Ask Dr Nerdlove: Why Did She Choose Him Over Me?

Ask Dr. Nerdlove: Why Did She Choose Him Over Me?

What's up, everyone? Welcome to the latest instalment of Ask Dr NerdLove, the only dating advice column that understands the difference between Tsundere and Yandere and why you should run like hell from both of them. This week, we're running the relationship spectrum from a young man who thinks he's been Friend Zoned and another guy afraid to screw up his first relationship.

Let's do this.

Hi Dr Nerdlove

I enrolled into a university and I met this girl (Let's call her Strawberry) who has always been such an eye catcher. Every time I see her, it brings out the smile in me. So she lives at the same dorm as I am and she lives two floors below me. (I'm not a stalker, somehow I got to know her roommate, Pineapple. I have a weird choice of names but yea)

After 2 months I finally got the chance to speak to Strawberry. Her roommate invited me and Strawberry out for a cup of coffee and we got to know each other better. We talked till late night and Pineapple had other friends to attend to, so I walked back with Strawberry because she felt tired. When we got back to the dorm she asked me to sit a while and she wanted to talk to me, so we ended up talking till the next morning about her life, about the tragedy that happened to her sister. She said talking to me was like no other because I paid full attention to her while she was speaking, (yes because I was really into her). During finals period, she was always tense and worried about finals and she regularly missed breakfast. Throughout her finals week I gave her moral support and of course buying breakfast and sometimes made breakfast for her to serve her in front of her room.

Winter term came and we had different maths classes but it was at the same time in the same building. I walked with her more frequently now and we got closer. I helped her out in many ways, applying for scholarship, adding and dropping classes, followed her to her advisor's appointment (all because she asked me if I wanted to tag along), so I went with it. We would always have dinner every night (with Pineapple too) and we just had that time to "bond". Everything was going well and we even constantly cook together and to eat together. I would also help her in her maths because she was uncertain and weak in maths. Many things happened this term and of course with new terms come new people.

A new guy (Apple) came into her life after finals for Winter Term. He cooks and I think he looks better than me. They would have physical touches between each other, share the same couch while watching TV and lots more. She knew him for maybe two weeks and you can see them always hitting each other (in that nice sweet way). She knew me for 6 months now, I'm always trying my best to be nice to her and all I get is being poked at my arms, and it was only twice. (I literally counted because it meant a lot to me)

So everything happened this morning, she asked me whether we wanted to make breakfast. I went down to find her alone, (because she's always with her roommate, Pineapple) So I was shocked but yea it made me happy for a while. We made breakfast and she would bring up the spoon for me to taste and I would do the same back. So after preparing breakfast, we went out to the TV lounge to eat while watching TV. Suddenly this guy (Apple) came and shared the sofa with her, they got really comfy which kinda disgusted me. They would hit each other and roll around on the sofa together. I was heartbroken and I just left them because I was too disgusted to be there. Am I just a toy to play around? Is this a game?

I invested too much of my time on a beautiful vase and it broke today...

Sad Investor

Well this brought back unpleasant flashbacks. I've been where you are SI. In fact, when I was in college I had the great joy of watching a girl I'd had a crush on for years hook up with a guy in my class after she came up specifically to see me. But as much as I sympathize… well, I hate to say this, but you've basically done this to yourself.

Now before I get to the nitty gritty, I want to take a moment to address the topic of The Friend Zone. Specifically: it doesn't exist.

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.

(Before folks start in in the comments about the one who blatantly "kept them around for entertainment value" or whatever: yes, occasionally you will find somebody who's a user and strings people along for giggles or attention or whatever. That's got absolutely nothing to do with the Friend Zone and everything to do with the fact that those people are arseholes. Completely different thing.)

Part of the problem with the concept of the Friend Zone is that it presumes that a sexual relationship is the primary reason to interact with women, and friendship is the consolation prize, the vastly inferior substitute. It encourages dudes to treat women like vending machines where if you put enough Nice Guy tokens in, eventually sex falls out. Holding on to an attitude like that is going to run counter to the idea of actually talking with women like human beings.

And the thing is: the Friend Zone is insanely easy to avoid. Case in point: Sad Investor's situation.

Let me break it down for you. Strawberry hasn't been toying with you or keeping you around because she's mean. She thinks of you as a friend… because you've been acting like a friend. You've been hanging out with her, talking with her, helping out with classes and paperwork, even making sure she eats properly during finals week.

