‘Dr. Nerdlove’

Dat­ing site gives hope to those stuck in ‘friend zone’

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & STYLE - By Es­ther Ro­bards-Forbes Spe­cial to Amer­i­can-States­man

The ‘Doc­Tor’ is in

Har­ris O’Mal­ley‘s suc­cess­ful “Pag­ing Dr. Nerdlove” web­site of­fers prac­ti­cal ad­vice to thou­sands of lovelorn geeks from around the world. Here are some of his tips: Elim­i­nate self-lim­it­ing be­liefs be­cause they are only go­ing to hold you back. Put the time in and prac­tice ap­proach­ing new peo­ple and mak­ing con­nec­tions, and don’t be afraid of re­jec­tion. The first 1,000 re­jec­tions don’t count. Aban­don ideas about the op­po­site sex and ap­proach each per­son as an in­di­vid­ual, with unique tastes, thoughts and ideas. Re­ject the idea that the al­pha males or al­pha fe­males al­ways get the girl or guy. What’s at­trac­tive about them is con­fi­dence and as­sertive­ness. Be hon­est about what you want, whether it’s a re­la­tion­ship or a one-night stand. Don’t dis­miss some­one be­cause he or she is al­ready in a re­la­tion­ship. Make a new friend, be­cause, chances are, he or she has friends to in­tro­duce you to.

BesT places in ausTin To meeT peo­ple

Classes such as dance, mar­tial arts or act­ing

Book­stores

Ama­teur sports leagues

Vol­un­teer­ing At bars such as Kung Fu Saloon, Re­cess, East­side Show­room or Shangri-La. “Look for some­thing that has some­thing go­ing on other than just drink­ing and the meet mar­ket, ”O’ Mal­ley says.

‘life­style is the big­gest thing that i ad­vise peo­ple on.’

Har­ris O’Mal­ley

For

most of his life, Har­ris O’Mal­ley was ter­ri­ble with women.

A text­book geek, right down to the glasses, the red hair and the over­sized comic book col­lec­tion, he had a hard time talk­ing to women, get­ting phone num­bers from them and form­ing healthy ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with them.

“I was try­ing to be the ‘Nice Guy,’ “O’Mal­ley says. “I spent so much time in the friend zone I could de­clare res­i­dency and run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice. I had all th­ese really bad hang-ups about what I thought women wanted, or what I had or didn’t have.

“And just a lot of it came down to the fact that I had adopted this idea that I was the one that was bad with girls and there wasn’t any­thing I could do about it.”

About a year and a half ago, he de­cided to take all of his mis­takes and suc­cesses, ev­ery­thing he had learned, good and bad, about dat­ing in the 21st cen­tury and he turned it into a wildly suc­cess­ful blog for lovelorn geeks and dweebs.

He took on the per­sona of Dr. Nerdlove and be­gan writ­ing ad­vice col­umns and record­ing pod­casts on drn­erdlove.com.

O’Mal­ley, 35, who: lives in Austin, is al­ways very care­ful to point out that he is not a doc­tor of any kind, but he’s prob­a­bly stud­ied enough and con­ducted enough field re­search to earn a de­gree in dat­ing.

O’Mal­ley’s site, Pag­ing Dr. Nerdlove, which con­sists of ar­ti­cles of­fer­ing gen­eral ad­vice, a pop­u­lar write-in col­umn called “Ask Dr. Nerdlove” and a reg­u­lar pod­cast, has at­tracted in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and gets about 141,000 unique vis­i­tors a month.

And his au­di­ence is grow­ing by 40,000 to 50,000 vis­i­tors ev­ery month, he says.

The jour­ney from that geek who was un­lucky in love to the Dr. Nerdlove his read­ers

know and love has been a long one. And it’s a jour­ney O’Mal­ley is very open and hon­est about in his blog en­tries.

“I started off with ev­ery prob­lem that most of my read­ers have,” he says, not­ing that his geeky au­di­ence tends to suf­fer from so­cial awk­ward­ness, low self-es­teem and a be­lief that be­ing a geek is a bad thing. They need to em­brace it, he says.

