The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch – or several. Need his help? Email .
Hi Dating Nerd,
There’s this girl I’m crazy about and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I can’t stop thinking about her. We know each other from school — we were in the same program — and we’ve hung out at parties a few times. I started falling hard for her a few months back and now I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s insanely gorgeous but we never see each other in real life. Most of our interactions are on Instagram — she posts silly stories of herself pretty regularly and occasionally I comment on them. I feel like we have some decent banter but the convos never last super long and I don’t know whether to back off or try harder. Sometimes I’ll like a picture of hers from a few weeks back, and often she responds by liking a recent one of mine, so I feel like there’s at least some interest. But I asked her if she wanted to hang out last week and she didn’t respond. I can’t stop thinking about her. What do you advise?
– Driven-Mad Davis
I’m sorry to hear your tale of woe. But luckily — both for you and for your crush — there’s a simple, easy solution. It was invented by companies such as Instagram specifically to help people like you. It’s called the Unfollow button.
In case you didn’t catch that (lots of people skim these days), I’m suggesting that you do the right thing and unfollow this woman.
Sure, you probably think that’s hogwash. Poppycock. Piffle. Some other little-used synonym for ridiculous. But I’m right.
Let’s review the facts, shall we? One, she’s currently not your girlfriend. Two, she hasn’t expressed any interest in being your girlfriend, or in even hooking up with you. (She’s expressed interest in talking to you once or twice, but if you can’t tell the difference between those concepts, you might be beyond my help at this point.) Three, her online presence causes you anguish, not pleasure, and it’s both frequent and pronounced.
What that adds up to is: Her presence in your life is a net negative. Luckily for you, as I said earlier, you can just unfollow her! Boom. Problem solved. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
Sure, the idea of unfollowing her might be scary. You’re sort of like a rat in a science experiment who keeps hitting a button that gives it a drop of sugar water and an electric shock at the same time. At first, it was all sugar water, but slowly, the twisted scientists behind the experiment started shocking you a little bit more. By now, the shocks are more intensely painful than the sugar water is pleasurable, but you’re addicted, so you keep coming back.
The only solution in a case like this is to go cold turkey. I would suggest deleting Instagram off your phone entirely, but let’s try baby steps first.
Keep in mind that Instagram is not a dating app. Your ability to see her pictures does not mean that she has swiped right on you, and her responding to your messages here and there doesn’t mean she will sleep with you. If she wanted to sleep with you, she would have already. You’re single and you’ve made your intentions relatively clear by now.
What’s going on is this: She probably appreciates the attention. That’s all. That appreciation is not going to convert into Makeout Bucks or Sex Points or a Relationship. You don’t know her well enough to really care — all you are is Insta-infatuated. Do both of you a favor and unfollow her now.
Or, if that’s too scary, at least mute her. Over time, you’ll forget you ever cared. Someone new will come into your life for you to care about. Preferably someone who is actually interested in you. If you find yourself in a new incarnation of this exact same situation a few months down the road, either email me again, or, to save us both some time, just re-read this column. It’s very broadly applicable.
To the rest of you out there who are hung up on a woman you follow on social media (or, more likely, several), do the respectable thing: mute or unfollow. Don’t subject yourself to the torture; don’t subject the women to your inane DM slides and creepy comments. If any men knew how wound up you were getting because a 23-year-old woman used a Snapchat filter that made her look like a cat, your Man Card would be in serious danger of being revoked.
If you’re lonely and you want to talk to women you have a crush on, sign up for an online dating site. Many of them are free, and the women on there are at least nominally looking to be chatted up. The woman you are dealing with on Instagram, if she is looking to be chatted up, is not looking to be chatted up by you. If she were, the convos would last longer.
You’re right that there’s not zero interest, but there isn’t a romantic or sexual interest in you — simply interest in the little feeling she gets when you like her photos. It can be easy, in a digitally mediated world, to forget that there is a difference between those two things. But there is, and it’s a big one.
So unfollow. Or mute. Or delete the app. But stop giving her space in the Feelings Dept. of your brain. It hasn’t been going well and it’s not going to be get better, bud.