudes challenging her nerd cred. This can be exhausting.

Now, keep in mind: people are people and it’s not impossible that yes, she digs you.

Here’s how you tell the difference between Professional Niceness and genuine interest. Is she going out of her way to talk to you? If things are slow and you’re around, does she make a point of coming over to chat, especially about non-gaming topics? Is she asking you questions about you, especially any probing questions about whether you’re single or not? Is she making a point to tell you about her life or trying to find commonalities with you without your prompting it? If the answer is “no” then the odds are she may enjoy talking with you as a welcome break from work… but that’s it.

All that being said: if you’re going to roll the dice, then you need to do it right because otherwise, even if you have the best of intentions, you’re just going to be another guy who hits on her while she’s at work.

It is possible to hit it off with people who are on the job, whether it’s the waitress, the bartender or the store clerk. I’ve done it several times. It’s all in how you do it. The most important thing is to connect with them as an individual – being able to talk with them about themselves without being in the customer/server mode. If you can make that connection, then it’s a lot easier to be “the awesome person she wants to get to know” instead of “pick-up attempt #4000 in a series.”

You have to be socially well-calibrated, and you have to be able to make it low key in order to avoid making things awkward – especially because it can be super awkward for her to say no while she’s on the clock. The first, no-pressure way of asking her out is to invite her to a group thing. “Hey, my friend’s band is playing at [place] next [date]. A bunch of us are going; you should come by!” This puts much less pressure on her right then and there, since inviting her to a social gathering is less awkward than a date. If she comes, you can ask her out then, when she’s not on the clock.

The other option is to make a low-investment invitation. If you’ve been having a good, energetic conversation with her – watching for signs of genuine interest and engagement and making sure she’s not uncomfortable – then as you’re getting ready to leave, tell her, casually, “You know what? I never do this, but you’re really cool and I’ve enjoyed talking to you and I’d like to see you some time. I promise nothing but fun and good conversation. Here’s my contact info, hope to hear from you.” Then you head out. Will she call? Sometimes. The odds are against you… but then again, they were already pretty damn high to begin with.

The key is to treat it like it’s no big deal. If she’s into you: awesome! If not: enh, it happens, you just behave exactly as you have before. Don’t bring it up, don’t try again. By treating it as no biggie, you’re able to make things less awkward the next time you see her, letting her feel more comfortable around you.

Good luck!

Have you got stories of illicit work hook-ups? Tales of being hit on while on the job? Share your thoughts in the comments section! And we’ll see you in two weeks with more of your questions!

Ask Dr Nerdlove is Kotaku’s bi-weekly advice column for matters of the heart, hosted by the one and only Harris O’Malley, AKA Dr Nerdlove. >

Harris O’Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr NerdLove and the Dr NerdLove podcast. 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. Dr Nerdlove is not really a doctor.

Picture: Empire Records


  • tl;dr version:
    He/she’s working so is probably busy. If you REALLY must do this then wait for a quiet moment but don’t stare. Start up a friendly conversation – try gaming or music. Don’t ramble. Do pay attention. If it’s going well then ask them if they are free after work or some time in the near future for a coffee/drink/whatever. If yes, give them your number. Leave. If no, leave it at that. Don’t ask again in the future. Be polite. Leave.

  • My housemate works at EB and she gets hit on constantly by guys who hang out there regularly. Unless you’ve built a relationship with them outside of them working at EB, don’t do it, leave them be.
    Also, they probably don’t get why you’re hanging out at EB all the time either and are likely being nice because you might make their day go by faster – they aren’t your friends.

    • I notice at one of my EB stores a large fat guy who’s always hanging out there. Always talking to the girls working there. At first I thought he was a friend of theirs but he hangs out there way too often. When the girls aren’t working he just sits in the food court.

      • Yep, I guarantee that guy thinks the staff are his friends and the staff probably laugh about him. Cruel, but it’s more likely the reality.

        The only time my housemate thought about going out with a guy from work was when he had a quick chat with her, left and then dropped off a coffee with his number on it. That’s a pretty good move tbh, even though she wasn’t really interested.

  • Casual sex should end the moment one person starts thinking that it should be a relationship. No-strings attached means just that, that’s what you’re there for. If one person starts thinking there needs to be more then it’s unfair to both sides and should stop.

    Not only that, but why does he think he should have a relationship? If she wants one why does he? Kind of a lame reason if the reason why two people started dating is because they thought they had to.

  • I really would advise against starting any sentence with “I never do this but…”. It sounds very intentional and rehearsed. You also have to remember that if you’re frequenting a store, you will very likely see that person again (it’s the same with office romances) and your “open invitation” may very well make your future interactions as a customer awkward if your interpretation was wrong.

    I’d definitely recommend the group outing invitation. Find out what they’re into, organise a group outing to something related *first* (It’s easier to invite someone to something pre-planned than forming an outing around your invitation) and then casually make an open invitation in conversation related to the topic. Organised events are good as there are more people and it’s less awkward for them to leave early than it is if it’s you and a few other people in a remote place. Unless of course they’re the kind of person who loves camping and trekking.

