A Geek Chick’s Guide to Spotting an Emotionally Immature Drama Queen by Andrea
I never thought I’d live to see that particular day. The day that I, a nearly 30 year-old female geek, was sitting on the phone listening to her then also near-30 geek boyfriend throw a tantrum about the fact that he no longer wished to continue the relationship. A relationship that had lasted nearly a year, and that for the first six months or so was great. People who knew us both generally said we were oddly matched, but a good fit regardless. For the most part, he was respectful, treated me well, and acted the part of the good boyfriend.
Note the ‘For the most part’ in that last sentence? Yeah, I thought you would. Had I known how much of a facade he presented, I wouldn’t have let him within twenty feet of me, let alone dated him. “But Miss A,” you might ask. “If he really was such bad news, why didn’t you see it from the get-go?” Well, that’s what I writing all of this about. Not so much to out him or paint him to be the villain, but to share what happened to me, in the hopes that it’ll spare someone else from going through a similar situation to what I did.
To be honest, I have no idea why geekdom and nerddom tend to draw characters like this guy. Validation seems to be the most prevalent reason, but there’s also an element of attention-seeking and a sense of control that seem to come into play as well. In the mundane world, being a level 77 Cleric in DnD will get you funny looks and rolled eyes. In the proper geek circles, the same news can (and often will!) earn you a decent amount of praise and respect. This can be a tempting lure to those individuals whose self-esteem and self-confidence are low enough. The attention they get -no matter how slight- will feed them, but they never learn to bolster their own confidence. As a consequence, they have no defense against their self-confidence plummeting again, leading them to leech off yet more people for their ‘attention fix’. Sadly, emotional and social immaturity often go hand-in-hand with these types; it’s not unusual for them to adamantly refuse to believe anything is wrong with them or what they’re doing. This means they refuse to acknowledge their mistakes and they refuse to make the changes a reasonable, mature person would make in order to better interact with others. To put this entire paragraph simply, these individuals feel they have no control over their lives, yet feel entitled to have their wants and needs fulfilled at the expense of others’. They seek the validation and control they lack, but don’t know how to get it without using others.
So enough stalling. You’re probably thinking, ‘That’s all fine and dandy, but how do I spot a jerk like this?’. That’s not an easy feat; many of these individuals are manipulative (sometimes sociopathic) individuals who can charm anyone into believing they’re something they’re not. They can be decent actors who often believe their own nonsense. But here are signs that, should you spot them, should give you significant pause (as a side-note, I write this from a female perspective for obvious reasons. These can easily be applied to geek/nerd women as well as men).
#1 What kinds of girls does he go after? And does he pursue them for the right reasons? Guys like this can be observed to go after vulnerable women. They’ll focus their attention on women who are ‘wounded’ or ‘damaged’ in some way, whether from a recent breakup or some other trauma. They lack the self-confidence to pursue a stronger woman (or one of these more vulnerable types when she’s in a stronger state), so they go after women they can more readily work their manipulative tactics on. Additionally, their reasoning for being attracted to the women they’re attracted to? Usually some variant of a superficial trait, like ‘she was cute’ or ‘she likes <insert interest here> as opposed to being attracted to more steadfast traits like personality or intellect. These are the guys who are there for you when you’ve had a horrible breakup and need a shoulder to cry on, but only because you’re a cute chick they’re interested in.
#2 He knows what to do and what to say…at least initially. These guys are addicted to the honeymoon phase of a relationship. They’ll sweep you off your feet, treat you like the best thing that’s happened to them, introduce you to their friends and family…until month six or seven. That’s when they’ll start looking for any excuse as some kind of ‘out’. They’re too immature to realize that a relationship can only thrive when people work on them, they can’t just be sustained by fireworks and romantic gestures.
#3 He’s emotionally unavailable when you need him, but expects you to support him. Remember the guy back up at #1? The one who was so charming and funny? The one who was there when you needed him? Well, this is what he morphed into. He’ll want you to be there for him at a moment’s notice, but when you’re having a difficult time, he’ll throw you under the bus and tell you that he can’t help you, that you need to learn to pull yourself back up. What this guy fails to realize is that most people can help themselves with few or no issues, they just need that ear or shoulder while they recover. Their selfishness is especially noticeable when it’s something important to you, like academic goals or personal passions. And forget having him around in a crisis, no matter how big or small. It’ll be too much for him to handle.