At 26, he had what he calls his “Bat­man moment” at his brother’s wed­ding. He and a friend, who “at­tracts women the way cheese at­tracts mice,” went af­ter the same woman and O’Mal­ley lost, he says.

“There I am in the ho­tel room hav­ing my dark night of the soul and think­ing about what I’m go­ing to do about this and Googled ‘how to get bet­ter with women,’ “he says.

He was im­me­di­ately linked to Neil Strauss’s “The Game,” which claims to un­lock the se­crets of pickup artists and has spawned an en­tire com­mu­nity that trades tips and tricks for se­duc­ing women.

“In­stead of a bat crash­ing through the win­dow, it was dodgy books,” O’Mal­ley says. “It was a sign: I shall be­come a pickup artist.”

At that time, he says, there wasn’t a lot of dat­ing ad­vice out there for men, and O’Mal­ley fell into the pickup artist com­mu­nity, which uses a lot of canned scripts and rou­tines to ap­proach women. While he picked up a few use­ful pieces of ad­vice, like how to dress fash­ion­ably and brush off re­jec­tions, he was ap­palled by many of the at­ti­tudes, which he says are based on a mis­un­der­stand­ing of evo­lu­tion­ary psychology and the be­lief that women are only at­tracted to al­pha males.

“I didn’t like what it was about and what it was do­ing to me,” he says. “There were a lot of really messed-up at­ti­tudes about women. It puts peo­ple in com­pe­ti­tion and presents sex as an ad­ver­sar­ial process.”

He didn’t like that a lot of the ad­vice out there treated women like a mono­lithic en­tity and en­cour­aged ma­nip­u­la­tive tech­niques.

“I thought that there had to be a bet­ter way than this,” O’Mal­ley says. “I started hang­ing out with friends that are nat­u­rally good with women. I started read­ing a lot, es­pe­cially so­cial psychology, and started learn­ing how to re­late to peo­ple bet­ter.”

He also turned his dat­ing life into an ex­per­i­ment, mak­ing de­tailed notes on what worked and what didn’t when ap­proach­ing new peo­ple. And, per­haps most im­por­tantly, he did a lot of work on him­self, seek­ing out new ex­pe­ri­ences, tak­ing classes and trav­el­ing.

“Life­style is the big­gest thing that I ad­vise peo­ple on,” he says. “You can ei­ther get really ma­nip- ula­tive — that’s the path I took and it al­most led to a break­down — or you can be­come a more in­ter­est­ing charis­matic per­son who lives an in­ter­est­ing life. If you live an in­ter­est­ing life, you’re go­ing to at­tract in­ter­est­ing peo­ple into it.”

It worked for O’Mal­ley. He got mar­ried last May to a long­time friend. A lot of his ad­vice to read­ers cen­ters around how to get out of the friend zone and how to avoid it all to­gether.

“I ba­si­cally mar­ried my way out of the friend zone,” he says. “It’s like hav­ing a best friend over for a sleep­over that just never ends.”

O’Mal­ley seems sur­prised about his success with Pag­ing Dr. Nerdlove, which he works on full­time, and the au­di­ence the site has gen­er­ated, es­pe­cially its pop­u­lar­ity with women. Be­cause so much of the ad­vice is about how to be a bet­ter, more at­trac­tive per­son and how to be bet­ter at com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it nat­u­rally trans­lates well to both sexes.

“A lot of my au­di­ence is straight ... males, but it really ap­plies to a lot of other peo­ple,” he says. “I’m not go­ing to try to be all things to all peo­ple, but I’m go­ing to try to help as many peo­ple as I can.”

DEB­O­RAH CAN­NON/AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

DEB­O­RAH CAN­NON / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Har­ris O’Mal­ley: “I started hang­ing out with friends that are nat­u­rally good with women. I started read­ing a lot, es­pe­cially so­cial psychology and started learn­ing how to re­late to peo­ple bet­ter.”

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