  • Meh. I say ask out ALL of the shop attendants. Life is short. If you don’t go for what you want, you’ll never get it.

    Just be cool with it not happening, if it doesn’t happen.

  • I wouldn’t do the whole “i don’t usually do this but you’re really cool” line as it sounds too scripted and failure rate is really high. The inviting to group thing is something i would usually do. I would say, there’s a pretty good band playing this weekend or are you going to check out the festival on the weekend, she may or may not go but i’ve had pretty good success with that. A friend did do the whole just ask her out thing without thinking about it and worked out really well for him, so much so that they recently got engaged. So it can work sometimes as you don’t know if you don’t try.

    • Yeah, I was impressed by, “Some friends are going to X, you should come with,” then asking them out if they turn up. That’s a good one. The rest… enh. Put your ticket in the raffle, I guess? It’s not a big deal.

  • It’s true service folks are asked out more than others, especially women – because guys are expected to do the asking. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, that’s just how it works right now.

    As a society we REALLY need to backpedal from this weird idea that asking someone out is somehow some kind of deeply offensive act to be tip-toed around and carefully planned in advance based on an exhaustive cost/benefit analysis.

    You can consult with psychics and mind-readers and behavioural analysts, examining previous interactions, searching for clues as to someone’s completely unknown personal preferences to guarantee you’re asking a question you already know the answer to, OR you could do the SIMPLE thing and just fucking ask if they’re interested in seeing you outside of work, and GET the answer.

    The only good reason to not wanting to be ‘just another guy who asks her out’ is to improve your odds of success. (In which case, escalate the flirting. Tease. I remember a girl at a supermarket I shopped at used to try striking up conversations, so I tested to see if that was interest. When she was blushing and apologizing for fumbling handing over change, I joked, “Yeah, I don’t blame you – I’d get lost in my eyes, too.” She actually blushed and start bopping around in a kind of dance, saying, “Oh yeah, I’m smooth, I got the moves…” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I can see that. Maybe next time just write your phone number on my receipt instead.”)

    But this isn’t a quiz show with a million dollars riding on the answer, there is no earth-shattering consequence to the answer being ‘no’. Try to give less of a shit. You’re interested. No? No biggie, who can blame me, right? But it’s cool, nevermind. I’ll look elsewhere. DONE.

    • Ah man, you’re so confident. Being able to just walk up to someone and ask them out, while being smooth about it. So awesome.

      So uh, what you doing this weekend?

      • DARK SOULS! You bring the pizza.

        Seriously though, it helps to know that what you’re saying is cheesy and terrible and be kinda proud of that. Like we do on Dad Joke Page 6 in TAY! There’s enough serious, sobering shit goes on in life without converting something casual and transient into it as well.

  • When I was studying interstate, my local EBGames had a fairly cute girl working there. Given the small gaming circles of that place, I eventually came to know all the people working there and we hung out a few times. She told me that while she loved working around games and most of the customers, she got hit on a whole lot by meek nerds who think they’ll be the first one to drop a rehearsed line. Guys who find excuses to be there, buying knick-knacks like WoW game cards a little too frequently, or just browsing the identical game shelf several times a week.

    While I have no problem with guys asking girls out at work (I’ve dated more than a few waitresses who I met when they served me), this just feels so… sad. If you like the girl, just ask her out the first time you meet her or the one after that like it’s no big thing. You don’t have to mull over it, trying to look for clues like whether she’s flirting with you, or trying to find the right opener, much less writing about it to Dr Nerdlove. A dozen other lonely guys who play videogames in your area are probably thinking the same thing and she’s mostly likely already clued into your sweaty, nervous attraction and already has a put down ready for when you eventually ‘go for it,’

    My sympathy goes out to all the attractive girls who work in gaming stores.

    • Some sympathy, sure. But most of mine goes to the timid hopefuls. Because I sure know it’s harder for one than it is for the other.

      I hatehatehatehate the word ‘creepy’ because it’s become the hypocritical go-to label for any behaviour by people they aren’t attracted to which would be described as ‘sweet’ or ‘cute’ by someone they are attracted to.
      But the best way to avoid ‘being creepy’ is to be swift, decisive, and yet casual.

  • I hate the chick at my local EB. She makes sarcastic and demeaning comments a lot and gets away with it, Made my first personal complaint at a store ever for it. It shocks me that she still works there. I’ve taken my business to JB Hi-Fi in my own personal protest against shitty customer service.

    The other lady is nice but her, not so much. So this whole article I’m just thinking “nope nope nope nope” 😛 But I can say one thing, girls that work at EB tend to get hit on a lot. So their guard will probably be way up. And they’ve probably heard every line imaginable, like a waitress. So try to be creative I guess? I’d never go for someone I met at EB but if that floats yer boat. haha

  • Faaaaake! He’s talking about it all matter-of-factly…


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