You know what you haven't been doing? You haven't been treating her like someone you want to date. You haven't made your move. You haven't asked her out on a date. Not "to hang out" or "study" but actual kiss-at-the-end-of-the-night date.

Instead… well, it sounds to me like you were hoping that Strawberry was going to do the heavy lifting for you and notice all the ways you've been there for her and realise she's madly in love with you and then it'd be cartoon birds and sloppy makeouts forever after. Except it doesn't work like that. You have to take the risks and make your play, and you didn't.

You know who did make a move? Apple. He started flirting with her, playing around with her and making it clear that he was into her as a potential lover, not as a friend. He wasn't assuming that just being nice was all it took to win her heart because really, being nice is the baseline for human interaction. And if you've been doing all of this just to get her to date you… well, I hate to say it, but you haven't been a good friend to her. Hanging around her because you have an agenda isn't friendship, it's a way of trying to use someone to get what you want and that's a shitty way to treat a person you care about.

So, here's what you do: accept that you're friends with Strawberry (and that being friends is a good thing on its own) and then you move on. I know it sucks; I've been in your shoes more times than I can reliably count. But there will be other women who will be as awesome and amazing as Strawberry, and this time you'll understand that if you want to date them, you have to make your move.

Good luck.

Hey Dr Nerdlove,

I'm 23 years old and I've recently gotten my first girlfriend. She's really great.... pretty much everything I ever wanted in a girl. We're both huge maths nerds, vegetarians, and other things in common. The thing is, I'm really inexperienced and I really don't know what I'm doing.

She actually had a crush on me first. When I learned this it sort of weirded me out. I've only had 1 other girl have a crush on me. She initiated everything pretty much: she first talked to me, she asked me out on our first date, she touched my leg at the movies first, she kissed me first, etc. I really never have had a girl do all that for me.

On our past dates, we would do a soft kiss on the lips, but I could tell she wanted more this time. So, on our last date, she was driving home. When we were almost to my car, I told her she was my first girlfriend. She sounded a little freaked out, but not overly. Then, when I was about to leave, she went for a kiss. At first, I just kissed her on the lips, but then, she went for more. She put some tongue in there. I made out with a few girls at parties before, but never somebody I cared about. I got really uncomfortable and ended the kiss prematurely.

I really like her a lot: I enjoy talking with her and we have a lot in common. I just don't want to mess this up. For our first few dates, I could just google things beforehand and get advice, but I really couldn't find anyone in the same situation as me now. So, like, how do I get better at this stuff if I really can't practice? Is there anything I should say? Should I apologise for being a weirdo and never having a girlfriend? What's some general advice?

Thanks a lot,

L2P N00b

OK, N00b, take a deep breath and calm down. Seriously, you are inventing problems where there aren't any. Let's look at this objectively: she approached you first. She asked you out. She kissed you. She has done everything to let you know she likes you short of beating you over the head with a giant sign that says "I LIKE YOU, DUMBASS".

Suffice it to say: this is going to take some serious doing to screw up. But it can be done… especially when you're constantly freaking out about the possibility of screwing things up. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you let go of that belief that you're walking on the knife-edge between success and failure, everything will quickly get so much better.

Right now, you're anxious because you've never had a relationship before and don't know what you're doing. You're hoping that there's a walkthrough or a FAQ, but there really isn't. You're not a weirdo because you haven't had a girlfriend before. Everybody starts from the same place and learns as they go.

Here's a secret that folks who've had more dating experience have learned: there is no one way to have a relationship. There are some general practices that help smooth things out, but in the end, every relationship is going to be different because every person is different. The key is that you learn to relax and take each relationship as it comes. Every relationship is a learning experience; you're learning about her and about yourself at the same time.

And here's the thing: she wants this to work as much as you do. This is new to her too, and she's just as exhilarated and nervous as you are. She's worried about messing up, that she's going to say something or do something wrong and it's all going to fall apart. You're both in this together.

So take another deep breath, relax, and talk to her. Explain that you're crazy about her and you're nervous because this is all new to you. Don't apologise, because there's nothing wrong with having not been in a relationship. Get it all out there so she understands where you're coming from. And believe me: she will understand, because she's feeling it too and the two of you can work through it together because that's the whole point of relationships.

So take a breath. Relax. It's going to be fine. You're going to be fine.

Good luck.

Remember your first relationship? Do you have stories about how you made your move that won the heart of your honey? Share your thoughts and stories 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.


