Northwestern students can handle calculus with ease and discuss international security for hours. They just can’t find a date.
At least, this was the prevailing stereotype going into Monday’s Flirting for Nerds 2.0, an event hosted by Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators.
About 50 students attended a presentation in Swift Hall by Rebecca Steinmetz, a sex educator at the Chicago sex shop Early to Bed.
“How many people self-identify as a nerd or a geek?” Steinmetz asked students to open the evening. Nearly everyone in the room raised their hand. "One of the things that makes a great flirt is something that nerds already have,” Steinmetz said, ”a lot of time observing other people.”
Her comment drew laughs, but Steinmetz explained to students how studying body language, nonverbal cues and intent listening can improve their flirting success.
“The other thing that makes you amazing flirts is that you are passionate about something,” Steinmetz said, adding how dedication to book series, TV shows and games can translate to not only to active listening and curiosity, but also conversation topics.
Steinmetz outlined how to approach others in an open and friendly manor to encourage dialogue. She drew from her own history of finding her way on the “flirting scene.”
“I did a lot of observation, a lot of data gathering and then decided to research,” she said. “And then I had to practice.”
Most of the presentation covered body language and conversation dos and don’ts, including “an open stance,” arms uncrossed and head up. Steinmetz said this makes a person approachable and easy to talk to. She gave advice on moving from friendly to romantic flirting and out of the dreaded “friend zone.”
Once the conversation starts, Steinmetz advised students to keep conversation light and on common interests without too much personal information too early.
“I will teach you how not to be that creepy guy,” she said, which includes the “rule of threes”: no more than three texts, tweets or Facebook posts if the person you are interested in does not respond. “Now you have a number! You won’t be the creepy person who sent 22 texts.”
She also showed students how to give the other person adequate space and balance power dynamics of the conversation.
At the end of the talk, students had the opportunity to practice introducing themselves and asking for each other’s contact information.
The practice might come in handy one day. SHAPE Events Co-chair D’Laney Gielow said the often joked about “Nerdwestern” stereotype is sometimes true.
“I don’t want to insult my fellow students,” the Communication senior said, “but especially freshman year, when you’re not comfortable yet, people don’t know what to talk to each other about.”
“You smart kids, you probably over think it and overanalyze,” Steinmetz agreed. “It’s simple!”