#4 All of a sudden, you can do no right, and he won’t help you find what’s ‘right’. You want to call him in the evening to catch up on the day? Too bad, you’re now ‘clingy’ and ‘too needy’. Ditto when you want to make plans, even if it’s been a week or two since the last time you saw him. Those traits that he said were so cute? They’ll annoy him to no good end all of a sudden. Those interests you have? Now you’ll be told you ‘don’t have enough in common’ to remain together as a couple. He’ll have no qualms about pointing out flaws in your figure, your personality, your beliefs, but always in a pseudo-helpful ‘I know better’ attitude. What makes this one worse is when you try to communicate with him to work out a compromise, he won’t communicate, or he does so minimally. He won’t help you to help make things better, he expects you to read his mind and magically deduce what he wants and needs.
#5 He shuts you out, then patronizes you when you call him on it. Remember how he was so excited to introduce you to his friends? When you all agreed to see each other and hang out more often? Well, why is he hanging out with them solo, and not telling you until after the fact? Worse still, why does he talk down to you when you call him out on his behavior? Yeah, I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Be VERY wary of a guy who isolates you from mutual friends, he might have a less-than-rational reason for keeping you from them. When he figuratively pats you on the head and tells you ‘the time isn’t right’ or some other such garbage, tell him that YOU will decide what’s right for you, thanks.
#6 He invalidates your feelings. Continuing from #5, when you do manage to call him out on his bad behaviors, the first two words out of his mouth are generally some variant of ‘You’re overreacting’. No matter what he’s done, no matter how upset he’s made you, YOU are always at fault because you’re upset at him. In his mind, he is never at fault for his behavior, no matter how hurtful he is. Here’s a hint: You are always entitled to what you feel. While it’s true one can react more strongly than necessary in a given situation, that should be YOUR call. Not his, YOURS. No one has the right to denigrate your emotions because they can’t handle them.
#7 He has champagne tastes on a kool-aid work ethic. Watch out for a guy who wants the moon, the stars, and everything in between, but barely puts in the effort to leave the atmosphere. These unambitious guys will leech on anyone who they feel can help them accomplish their goals, all the while putting as little work as possible into those goals. Typically you get out of the world what you put into it, and these guys don’t put much work into the world at all. Making things worse? They’ll whine about how ‘unfair’ the world is, and how ‘awful’ it is that they haven’t gotten their way.
#8 He’s EXTREMELY thin-skinned and spineless. It’s human nature to be a little sensitive to critique here and there. But it takes a mature individual to take critique and improve themselves with it. These guys? They sit and whine about how ‘mean’ people are to them, even to the point of throwing a fit if others aren’t fawning over them and their ‘talents’. They’ll even blow off friends who offer suggestions for improvement if they feel it doesn’t mesh with their warped ‘poor pitiful me/I’m too awesome to critique’ dichotomy. Additionally, watch for the guy who doesn’t make decisions for himself about others, who relies on others’ opinions before he decides who he’ll associate with. If he won’t take direction, point yourself in the opposite direction.
#9 He gossips behind your back…and shares what should be kept private. Just when you thought you were out of middle school, this guy comes along. He has no qualms about ignoring you, only to whine to the mutual friend you share about how ‘horrible’ you are for some perceived slight or other. Or he’ll do something nice for you, then whine and twist facts about the favor he did you. A guy who is this willing to be petty and break your trust doesn’t deserve your time or attention. Move along.
#10 He tells you to remain in a bad situation…and threatens to leave if you displease him. One of the worst things a person can do is insist you remain in a situation that’s bad for you. Adding to the ‘burn in hell’ sentiment is the guy who insists you stay and make the best of a bad situation, even to the point of threatening to leave you if you don’t ‘play nice’. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior from anyone, I don’t care who they are. If someone is in a situation that isn’t right for them, they shouldn’t be told to ‘shut up and deal with it’, and anyone who implies that sentiment doesn’t deserve the company of any feeling human being, let alone a significant other. All people have the right to be in an environment they feel secure in, and belittling them for not being able to handle a bad situation is inexcusable.
And so wraps my list of traits to watch out for. These aren’t solely possessed by any one sex, or group, but they’re traits that anyone can learn and can exhibit. How can you defend against them? Well, it’s tough to, I admit. These individuals are master charmers who are able to twist situations to suit their whims. The good news (assuming there is any) is they eventually end up burning their bridges because of their own actions, and they wind up alienating the people they couldn’t afford to lose in their lives. Do you know someone like this? My advice is to keep your distance, take anything they tell you with a mountain of salt, and keep living your life. They’ll eventually collapse under the weight of their own negativity, leaving you relatively unscathed.
andrea @ scarlet-rhapsody.com