    Thank you for posting your thoughts on the 'Friendzone'. As soon as I read the title I was thinking 'here we go...'

    Pleasantly surprised. A+.

      We can all thank Hollywood and the likes of Katherine Heigel for such myths and stupid concepts in relationships.

    Oh man, that first one was rough to read. How can he even type all of that out without realising the answer?

      I lost it at "6 months".

        You haven't been through something similar? Maybe in your adolescent years as a teenager trying to work out how it all goes together? I know I have and sometimes you're too stubborn/blind/inexperienced to realise it!

    I don't get why people aren't just truthful.

    "I pulled away prematurely from a kiss initiated by her, because I didn't want to screw anything up." That's so contradictory, it hurts.

    Just drop your balls and be truthful. Go with the flow. You're already further ahead than most, so I don't see why you should panic about things.

      Pretty much this. My suggestion would be to grow some chest hair and read some Milan Kundera. He has a great quote somewhere about how woman will only be happy with a misogynist. It's interesting stuff.

    Yea you have to try and make it clear early on you like someone.

    Also if you've let it slip a bit too far, there's nothing wrong with asking someone out on a date. What's the worst that can happen? Just don't be a creep or a jerk about it if she says no. We've all done that early on in our experiences.

    I think a problem is, most of us don't know how to flirt unless it's blatantly obvious the girl wants you. So you feel like you're being creepy or don't want to necessarily put the wrong version of yourself across as it can feel uncomfortable. You can actually be pretty forward and not try to flirt but when it's appropriate just ask them on a date, call it a date.

    I'm sure like a lot of people here the first question struck a cord, it's a really easy trap to fall into when you don't get it.

    Solid advice, great article!

    Oh man. So painful, that first one.

      So relatable. But I'm glad for the Friends I've made from those circumstances.

    Letter 1
    The first guy was way too passive. You can't just make a woman breakfast and expect her to know how you feel. He should of asked her out after a week or so. He can't blame "Apple" he is not obligated to wait for you to make a move, as much as that sucks. I wouldn't recommend telling "Strawberry" how you feel at this point because it sounds like you have already lost her to "Apple".
    Letter 2
    I can't empathise with his being weirded out by her making the first move, really what is wrong with a strong woman taking action? It sounded like he wasn't going to make the first move.
    No need to apologise for the first girlfriend comment.
    She was probably more disturbed at the fact that he had defined the boyfriend girlfriend relationship. I've known some women that really don't like defining the relationship's status until later on.
    Don't have a relationship criteria that requires common interests, my advice is to just love the person and if she shares some interests that's a bonus.
    My final advice: Put more effort into her! Plan out a romantic evening where you look after her, pick her up and drive her to a picturesque location like the mountains or the beach,.
    The next time you take her out and you have a feeling she wants to take things to the next level, go back to her place and stay overnight, kiss her and see where the night takes it.
    Some people are bad French kissers. My advice would be minimise French kissing and focus more on extended kisses without using your tongue and maybe some around her neck if she is into that.
    If you are into her fight for her, if not don't waist her time.

    Why does all his advice come off as "Don't be nice and don't be a nerd"?

      I don't see where that's been advised anywhere?

        In one of his earlier article things he says, "Don't be a nice guy, be a good guy."

        It made sense.

        Agree, the article never says that. If anything the article says "stop overthinking stuff and stop being vague."

      It's not 'don't be nice', it's 'be honest'. First letter dude had a crush on this chick since he saw her, but not ONCE did he man up and say it. He just hid shit. There's nothing NICE about lying to someone about that shit.

    Pretty sure the friend zone DOES exist. Just because the girl isn't being malicious doesn't mean it's not a friend zone. If you like a girl romantically and she only likes you as a're in the friend zone.

      'The Friend Zone' is a specific thing made up by man-children who think women owe them sex. The name isn't passively describing a real world situation. It has a whole lot of implied meaning. Implied bullshit meaning.

      I think it started out with ladder theory. It also has a strong connection with PUA, MRA, and MGTOW clubs on the internet (Pick Up Artists, Men's Rights Activists, Men Going Their Own Way - All of which are gross pits of racist, misogynist Randians who think the world owes them sex, money, and power).

        Wow. This explains a LOT about why people get pissed off at nothing.

        They're taking the language of their online enemies and applying it to common sense shit everyone knows about, like the 'friend zone'.

        Implications my ass.

        Actually, I want to get into this briefly: The existence of the friend zone is a label which has spread into the common vernacular to describe a very real and very common scenario where one person lusts for the other one, but the other doesn't like them back the same way, and compromises with friendship.

        There's no values judgements being made there, and there are none attached to word unless you put them there on your own, but that's on you. People wrap that scenario up in all this bullshit of implications about whether it's good or bad, or whether it's being done aggressively, or whether it's fair or unfair, or whether you should or shouldn't 'try to get out of the friendzone', or blahblahblahblahbullshit.

        People need to drop their fucking baggage at the door and attack the USAGE of the word, not the EXISTENCE of it. What other catchy/brief/succinct way describes the same scenario of being 'friends' with someone who you wish you were dating? Whatever it is, it hasn't got the same traction as 'friend zone'.

        It is FAR from used exclusively by PUAs et al. Hell, I was seeing a girl who I was 'kind of' into, but not enough that when she asked if we could go out some night I realized I'd prefer to stay in and raid in WoW with my brothers and some mates. That, to me, was the sign that I just wasn't into her enough and probably shouldn't string her along - so I told her I wasn't going to see her romantically for dates etc, but we could still be friends on the MSN/whenever there's parties/hangouts - she was a friend of a friend. Said friend actually then advised me that she had told him, "I just got friendzoned." It's out there.

        It doesn't matter who invented the term or for what reason. It describes a common situation, and fucking everyone is using it. NOT just the people you hate. Same as people who don't know shit about MMOs or 4chan using the more popular jargon from memes that hit facebook. The term is out there, it conveniently encapsulates a situation that everyone is familiar with but never had a word for, it has traction, it's not going anywhere.

        Get over it.

          Given the context the word was used in, the meaning is consistent with the meanings given by the group who first began using it. The person doesn't understand how being nice to another person doesn't guarantee him romance and/or sex. It implies a level of entitlement. You might as well value the cost of dinner in blowjobs.

          You don't get to define what words mean. People use words and phrases without knowing how those words are culturally relevant or replied. You are insisting on using a phrased coined by a group that is a huge circlejerk of gross people. That may offend people. It's no different than politicians saying "urban" to mean "poor people who aren't white". Use it if you like, but there is cultural coding there and it doesn't go away because you don't care for it.

    Decent article if not for two utter bullshit points.

    I want to take a moment to address the topic of The Friend Zone. Specifically: it doesn’t exist. 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.

    Yeah see, I don't know what planet you're from, but where I come from, 'the friend zone' is used to describe THAT EXACT SCENARIO. Where that person you like didn't want to date or sleep with you. That scenario, that place you're in? That's the friend zone. Forget all that shit about malice/trickery/whatever, that's got nothing to do with that place.

    That might or might not be how you got there, but it's got nothing to do with WHERE you are, which is what the Friend Zone describes. Try to lose your baggage on this.

    Part of the problem with the concept of the Friend Zone is that it presumes that a sexual relationship is the primary reason to interact with women, and friendship is the consolation prize, the vastly inferior substitute.

    Actually, you know what? It IS the vastly inferior substitute if a romantic/sexual relationship was what you were (inexpertly) pursuing. Friends are amazing, they're a vital thing to have. But have you ever BEEN lonely for love?

    When you're stranded in the desert and have shitloads of water but no food, and you go looking for some food and only discover more water, then no shit you're going to be disappointed. Same holds here.

    Unless they're in the habit of fucking you and hanging out with only you, and raising children with you, friends are no substitute for a lover and when you have loads of friends and no lovers, then NO SHIT it feels like a consolation prize when you realize you have yet another friend and yet another lost option for love.

    If you've ever been in love you know how patently fucking absurd it is to act like this isn't something that people should be pursuing or being disappointed that they failed to achieve.

    It is the most disgustingly sanctimonious and callously cold-hearted attitude I can think of to chide the desperate and loveless for daring to hope for love, acting as if they should just suck up that loneliness and be grateful for this new friend they've found and don't really need. God forbid they should have the GALL to express their disappointment.

    I can't believe someone calling themselves 'Dr Nerdlove' could be so fucking cold.

      You miss the point so entirely here. The issue wasn't with him "daring to love". The issue was with him feeling that he had been betrayed. It sucks for him, but she had no obligation to him. We've all been there. Unrequited love is a thing we've all experienced. But there's no betrayal. He has no right to blame her. Empathy for the guy being heartbroken is fine, but sympathy for his feeling of betrayal is not.

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